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 »

Muhammed Nur /Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Members of the Syrian National Army participating in Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring, Ras al-Ayn district, northern Syria, October 13, 2019

A small Turkish flag was standing on the desk of the offices of the Turkish-backed faction in a residential area of Şanlıurfa, in southern Turkey. The men in the room, most of them veteran fighters from eastern Syria, were expecting me and did their best to locate a Syrian revolutionary flag in time for our meeting in the summer of 2019. They could not find one. Everything about the meeting, its location, décor, and content, indicated to me that the men in the room were not the ones in charge. They hoped soon to launch an offensive on northeastern Syria, but had no idea when the real decision-makers, Turkish officials, would give them their marching orders.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Fuat Oktay, Turkey’s vice-president, declared: ‘They said it was because of hunger – that’s not true. We do not have any information that the deaths were due to poverty.’’ Photograph: Alamy

Fatih is known as one of the most conservative districts of Istanbul. Last week some people in the area saw a note attached to the door of a flat: “Beware! There’s cyanide inside. Call the police. Don’t enter.” Whoever wrote the note had clearly wanted to protect the neighbours from a toxic substance. When the police arrived they found four bodies – two men, two women, aged between 48 and 60. The dead were all from the same family, the Yetişkins, who had been residents of the neighbourhood for decades. The siblings had, according to friends, also lived in unemployment and penury – the wages of one sister, a music teacher, used to keep creditors at bay.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a military salute during an address to parliament in Ankara on Oct. 30. (Burhan Ozbilici/AP)

Late one night in June, Nurcan Baysal, a Kurdish journalist and human rights defender, was watching TV at her home in Diyarbakir, in Turkey’s southeast. Her younger son was playing with Legos, and her oldest was busy with his phone. At half past midnight, a terrifying noise shook them all. At first they thought it was an earthquake, or perhaps a bomb. Baysal sent the boys back to their rooms and ran to the door.

Some 20 or so anti-terrorism officers were trying to break down her front door, which proved too solid; the walls cracked instead. She let the balaclava-clad agents wielding rifles in through the veranda door.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why did Turkey intervene in Syria? Most commentators are explaining this decision by referring to the Turkish-Kurdish conflict, andTurkey’s goal of removing the Kurdish militias — that control areas in northern Syria — from its border. Observers also are focusing on President Trump’s decision toabandon Kurdish allies.

What has been lost in the focus on U.S. foreign policy are the3.6 million Syrian refugees that reside in Turkey — the highest number of refugees hosted by any country in the world. The growing public dissatisfaction in Turkey with the presence of Syrian refugees is key to understanding the decision to launch the operation in Syria — an operation that aims atestablishing a safe zone where the refugees can be resettled.…  Seguir leyendo »

Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images Mourners attending the funerals of Syrian Democratic Forces fighters killed in battles against Turkish forces, Qamishli, Syria, October 14, 2019

Qamishli, Syria—When my mom called to ask me where I was, I lied to her. Sometimes I do not want to worry her, as I’m often reporting on stories from places that aren’t safe. When she said, “Get ready to move,” I realized something was wrong. Qamishli was under attack. “Can’t you hear the shelling?” she screamed. She lives in Rimelan, a city an hour away, but she was here to visit my brother. The Turks were targeting my neighborhood, she said.

That was Wednesday afternoon, October 9, the first day of Turkey’s attack on Rojava, Western Kurdistan, as we call it in Kurdish.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’invasion par la Turquie du nord de la Syrie, peuplé par les Kurdes qui nous ont aidés à vaincre l’organisation Etat islamique (EI), justifierait qu’on l’expulse de l’OTAN non seulement par des considérations morales, mais aussi par une froide analyse de notre sécurité.

Les termes du cessez-le-feu provisoire, arrangé le 17 octobre entre la Turquie et les Etats-Unis, entérinent les buts militaires d’Erdogan : chasser les Kurdes de chez eux et annexer la moitié de Rojava. Ce que les Etats-Unis proposent maintenant aux Kurdes après les avoir abandonnés, c’est tout simplement de déguerpir, c’est-à-dire de laisser le terrain à l’occupant. Les Turcs le disent clairement : « Nous avons eu ce que nous voulions. …  Seguir leyendo »

Reajustes a la turca

La pausada pero persistente intervención turca en el norte kurdo de Siria podría recordar a la Operación Sol que lanzó Ankara contra el PKK a través de la frontera con Irak, de eso hace casi 11 años. La diferencia fundamental es que la zona de ataque de las dos brigadas mecanizadas turcas participantes en la actual Operación Manantial de Paz, como el resto de Siria, sigue en carne viva desde que comenzara la guerra civil, hace ya más de ocho años. Y que por el camino alumbró la contienda contra el denominado Estado Islámico, compartida con Irak. Todo ello atrajo una persistente intervención de grandes potencias y actores regionales y ahora mismo existe el temor de que la presión militar turca pueda llevar a punto de ebullición a toda la zona.…  Seguir leyendo »

Donald Trump walks from Marine One to Air Force One at Ocala International Airport on 3 October. Photo: Getty Images.

A tactical approach to Turkey has failed

Lindsay Newman

The US approach to Turkey under President Donald Trump has been tactical, consisting of a series of mixed signals.

In August 2018, the US imposed sanctions on several Turkish officials to pressure for the release of detained American pastor Andrew Brunson. With the Turkish lira plummeting, Brunson was released in October of that year.

In a separate incident, after squeezing Turkey economically, the US offered to work with Turkey in the investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But later, the White House considered reopening the case of the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, long sought by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a bid to convince Turkey to reduce pressure on Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi killing.…  Seguir leyendo »