Una niña con mascarilla para protegerse de la covid-19 en el campo de refugiados de Moria, en Grecia.Elias Marcou / REUTERS

Los efectos de la covid-19 se han dejado sentir de forma inmediata en la frontera greco-turca. El miedo a la pandemia ha permitido justificar lo que hasta ahora parecía injustificable: del cierre de facto de los campos de refugiados a la retirada de las ONG de ayuda humanitaria. Incluso se ha vuelto a hablar de concentrar a los refugiados en islas desiertas al estilo de Australia. También como efecto de la covid-19 se han acallado las voces más críticas, ya sea porque el confinamiento en tiempos de confinamiento es más fácil de aceptar o por la suspensión en la práctica del derecho a manifestación cuando lo que impera son medidas de distanciamiento social.…  Seguir leyendo »

Friends and supporters of defendants line up to enter the courtroom at the Silivri Prison and Courthouse complex in Silivri near Istanbul on June 24, 2019. (Huseyin Aldemir/Reuters)

Turkey has become the country with the fastest-rising number of coronavirus cases, with nearly 50,000 cases and nearly 1,000 deaths since the first case was diagnosed on March 10. But rather than addressing these worrisome trends, Turkey’s parliament is busy debating a law to release 90,000 criminals from prison — while keeping political prisoners locked up.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hit multiple birds with one stone by bringing up this bill in a time of crisis. He is redirecting attention from his government’s unsuccessful battle against the novel coronavirus and would, at least partially, mitigate the significant risk that the virus could pose for prison populations by reducing the number of people behind bars.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Turkey, a video of a truck driver went viral this week, as he voiced the feelings of millions of working-class Turkish citizens too poor to observe the government’s stay-home advice.

“Now you are telling me to self-quarantine at home. Man, how can I?” he asked. “I don’t have a pension. Am not a state employee. Am not rich. I am a worker, a truck driver. If I don’t work, I have no bread. I cannot pay the rent, the electricity or water bill. That’s worse than dying. Before you ask us to stay home … stop making a fool of yourself.…  Seguir leyendo »

Istiklal Street in Istanbul, one of the most visited avenues in Turkey, is almost deserted Thursday over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. (Tolga Bozoglu/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Over the past two weeks, Turkey has been witnessing a lethal tug of war between reason and belief — one that shows us again how dangerous politicized religion can be.

Turkish health-care professionals and scientists, led by the Turkish Medical Association, have been advocating fact-based policy responses to the coronavirus pandemic. But they face a powerful opponent in the country’s religious establishment. The government’s enormously influential Directorate of Religious Affairs, an agency that is supposed to regulate the role of Islam, has become one of the key institutions in the fight against covid-19 — and not always for the better.

It was clear from early on that the biggest threat would come from outside Turkey’s borders — and especially from those making their Islamic pilgrimages to Mecca.…  Seguir leyendo »

Migrants wait to board a ferry in the port of Mytilene, on the island of Lesbos, Greece, on March 20. (Vangelis Papantonis/AP)

In the midst of Europe’s coronavirus problem, a new border crisis has flared up. On Feb. 29, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared Turkey would open its European borders. Thousands of migrants from Syria and Afghanistan soon gathered near the Greek border and along the Turkish coast.

What has provoked the current migration crisis and what will happen now?

Buses from Istanbul transported Syrian and Afghan migrants to the no man’s land between Greece and Turkey — but Greek border guards violently repelled them with tear gas and stun grenades. On March 2, 22-year-old Aleppo-born Mohamed El-Arab died after being hit by a rubber bullet.…  Seguir leyendo »

On the night of 27-28 February, Turkey lifted the strict controls it has enforced at its sea and land borders with Greece since March 2016, prompting thousands of migrants to head for the frontier in order to attempt passage into Europe. Ankara’s decision came just an hour after news broke that at least 34 Turkish soldiers had been killed in Idlib, Syria’s last rebel-held bastion. It was the highest death toll the Turkish military had suffered in a single attack in the last two decades, and it exacerbated fears that intensified combat in Idlib would push nearly one million more Syrians into Turkey to join the four million refugees the country has been generously hosting.…  Seguir leyendo »

De las múltiples fases por las que ha pasado la sangrienta guerra civil en Siria, el reciente ataque contra tropas turcas y las represalias posteriores amenazan con arrastrarnos a un conflicto abierto con Rusia, una potencia que aún cuenta con un importante arsenal nuclear.

Además, España mantiene desplegada desde 2015 una batería de misiles Patriot en Turquía, cerca de la frontera con Siria, lo que ha despertado preocupaciones sobre la seguridad de nuestros soldados.

Este último episodio, sumado a la creciente brecha entre los Estados europeos y la Turquía de Erdogan, ha avivado el debate sobre el papel que desempeña Ankara en la arquitectura de seguridad en el continente y su relación con la Unión Europea.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Turkish army convoy drives through the Syrian village of Ram Hamdan, north of the city of Idlib, on 25 February, 2020. Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP

What happened?

An airstrike killed at least 33 Turkish soldiers in Idlib, in the north west of Syria, on 27 February, according to Turkish state media. The strike exacted the highest death toll upon the Turkish military in any single day’s action for more than two decades. Ankara mainly blamed the Syrian regime for the attack on what it called a two-story command headquarters, but hinted as well at Russian responsibility. Russia disclaimed direct involvement but appeared to excuse the attack, saying the Turkish soldiers were in the company of “terrorists”, implying that they were with Syrian rebels.

Whether the strike was deliberate or inadvertent, it is part of a series of increasingly bloody clashes among Turkey, the Syrian regime and Russia over Idlib.…  Seguir leyendo »

Headquarters of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey. Photo: Getty Images.

Since the 2018 economic crisis, when the value of the lira plummeted and borrowing costs soared, Turkey’s economy has achieved a miraculous ‘V-shaped’ economic recovery from a recession lasting three quarters to a return back to quarterly growth above 1 per cent in the first three months of 2019.

But this quick turnaround has been built on vast amounts of cheap credit used to re-stimulate a consumption and construction boom. This so-called ‘triple C’ economy generated a rapid growth spurt akin to a modestly able professional sprinter injected with steroids.

This has made the currency vulnerable. The lira has steadily depreciated by 11 per cent against the US dollar since the beginning of 2019 and crossed the rate of 6 lira versus the US dollar on 7 February.…  Seguir leyendo »

Distribución fuerzas en Siria

La guerra de Siria se inicia en 2011, en medio de las denominadas primaveras árabes, y al igual que sucede con el caso libio, parece no tener fin el conflicto militar y contar con un mayor número de intereses en juego. Al complicado tablero se ha incorporado Turquía, que siempre había tenido una actividad indirecta, y que parece ser que sus líderes no han querido desaprovechar la ocasión para lograr establecer su liderazgo, en este caso, en el área del norte de Siria o en su caso aprovechar la ocasión para generar una especie de “glacis de seguridad”.

Turquía iniciaba una ofensiva contra las milicias kurdas en el norte de Siria, denominada “Operación Manantial de Paz”, oficialmente Ankara considera “terroristas” a las Unidades de Protección Popular (kurdos sirios) por sus posibles vínculos con el proscrito Partido de los Trabajadores de Kurdistán, la guerrilla kurda activa en Turquía, y por tanto la versión oficial es que suponía un alto riesgo de inestabilidad a través de una frontera que se convertía en un coladero para los movimientos y acciones terroristas kurdas en suelo turco.…  Seguir leyendo »

Women protest in Istanbul on March 8, 2017. (Emrah Gurel/AP)

If the law is a reflection of normative attitudes toward women, gender and family, then Turkey’s most recent “marry your rapist” bill accurately captures the situation women face globally. The bill — first debated on Jan. 16 — would provide an amnesty for men convicted of statutory rape, provided that they marry their victim. It is the latest example of how governments around the world are failing to protect women — and even institutionalizing inequities that put them in danger.

The bill, which has already elicited an outcry from human rights groups, is not the first time Turkey has tried to pass such a law.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mahmud Turkia/AFP via Getty Images Fighters loyal to the Government of National Accord, which has been reinforced by Turkish-backed Syrian militia forces, at a lookout post near the front line, Tripoli, Libya, January 12, 2020

At a mud-caked intersection this month, some hundred-and-fifty feet from the front line, a lanky militia fighter approached and then abruptly turned around when he saw me, a Westerner. I’ve been covering Libya’s conflicts for years and noticed some minor but distinctive details about his appearance: a do-rag tied around his head, an olive green tactical vest, and perhaps a certain military bearing. The Libyan commander I was with confirmed it, with a chuckle: “That’s not a Libyan look.”

Fifteen minutes later, I was inside a poured-concrete villa that served as the living quarters for a group of war-hardened Syrian fighters.…  Seguir leyendo »

A street in Balat neighborhood of Istanbul, August 2018Credit...Orhan Pamuk

When did I first notice that the color of streetlamps and interior lights in Istanbul had slowly changed from yellow to white over the past ten years? It has transformed the nighttime landscape of the city I have lived in for 66 years, and yet it is always difficult to recall — as with aging, or with political or climate change — the precise moment in which one first becomes aware of this kind of thing.

During my boyhood and youth, white light was something cold that issued from fluorescent lamps. White light filled hospitals, warehouses, factories, waiting rooms and refrigerators.…  Seguir leyendo »

This week, Libyan cease-fire talks brokered by Russia and Turkey addressed the country’s latest bout of conflict, which has claimed more than 2,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of Libyans. Negotiations took place between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and rival Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF).

Russia and Turkey’s involvement represented a change in international engagement with Libya’s conflict, as they asserted their leadership in the political process and attempted to sideline Western countries and the United Nations. It looked as if it was set to pay off. The prime minister of the GNA, Fayez Serraj, agreed to the deal, but commander of the LAAF, Khalifa Hifter, left Moscow without signing.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los críticos del presidente turco Recep Tayyip Erdoğan en el extranjero lo consideran un megalómano cuasidictatorial. Pero ahora Erdoğan (que fue primer ministro de Turquía durante once años antes de ser elegido presidente en 2014) también es un apostador imprudente. Turquía ha comenzado a desplegar tropas en Libia a pedido del Gobierno de Acuerdo Nacional (GAN), que tiene el respaldo de Naciones Unidas y lleva ocho meses rodeado en Trípoli por el avance de las fuerzas del Ejército Nacional Libio (ENL) comandadas por el mariscal Khalifa Haftar.

Será una locura en sentido militar y diplomático. Erdoğan ya tiene al lado de Turquía el perturbador ejemplo del conflicto sirio.…  Seguir leyendo »

Aphrodite rose gracefully out of the waters of the eastern Mediterranean and its Nereids guided sailors in distress. How did this sea, cradle of so many civilisations, end up as a military flashpoint? This year its eastern shores could become Europe’s equivalent of the South China Sea, bristling with great power tension, or a model for co-operation. I would like to believe the latter but it is going to require a leap of faith in the ability of hard-nosed autocrats to give ground and in terrorist groups to show restraint. That’s a stretch.

Let’s start with the positive. The discovery of large undersea hydrocarbon reserves is giving shape to a new regional constellation: Egypt and Cyprus, Israel and Greece.…  Seguir leyendo »

Busra Nur Calar is the talk of Turkey, thanks to several stunning videos of her fabulous life. Here she is at the center of her amazingly over-the-top wedding. And there she is carrying her newborn baby through the doors of the family’s Ottoman-style palace (to the tune of a lullaby specially commissioned for the occasion).

There are two reasons her videos have become part of a national debate. One is that Busra Nur wears a headscarf, prompting conservative Islamists to attack her for her fondness for the finer things in life. The other is that her husband spent part of his career working in the Ministry of Health.…  Seguir leyendo »

Whenever President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a speech, most Turkish news networks broadcast it live, no matter the topic. That’s the way things work these days. But sometimes one can learn more from what’s not broadcast — as when former prime minister and Erdogan ally Ahmet Davutoglu announced last week the formation of a new political party in a large hall with supporters. No network picked it up, fearing the government’s wrath.

Davutoglu is a heavyweight in conservative circles, and his challenge to Erdogan is significant in tipping the balance further in favor of the opposition forces calling for an end to Turkey’s authoritarian nightmare.…  Seguir leyendo »

Students of Mehmet Akif College in Kosovo protest the arrest and deportation of their teachers in Pristina March 29, 2018. (Visar Kryeziu/AP)

A few weeks ago, in a meeting with Turkish parliamentarians not long after President Trump’s announcement that U.S. special forces had killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that he regarded the U.S. president as a role model:

“Some countries eliminate terrorists whom they consider as a threat to their national security, wherever they are,” he said. “This means they accept that Turkey has the same right.” He then hinted about his target: “This includes the terrorists they shake hands with and praised. I hope we will have good news for the nation on this matter soon.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkey’s October invasion of Syria forced the United States to withdraw from territory it de-facto controlled along the border and prompted the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to reach a narrow, security-focused arrangement with the Syrian regime to return to a series of towns and territory in the northeast. The Turkish armed forces have separately reached an agreement with the United States and Russia for a safe-zone, spanning the territory between Tel Abyad and Ras al Ayn and extending down to the M4 highway. This Turkish zone fall far short of Ankara’s original plan to take control over the entirety of the northeast, but prompted the Syrian Kurds to invite the regime and the Russian Federation back to territory Damascus had abandoned in 2012.…  Seguir leyendo »