Who is Fehim Taştekin?
He is a graduate of Istanbul University, Political Sciences Faculty. He started journalism in 1994 as a reporter. He worked in newspapers such as Yeni Şafak, Son Çağrı, Yeni Ufuk, Tercüman, Radikal and Hürriyet. For some time, he was the founding editor of Kafkas Agency, working on Caucasian issues. He produced and presented foreign policy programs at İMC TV until it was closed. He is currently writing weekly columns for Gazete Duvar and Al Monitor. He has written three books.
The Russian strategy in Syria has entered a new phase, which is the combination of the hard reality on the field and the deceptive perception that there is hope for withdrawal. Moscow wants to couple its military gains with economic advances and the achievement of a political solution. While one could have anticipated how Russia […]
While displaying empathy with regards to Turkey’s sensitivities, Russia is realizing that it will not be able to find a sustained solution in Syria without winning over the Kurds. This is a point on which Turkey opts to be shortsighted.
Erdoğan is now threading the road the Arab regimes did during the 1960s and 1970s. His superior services to the Israeli and U.S. interests provide an immunity to the special agenda “print out” centered on Palestine.
Now, the majority of Arab countries believe that the Palestinian cause has turned into a tool for Turkey and Iran to penetrate into the region. For many of them, Palestine is a burden anyway. More than a couple of them are ready to let go of the cause if there is no pressure from the street.
It is difficult to estimate how the U.S.’s Syria policy will look after the U.S. presidential elections, but, for the moment, oil is a factor that extends the stay of U.S. troops. Despite Trump's back-and-forth positions, the Kurds are the most important base for this framework.
This step involving the Hagia Sophia has totally destroyed the deception that Turkey has preserved its multi-religious, multicultural and multi-identity features as a country. Since we have passed the expiry date of lies, what is next now? Is there another topic of victimization left?
Even though Sisi always said they would not just watch Turkey increase its involvement, it was believed that he would avoid a military adventure. The major fear of Sisi is that in the event that Islamist forces win in Libya, there is a possibility that Muslim Brotherhood, which he toppled in a 2013 coup, may have the chance to take revenge.
While the ENKS and the PYD agree on certain topics, a deep gap remains between the two groups. And the American and French pressure will do little to close that gap. Moreover, Barzani’s ties with Turkey limit his capabilities. Given the KDP and the PKK were fighting each other in the Qandil mountains, how could the two movements unite on the Syrian front?
Several signs have emerged from Russia indicating that the Putin administration is growing weary of Damascus. For instance, Pravda.ru recently published a piece which claimed that al-Assad’s cousin Rami Mahluf controlled 60 percent of the country’s economy. Al-Assad is criticized for feeding his relatives with state resources.
The restructuring of Idlib entails Turkey’s dispersing of opponent groups and the formation of its own militias. Alongside this, Ankara plans to attack the Syrian army and defend itself from it. Turkey wants to turn its proxies into a parallel army that is affiliated to its national army.
The U.S.-Iran showdown will either expose Iraq, including Kurdistan, to re-design military operations or usher in a return to the unprecedented cooperation that had allowed the country to tackle several issues in the wake of the 2003 invasion. Another option is the Iraqis fully recovering their sovereignty, though this prospect remains distant for now.
Relinquishing its vocation to be a social state, the Turkish government is now providing us with its bank details amid the coronavirus pandemic. What this shows is that the Turkish state does not intend to give a helping hand to citizens during tough times. Despite that, it is not ready to give up on its endless wars in Syria and Libya.
Turkish President Erdoğan rides at full speed as if he has unlimited resources. There is an overflowing domestic mass he can address through the martyrs. However, this course of events requires serious resources and support. It puts Turkey into the position of a “proxy state” in Syria in the eyes of Syria’s enemies, starting with Israel.
HTS was supposed to have been eliminated with the Sochi Agreement. But HTS swept the groups Turkey was supporting and formed its own emirate in Idlib. They have now reunited with the “revolutionary” spirit of pre-2015. The story is this clear. This is the profile of Turkey's ally in the field.
The U.S. support for Turkey amid attacks from the Syrian regime came as something of a surprise. The reason for this is that while Washington is unlikely to intervene further in the Syrian theater, it is likely to use Turkey to carry out its objectives.
Every venture led by Erdoğan has benefited Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Amid this circle of fire, Turkey can hardly take on a potent role to push for peace. For the destructive choices it has made in recent years have taken their toll on constructive diplomacy.
Russia having a say in Libya is a sign of the strengthening of its position in the Mediterranean and an increase in relations in northern Africa, just as it means that they will be able to look at Europe from the south. After a similar trip to Damascus, this is now the equivalent of a jaunt to Tripoli wearing Ottoman boots.
Putting oil at the center of the Syrian crisis may affect the direction and feature of the war. The shooting of oil tankers at Al Bab and Jarabukus on Nov. 26 by unidentified planes was a pre-reminder of the oil war.The oil file is an unfulfilled desire for Turkey but at the same time it is a burning one.
Whether it be the U.S., Russia, Iran or the Syrian regime, all seem to want to re-settle the Syrian Kurds. While American’s policy is open-ended, it is also murky. Damascus is calling on troops within the SDF to join the national army. In other words, it does not recognize the SDF. The Kurds want to assess what Russia is capable of doing.
ISIS finding space for itself in Idlib will make it harder for Turkey to maintain its stance of obstructing operations in the region. It will also cause Turkey to be openly blamed. Then it will come to organizations Turkey is openly protecting. Turkey is quickly adding more pages to its crime folder because of the militia forces it sees as substitutes to Turkish army.
Ultimately, this agreement requires Erdoğan to coordinate himself with the Syrian government, which he calls illegitimate. In this setting, the next step would have him shake hands with Damascus. It is thus the first time Russia has been able to turn its wish into a written commitment.
How far will the US go to end its partnership with the SDF? According to the statement from the White House, the US will neither support Turkey's offensive nor protect the Kurds. Yet will it prevent the heavy weapons it gave the SDF from being used?
At the Turkish opposition's conference on Syria, it was openly stated that the path to peace passes through dialogue with Damascus. However, certain basic dilemmas should be overcome if an alternative way out is to be developed. The opposition should not fall into the trap laid by the government.
The Astana trio, made up of Russia, Turkey and Iran met in Ankara this week. Again, the event consecrated the failure of Turkey's Syrian strategy.
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Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind the recent moves of Turkey's ruling alliance which paves the way for further polarization in politics as the country enters the final months of 2020. They also analyze the effects of the sharp decline of the Turkish Lira against foreign currencies over public's perception.
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Interior Minister Soylu said that the head of the Constitutional Court would be unable to commute to work without his protection team. What he meant was that he was the Minister who assigned the security team to the judge, implying he might just remove them. By doing so, Süleyman Soylu openly violates the article 138 of the Turkish Constitution; basic principle for the independence of the judiciary.
Politics
Turkey's opposition parties have criticized the detention of HDP members CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel deemed the detentions "an intimidation operation" and asked the government whether new evidence was reached regarding the Kobane protests that happened six years ago. According to Özel, the recent detentions are attempts of the government to shift people's focus from the crumbling economy.
Turkish police on Sept. 25 detained some 20 HDP members, including Kars Co-Mayor Ayhan Bilgen, over 2014 violent protests against the siege by ISIS of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane. Detention warrants were issued for a total of 82 people in seven provinces. Those sought were in the MYK of the party at the time of the protests.
A group of opposition politicians slammed the construction of a 90-million-lira prison with a lake view in the eastern province of Van which government officials deemed "an investment." The opposition noted that the region has far more pressing needs than prisons and that hundreds of jails have been already built in recent years in Turkey.
Greek women from the Women's Initiative for Peace (WINPEACE) have slammed two Greek tabloids for their reports on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan allegedly having had an extramarital relationship with an actress. "We believe the fact that two newspapers in Greece, however marginal, have in the last week decided on publishing insulting, misogynist, shameful headlines, denigrating all human values is a despicable attempt to sabotage any positive developments," they said in a statement.
Turkey's Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects Chambers (TMMOB) has said that some 14 parcels on the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) land near the university masjid (prayer room for Muslims) have been zoned for construction. The architects urged the university administration to clarify the parcels' allocation and asked whether the land in question will be used for a mosque construction.
Turkey's depletion of foreign exchange reserves and the fact that a majority of its forex reserves are swap lines has created mass distrust in the economy, Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) Chairman Simone Kaslowski said. Turkey needs to “ensure full market confidence” to attract long-term financing flows, Kaslowski said during a videoconference on Sept. 24.
Works to excavate an ancient Roman bath in Turkey's Central Anatolian province of Yozgat have been stopped due to lack of financial funding. The area is now fenced off, and visitors are barred from entry.
İsmail Tarman Middle School in İstanbul's Beşiktaş district still remains closed despite four court rulings to reverse the school's status as religious İmam Hatip school. The rulings should have enabled for the school's reopening as a standard middle school, but the courts' decisions have not been enforced and the school's doors remain closed.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tore into President Donald Trump on Sept. 24 after he declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the presidential election in November. “You are not in North Korea, you are not in Turkey, you are not in Russia, Mr. President. You are in the United States of America, it is a democracy, so why don’t you just try for a moment to honor your oath of office, to the Constitution of the United States?” she said.
The governor's office in the Black Sea province of Giresun banned smoking cigarettes in public spaces on the grounds that it required removing face masks, hence risking the spread of COVID-19. The province will fine those smoking in the streets, parks or any other public spaces.
Turkey's largest seller of fish, Dardanel reportedly discriminated against Roma women who applied for positions at a factory. While the women weren't even called in for an interview, the company blamed the incident on the contracting hiring firm.
One of the Turkish Aegean Riviera's most pristine areas, Gökova Bay was rezoned to allow construction along with nearby Marmaris and Milas. Muğla Mayor Osman Gürün said that the rezoning threatens construction of 25,000 hectares of land, and that the are would effectively "cease to exist."
The Turkish parliament has failed to debate in its general session any draft bills prepared by any party other than the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the past two legislative sessions, daily Cumhuriyet reported. The AKP presented some 249 draft bills, 100 of which were reported on by the relevant commissions, while one of the CHP's 2,148 draft bills were investigated by commissions.
The Kızılırmak Delta Wetland and Bird Sanctuary in the Black Sea province of Samsun has observed raging fires since the reversal of its "protected area" status. While a part of the delta was transferred to the property of the government, environmentalists suspect the fires were started intentionally.
Local medical device companies have warned the Turkish Health Ministry that if debts owed by the government hospitals remain unpaid, there could be a “disruption in the health services” starting as early as in October. The Turkish Medical Equipment and Devices Manufacturers Association (TÜDER) has said that local medical firms have been waiting for the last 16 months to get their payment which has reached to around $26 billion Turkish Liras ($3.4 billion) in total.
Turkish Justice Ministry has dismissed a parliamentary question on the release of a rapist soldier for being "offensive." Uca in her question asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül to reveal the reason for why former specialized sergeant Musa Orhan was released despite raping İpek Er. The ministry said that the question can be accepted if the terms found "crude and offensive" are removed.
Turkey reportedly didn't apprehend ISIS militant Yunus Durmaz responsible for deadly attacks in Turkey despite determining his location 19 times between April 29 and May 19, 2016. Durmaz, who was sought over the attacks in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, the Suruç district of the southeastern province of Urfa, the capital Ankara and Istanbul's Taksim, blew himself up during a police raid on an ISIS cell in 2016.
Economy
Turkey's Central Bank unexpectedly hiked interest rates on Sept. 24, triggering an improvement in the lira's value against the dollar. The Turkish Lira has sunk to record lows over the past month as Ankara's currency interventions proved futile.
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the bank of helping Iran evade American sanctions. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 18, a lawyer for Halkbank said its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.
U.S. tech giant Amazon offered up its speed-delivery subscription to Turkish consumers on Sept. 15. The monthly subscription fee was set for 7.99 Turkish Liras, about one dollar with the current exchange rates.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Urban Beat
Istanbulites will select the new face of Taksim Square from among three projects as part of the Istanbul Municipality's plans to renovate the area. Şerif Süveydan, Bünyamin Derman and Kutlu İnanç Bal were the winners in the contest that was held by Istanbul Planning Agency and Istanbul Municipality's Department of Cultural Assets.
The Odunpazarı Modern Museum in western Eskişehir won the award for "international project of the year over £1m" at the London Museums+Heritage Awards. The museum opened its doors just over a year ago in the city's ancient Odunpazarı neighborhood.
The 48th Istanbul Music Festival will be held online, streaming pre-recorded performances in historical venues. Starting on Sept. 18, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will make available the performances that honor composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.