Turkish police help people who are waiting for evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on 22 August 2021. Photo by Turkish Interior Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

At a time when many countries are leaving Afghanistan, Turkey has been searching for ways to stay. By helping run Kabul airport, Ankara believes it can gain a foothold in Afghanistan, which would in turn help it achieve its broader goals. However, the Afghanistan crisis is becoming increasingly regionalized and Afghanistan’s neighbours are likely to play a more prominent role, while Turkey – devoid of a security role – will at best be a marginal player.

In order for Ankara to leverage Afghanistan for other purposes, it first needs to ensure any role it plays at Kabul airport has a security dimension to it and is not a strictly technical or civilian role, partly because Ankara lacks other sources of influence in the country.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (3rd L) looks on next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) as NATO Heads of the states and governments pose for a family photo prior to a NATO summit. YVES HERMAN / POOL / AFP

Since 2016, when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a coup attempt, the Turkish leader has added a military edge to his foreign policy. Turkey’s subsequent interventions in Syria and Libya and support for Azerbaijan in its mid-2020 war with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh have paid dividends for Erdoğan, not only in those conflicts but also at home, shoring up his nationalist support. Ankara’s activism abroad has, however, unnerved not just rivals, but also some of Turkey’s allies, particularly Western powers already troubled by Erdoğan’s domestic policies and relations with Russia. To mitigate the fallout, Ankara has sought to smoothe ruffled feathers in the West.…  Seguir leyendo »

A fire-extinguishing helicopter of the Turkish Gendarmerie approaches a wildfire Aug. 8 in Mugla province in southern Turkey. (Emre Tazegul/AP)

Since July 28, wildfires have ravaged many areas in Turkey, causing widespread damage along the southwestern coast. The worst in the country’s modern history, the fires so far have taken nine lives, destroyed more than 230,000 acres of forest land, caused massive air pollution and displaced thousands.

But the 200 or more wildfires throughout the country also triggered a major political crisis for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. Why do many in Turkey hold the Erdogan regime accountable for this summer’s disaster?

Turkish citizens for the most part don’t blame Erdogan for the fires. Experts claim that this year’s Mediterranean wildfires, which have also hit areas of Greece, Italy, Spain and Lebanon, are a product of climate change.…  Seguir leyendo »

Flames soars through the forest on Monday in Mugla, Marmaris district, in Turkey. (Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images)

Swimming in the pristine waters of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast a few weeks ago, I thought, “No wonder this is the setting for so much of mythology.” The ice-cold turquoise water was surrounded by rich pine forests and replenished by underground streams from the mountaintops. With only a few swimmers on the forest’s edge, nature’s dance from green to blue was breathtaking.

But that may no longer be the case. A stone’s throw away from where I was swimming, fires are ravaging local communities and seaside resorts. With a heat wave bringing record temperatures, dozens of wildfires have devastated scenic forests on the Turkish Riviera and threatened the seaside towns of Antalya, Bodrum and Marmaris.…  Seguir leyendo »

Muslims living in Mali's Segou village, receive aid packages prepared with the donations of Turkish people and distributed by Turkey Diyanet Foundation (TDV), in Segou region, Mali on 13 April 2021. Mehmet Kaman/Anadolu Agency via AFP

Since labelling 2005 the “year of Africa”, Turkey has built political and economic ties across the continent through aid and trade, part of an agenda to extend its reach around the globe. Spearheading this push, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, first as Turkish prime minister until 2014 and since then as president, cultivated relations with African leaders, helped Turkish companies gain access to new markets and bankrolled projects casting Turkey as a custodian of Islamic culture in heavily Muslim African countries. In its attempts to gain influence in Africa, Ankara is jockeying with not just Western but also Arab states. The latter competition has transposed the rivalry between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on one side, and Turkey and Qatar, on the other, onto conflict-prone regions like the Horn of Africa, often worsening instability.…  Seguir leyendo »

Women protest the government's decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention in Istanbul on July 4. (Emrah Gurel/AP)

Turkey has withdrawn from the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, popularly known as the Istanbul Convention. Women and supporters protested nationwide, while the White House, the European Union, the United Nations and many others internationally criticized the decision. Internationally, some fear that Turkey’s withdrawal may encourage other European populist governments — in particular, Poland’s Law & Justice (PiS) party — to do so as well.

Liberal Turkish groups contend that the withdrawal will worsen gender inequality at home and in public life. Government officials and other conservatives disagree, saying that the convention hasn’t improved women’s rights — and in fact, threatens families.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a NATO summit in Brussels on Monday. (Francois Mori/Pool/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

At around 2:30 a.m., I woke up to the loud bangs on my hotel room door in Indonesia, where I went to hold a basketball camp for schoolchildren back in 2017. “We have to leave the country immediately,” my manager told me frantically.

It appeared that Turkish intelligence agents were on their way to capture me and send me back to Turkey. Three hours later, we were on an emergency flight to Singapore, and then to Romania. Turkey missed its chance to arrest me but canceled my passport and forced me to remain stranded in Romania.

But I was lucky, unlike Orhan Inandi, a Turkish educator in Kyrgyzstan who was kidnapped by Turkish agents last month and is believed to be kept in the Turkish Embassy in the country’s capital.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sedat Peker is seen speaking on his YouTube channel on a cellphone in Istanbul on May 26. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

Turks are bracing for the next round of revelations from a mafia boss who has shaken President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime to its core. Sedat Peker, a onetime Erdogan confidant now living outside the country, has stunned the country with a series of videos alleging crimes committed by people close to the president.

I’ve been following the story with particular interest — since my own life has been directly affected by Peker’s past dealings.

In 2015, I published a news article revealing that Turkey’s main intelligence agency was helping to secretly send weapons to jihadists in Syria. Erdogan, who denied the allegation, ominously declared that I would “pay a heavy price.”…  Seguir leyendo »

A disgusting, vomit-like mucilage has covered the coastline in Istanbul and much of the Sea of Marmara in recent weeks, inadvertently serving as an unmistakable reminder of the high levels of toxicity in state matters in Turkey today.

Over the past few weeks, a well-known Turkish mafia boss, Sedat Peker, has been releasing weekly video drops from his social media accounts, making allegations about corruption, murder, rape and narcotics offenses against some of Turkey’s most powerful figures, including parliamentarians, former top-ranking security officials, and even Turkey’s interior minister, who has filed a complaint against Peker for slander.

Think of “Narcos” on Netflix.…  Seguir leyendo »

Child watches ceremonial soldiers patrolling in front of Anitkabir mausoleum on the 102nd anniversary of the commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day in Ankara. Photo by ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images.

Although there is no golden era in Turkish-Egyptian relations, the post-2013 period has been exceptionally bad. Turkey was the most vocal opponent of the Egyptian coup of 2013 which removed the country’s first democratically-elected Islamist president Mohammed Morsi from power, while Istanbul became one of the main destinations for the Egyptian opposition fleeing the post-coup crackdown.

Ankara’s relations with the Abdul Fattah al-Sisi regime and the ‘anti-Arab Spring’ camp which included Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) nosedived as a result, and have been largely acrimonious and icy since, with the Libyan conflict and the Eastern Mediterranean crisis further aggravating the situation.…  Seguir leyendo »

El reconocimiento por el presidente Joe Biden del genocidio cometido en 1915 por los Jóvenes Turcos en el Imperio otomano, dio lugar a un aluvión de noticias pronto apagado. En nuestro país predominó la indiferencia, a excepción de un explosivo tuit del exministro Javier Solana, quien encontraba inexplicable la decisión del norteamericano sobre “el supuesto genocidio de 1915” y veía en ello una bofetada a Turquía. Como siempre, la brevedad del tuit se pone al servicio de un pensamiento que opta por la eficacia inmediata sobre la reflexión. Como alto funcionario europeo, Solana tuvo relación inmediata con un acto genocida de la gravedad de Srebrenica.…  Seguir leyendo »

Portada de la carpeta que reúne las gestiones a favor del sacerdote armenio Komitas Vardapet, conservada en el Archivo Histórico Nacional.ARCHIVO HISTÓRICO NACIONAL

El 24 de abril de 1915 Constantinopla se convirtió en el escenario del inicio del Gran Crimen contra el pueblo armenio. Esa noche, cientos de intelectuales fueron deportados en trenes hacia campos de concentración, encarcelados y ejecutados en las mismas calles de la ciudad. Soghomon Soghomonian (1869-1936) dedicó toda su vida a la enseñanza y a la composición de la música armenia, sus cinco sentidos fueron testigos de las atrocidades contra los armenios. Perdió el habla, pero seguramente ni la razón ni el dolor. Una decena de documentos encontrados en el Archivo Histórico Nacional (AHN) pretenden devolver la voz al padre de la música armenia, mostrar que España pudo ser testigo de aquel genocidio, que se ha negado a reconocer oficialmente.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armenians take part in a torchlight procession in Yerevan on April 23 to mark the 106th anniversary of World War I-era mass killings. (Karen Minasyan/AFP) (Afp Contributor#afp/AFP/Getty Images)

On April 24, the Biden administration will formally recognize the Armenian genocide that took place a century ago. This will be the first U.S. administration to make this designation, and it’s not without controversy.

America has long struggled with the implications associated with this deeply polarizing issue — and the domestic and international complexities involved. But the U.S. acknowledgment of a genocide that began in 1915 reflects, fundamentally, an important shift in the 2021 relationship between the U.S. and Turkey.

What happened to the Armenians?

Between 1915 and 1922, up to a million Armenians in Anatolia were killed by Ottoman authorities.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Liberian-flagged cargo vessel Songa Iridium is tugged on Dec. 27, 2019, after it ran ashore in Istanbul. (Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images)

I went for a walk in the woods north of Istanbul last week — through a beautiful old forest that will probably be among the thousands of acres ruined if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan moves ahead with plans to build his craziest project yet: a 30-mile shipping canal parallel to the Bosporus.

Erdogan’s mega project would not just alter Istanbul’s geography. It would also destroy forested areas bordering the Black Sea, damage the city’s freshwater reservoirs and ecosystem, and significantly worsen the local impact of climate change.

Even worse, the plan involves the creation of a second city, expected to grow to 2 million people, along the banks of the new canal.…  Seguir leyendo »

Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a human rights advocate and lawmaker from Turkey's People's Democratic Party, in Ankara, Turkey, on March 17, with colleagues. (AP)

In a ruling Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights just illuminated the utter debasement of the Turkish justice system under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The court condemned the Turkish authorities for their handling of the case of Ahmet Altan, an elderly writer and intellectual who was initially sentenced to life imprisonment (since reduced to 10 years and six months) for allegedly participating in the attempted military coup in 2016. The ECHR ruling found “that there was no evidence that the actions of the applicant had been part of a plan to overthrow the government.” The court’s finding also noted that the prosecution failed to give Altan access to the government’s case against him in addition to other violations of basic due process.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of the Alternative for Germany party assemble in Berlin on May 27, 2018. (Michael Sohn/AP)

Last month, the Turkish government sought to ban the People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Germany denounced the proposal. Turkey alleges that the party is affiliated with the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey, the United States and the European Union designate as a terrorist organization — although the HDP rejects the claim. Germany argues that parties should only be banned as a last resort, since democracy requires a vibrant opposition and a system in which all citizens’ opinions are represented.

But Germany itself has banned, and attempted to ban, parties in the past. Just last month, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency announced its intention to place its largest opposition party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), under surveillance, even though the AfD has no alleged affiliation to terrorist groups.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Revolutionary Guard Corps launches missiles in a drill in Iran on Jan. 15. (Revolutionary Guard Corps/Sepah News/AP)

A year after President Donald Trump ordered a lethal drone strike on Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian government continues to vow revenge. Just last week, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, retweeted a photo of Trump golfing under the shadow of a drone or plane, with the word “vengeance” standing out in red script in the Farsi message.

The killing of Soleimani, a top Iranian military leader in a third-party country (Iraq) — without that country’s permission — raised international concerns about the growing use of targeted drone strikes. But the death of Soleimani also seemed to throw “the drone rulebook” out of the window and open the door to widespread drone misuse.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turquía, una crisis económica en cámara lenta

Los recientes problemas económicos y financieros de Turquía no deberían sorprender a nadie. La triple crisis turca (monetaria, bancaria y de deuda pública) se viene gestando hace años. La pregunta de todos ahora es si la inestabilidad económica alentará inestabilidad política.

La economía turca ya tenía un problema de alta inflación persistente y déficit en aumento incluso antes de la pandemia de COVID‑19. Durante más de una década, las expectativas de inflación superaron la meta del 5% por más de la mitad. Y la lira turca se viene depreciando respecto del dólar desde fines de 2017; en agosto de 2018, la caída llegó al 20%.…  Seguir leyendo »

Desde su descubrimiento, el petróleo y el gas han sido causa directa o indirecta de numerosos conflictos bélicos; la historia reciente está llena de ejemplos. Ahora, Grecia, Chipre y Turquía están enzarzados en una fuerte disputa por el control de los recursos de hidrocarburos en el Mediterráneo oriental. En una situación de emergencia climática mundial que nos aboca a abandonar lo antes posible la era de los combustibles fósiles, estas disputas por seguir buscando petróleo y gas a toda costa resultan un completo sinsentido. Más aún, si cabe, en el área del Mediterráneo, donde los efectos del calentamiento global se están viendo ya con una especial virulencia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Type ‘Who lost Turkey?’ into a search engine and you will find that many pundits are searching for a culprit.

Versions of this question show up in a myriad newspaper headlines, mostly from American publications but not solely: Qui a perdu la Turquie?, Le Monde, 2020; Europa hat die Türkei verloren, Der Spiegel, 2017; ¿Quién ‘perdió’ a Turquía?, El Pais, 2010.

Yet the question tells us more about those asking it than it does about today’s Turkey. Those posing it count on Ankara to follow the lead of Washington or Europe’s capitals, something a quick glance at the history books shows is improbable.…  Seguir leyendo »