As a child watching American Westerns on Turkish television, I saw “Wanted” posters portraying vicious outlaws with a price on their heads. On the last day of 2022, at the age of 61, I found my own name and photo on such a display: the “Terrorist Wanted” list on the website of the Turkish Ministry of the Interior.
Like an Old West poster, it offered a reward: up to 500,000 Turkish lira — approximately $27,000 — for information that would lead to my capture.
What could I have done to deserve this sudden infamy? For the past six years I’ve lived in Germany, working as an independent journalist online and on the radio.… Seguir leyendo »
When I lived in Ankara in the early 2000s, I often spent time with Turks in their 20s and 30s. I recall a particular dinner conversation when we were discussing Turkish foreign policy and the country’s tortured relations with its NATO allies when one of them asked: “Why do Americans and Europeans insist that Turkey is either West or East? Why can’t we just be Turkey?” I fumbled around for an answer citing Turkish interests, the Cold War, and European Union membership before settling on “But Mustafa Kemal Atatürk! He wanted to ‘raise [Turkey] to the level of the most prosperous and civilized nations of the world.’… Seguir leyendo »
Until last year, Air India was a chronically underperforming government-owned airline. It hadn’t made a profit in almost two decades and was saddled with $8 billion in debt. Its planes continued to fly only because the government spent billions to keep them operational.
Finally, one year ago, Air India was sold to the Tata Group, the country’s largest diversified business conglomerate, and now it is set to place orders for 500 aircraft worth $100 billion to help it tap into India’s booming aviation market. Its turnaround should encourage the government to privatize the 250-plus other operations it owns.
These include an array of businesses: defense equipment manufacturing, energy generation, telecommunications, oil production, textile making and many more.… Seguir leyendo »
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan knows a thing or two about winning elections — for example, that the best way to secure a victory is to win before the election date.
On Dec. 14, a Turkish court sentenced Erdogan’s most formidable opponent, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, to two years and seven months in prison. The court (part of a judiciary system largely controlled by the president) also subjected Imamoglu to a political ban. The younger and energetic mayor clearly poses a real threat to Erdogan, whose popularity is sagging as the country prepares for 2023 elections. The president’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is showing a significant decline in support in polls, and Turkey’s economy is facing hyperinflation that can be managed only by cash flows from friendly powers such as Russia or the Gulf Arab states.… Seguir leyendo »
Turkey’s fixation on alleged Kurdish terrorism reached a dangerous flash point this week, as Turkish warplanes bombed targets in northern Syria that are perilously close to U.S. forces there guarding against a resurgence of the Islamic State.
The danger of this latest spasm of Turkish reprisal attacks was described to me on Wednesday by Gen. Mazloum Kobane Abdi, commander of the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF. He said that after three days of Turkish bombing, the SDF could lose its ability to maintain security at prisons and a refugee camp for ISIS fighters and their families.… Seguir leyendo »
I am serving an 18-year sentence and writing this column by hand from a maximum security prison. I am one of seven people recently imprisoned for allegedly organising anti-government protests in 2013 that started after plans to demolish Istanbul’s Gezi Park emerged. Regular readers of The Economist are probably familiar with accounts of deteriorating democratic standards in Turkey. My co-defendants include an architect, a city planner, several academics and civil-society personalities, a film producer and a lawyer. Amnesty International has chosen to classify us as prisoners of conscience. The European Court of Human Rights has already ruled that our judicial process has violated several rights enshrined in the European Charter for Human Rights, and that all results of the trial had to be vitiated.… Seguir leyendo »
El pasado 26 de septiembre, el Servicio Geológico de Dinamarca leyó picos sísmicos en el detector de Bornholm. Casi inmediatamente, el centro de control del gasoducto Nord Stream registra una bajada de presión en el conducto de una lectura normal (alrededor de 10 megapascales) a prácticamente 0. Poco después, un F-16 de la fuerza aérea noruega confirmaba una fuga de gas en el mar Báltico, justo encima del gasoducto.
Dos días más tarde, Radek Sikorski, exministro de Asuntos Exteriores polaco y actual europarlamentario, cuelga un tuit con una foto de la fuga y en la que pone "Gracias EEUU" ("Thank you, USA").… Seguir leyendo »
It’s nice to report something positive for a change. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met in Prague on Thursday — possibly opening up a path to ending one of the modern world’s most intractable conflicts.
We aren’t quite there yet, though.
Though neighbors, Turkey and Armenian have been separated for nearly a century by the Cold War and the weight of the past — the mass killing of Armenians in Anatolia in 1915 that historians view as the first genocide of the 20th century. A Western-brokered attempt at reconciliation more than a decade ago failed, and the border between the two nations has remained sealed for decades.… Seguir leyendo »
On this day four years ago, the world lost a brilliant thought leader, journalist, husband, father and grandfather: Jamal Khashoggi. As his widow, my loss was compounded by the obfuscation of exactly what happened in the days and weeks leading up to his premeditated murder.
Key pieces of evidence that hold these answers rest in Jamal’s personal devices: two mobile telephones, a laptop and a tablet. I believe those devices will reveal previously undisclosed details about Jamal’s murder that are critical to knowing the full truth and advancing the cause of justice. Those devices are in the possession of the government of Turkey.… Seguir leyendo »
Never underestimate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Despite his well-earned record as a ruthless strongman, he has always had an acute sense of when it is time to abandon an unfavorable position. Now, he’s showing it again.
For much of the last decade, Turkey has positioned itself as a regional hegemon, establishing military bases across the Middle East, flexing its muscles in the Mediterranean, and deploying troops in Libya, Syria and Iraq. Erdogan’s revisionism went hand in hand with his plan to spread Turkey’s influence in former Ottoman lands and remodel the region in Turkey’s own image. That included — in cahoots with its ally Qatar — helping like-minded Islamist movements to gain power around the region.… Seguir leyendo »
Mientras Turquía se prepara para las elecciones nacionales de 2023, el presidente Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pierde terreno por la crisis económica que se está gestando y pos las estrategias efectivas de los partidos de la oposición. Bajo el mando de Erdoğan, Turquía se ha convertido en un modelo de autoritarismo populista en los últimos diez años. Pero seis partidos de la oposición recientemente forjaron una alianza opositora unida por una agenda compartida de democratización. Sus esfuerzos merecen sumarse a un libro de tácticas cada vez más grande para competir contra los populistas autocráticos.
A lo largo de los años, Erdoğan ha canalizado un fuerte mayoritarismo en gobernanza autoritaria.… Seguir leyendo »
Un barco cargado de grano zarpó recientemente de un puerto ucraniano. El envío del cargamento (primero que sale del país en meses) ha sido posible gracias al acuerdo entre Rusia y Ucrania, alcanzado con intermediación de Turquía y Naciones Unidas. Para África y Medio Oriente, el acuerdo ofrece un atisbo de esperanza de alivio frente a la grave escasez de alimentos. Para el presidente turco Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, es una victoria diplomática (y no es la primera).
Enfrentado a grandes desafíos internos (entre ellos la creciente oposición política, enormes contingentes de refugiados, una moneda que se derrumba y una economía en descomposición) Erdoğan parece haberse fijado como objetivo acumular logros en política exterior antes de la elección del año entrante; con, por el momento, éxito considerable.… Seguir leyendo »
El 24 de mayo de 2021, tres solicitantes de asilo cameruneses salieron del norte de Chipre en un intento por llegar al sur. Se les negó protección, lo que desencadenó una condena internacional generalizada, y dichos solicitantes quedaron varados en tierra de nadie durante casi siete meses después de que las autoridades chipriotas se negaran a reconocer su solicitud de asilo.
Su difícil situación se debió en parte a la división de facto de la isla desde el año 1974. El cruce de la Línea Verde controlada por las Naciones Unidas que separa la República de Chipre (RdC) reconocida internacionalmente y al norte de Chipre controlado por Turquía (reconocido únicamente por Turquía) se considera ilegal si no está autorizado, incluso en el caso de aquellas personas que la cruzan buscando asilo.… Seguir leyendo »
As evening draws in across Turkey’s frontier with Syria, the trickle of traffic passing through the Öncüpınar border checkpoint turns into a stream. Through one channel, dusty trucks, their loads long emptied, rumble northwards back into Turkey. Through another, Turkish civil servants and aid workers head home after a day’s labour in the war-devastated neighbouring country.
SUVs ferry weary traffic police and hardy looking bomb disposal experts. Minibuses deliver health workers and teachers who disembark to show their identity documents to immigration officials. Yet more vehicles carry customs and religious affairs officials. Virtually every arm of the Turkish state appears to be present during the commute back from northern Syria into Turkey’s Kilis province — even sports ministry staff.… Seguir leyendo »
On Friday, the United Nations secretary general announced that Russia and Ukraine agreed to restart shipments of blockaded grain, a move intended to ease a crisis that has exposed tens of millions of people, especially in Africa and the Middle East, to the threat of famine. The deal, signed in Istanbul, was a diplomatic victory for Turkey.
Earlier in the week in Iran, we saw Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin smile for the cameras in what was Putin’s first major overseas summit since the start of the Ukraine war. “I want to thank you for your mediation efforts”, Putin told Erdogan, according to the Kremlin.… Seguir leyendo »
With NATO’s new Strategic Concept being designed to address a global security environment defined by the great power competition, it was key for Ankara to ensure that the issue of terrorism was not de-emphasized, and so the fact this remained a major part within it was a win for Turkey.
Putting aside major global subjects such as climate, cybersecurity, or competition over space, it is state-centric and conventional security threats that ultimately define the spirit of this document.
Moving forward, Ankara will likely use this document – and its new trilateral memorandum with Sweden and Finland – to press NATO and its members to provide more support in its fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and to refrain from supporting the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and its associated Democratic Union Party (PYD).… Seguir leyendo »
At this week’s NATO summit, President Biden met for the first time in a year with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, setting aside his long-standing issues with the Turkish leader. But Turkey continues to play both sides of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. If the United States is now willing to deal with Ankara, the next deal should center on persuading Erdogan to side with the West on Ukraine.
There’s no love lost between Biden and Erdogan. As a senator, Biden was a regular critic of Turkey, owing in part to the strong Greek American constituency in his home state of Delaware. As vice president, Biden clashed with Erdogan over the Turkish leader’s backsliding on democracy and human rights.… Seguir leyendo »
Did you know that the famous IKEA meatballs are actually Turkish? The legend goes that the meatballs (as well as stuffed cabbage) were actually brought home to Sweden by King Charles XII, who took refuge in the Ottoman Empire for several years after losing a battle with Russia in the early 18th century. The final battle was in Poltava, which is now in central Ukraine, and the Swedish monarch’s opponent was none other than Peter the Great, the tsar who seized parts of Ukraine from the Ottomans and is apparently an inspiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This history, along with the fact that Turkey has long been a champion of NATO enlargement, should make Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more lenient on Sweden and Finland’s bid to join the alliance during this week’s NATO summit in Madrid.… Seguir leyendo »
The democratic West has a long and controversial history of entering alliances of convenience with dictators and strongmen around the world—unsavory but necessary partners in confronting threats to the international order. Denounced as ethically dubious, this sort of stance is also realist, balance-of-power politics par excellence. It enabled the world to unite to defeat Adolf Hitler in World War II and the West to win the Cold War.
Atop the list of unsavory partners the West urgently needs better relations with today sits Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. That he is unsavory is clear: He has actively undermined Turkish democracy, undone decades of liberalization, weaponized migration, terrorized the Kurdish minority both at home and in neighboring Syria, and helped Iran violate U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
La guerra de Rusia contra Ucrania ha permitido que el presidente de Turquía, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, se haga pasar por estadista y pacificador en la región, incluso en momentos en los que él redobla sus esfuerzos por violar los principios democráticos y los derechos humanos en su país. Considere la difícil situación en la que se encuentra Osman Kavala, un destacado filántropo y activista de la sociedad civil quien ha sido recientemente condenado a cadena perpetua sin posibilidad de libertad condicional; esto sucedió cuatro años después de que fue absuelto, enjuiciado de nuevo, y encarcelado una vez más por tribunales que están bajo el control de Erdogan.… Seguir leyendo »