VOL. 7, NO. 18, 08 OCTOBER 2014

By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 7, no. 18 of the Turkey Analyst)

On October 7, 2014, Turkey was swept by some of the most violent civil unrest in a generation. At least 23 people were killed and hundreds injured in an eruption of Kurdish nationalist anger at Ankara’s perceived indifference to the apparently imminent capture by the Islamic State of the predominantly Kurdish Syrian border town of Kobane.

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By Kemal Kaya (vol. 7 no. 18 of the Turkey Analyst) 

The Turkish political system is parliamentarian. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may have succeeded in neutering of the role of the constitutionally designated executive, the government, but that is only temporary. Sooner or later, the dynamics of the political system are going to assert themselves. The prime minister, even Ahmet Davutoğlu, if he retains the post after the 2015 general election, is set to eventually reclaim power from the president.

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The U.S.-led attacks against ISIS are criticized by Islamist commentators in Turkey. Ali Bulaç, a leading Islamist intellectual, writes that the attacks lack legitimacy in the eyes of the mainstream Sunni Arab world. Abdülkadir Selvi in the pro-government daily Yeni Şafak writes that Turkey is not going to allow the use of the İncirlik air base in the attacks, as this would expose Turkey to the danger of being attacked by ISIS. Taner Akçam in Taraf writes that it is highly unlikely that Turkey would go to war against ISIS, as the organization is Sunni Islamic. Ergun Babahan on the t24 news site delivers a harsh indictment of the Turkish government, which he accuses of supporting ISIS as a proxy force against the Kurds in Syria.

Media

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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  • 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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