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WHY IS TURKEY INVADING SYRIA?

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WHY IS TURKEY INVADING SYRIA?

Ahmet Dogan, Syria|

WHY IS TURKEY INVADING SYRIA? The Turkish Ministry of Defence published a press release stating, “Today, as of 16.00, the Turkish Armed Forces launched the implementation of the ‘Operation Peace Spri [...]

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  • A political Islamist party that comes to power by popular vote would never leave power by popular vote. That suggestion is overwhelmingly accurate. But not always. Any Turks younger than 18 has never seen an election defeat for (former prime minister) President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. On June 23 a little-known small district mayor won Istanbul for the first time since Islamists first won Istanbul’s mayorship in 1994 – a good quarter of a century. In fact, that was the second time Ekrem Imamoğlu won Istanbul in less than two months. “Who wins Istanbul wins Turkey,” has been Erdoğan’s dictum since 1994, when he won mayoral elections in Turkey’s biggest city (home to nearly 15% of Turkey’s 57 million voters and accounting for 31% of its GDP). The headline on the Istanbul election, on May 27, was “Erdoğan’s Istanbul Nightmare.” “…[S]ince his Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, [Erdoğan] has not lost a single election. Everything was coming up roses all the time. Not anymore,” he [Erdoğan] has not lost a single election. Everything was coming up roses all the time. Not anymore,” wrote this author. On the roundup on March 31, Imamoğlu and his pro-Erdoğan rival, Binali Yıldırım, were in an unseen cutthroat rivalry: The opposition’s Imamoğlu finished on top merely by a margin of 13,000 or so votes in a city where there are more than 10 million registered voters. Upon appeal from Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AKP) over alleged irregularities, the Supreme Electoral Board, consisting of judges apparently under government pressure, cancelled the election result for Istanbul, thereby suspending Imamoğlu’s mandate. The Board also set the date for a re-run on June 23 (the Board cancelled the election result on the pretext that some officials serving at the polling stations were not civil servants, as required by the law.) The invincible Erdoğan took a great risk: a second loss for the man who thinks “whoever wins Istanbul wins Turkey” would mean just more than just an embarrassing mayoral loss. Comparatively speaking, , the difference in votes between Imamoğlu and Erdoğan’s candidate, Yıldırım, widened within less than two months from 13,000 to nearly 800,000. The change in top management in Turkey’s biggest city (16 million) could unleash a flood of embarrassing corruption dossiers. “It appears that losing Istanbul entails too many risks for the AKP for the matter to be left to its own resources. Many are convinced that if the AKP were to lose Istanbul to the opposition, after having held it – with its precursor – for 25 years, a hornet’s nest of vested interests, corruption, and abuse of power would be revealed,” wrote Semih Idiz, a columnist for Sigma Turkey, an Ankara-based think tank. “Had he done the politically correct thing and accepted the defeat in Istanbul nobly he would have elevated his moral stature. As matters stand he and his party have been tainted and it is difficult to understand how they expect to reap any benefits from this.” How did Erdoğan’s millions of fanatically devoted fans abandon him when he needed them most? True most observers agree that Imamoğlu also benefited from portraying himself as the victim [of an election board] whose mandate was illegally revoked. But it is not a coincidence that the AKP’s first every single crash came at a time when the average Turk felt the economic plight in its worst. The Turkish economy has seen its worst performance in nearly a decade, indicating that last year’s near 30% slide in the lira had tipped it into recession. On May 7, only six weeks before the re-run, as further political unrest weighed on the nation’s currency, the Turkish lira slumped to its lowest level in seven months. Justin Low, an analyst at ForexLive, attributed the lira plunge to the electoral board’s controversial decision. Meanwhile, Turkey’s unemployment rate “surged to 14.7 percent in the December-February period, its highest level in nearly a decade… The Turkish economy contracted a sharper than expected 3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, its worst performance in nearly a decade, indicating that last year’s near 30 percent slide in the lira had tipped it into recession.” If historians would one day write the story of Turkish political history in the early 20th century they will have to divide their work into pre- and post-June 23 election. The vulnerability of the Turkish economy, huge corporate debts at high interest rates and a potential slide of the Turkish lira may all force the AKP into an early presidential election (now scheduled for 2023). The more the masses start feeling the economic pressure, the more Erdoğan’s popularity will sink. Who would have guessed that a 13-year-old opposition youth’s shout at Imamoğlu’s election bus would become the slogan of hope for tens of millions of Turks: “Erkem! Everything is coming up roses…” “When I look at him,” says Imamoğlu, “I see hope.” Originallyu published at: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/14442/istanbul-everything-is-coming-up-roses

  • Well, the answer of this question is surely complicated. I doubt even the people in power know the answer. Kadir Has University annually watches Turkish public’s perception of the foreign policy. This year the university again conducted its poll in 26 cities with a thousand people. Questions about Turkey’s foreign policy were asked. One thing is important while evaluating the answers: this year ten percent less people defined themselves as Islamist/conservative. Turks started to define themselves more as nationalists or Kemalists. There are just details of course but what the poll says overall is simple. Turks do not want chaos anymore. Disillusions of leading the Middle East as in the Ottoman era is over. Now it is time to be realistic, and Turks can be good realists when they choose to. Turks are once again looking up to the West. Soli Özel, who is one of the academicians says the poll shows that Turkish people do not want clashes in foreign policy anymore. Turks want to have a strategically important country but they do not want a fight. According to Özel, Turks actually want to be a Western country, however because of their deep distrust, they look for partners among Turkic states. Özel basically says that Turks want talks, Turks want diplomacy. After years of stalled negotiations, 61.1 percent still say Turkey should be an EU member. This ratio last year was 55.1 percent. Prof Dr. Mustafa Aydın who lead the team that conducted the research says, as Turkey is becoming more isolated, people start feeling the need to approach the EU. Although only 32 percent think that Turkey will ever join the EU, 53 percent think the accession talks should continue nevertheless. Apparently, Turks still see the EU membership as a valuable anchor in shaping the system. I wonder if all those EU funds to support free Turkish press paid off in the end. 90.5 percent say they are getting their information about foreign policies from internet portals and social networks. Considering the increasing influence of networks like DW Türkçe, BBC Türkçe, and +90, Turks might be seeing less anti-Western and ant-EU rhetoric that is the staple of national TV channels and newspapers, which are now almost all pro-government. PYD/YPG is Still “The Issue” 62 percent of those polled think Turkey should improve her relations with other countries. 29.7 percent thinks Turkey is conducting a successful foreign policy whereas 38.8 percent thinks the opposite. There is a sharp decline here as a year ago 41.7 percent had approved of Turkey’s foreign policies in general. Mustafa Aydın says the public supported Operation Olive Branch but once the hype died down, people started seeing the results of the foreign policy. Aydın points out that AKP voters started to complain about the direction Turkey’s foreign policy was taking. Perception towards the US is however is another bumpy issue. Soli Özel says, although Turks do not see the US as an ally, they do not want Turkey to be in a clash with the US. 5.4 percent thinks US is Turkey’s friend. Still, people recognize and respect the military cooperation between the two countries. And the approach towards YPG/PYD still seems to be a core problem. 26.1 percent believe there is strategic cooperation between Russia and Turkey. 13.4 percent further think that the cooperation is a close one. However, when asked about the specific areas of this cooperation, people did not mention the military aspect but instead mention tourism, energy and trade. 20.3 percent thinks Russia is Turkey’s ally. Turks overall believe that Azerbaijan and Turkic Republics are Turkey’s true ultimate friends and Turkey should be cooperating more with them. However, 44.9 percent think Turkey should be prioritizing cooperation with Europe -a number that was just 35 percent last year. 50 percent think NATO is helping Turkey. It Seems Like People Actually Don’t Know Much About S400 And F35s And we arrive at the main question: Should Turkey buy the S400s? A decent 44 percent says, in spite of possible US sanctions Turkey should go ahead and buy them. Both AKP and CHP voters think Turkey should be going for the S400s. It is interesting that there seems to be no national divide on this topic as there is in others. Still, there is serious doubt about whether people actually know what S400s are. 19 percent says they recognize S400 to be missiles with 10 percent naming them as a Russian missile system. 22.9 percent know F35s to be war planes, but only 3.4 of those polled correctly name them as an American vehicle. And only 1.4 percent can correctly state that it is the war plane that was produced in cooperation with the US. 37.4 percent say they have never heard of s400s; 41.1 percent say they have never heard of F35s. 20 percent think the most important issue in Turkish foreign policy is the relations with the US. 12 percent believe it is the civil war in Syria, 10.5 percent name the existence of PYD/YPG in Syria. 4.8 percent think that the purchase of the s400 systems is the most important issue in Turkish foreign policy.

  • The balloting in Istanbul on June 23 was in fact a contest between the Republican Peoples Party’s (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan’s acerbic remarks about Imamoglu prior to the elections also proved this. Binali Yildirim, the candidate for Istanbul mayor from Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), was of secondary importance in this race. The elections on June 23 were a rerun of the elections on March 31 which Yildirim lost to Imamoglu by a margin of 13000 votes. Erdogan was much more upfront than Yildirim in the campaigning for the March 31 elections and his tone then was also abrasive and divisive. This approach, however, did not bring Yildirim the victory Erdogan had hoped for. He was determined, however, not to let Istanbul fall into the hands of the opposition after 25 years. Erdogan also recalled that becoming mayor of Istanbul can carry you all the way to the top. That, after all, was his path to power too. Not prepared to accept the results on March 31, Erdogan used his hold over the judiciary and got the vote for Istanbul mayor annulled on questionable grounds that even many of his own supporters failed to understand. Hundreds of thousands of traditional AKP voters had stayed at home during the elections on March 31. With help from his advisors, Erdogan believed that if these people could be energized into going to the ballot box Yildirim would win the rerun by a safe margin. That turned out to be a gross miscalculation resulting in a 59-fold increase in Imamoglu’s margin over Yildirim. The 800000 extra votes that Imamoglu garnered on June 23 shocked Erdogan and his advisors, ministers, and supporters. The ugly tactics they employed against Imamoglu during the brief campaign period before the rerun vote rebounded on them in a way they never expected. They realize now that that Imamoglu’s victory points to serious political implications for Erdogan and the AKP if a fresh approach can’t be found to regain public confidence. A significant sign of this awareness came when Erdogan – having been left with no other choice – had to bite the bullet and congratulate Imamoglu for his resounding victory. Having always underlined the importance of the ballot box when it suited him, Erdogan’s image would have sustained even more damage if he somehow also questioned the results of the rerun elections for Istanbul mayor. He has to operate under the shadow of these results now and his words and actions will matter even more henceforth. These will also have serious implications for his political future, as well as that of the AKP. Put simply, Erdogan has to tone down his angry, accusative, and divisive rhetoric over the coming period if he is to recoup the losses he incurred in the Istanbul elections. Internationally Turkey is increasingly giving the impression of being a beleaguered and isolated country. Erdogan will also have to recalibrate his approach to diplomacy now. The Turkish public, which is increasingly fed up with political infighting at home, is also unhappy to see Turkey turning into a country that is at odds with the world. In 2017 Erdogan pushed for an executive presidency that is unencumbered by any system of checks and balances, and in the end, became Turkey’s sole leader. The results of the municipal elections in Istanbul, however, have also started a debate on whether Erdogan’s presidential system suits Turkey. It is significant that this debate is also growing within AKP circles. If we are to put the matter in a nutshell, Erdogan has painted himself into a “lose-lose” corner. Had he accepted the results of the March 31 elections for Istanbul, Imamoglu would have been the mayor. The small margin with which he won the elections would, nevertheless, have left Erdogan’s shadow looming over him. Now, however, the roles have changed. It is Imamoglu’s shadow that looms over Erdogan. Erdogan will, therefore, have to transform himself politically if he wants to extricate himself from the tricky position that his mistaken strategies and tactics have landed him in. The big question is, can he do this? Put in a nutshell we are faced with an Erdogan versus Erdogan situation. The outcome of this will have serious implications for Turkey, let alone for Erdogan and the AKP.

  • The Greek propaganda machine was quick in trying to portray as “unimpressive” a not-so-accustomed Turkish presentation in Ankara, and later in Brussels, on Turkey’s legitimate and inalienable rights in the eastern Mediterranean. It was claimed that diplomats from Turkey’s European allies and other countries, particularly the Israelis and the Egyptians, were not impressed with Turkish briefings. Kathimerini newspaper underlined that a Greek diplomat was among the diplomatic guests of the Ankara briefing and reported that “sources” told it that diplomats attending that meeting met with skepticism the presentation made by Çağatay Erciyes, the director general for bilateral political and maritime, aviation and border affairs. Why this panic? Was it up to Greek diplomats to decide whether other countries were impressed or not with the information they were provided? Irrespective of how it was perceived by Greece, or the Greek Cypriot state, Turkey’s operations in the eastern Mediterranean are held within the contours of its continental shelf and in areas where the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has issued a license to operate to Turkish Petroleum, the Turkey’s state-run oil company. The petroleum company’s drilling activity, which started on May 3 and will continue in line with the program announced, demonstrated Turkey’s determination not to bow to fait accomplis by either Greece, Greek Cypriots or their partners. Obviously, nothing can be accomplished in the eastern Mediterranean by bypassing or refusing to engage Turkey. Admitting the Greek Cypriot government into the European Union in 2004 was a big mistake that today even most European countries admit. Greece, holding its European partners hostage because of Germany’s eastern expansion ambitions, achieved the EUmembership of Cyprus though it was the Greek Cypriots who killed a U.N. settlement plan just a week before the accession completed on May 1, 2004. Now, the EU, standing as a defender of the Greek Cypriot claims and telling Ankara that the unilateral exclusive economic zone of Cyprus constituted the external border of the union, is not only unprecedented and unacceptable but also underlines that the European club can never be an honest broker – a role it keeps on demanding to be given – between the two people of Cyprus. Obviously,  maritime claims of EU member states that violate legitimate rights of third countries, in this case Turkey, cannot be portrayed as EU external borders. As was described by Erciyes in his presentation to diplomats – a presentatrio0n available on the ministry’s web site – the Greek and Greek Cypriot maritime claims are “maximalist” with the assumption that Cyprus and the islands in disputed areas were all entitled to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf (CS). Recently, Erciyes wrote on social media that “Entitlement & Delimitation are not the same thing. Islands may get zero or reduced EEZ/CS if their presence distorts equitable delimitation. This is a fundamental international law principle. Final maritime boundaries can only be determined through agreements (not violating 3rd parties’ possible boundaries) or through litigation. Overlapping maritime claims prevail in the absence of a settlement.” Irrespective of how the Greek and Greek Cypriot governments describe and with whatever solidarity consideration the EU might respond to Turkey’s legitimate actions, obviously, maritime claims of EU members violating the legitimate rights of third countries cannot be portrayed as the external borders of the EU. Telling Turkey that even if it might contradict international law or established practices because of solidarity considerations the EU was obliged to support, the Greek Cypriot and Greek positions could only hurt further the already very troubled web of Turkey-EU relations. Turkey has legitimate rights in the eastern Mediterranean emanating from its territorial shelf. Trying to portray Turkey’s determination to defend its rights as “expansionist designs” could only be described as “to remain Greek to realty.” Published in http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/yusuf-kanli/expansionist-designs-or-legitimate-rights-143806

  • I still remember the time when our elementary school teacher told us about the “history” of the official flag of the Republic of Turkey. Supposedly, one evening, while Ataturk was visiting the battlegrounds of the War of Independence, he stumbled upon a fallen soldier. The blood drenched young man was lying on the ground. Ataturk noticed the reflection of the white crescent moon on the soldier’s bloody uniform, and decided right there and then that this image, a white crescent and star on red background, would be the nation’s new official flag. The color red on a flag, therefore, came to represent for me the struggle of a nation and, in time, as I grew into adolescence, the guardianship of the state of its subjects. Later in life, I began to associate different colors on flags with other notions.  For me, whereas blue stood for “freedom”, white stood for “peace”, green represented Islam, light blue represented Judeo-Christian faith and so forth. Of course, there was no scientific basis for my flag-colors-hypothesis other than a few circumstantial ones.  Such as , while communist nations like the USSR and China heavily emphasized red in their flags, more liberal nations in general used red more sparingly, and more often than not, not at all. Instead their flags featured blue and white -freedom and peace, as far as I was concerned. Putting my silly assumptions aside, the color red did seem to represent the State in other areas as well. Turkey’s oldest (and once upon a time, only) political party’s flags and emblems were red as can be. Most political parties that came afterwards also featured red heavily in their flags and emblems. Red was the color of the carpet laid out in front of foreign dignitaries; it was the color of the military. Red represented the sternness, the demureness and the authority of the Turkish State as well as the political landscape in general. The grave nature of the color red representing the State, apart from keeping the citizens at an arm’s length, also, I believe, seeded in us a general sense of trust in the state as the ultimate authority. We were conditioned, for example, to believe that the courts would be just, at least in their applying of the current law, regardless of how unjust the law in question was. We knew that the human element of civil servants were out of our reach, that we wouldn’t connect with them on a human level, but they would serve us just as well without any prejudice or patronage. In short, the Turkish State was there at an arm’s length, just out of reach, a patriarchal figure that didn’t bestow much sympathy towards its subjects, but would also act, mostly, indiscriminately amongst them. This stern status quo of the Republic of Turkey began to change under Erdogan and AKP’s rule. We began to see a government that was more in touch with its citizens than any other in the past. This did not only help them win victory after victory, while the old guns of Turkish politics kept their distance from the public, but it also caused a shift in what the State meant and represented. People were less scared of their government with its friendly face.  The face of the State was now a smiling one rather than the frowning one we had become accustomed to for decades. AKP’s grand plan to sway the public away from their well-established conception of the State as it was in the past, required some certain visual changes as well. They well knew that the color red stood for the ways of the past, of CHP, of Turkey’s dark structural, ethnic, socioeconomic and political divide. AKP had already rejected the color scheme of their political party of origin, the Welfare Party whose emblem was strictly red and white and was virtually indistinguishable from CHP’s, and had opted for a warmer orange color to represent them. During the elections, when you went to the ballot box and looked at the ballot, AKP’s colorful emblem stood apart from almost all other parties with their red and white symbols. Turquoise as the representative color of the Turkish state came later during Erdogan’s reign around 2013. From there on, almost everything that represented the State began to take a turquoise hue: the Presidential offices, official carpets, police uniforms, the Parliament in general, national sports teams jerseys, all underwent a color change. “So what”, you might ask, “What difference does it make what colors are featured in government business?” To that I’d say, “Nothing occurs in vacuum.” Turquoise is hardly anything more than a metaphor here. The State’s directional change towards a more folksy, unofficial template brought with it an overall deterioration of how it handles its duties. If red stands for the State, the blue for freedom and white for peace, turquoise stands for a crude, flimsy, and scrappy kind of populism with no regard to established laws and ways. And the “turquoisation” of Turkey manifests itself in a makeshift and arbitrary legislation, a populist and nepotist government, and a lawless and unjust judiciary. It is under the amicable surface of turquoise that you find car trains derailed by the hurried railway systems, hordes of journalists and politicians convicted by extrajudicial accusations, election laws changed immediately after the ballot boxes close, a happy-go-lucky Economy Minister announcing three economic masterplans in as many months, a thousand-and-one room Presidential Palace, and most recently a local election cancelled under no applicable laws in existence. It is the way of the turquoise. When the Supreme Electoral Committee was under deliberation to rule on the validity of the Istanbul local elections, I, like many others, was under the impression that, as much as they wished (and were pressured) to cancel the election results, they would not be able to do so because, well, laws… I had clearly overlooked the fact that we are living under a deep turquoise state where all is shaky and

  • “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. . . . Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thought-crime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that,” says George Orwell in his well-known novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four,’ published in 1949, which describes a vision of a dystopian future with the technology being used to monitor and control the masses. The story take place in Oceania which is war-torn and regulated by televisions, not by only constantly being watched and by recording people, but also by indoctrinating them with propaganda. Each home has a screen for monitoring others and any unwanted behavior that is reported has unfortunate implications by the Thought Police. George Orwell reveals the dangers of a government gaining too much power over its people in one of the most important and relevant novels of contemporary times and demonstrates the abuses resulting from abundance of authority by controlling all the media accessible to them. In 1984, Orwell fears media control by the government because it helps them brainwash and regulate people with a incredible degree of impact in shaping thought, getting rid of critical thinking, and decreasing self-expression ability.  Adding to the fact that the media is by no means neutral; although it was published 70 years ago, the topics in the novel have never been more relevant. The regulations giving the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) oversight over all online content, including streaming platforms (Netflix, BluTv etc.) and online news outlets, turned Turkey into a new state on the very first day of August. Although the law was adopted on March 2018 by the Turkish Parliament, the implementing regulation was released on August 1, 2019, raising concerns about possible censorship.  “The purpose of this regulation is to define procedures and guidelines for regulating the presentation and provision of radio, television and on-demand broadcasting services, the granting of broadcasting permits to media service providers, the granting of broadcasting authorities to platform administrators and the supervision of the broadcasting in question,” said the regulation. All online content providers are required to obtain broadcasting licenses from RTUK under the mentioned regulation. To obtain a license, both international and national streaming platforms and online news outlets need to set up local companies, open offices in Turkey, and pay license fees. The content providers that do not meet the regulations and guidelines of RTUK would be given a month to adjust their content to the required norms or face a three-month suspension and subsequent cancelation of their licenses, according to the issued regulation on August 1, 2019. Why now? Frankly, the media itself has always been part of Turkey’s political agenda. After 17 years of uninterrupted rule by the AKP (Justice and Development Party), however, Turkish society has experienced an enormous change and turning point in mass media ownership. Although the signals had been seen way before, the turning point for Turkish media was Gezi Park protests. We experienced mass firings of journalists and the process is still continuing today, and each and every day more journalists are being fired, if not imprisoned, for speaking out. Most of those journalists are experienced and senior members of the sector and are unemployed at the time.  In fact, due to the current ownership, you may well say that the mass media – both the press and broadcasting – in Turkey is completely monopolized. Their narrative is absolutely identical and one voice – of his own, obliquely the governments’. Thus, alternative / independent media (internet news sites, Twitter, Periscope, YouTube, etc.) has become crucial for the gathering of unbiased news and/or analysis in Turkey, in addition to harboring most of the unemployed journalists. However, the governing authority has tried several times to ban or censor the above-mentioned internet platforms, yet a Turkish court decided back in 2008 to block access to YouTube-a ban that lasted more than two years. Alternative media has been progressively in demand for nearly 5 years. According to a survey conducted by KONDA Research and Consultancy, one of the most reputable in its field, over the question of “What has changed in youth in 10 years?”(KONDA Youth Report), following the news from newspapers has declined from 72% to 24%, and in the same period the use of social media has increased from 69% to 93%. As Sigma Turkey being a significant example in both Turkish and English; this demand leads to the emergence of online news sites, including experienced journalists and academics, feature columns, and daily news (e.g. T24, Duvar, Diken etc.) Furthermore, international media outlets – such as BBC Turkey, Deutsche Welle, Al-Monitor, and Sputnik – have become more and more popular with large follower groups. On the other side, there are unique examples such as Medyascope, which as its founder veteran journalist Ruşen Çakır said in an interview with IPI (International Press Institute, March 2016), “an independent op-ed platform that delivers original and uncensored audiovisual journalistic content.” Through Periscope, Medyascope broadcasts live analysis, op-eds and debate programs on multiple topics ranging from domestic and international politics to economics, sport and culture; and then publish them on their website. In YouTube, the platform has nearly 125 K subscribers and 55 M video views. Another significant example is the prominent and experienced journalist Ünsal Ünlü, who has been streaming live morning shows on weekdays through Periscope for four years, covering the Turkish political agenda through his analysis, views and perspectives, and hitting nearly 90 K viewers daily – including other platforms such as YouTube, iTunes, Sound Cloud,

  • With the liquidation of the parliamentary system in our country, we have been watching the period of compulsory rapprochement between political parties. Taking part in alliances requires, first to discover common values ​​and second to defend those values in discourses and public spaces. For this reason, this process is a familiarization to the holistic and totalitarian forms of perception from fragmented and discrete perception for voters. It means, holistic and consequently right or holistic and ultimately left. Holistic and populist or holistic and traditional. Concepts such as secularism, losing of religious rituals are gradually shadowed. The stance of the parties on knife-back issues no longer keeps their old sharpness. Political leaders are not involved in issues consciously that are likely to lose their alliance sides. The parliament lost its character of a real political conflict and debate, except for voting the executive orders of the President and appointed bureaucrats. The new arena to fight is now the field of local elections. Since the same bias in the local elections such as the general elections, it is no longer possible to talk about the election of ‘local administrators’ of the municipalities. No matter how successful the Mayor in their region does, the voters preferred to vote for the alliance of their heart. When it comes to the unity of the alliance values, the politicians should not to be ignore some requirements. No matter the alliance values carry which ideological concepts, the ground should be “the common good of the society”. Without this value, the triumph of any ideology or political party will not please the people of this country till the end. Community welfare, not last long, necessarily bring political power to the end. The concept of political struggle that excludes the notion of “good will” eventually brings failure and unhappiness. The historical processes of our country shows that we tend to unite and tend to work together in our capillaries. This is our common structure. Including our kinship relations, our extended families, neighborhood culture, old holidays, and our commitment to nostalgia, our consciousness to refuse the modernist and individualist life. We have an emotional character first, not rational. No need to hide. So instead of trying to be like others, being ourselves will lead us to write a real success story. The alliances period of today is a historic opportunity for Turkey to discover the common values. It is possible to remember the historical values ​​of the country, the founding values ​​of the Republic, and the concepts that unite this society over the centuries. However, the hegemony of globalization with the huge power of digitalization is blurring the minds. So, instead of creating common values, we come and go between ”emulating”, “ trying to resemble” or “completely rejecting” “Others of West”.  Either accepting or rejecting as if it is not possible to create any other option. This is the first big mistake we have not literally realized. European values, for instance, are the most recent global reference values ​​in Turkish politics as they are in many ‘developing’ countries; as though freedom, equality and justice are the historical nature of Europe.  The process of EU of Turkey continues since 1987. We can’t even completed half the chapters. On the other hand, the chapter “fasıl in Turkish” is still a feast that goes with the raki for the majority of our society. We are ready to listen a long ‘fasıl’ at EU table. Now, the number of politicians should increase who appraise democracy, justice, equality, and liberty for the welfare of their own people instead of belonging to an organisation.  Any adaptation policies or not internalized philosophy does motivate any society. Current surveys shows it didn’t, too. Moreover, the people of this country no longer believe that they will be part of the European Union, even if Turkey works miracles. In other words, the link between the heart and mind of our citizens with EU has already broken. Still, instead of producing new ones, copying is a general method in daily life and especially in commercial life. Leadership programs from international companies, human resources training, plaza fashion, and the reflections of these global effects. Most of the time, makeshift images and words. Even success and failure are measured by global (!) criteria and international performance tests. Ironic. How can “success” be measured with an import criteria? We need to redefine our concept of success urgently, because that directly affect the states of happiness and unhappiness in daily life. Nevertheless, a new period of memory refreshment has begun in İstanbul meeting that Ekrem İmamoğlu calls a “New Beginning”. “Fire of Anatolia” reminded with their performance from seven regions of Turkey how rich our country is again. Not by words, via art. With emotion. With music and dance. On the other hand, Mehter team that plays İzmir Anthem get the message that both the glorious victory of the Ottoman Empire’s and the victory of the War of Independence belong to all the people of this country. İstanbul Mayor prefers this consolidative way of political communication from the beginning. Despite all the improvements and normalizations, the notion of “evil” in politics is a very old and deeply rooted political memorization. The provocation in Çubuk against the leader of the Republican People’s Party Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is one of the inevitable consequences of the old propaganda habits. The political rage of AK Party bureaucrats such as Süleyman Soylu is natural and normal, because Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is the designer of the opposing team. He is again an increasing figure of new arrivals in Turkish politics after this provocation similar to his debate with Melih Gökçek. Maybe, a great rhetoric agitates people powerfully, but is still abstract. Conversely, small and concrete triumphs are more substantial in politics. Political power should change this aggressive tactics. Fire has begun in Turkey with the power of Anatolia. Time to revise old party politics with new ones again.

  • Since the 2003 Rose Revolution, Georgia has  become a staunch and dependable non-NATO ally of the United States in the South Caucasus. Georgian-American bilateral military relations have become stronger and have climaxed in November 2017. With 870 soldiers per capita, Georgia is the leading donor of troops in Afghanistan. This is highly appreciated by the United States. James Mattis, US Secretary of Defence, said on 13 November 2017: “Georgia is a role model for all” NATO member states deploying forces in Afghanistan. And the United States responds accordingly, not only with regard to foreign military finding (FMF), but also with regard to the annual US-led military exercises in Georgia (codenamed Agile Spirit and Noble Partner). In addition, US instructors are training the Georgian military for the Afghanistan mission and began training the Georgian military for the territorial defence of Georgia in May 2018. Georgia’s acquisition of JAVELIN portable anti-tank systems in January 2018 was indeed a milestone in relations between Georgia and the US. Up until then, the US did not deliver defensive weapons to Georgia. This development has consolidated bilateral relations, taking them to a new level. Finally, with the pending Georgia Support Act (GSA), introduced on 26 June 2018 by the Congressmen Ted Poe and Gerald Connolly, the US provides robust support of Georgian sovereignty, although it does not provide details of emergency assistance to Georgia in the event of a Russian invasion. In other words, in a conflict with Russia, Georgia has to defend itself on its own. US Financial Support to Georgia American military assistance to Georgia, designated the FMF and intended for military equipment, fell from US$30M in 2016 to just US$20M in 2017, with funding in 2017 aimed at “promoting the development of Georgian forces capable of enhancing security, countering Russian aggression, and contributing to coalition operations.” This also includes support for the modernisation of Georgian rotorcraft air transport capabilities, Georgian military institutions and defence reforms. A spending law passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee in September 2017 increased Georgia’s FMF from US$20M in 2017 to US$35M in 2018. And we can expect a further increase for 2019, although the official FMF data have not yet been published. A Turn in the US Military Approach In recent years, the US military approach to Georgia has shifted – from training for international missions to the territorial defence of Georgia. The latest US-Georgia “Memorandum on Enhancing the Defence and Security Partnership”, signed in Tbilisi on 6 July 2016 by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili provided for this shift of US military assistance to Georgia from training Georgian soldiers for international deployment to the territorial defence of Georgia. In addition, the memorandum provides for assistance in defence procurement for Georgia in order to enhance the country’s defence capabilities and the combat level of its armed forces so that they can cooperate with NATO forces. The initiative focuses on modernising Vaziani military base situated outside Tbilisi in order to better deploy Georgian forces in combined arms operations or to improve cooperation between ground troops and air support. For instance, during the 2016 Noble Partner Exercise Georgia commanded joint Georgia/US/UK air and land forces for the first time. The US does some combined arms training of Georgian troops, but it does so at the US-operated Joint Multinational Readiness Centre at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany. The establishment of the US-financed Joint Multinational Readiness Centre (JMRC) in Georgia, similar to the centre of the same name at the US site in Germany, is a step in the right direction. The US-Georgia JMRC is located at the Vaziani military base and has been in operation since May 2018. Under the Georgian Defence Readiness Programme (GDRP) launched at the JMRC, between 40 and 50 American army officers are stationed at Vaziani base to train Georgian troops. The programme was launched in May 2018; it has a duration of three years and trains nine NATO standard rifle battalions. This complements Georgia’s operational programme, under which some 80 US Marines are stationed in Georgia to train Georgian troops before they are being sent to NATO’s Resolution Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan. In addition to training, the United States has finally approved the supply of defensive weapons to Georgia. Currently, the US holds two major military exercises annually on Vaziani military base – “Agile Spirit” and “Noble Partner”, a point which has repeatedly drawn criticism from Grigori Karasin, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Karasin said in February 2019, “NATO’s agenda is becoming more and more visible in Georgian foreign policy. They quite often hold large NATO military exercises, and Georgia is getting involved in other countries in the region, such as Armenia. Georgian politicians speak of accelerated NATO membership strategy and an alleged Russian threat to democratic Europe.” The military exercises have become a real irritant in Russian-Georgian relations. Georgian Procurement of US Defensive Weapons The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 20 November 2017 that “the State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale of JAVELIN missiles and command launchers to Georgia for an estimated cost of US$75M”. In January 2018, the sale was approved. DSCA specified that the arms sale would include 410 JAVELIN missiles, and 72 JAVELIN Command Launch Units as well as logistics and programme support elements. According to DSCA, the proposed sale “would contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by enhancing the security of Georgia. The JAVELIN launcher system will improve Georgia’s capability to meet its national defence needs.” DSCA also noted that the proposed sale “would not alter the basic military balance in the region” and that “there would be no negative impact on US defence as a result of this planned sale.” What is important in the DSCA Declaration is the explicit link between the foreign policy and national security of the United States and the enhanced security of Georgia. It underlines Georgia’s importance for the US foreign and security policy

  • The news of the past few days in the United States has focused primarily on the charred remains of both the California wildfires and the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Neither is an ordinary disaster.  Each, in its own way, portends a dramatically different path forward for Republicans and Californians, most centrally President Donald Trump.  Indeed, the question of survival is at stake in every respect. Beneath the surface of the American domestic news, however, was an equally troubling event also involving death, one that has already taken place, one that could have occurred in the near future.  It is widely rumored that President Trump offered a deal, an “artful” one at that, to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  The terms of the arrangement are quite straightforward.   Suppose the United States suddenly took a different point-of-view toward the visa status of its famous Turkish guest, Fethullah Gulen.  Suppose what the U.S. State Department had previously considered as inadequate proof of Turkish charges of responsibility for the 2016 coup attempt was not so bad a case after all.   Would that be a sufficient gesture, perhaps, to convince Erdogan to ease the pressure on Trump’s Saudi friends concerning the Istanbul murder and dismemberment of Saudi citizen and U.S. Green Card holder Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi, an assassination that the CIA has now identified as having been ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman?   Sure, a few laws would be broken on both sides, but it is a win-win for everybody, right? To his credit, Erdogan responded through a spokesman that “(A)t no point did Turkey offer to hold back on the Khashoggi investigation in return for Fethullah Gulen’s extradition.  We have no intention to intervene in the Khashoggi investigation in return for any political or legal favor.”  Moreover, reports at the time of this writing suggests that Trump, known for his dexterity in contradicting himself when necessary, said that no such deal is actually being considered.  Whether or not there ever was such a conversation between the U.S. and Turkey, the controversy needs to be understood in view of the recent history of U.S.-Turkey relations, not just since the abortive coup, but evolving since the beginning of the A.K.P. dominance of Turkish politics.  The past fifteen years have been fraught with errors of judgment, misunderstanding, and uncertainty that have brought these erstwhile close allies to the brink of conflict. In a case of being at the wrong place (for me) at the right time, I witnessed the beginning of this long slide to ambiguity. On the early Saturday evening of 1 March 2003 while I was living in Ankara, I had an errand to run that took me to the then-Turkish Daily News.  I was to meet Yusuf Kanli for the first time.  The purpose of my visit was quickly forgotten because all eyes in the newsroom were focused on the live video feed of actions of the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s debate over Turkey’s proposed participation in what would become the U.S.-led Iraq War.  Everyone in the newsroom, indeed, everyone in the streets of Ankara, including the massive protest demonstration taking place at that moment, knew the outcome of the Parliament’s debate.  It was a foregone conclusion.  The debate was an illusion.  Turkey had always supported America’s military interventions during the mid-to-late-Twentieth Century, subtly during World War 2, but very actively in Korea, Vietnam, and most recently, during the Gulf War.  Turkey had become a staunch ally of Israel, to the deep resentment of its Arab state neighbors, in support of U.S. foreign policy goals.  In return, Turkey gained a great deal from the relationship.  Besides being one of the largest recipients of the U.S. military and economic support, Turkey had a strong ally and supporter in its difficulties in an increasingly dangerous neighborhood.  Even when the large majority of the international community reacted in opposition to the Turkish position in Cyprus, the US served to water down the anti-Turk language of UN Security Council resolutions from 1974 forward.  Indeed, even when the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared in 1983, while the US did not officially recognize the move, it was not hostile toward it.  The United States and Turkey were friends.  They had supported one another across decades and a variety of combat operations inside and out of the Mediterranean-Middle East region.  Obviously, Turkey would not abandon the U.S. in its post-9/11 trauma, no matter how many Turkish citizens demanded it do so.    Besides, America stood willing to pay billions to use its ports and land for attacks on Saddam’s Iraq.  Polls at the time showed that 94% of the Turkish people opposed the move and the joke around the newsroom was that no one had ever met anyone in the remaining 6%.  Turkey was in.  When it came to the U.S.-Turkey partnership, nothing could break the bond.  Both the recently departed Ecevit administration and the new AKP government accepted it.  It was done. Also read:  Lots of Politics in Brunson Courtroom Then the vote was taken.  264 Parliamentary deputies supported the resolution.  250 opposed, 19 abstained.  The resolution had been approved. Or had it?  Upon review, according to the rules of the Parliament, an absolute majority of the 533-members present had to approve the measure.  The resolution fell 3 votes shy of such a majority.  Quickly, then-Prime Minister Abdullah Gül declared the resolution “rejected,” and would not be reconsidered in response to the U.S. request for “clarification,”  stating ”Turkey is the only democratic country in the region. The decision is clear. We have to respect this decision, as this is what democracy requires.” The American reaction was immediate and intense.  Despite assurances from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara that ‘‘(W)e worked together as allies and we will continue to work together as allies”, the sense of resentment of toward Turkey’s perceived act of reneging on the deal began to impact Turkey in ways large and small.  In the immediate aftermath, Fulbright grants for Turkish students to come to the U.S. were sliced in half.  Turkish visitors to the U.S. suddenly had a more difficult time entering the nation’s ports of entry through beefed-up post-9/11 security arrangements.  In the most egregious case of all, on 4 July 2003, U.S. Marines arrested Turkish Special Forces units stationed

  • In an earlier article, I had written about the issues the youth in the East of Turkey had in integrating to the rest of the country, not to mention the issues surrounding their forced assimilation. The view of Turkey as a synthesis of the East and the West naturally concludes that the voter base in the East opts to elect a political party that stands for democracy, equality and justice. And who, but CHP, is the party that talks about these issues the most. But paradoxically, it is also CHP who faces a disappointment over the voters’ choices in the East in every election. The divide between the people in the East and the CHP first started in 1937 – 1938 when the tribal leaders in Dersim came into conflict with the Turkish Republic. The military intervention that followed resulted in 13,160 civilian and 110 military casualties. A further 11,838 people were forced to migrate. This timely intervention sought to exert Turkey’s dominance and halt further concessions may have been largely forgotten in Dersim (Tunceli), but its ramifications continue to haunt the people in the East at large. They continue to be bitter and unsympathetic towards the state. In contrast, the PKK which was formed in early 1970s, but didn’t become fully operational until 1978, buoyed by the climate and the level of education in the region, managed to gather sympathy and support from the population in Eastern Turkey. We must, of course, not forget about the influence of foreign powers in emboldening the terrorist organization. We must also remember that all the assignments and compensations done in Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia were carried out under the rules of a state of emergency. So, rather than investing in the region’s economic future, Turkey had to, instead, spend the funds on the military which unfortunately resulted in many civilian deaths. Since Turkey’s transition to a multi-party-political system, the CHP had only one shot at the government with Bulent Ecevit as the prime minister (January 5,1978 – November 12, 1979). Despite constantly being the opposition, the CHP never managed to significantly up their voting rate, and even fell below the 10% Parliamentary threshold in 1999. The leaders of CHP tenaciously reject to see a basic truth which is forever keeping them from governing this country: that these lands that were under the reign and whims of one absolute ruler for centuries harbor so many values. Conservatism, nationalism, statism, populism, secularism and many others are all deeply rooted beliefs for the peoples of Turkey. But the quality that always comes ahead is conservatism, which is not surprising when we consider that the Ottoman Empire was the official caliphate of Islam for centuries. These lands were subjected to religious law for a very long time. And the leap of faith towards democracy that Turkey attempted does not come easy. CHP never paid attention while pursuing their policies, and they have not been able to further Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s practices from 50 to 60 years ago, and they have neither been able to cultivate the leaders that can take the helm of Ataturk and carry it further. But perhaps, CHP’s biggest mistake to date was their inefficiency in instilling in people the real meaning and importance of secularism. This led the way for the people to equate secularism to irreligion. Other political parties made good use of this shortcoming, and they have been successfully pushing forward with the “we are a religious organization, but look at the CHP, they are against religion” rhetoric. None other than the current president of Turkey, back when he was the mayor of Istanbul had proclaimed: “you cannot simultaneously be a Muslim and secular.” Turkey’s early periods may be likened to Phoenix when she rose from her ashes as a mostly Muslim dominated country with a very low literacy rate, and a single party rule was the best route of action by then. What is surprising is the demise of CHP immediately after the transformation into the multi-party system. What is worse, CHP has lost complete control of the media since 2003, and it is having a hard time to find a medium where it can explain itself. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who has been the party’s chair after the sex tape scandal of Deniz Baykal, the previous chair, has so far lost nine of his nine elections and still has the audacity to say, after each election, that AKP was the loser. This outlook propagates the notion that the CHP is perfectly fine with remaining as the opposition forever. Number don’t lie, though: when it comes to elections 50.01% is the winner and %49.9 is the loser. So, despite CHP’s constant oration about democracy, equality, and justice, people in the East prefer to cast their vote for either HDP, the Kurdish nationalists, or AKP that represents the conservative right. This, despite CHP still being the party of the Republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. And it is a well-established fact that unless you win in the East, you will never come into power. What CHP needs to do is abandon its current tactic where it goes and visits the Eastern provinces right before the elections, and instead lay down a long-term structural plan that will hopefully reverse the negative perception they have been suffering from. The party’s candidates must show merit and competence and they must be well versed to get their point across. A recent example of this nature happened in 2011 when Zahit Kantasoglu, the then chair of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Van district, opted to run as a CHP candidate after he was dissed from his own party, the AKP. And the CHP saw no problem in playing along, and nominated Kantasoglu as their prime candidate for Van MP. Here are my questions: Were there not any viable college-graduate candidates in Van at all? When you nominate a person disses from his own party, doesn’t this clearly show CHP’s admittance of defeat for that district?

  • In 1984 I made a movie, MEMED MY HAWK, based on Nobel Prize nominee Turkish writer, Yasar Kemal, starring Sir Peter Ustinov, Herbert Lom, Leonie Mellinger, and a young English actor, Simon Dutton.

  • Thermal power generation continues to slump, but is far from being extinct, and we doubt it will become so in any foreseeable time frame, measured in decades. However, we anticipate that renewable power generation will continue to grow at the expense of thermal power for some time. The rate at which renewables will displace thermal power, and the extent of this displacement are open questions at the time of writing. This question is likely to remain open for several years because what should have been a purely technical, environmental, and economical analysis has turned into a political and media debate. Some well-intentioned politicians, journalists, pundits, and a few “scientists” are proposing the total elimination of all natural gas, oil, and coal usage within one or two decades. Worthy as this goal is, it is highly unrealistic with currently known technologies; as well as with current or potential industrial capacity. The total economic and environmental costs of a fuel-free system have yet to be studied and understood and might prove far above what its ardent proponents imagine. However, fanatic proponents of unrealistic schemes do not typically allow facts to get in their way, and the momentum they have generated in the media and in the public mind has caused a paralysis in the thermal power generation industry. This paralysis may continue until renewables attain their maximum practical potential whilst attrition takes its toll on the thermal power capacity base, leading to a crisis in power supply sustainability and reliability. In the US at least, regulated utilities are obligated to supply reliable power, and the wiser and braver amongst them will plan and build new thermal power plants in advance of such a crisis point. My own estimate for renewables’ maximum practical potential is in the 30% range, and by current trends this is only a few years away. For them to exceed the ~30% practical limit, a radically new storage technology is required. Some believe that any technological problem can be solved by throwing enough money at it, but we are skeptical of this belief. Physical realities do not simply yield to dreamers’ whims or money. Logic dictates that coal-fired thermal power would be phased out over the upcoming two decades, long before gas-fired power is phased out, if ever, for four reasons: (a) Environmental: Gas power is cleaner, more efficient andhas a lower carbon footprint. (b) Economic: Gas supplies and recoverable reserves continue to increase, gas prices are low relative to coal prices, and gas power plants are less expensive and quicker to build. (c) Practical: Gas power plants offer versatility because they can be economically built in all sizes, including the distributed power scale, and also lend themselves to highly efficient cogeneration. (d) Historic: In the USA, as well as in many parts of the world, the coal-fired fleet is aging and needs to be phased out anyway. It is doubtful and unlikely that decommissioned coal plants will be replaced by new coal plants due to the above reasons. Thus, from the above, our projection is that the next surge in orders will be for GasTurbine-based power, and not for coal power. So, in the next few years, what does all this mean for the Software Market? Renewables software is approaching its intended maturity, and we expect it will start contributing revenues in 2020, but expect it to remain a minor component. Its market is already crowded, and the skills required to enter it are far below the skills applied to develop thermal power plant softwares. We are using the current industry slowdown to focus on this major effort to ensure the long-term functionality and integrity of vital thermal power plant software products, for decades to come. Our own global projection is that orders for large new thermal power plants in the major developed economies shall remain at the current weak level for another 3-5 years, and then experience a new boom as reality asserts itself. In the interim, there will still be robust new orders from developing countries as well as for cogeneration and distributed power within the major developed economies.

  • ANKARA– The Kurds’ hunger-strike for Abdullah Ocalan began with a single person, grew slowly from dozens to hundreds and, more than six months later, it reached about 3,000 participants. But it ended very quickly. On Sunday morning the lawyers of Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), told the press they had met their client in prison on Imrali island and he wanted the fasting to stop. Within hours the lead striker, legislator Leyla Guven, declared she would resume eating. She was taken to hospital to begin receiving nutrients in a special way. She had consumed nothing but sugary water, salt and vitamins for 200 days. By Monday morning a spokeswoman of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) was saying the other 3,000 hunger strikers had ended their fast. “It’s all over,” Bermali Demirdogen told Sigma. Both sides could claim to have won something. The strikers had demanded the government allow Ocalan, imprisoned since 1999, to see his lawyers and family members. They secured Ocalan’s access to his lawyers. The government secured the end of a protest that was embarrassing, and which threatened to become worse as it continued. When Guven began the strike on November 8, she had been detained without trial for more than 10 months. By January 25, after 79 days without solid food, her body had withered and doctors were warning her of permanent harm. The government released her because it did not want her dying in its custody. But Guven continued her fast at home. Other factors came into play. The government is facing a tough battle to get its candidate elected mayor in the repeat Istanbul election of June 23. Kurdish voters had made a significant contribution to the opposition’s victory in the now-invalidated election of March 31. Political analysts such as Sinan Ulgen of the Center for Economic and Foreign Policy Studies have forecast the government would make “initiatives involving Ocalan” to win over Kurdish voters in Istanbul. There has also been speculation the government had enabled Ocalan to see his lawyers on May 2 because it wanted to draw the PKK leader into peace negotiations. Every week or so Turkish soldiers are dying in clashes with PKK guerrillas. Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul denied any such motives in a chat with the press during an iftar (fast breaking) meal on May 23. Ocalan’s meeting with lawyers “has nothing to do with a new (peace) resolution process. It cannot be said that ‘a resolution process is starting again’. It also does not have anything to do with the Istanbul elections,” Gul said, according to the online journal Bianet. One of the lawyers, Newroz Uysal, quoted Ocalan as saying no peace negotiations have started, Reuters reported. But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan evaluates his moves very carefully. If his ministers take a step, he expects a reward. When Ocalan met his lawyers on May 2, it was the first such meeting since 2011. They met a second time on May 22. When Ocalan met his brother Mehmet in January, it was their first get-together since 2016. The government’s sudden decision to permit such meetings can only have been calculated. The Ocalan lawyer Ibrahim Bilmez told the online journal Al-Monitor that he believed “the government is above all concerned with getting our client to use his influence to help end the strikes.” Bilmez added that if a hunger striker died, it could provoke unrest among the Kurds, who amount to 20 percent of the population. Thirty of the hunger strikers were reported to have vowed to fast until death, suggesting they would eschew the sugar, salt and vitamin B that the other strikers were taking. Ocalan addressed this issue in his statement read out by his lawyers on May 26, Bianet reported: “I expect you, especially the ones who have gone on a hunger strike and death fast, to put an end to your protest in the light of the comprehensive statements to be made by my two lawyers,” Ocalan said. The lawyers said Ocalan was grateful to the hunger strikers, saying their “sacrifice” had been honourable and had “achieved its purpose”. “He said what matters is the democratic political struggle, and the physical, mental and psychological well-being of strikers is more important than all else,” the lawyers reported. The strike resonated widely in the Kurdish community. Last week a think-tank, the Tigris Social Research Centre, held a conference in Diyarbakir on how the lessons of South Africa’s peace process could be applied to Turkey and the Kurds. The organisers allowed the mother of a hunger-striking prisoner to address the conference. “I don’t want my son to leave prison in a coffin,” said the mother, wearing a headscarf of white lace. Her speech was quite off the topic, but the delegates listened to her with respect. However, most Turks shrugged off the hunger strike. For them, it was a self-punishing action undertaken by imprisoned extremists. Out of sight, out of mind was the prevailing view. What nobody can deny, though, is that the strike highlighted the role of Ocalan. The government had cut him off from visitors for about three years. The most likely reason was the resurgence of warfare in 2015-16 when PKK guerrillas fought the security forces street by street in the towns of the southeast. When the strike began last year, the best-known Kurdish grievance was not Ocalan’s isolation, but the fact that the government had dismissed the Kurds’ elected mayors in more than 90 southeastern towns, including Guven’s hometown of Diyarbakir, and appointed administrators. Just as the government had chosen Ocalan to make a point to the Kurds, so the Kurds chose him to make a point to the government. The imprisonment of the Kurdish militant leader is a double-edged sword.

  • As the Arab geographer Al-Muqaddasi noted in 985, “The island of Qubrus is in the power of whichever nation is overlord in these seas,” and a thousand years later this still holds true. In the twelfth century, Cyprus was occupied by the Crusaders to guard their route to the Holy Land and in the fifteenth century, it was taken over by the Venetians to protect their Mediterranean trade. A century later it was conquered by the Ottomans, who in 1878 leased it to the British in return for protection against Russia. In the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, which established the borders of modern Turkey, Turkey accepted Britain’s annexation of Cyprus and that Turkish nationals resident in Cyprus would become British citizens. In 1956 British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden once again underlined Cyprus’ strategic importance: “No Cyprus, no certain facilities to protect our supply of oil. No oil, unemployment, and hunger in Britain. It’s as simple as that.” When the Greek Cypriot majority demanded independence and enosis – union with Greece, the British government convened a conference on the Eastern Mediterranean to include both Greece and Turkey, so that the latter would block Greek Cypriot demands. Under American pressure, a deal was brokered between Greece and Turkey, which provided for the island’s independence in 1960, which was guaranteed by Greece, Turkey and the UK. However, the Greek Cypriots had not abandoned their plans for enosis, and already in 1956 the Turkish Cypriot minority had together with Turkey made plans for taksim (partition). Consequently, in 1963 Cyprus’ power-sharing constitution collapsed, which led to intercommunal fighting. The following year the UN Security Council intervened with the establishment of UNFICYP, the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, to separate the two parts, and once again in January UNFICYP’s mandate was renewed for a further six months. The finishing touch was a coup in 1974 by Greek Cypriot extremists, who declared enosis, which resulted in Turkey’s invasion in accordance with the Treaty of Guarantee, which gave Turkey the right to take action as the UK refused to intervene. In the ensuing conference in Geneva, Turkey proposed the establishment of a federal state but this was rejected by the Greek Cypriots. In 1979, an agreement was reached on a bizonal and bicommunal federation but the next forty years have seen countless attempts to resolve the issue in what the present UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called “a horizon of endless process without result.” The latest attempt was the Crans-Montana conference in Switzerland, which collapsed in July 2017. The Levant Basin With the discovery of vast reserves of gas and oil in the Levant Basin in 2010 a new dimension was added to the conflict. Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus led to the declaration of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1983, which is only recognized by Turkey and declared to be a subordinate local administration by the European Court of Human Rights. When Cyprus was admitted to the EU in 2004, the TRNC was considered to be “those areas of the Republic of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control.” Furthermore, Turkey’s refusal to recognize the Greek Cypriot administration as the ROC’s legitimate government has led to a standoff in Turkey’s accession talks. In 2004 Cyprus delimited its own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) according to the median line principle and in 2003, 2007 and 2010 concluded agreements with Egypt, Lebanon, and Israel on the same basis. Although Turkey is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), it is still bound by the same principle according to customary international law, yet insists that the extent of its continental shelf and shoreline overrides this principle. Consequently, Turkey has interfered with Cyprus’ sovereign right to explore and exploit its natural resources, in this case hydrocarbons, and in February last year a drillship chartered by Italy’s ENI en route to Cyprus’ EEZ was blocked by Turkish warships. However, no attempts were made to block a survey ship from ExxonMobil escorted by a U.S. destroyer. Since 2014 Turkish seismic research vessel Barbaros has conducted surveys inside Cyprus’ EEZ and in May tensions increased when the Turkish drillship Fatih (‘Conqueror’) together with three support vessels and a Turkish frigate anchored off southwest Cyprus and inside the EEZ. This was met by protests from the U.S., the EU, Greece, France, and Egypt, which were rejected by Turkey, which instead announced a second drillship would be sent to the area. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated: “Likewise, unless the Greek Cypriots include the Turkish Cypriots, as the equal partners of the island, into the decision-making mechanisms regarding hydrocarbon resources or cease their unilateral hydrocarbon activities, Turkey will continue to protect the continental shelf rights of the Turkish Cypriots as well.” In January President Erdogan made it clear, “If you don’t have enough military, political and economic might, you should know that nobody will take you seriously.” A month later, Turkey’s maritime power was demonstrated by a massive naval exercise, Blue Homeland, in the Black Sea, the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean with the participation of 103 ships. This was followed by Turkey’s largest military exercise, Sea Wolf, in May with 131 ships, 57 warplanes, and 33 helicopters. Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar also emphasized that Turkey would take all necessary measures to protect its rights in the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean, and Cyprus. Cooperation The discovery of huge natural gas resources in Israel’s Leviathan field in 2010 has the potential not only to cover Israel’s domestic needs but also for export. The potential in Cyprus’ adjacent field, Aphrodite, is not as great, but the discovery of natural gas in Egypt’s Zohr field is the largest in the Mediterranean. These together with other promising finds have increased the need for energy cooperation, which led to the creation of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo in January. The Forum, which includes Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, and the Palestinians, excludes Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon. Israel, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy have

  • I learned about Turkey’s request to UN for sending troops to Libya in order to help the central government, from Al-Jazeera TV. And I tried to find an answer to the question: What is in it for Turkey? The offensive that was started on April 4 by general Haftar’s forces, is stalled for now. And who is who in this conflict? Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE are helping general Haftar. On the other hand, Turkey and Qatar are helping the central government which has very close ties with Moslem Brotherhood and its affiliates. Remember that on December 8, 2018 the authorities seized a ship coming from Turkey with 3000 guns at a port east of Tripoli.  A short time later, another Turkish ship carrying 4 million bullets was seized again. An on January 7, 2019 a third ship detained at Misrata was found out to be full of weapons. And what is the position of US and Russia? Tacit support for general Haftar. The countries have jointly stopped a resolution submitted to UN Security Council for a cease fire. Turkey already has very serious problems on its borders. And they are more than enough. Problems with the US on Russian S-400 air defense systems is growing. And dark clouds are in the air when you look at our relations with Russia. Russian war planes are bombing İdlib and forcing civilians to flee. This is against the agreements signed with Russia Turkey is too much involved with Qatar. And the time is ticking against their policies. President Trump’s very probable act of declaring Moslem Brotherhood as a terrorist organization will make things even more difficult for Turkey. And the possibility of receiving Turkish soldiers in body bags will be a great headache for President Erdogan. And at the end of the day, Turkey should not and would not put Turkey in harm’s way just for the sake of Qatar and Moslem Brotherhood. We hope that common sense will prevail.