VOL. 7, NO. 16, 10 SEPTEMBER 2014

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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By John Daly (vol. 7, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)

As armed conflict ravages Syria and Iraq, Turkey risks adding to the social and political tensions to its south by cutting the water flow of the Euphrates, which originates in southeastern Turkey and is Western Asia’s longest river, to downstream states. Compounding Iraqi misery, the Islamic State (IS) has been using water as a weapon of war. As unrest continues to roil the Fertile Crescent, whether water is used as a tool of inconsiderate state policy or a weapon of war, the suffering of civilians and farmers has dire political consequences. What is certain is that Turkey’s ambitious GAP program is adding to the misery of the downstream populations. 

KebanDam

The question that continues to preoccupy many commentators in the Turkish press is the direction that President Erdoğan is taking Turkey. Baskın Oran, a leading political scientist and pundit, drew a historical parallel to the epochs of Atatürk and the sultan Abdülhamid II, noting that Erdoğan is copying Atatürk in his methods, while copying Abdülhamid II ideologically. Meanwhile, the statement that General Necdet Özel, the Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish military, made during the official state reception on August 30 that the military is held in the dark about the peace negotiations between the government and the Kurdish movement and that the military is going to react if its “red lines” are crossed, was welcomed in a comment in the daily Zaman. It was noted that the words of the military deserves to be listened to and that a solution that lacks the support of the armed forces does not stand any chance of success.

 Media

By Halil Karaveli (vol. 7, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)

The appointment of Ahmet Davutoglu to head the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) represents a doubling down on the party’s Sunni Islamic ideology. But ideology alone will not be sufficient to keep the AKP in power. The self-confident ideological rhetoric that proclaims the advent of a “New Turkey” masks what is in fact a fragile economic reality. Such rhetoric is not indefinitely going to be a substitute for the kind of material progress absent which the prospects for the “New Turkey” and its power-holders look bleak.

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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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