VOL. 7, NO. 17, 24 SEPTEMBER 2014

By Micha’el Tanchum (vol. 7, no. 17 of the Turkey Analyst)

The defense ministers of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia conducted their first trilateral summit in mid-August, adopting specific measures to regularizetheir defense cooperation.  Ankara’s participation in the nascent South Caucasus collective security alliance is motivated by Turkey’s ambition to become a leading Eurasian energy and commercial transportation hub and its need therefore to secure the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline and the Baku-Tblisi-Kars railway by providing a credible deterrent against increasing Russian interference in the region.

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By Hendrik Müller (vol. 7, no. 17 of the Turkey Analyst)

A series of workplace accidents in Turkey during the last months have brought attention to the dire conditions of labor rights in the country. While Turkey’s economic growth rates during the last decade have received much international attention, and the country has been praised for its economic policies, the conditions of labor have escaped international scrutiny. The dark side of the Turkish economic “miracle” is an insufficient regulatory framework, coupled with a history of suppressing dissent and the formation of unions. Turkish workers are subjected to severely hazardous working conditions, with Turkey ranking second only to China in the number of accidents at the workplace and first in the number of work-related fatalities of all OECD nations.  The member states of the European Union can make a difference by reminding Turkey that progress in the membership process requires compliance with EU standards in this respect as well.

Miners in Soma coal mine

The question whether or not and to what extent Turkey is going to participate in the fight against ISIS is at the center of the attention of the Turkish columnists after the release of the Turkish hostages held by ISIS. Abdülkadir Selvi in the leading pro-government daily Yeni Şafak writes that Turkey is never going to participate in operations “directed against the Islamic world.”  Ali Bayramoğlu, also in Yeni Şafak, writes that Turkey is concerned that the fight against ISIS is going to bestow new legitimacy on Bashar al-Assad, and that the PKK is going to become empowered as a part of the coalition. Ergun Babahan on the t24 news site cites Kurdish news sources that claim that Turkey has been providing weapons and ammunition to ISIS forces that have laid siege on Kobane, and warns that the Kurds cannot be controlled by using the methods of the Cold War.

Media

By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 7, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)

On October 12, 2014, Turkey’s judges and prosecutors will choose ten members of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) in an election which is likely to have far-reaching repercussions both for the government’s campaign against followers of the exiled Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen and the broader issue of political control over the judiciary.

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  • Turkey and Syria’s Jihadis: More than Free Passage?
    Wednesday, 22 May 2013 12:24
    Turkey and Syria’s Jihadis: More than Free Passage?

    by Murad Batal al-Shishani (vol. 6, no. 10 of the Turkey Analyst)

    On February 20, 2013, Syrian rebels and the Kurdish militia—which had fought each other for months in a town near the Turkish border—agreed to a ceasefire. Ras al-Ain is an ethnically mixed town of Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Chechens, and so on. In the past few months, the town has become a theatre playing out Turkey’s fears concerning the ongoing crisis in Syria, its role and the relationship with various armed groups there, including jihadists. In addition to its close relations with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Turkey has supported local jihadist groups in Ras al-Ain, while it appears to have proven unable to control or open links with the most influential jihadist group, al-Nusra.

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  • A Special Kind of Awful: The State of the Turkish Media
    Wednesday, 08 May 2013 09:25
    A Special Kind of Awful: The State of the Turkish Media

    by Andrew Finkel (vol. 6, no. 9 of the Turkey Analyst)

    International organizations whose business it is to monitor press independence have again in recent months questioned the Turkish government’s commitment to enshrine freedom of expression as a basic right. The brunt of such criticism is focused on the government’s watering down of promised reforms and a seeming unwillingness to surrender the ability to detain political adversaries. The courts still retain wide powers of pre-trial arrest. These correspond to a form of pre-trial internment, and the result is that punishment is meted out at the commencement of lengthy prosecutions rather than after sentencing. An unacceptably broad definition of abetting terrorism means that many individuals are penalized not for acts they commit but the opinions they express. Yet however sharp and well directed such criticism may be, they do not in themselves analyze or address the deterioration of ublic realm in Turkey. Nor do they highlight a culture of complicity whereby press organizations are themselves instrumental in imposing restrictions on the range and depth of public debate.

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  • The Diverging Paths of Abdullah Gül and Tayyip Erdogan
    Wednesday, 24 April 2013 14:17
    The Diverging Paths of Abdullah Gül and Tayyip Erdogan

    by Svante E. Cornell (vol. 6, no. 8 of the Turkey Analyst)

    Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hardly hides his ambition to accede to the presidency under a new constitution providing for a presidential system. Yet his ambition for a further concentration of power in his own hands is beginning to generate unlikely counter-forces. Chief among these is the growing coordination among other forces on the Turkish political spectrum – including the CHP, the Fethullah Gülen movement, and president Abdullah Gül. The latter, in particular, is beginning to more vocally distance himself from Erdoğan in both domestic and foreign affairs. While it may be too early to talk of a rupture, Gül is becoming an important counter-balance to Erdoğan.

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Joint Center Publications

Analysis Halil Karaveli and Svante E. Cornell, "Davutoglu and the 'New Turkey': The Closing of a 'Hundred Year Old Parenthesis", Bipartisan Policy Center, August 26, 2014.

Analysis
Svante E. Cornell, "Working with President Erdogan: A Transactional Relationship", Bipartisan Policy Center, August 21, 2014.

Analysis
Halil M. Karaveli, "Erdogan's Achilles Heel: Why the Prime Minister will Win the Election, but Lose the Economy", Foreign Affairs, August 8, 2014.

Analysis
Blaise Misztal, Halil Karaveli, and Svante Cornell, "Foreign Policy Reset Unlikely Under President Erdogan", The American Interest, August 7, 2014.

Analysis 
Svante E. Cornell, "President Erdogan? A Personalized System of Power" Bipartisan Policy Center, August 7, 2014.

Timeline Hendrik Müller, Turkey's December 17 Process: A Timeline of the Graft Investigation and the Government's Response, Joint Center electronic publication, June 2014.


Monograph
Eric S. Edelman, Svante E. Cornell, Aaron Lobel, Michael Makovsky, The Roots of Turkish Conduct: Understanding the Evolution of Turkish Policy in the Middle East, Washington: Bipartisan Policy Center, December 2013. 

 

 

The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It is published bi-weekly, and includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.

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