Who is Zafer Yörük?
Zafer Yörük (PhD and MA in Ideology and Discourse Analysis, University of Essex; BA in Politics and Economics, SOAS, University of London) has been a faculty member in the department of politics and communication studies of several universities in the UK, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon. He is the author and co-author of a number of academic publications on the politics of Turkey and the Middle East. His main areas of research include identity politics, discourse analysis and psychoanalysis with reference to the Kurdish conflict in Turkey, and the politics of Turkey and the Middle East.
There may have been changes in the relations between the underworld and politics in Turkey but nevertheless the relations between criminal chiefs and the politicians and bureaucrats can still overwhelm the political agenda. As politics is criminalized, mafia is further politicized.
The Diyanet was originally designed by the republican regime as a tool of “de-Islamization”, but it has ironically turned into an instrument of “re-Islamization” of society under the AKP regime. It has become a supersized government bureaucracy for the promotion of Sunni Islam.
April 23 marks the first sitting of the Grand National Assembly in 1920, the nucleus of republican Turkey. It is also celebrated as “Children’s Day”. This year is the centenary of the April 23 national day and it is rather unfortunate that the coronavirus outbreak will not allow public ceremonies and festivities on this important day. In compensation, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will address the nation by reciting the verse of Turkish national anthem live.
The problem is what Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben calls 'the danger of transition into a continual state of exception' in which the exception is no longer the exception but the norm.
Over the past week, a political row over an animated cartoon shown to schoolchildren has become the second item on the Turkish news agenda after the coronavirus outbreak. It depicts the 1961 execution of former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes. The importance of this sixty year old affair, why it was chosen to be presented to schoolchildren at a critical moment can only be understood through reference to the narrative of the ruling AKP government.
This year, Newroz and the accompanying neurotic symptoms of the Turkish psyche may pass silently around the country due to the coronavirus emergency. The importance of this day, March 21, however, as all the signs indicate, will never diminish, on the contrary, it will continue to determine the future of the Kurdish and Turkish people in the country and region.
Last week, a chain of arrests and the subsequent court decisions to imprison six journalists hit the headlines in Turkey. Two of the imprisoned journalists are the co-authors of the 2019 book “Metastaz” (Metastasis) in which they investigate how, in the post-15 July 2016 environment, different religious sects have gained positions in the state structure by filling the void that resulted from the purging of the Gülenists.
The current engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces and their proxy Sunni troops in Idlib province is with the Syrian military. Behind the thin windows of this showroom, pro-AKP pundits have been carrying out a comprehensive ideological operation with a series of arguments. The intra-Muslim sectarian character of the violence in Syria inevitably enters into the picture.
With his newly acquired profile of a repentant political Islamist, Abdullah Gül may this time have the courage to meet the challenge from the palace but there is much more that requires self-criticism, since he was by no means an outsider of the AKP circle of power.
A number of allegations have recently surfaced over Adnan Tanrıverdi, a former security aide to President Erdoğan. Tanrıverdi is said to oversee SADAT, a shadowy paramilitary group close to the President. Allegations of the company’s involvement in the combat training of the jihadist paramilitary groups loyal to Turkey go further to suggest that SADAT pushed for the current escalation in Idlib. Can it be compared to Iran's Revolutionary Guards?
Başbuğ’s imprisonment was a turning moment in AKP’s consolidation of power. His release was also the symbol of a dramatic shift in AKP’s and Erdoğan’s stance against their former Gülenist allies. And now, as İlker Başbuğ is again on the stage, there is all the more reason to suspect that we are on the brink of a substantial turn in the state and society.
The data pointing to the escalating incidence of femicide; the soft approach by the police and judicial authorities towards male perpetrators; and the sustained immunity of men with political or financial power and influence all indicate some rather disquieting trends in Turkey’s social life: a safe haven for misogynists where women live in permanent insecurity.
Despite being a novelist and a painter, Rahşan Ecevit’s name is mostly associated with politics. She was not merely the wife of a politician but a top politician in her own right, whose stance determined Turkish society’s fate at certain critical moments. With all its rights and wrongs, Mrs Ecevit’s legacy will occupy an exceptional place in Turkish public’s collective memory.
Why Hrant Dink among all the anti-establishment journalists and all the prominent figures of Armenian community? What is the specific reason that made him the target of this fatal hate crime? Fatih Akın’s 2015 film “The Cut” may provide an answer to this question.
At the economic foundations of society, Erdoğan has imposed new rules over conventional business elites, similar to Putin’s coercion of the Russian tycoons to obey his authority. Overall, the deeper, structural dimension of the Putin-Erdoğan rapprochement probably indicates that the Russian experience of transition to post-Soviet capitalism provides the blue print for post-Kemalist Turkey.
He served as the national police chief, Minister of Interior and Minister of Justice in the centre-right True Path Party (DYP) cabinets back in the 1990s, but had to resign after the Susurluk scandal in November 1996, which uncovered links between senior state figures and organised crime. Since then, Ağar does not have any official titles. Yet, his statements imply that he speaks on behalf of “the state”, that is, what is otherwise known as the voice of “the deep state”.
With a court ruling against his release from detention last Tuesday, businessman and rights activist Osman Kavala has been sentenced to welcome a third new year in jail.  Following his arrest in October 2017, Kavala was put in a Kafkaesque position of more than a year of imprisonment without a charge. The indictment, when it […]
Eurasianists, as championed by their self-styled leader, Doğu Perinçek – head of the left leaning nationalist Homeland Party – argue that since 2016 the AKP has been transformed to adopt their strategic position. Perinçek argues that he is the main architect of this transformation. In turn the Eurasianist/Nationalists have also compromised their hard-line secularism to recognize religious affiliations as part of national unity.
Davutoğlu aims to turn a new page in his political career with the launch of a new party, which, his spokepersons declare, is grounded on a revival of the “real AKP,” promising a resurrection of the original equilibrium sought to be achieved through the ‘Turkish model’ of moderate Islam. This appeal is expected to inflict damage on the AKP’s organizational structure and a haemorrhage in the electoral base.
The collective memory of Turkey’s Alevi communities consists of dark layers of trauma. Although in its early years in office the AKP government launched an Alevi initiative to open dialogue with the community, it was shelved after some discussion along with the breakdown of the Kurdish rapprochement in 2015. Moreover, the Islamist character of the AKP government resulted in a tangible decrease in the number of Alevi civil servants, particularly among the ranks of the police, military and in the education system.
Turkey's former Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt died at the age of 79. Being one of the most controversial figures in Turkish political and military history, Büyükanıt is known with two significant events, with one leading Turkey into a political turmoil and forcing early elections.
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Şenay Aydemir writes: It seems like Netflix, rather than providing resources to Turkey and contributing to the advancement of the sector, chooses to work with producers that already have a strong share in the market. Though the Netflix Turkey team claims they are open to all kinds of projects and ideas, they are obviously more open to certain ideas, projects and production companies.
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Ankara's conflict-oriented foreign policy has received the public's support for military operations, but public opinion often fails to translate into votes. While Ankara's "enemy" in military conflict is ever-changing, the northern Syria conflict was revealed to be the only intervention that expanded the government's voter base.
Politics
Recidivism is high among youth criminals in Turkey as more than half of released minors eventually end up back in prison due to a lack of opportunities and support structures upon their release, said the Youth Re-autonomy Foundation of Turkey (TÇYÖV).
As countless stray animals live difficult lives on the streets of Istanbul, the city municipality has teamed up with an animal rights activist to develop an sophisticated app aimed at meeting the needs of the city's street animals and finding them permanent homes.
A budget proposal for 2021 that Vice President Fuat Oktay presented to parliament allocated funds to purchase hundreds of vehicles for government agencies as the country's economy remains strained. The Turkish Lira has been depreciating consistently since the beginning of the year, resisting state intervention as Ankara's international reserves shrink.
Turkish Parliament has received 25 new summaries of proceedings against 11 HDP lawmakers. If Parliament votes to strip the deputies of their immunity from prosecution, they will be tried by Turkish courts.
Hate speech and threats against Armenians in Turkey have accelerated following the outbreak of clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. HDP MP Garo Paylan, himself a Turkish-Armenian, has been targeted for his insistence on a ceasefire. "We can conclude that there will be no favorable results from this war--which has caused loss and destruction on both sides—and that the solution is on the peace table," Paylan said.
Turkey's top medical association has said that 143,000 coronavirus patients are currently treated at their homes, whereas 460,000 others have been placed under mandatory home quarantine. The Turkish Medical Association made the remarks based on the results of a survey conducted with family physicians across the country.
A report penned by CHP lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu has said that 29 journalists, writers and publishers have received jail terms during January-September period of this year, 20 of whom have been arrested. "The animosity against journalists that is on the rise during the AKP rule is due to the government's stance against freedom of press,” Tanrıkulu said.
A group of university students and alumni are requesting that the Credit and Dormitories Agency (KYK) annul all loans. Currently, some five million Turkish university students are in debt to the state-run KYK, and 300,000 face prosecution for not being able to pay back the debt.
The lira sank to a record low to near 8 versus the dollar after Turkey’s central bank ignored investors' calls to raise its main interest rate. The decision to leave the rate unchanged prompted economists to question the central bank’s commitment to lowering inflation and its independence from the government.
Putin said on Oct. 22 Russia and Turkey disagree about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but emphasized strong ties between Moscow and Ankara. Erdoğan "might seem tough, but is a flexible politician and reliable partner for Russia," Putin said.
A 24-year-old woman was shot dead by her brother in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, news portal Jinnews reported on Oct. 21. Meanwhile, a local court discounted a femicide assailant's sentence on "good behavior," adding to the list of killers that Turkish courts are lenient toward.
Protesting miners from around Turkey were promised a solution within 10 days during an Oct. 21 meeting with Justice and Development Party (AKP) Group Deputy Chairwoman Özlem Zengin. Hundreds of miners started marching to the capital earlier this month, as survivors of the Soma Mining Disaster are yet to receive damages, and workers in Ermenek have 13 months of unpaid wages.
A newly passed legislation will allow ministries to veil their budget items as they submit their budget proposals to parliament. This means that they are no longer obliged to make it public how much is paid to private contractors for projects.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Oct. 22 Turkey will operate the gas field which it recently discovered in the Black Sea on its own, but it may cooperate with foreign firms in terms of detailed work and equipment. The minister's comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 17 Turkey had raised the estimated reserves of the field to 405 billion cubic meters after finding an additional 85 bcm.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has confirmed that Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems were tested last week, as he also dismissed NATO allies' concerns on the issue. Akar also said that the S-400 won’t be integrated into NATO’s command-and-control infrastructure, but rather "used as a standalone system similar to the use of Russian-made S-300 weapons that exist within NATO."
Turkey's Health Ministry will regulate the administration of flu shots through the online government portal as supplies will fall short of soaring demand. Patients will need to obtain prescriptions from their family practitioner, report to a pharmacy with their prescription. Pharmacies will be supplied shots only after receipt of a prescription.
The AKP and its ally MHP on Oct. 21 rejected the HDP's demand to investigate what really unfolded during the 2014 Kobane protests for the 10th time. The HDP's demand came after dozens of its members, including co-mayors of the eastern province of Kars, were arrested over the protests six years later earlier this month.
A bus assistant in Turkey sexually harassed a 17-year-old passenger on a trip with Metro Turizm vehicle, notorious for sexual assault incidents. The company told an Instagram user who shared footage of the assault that the worker was uninsured, and asked them to remove the video.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has determined that teacher and author Tahir Baykuşak's rights were violated by police who assaulted him during an ID check in Istanbul in 2016. The court said that a proper investigation was not carried out and that the mistreatment of police violated the 17th Article of the constitution.
Economy
The Turkish government has said that it "laughs off" boycotts imposed on Turkish products in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and United Arab Emirates. "We laugh off some countries' boycotts against Turkey. They should first learn to stand as independent countries," AKP deputy leader Numan Kurtulmuş said on Oct. 18.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that income per capita in Turkey would drop to 2005 levels, an annual average of $7,720. The IMF also predicted a five percent contraction in the Turkish economy until the end of 2020, despite Ankara's 0.3 percent growth projection.
Turkey's net international investment deficit grew by $20 billion from the end of 2019 to reach a total $365.8 billion at the end of August. Turkey's international assets shrunk by 10.2 percent to reach $227.4 billion in the same period.
President Erdoğan on Oct. 17 announced the discovery of an additional 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea, following a similar find in August. As a result of testing, analysis and detailed engineering work, another 85 billion cubic meters were added to the reserves we had discovered. The total amount of natural gas reserves in the TUNA-1 well of the Sakarya Gas Field reached 405 billion cubic meters," Erdoğan said.
Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) revealed a dip in real estate sales vis-a-vis last year in September, dropping by 6.9 percent for some 136,744 residences sold. Meanwhile, the total volume of sales between January and September was larger than the number in 2019.
Urban Beat
Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakır is nestled in Mesopotamia and has a deep legacy spanning millenniums and civilizations. A recent discovery on the 8000-year-old Amida Höyük archaeological site has unearthed an 1800-year-old heating system that was quite sophisticated for the time.
Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan's work that she created during her two prison sentences between 2016 and 2019 are on display in Turkey for the first time. The artist was jailed on terrorism charges and gained international fame after finishing her second sentence and holding a show at London's Tate Modern.
Turkey's Presidential Symphony Orchestra will thrive thanks to the completion of its long-awaited music hall, Conductor Cemi'i Can Deliorman said. Having been in the works for 25 years, the music hall's large auditorium can seat more than two thousand viewers.
Alterations on Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia reportedly violated guidelines mandated under the site's "UNESCO World Heritage" status. Converted within two weeks of the legal ruling that allowed Muslim worship, the ancient structure's mosaics were unlawfully covered up, and any work on it was deemed practically impossible, architectural publication Mimarlık Magazine reported.