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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Mois Gabay writes: In my childhood years, I remember wandering in the streets of Beyoğlu alongside my father. Pera was living its last days. At the end of the street near the French Consulate, lay “Tailor Ragıp.” Mr. Ragıp was famous for making trousers that would fit you perfectly. Tailor Blum had trained him.
İslam Özkan writes: Rather than dividing it, it appears that Turkey’s strategy and polarizing policies in Libya have contributed to unifying the enemy camp. Though the attack against the al-Wattiyah airbase did not inflict huge damage on Turkey’s air defense system, Turkey’s efforts in Libya will likely get harder in the future.
Ülkü Doğanay writes: Maybe in January 2016, if the former prime minister, who now resents his colleagues and who kept quiet before the events regarding Şehir University, had remembered that he was also an academic benefiting from free expression, then universities may not have been in the dark position they are in today.
Politics
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Turkey has been declining steadily since June 25, but cautioned the public not to flout measures in place to stem the spread of the virus. "Let's not forget that these decreases [in case numbers] are happening slowly, whereas increases are happening suddenly," he said.
Turkey's Human Rights Association (İHD) has called for the release of Eylem Oyunlu, who is currently behind bars in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on charges of 'assisting a terror organization' with her two young children. Oyunlu's 3-week-old baby is suffering from a blocked tear duct and the two-year-old has chronic bronchitis.
A non-governmental women's platform urged the government to stop proceedings on a legal amendment that would grant amnesty to sexual predators. The platform also urged the government to not consider recusing from the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty against domestic violence and violence against children.
Turkey's media watchdog issued 73 percent of broadcast interruption fines to the same four news broadcasters that are critical of the government, a report by non-governmental organization Transparency International revealed.
84 percent of Turkish citizens expect a second wave of the novel coronavirus epidemic, based on the results of a survey conducted from June 29-July 2 among more than 2,000 people in all of the country’s 81 provinces. 90 percent of people surveyed indicated that the virus had negatively impacted Turkey's economy.
The European Parliament held a debate entitled “Stability and Security in the Mediterranean and the negative role of Turkey” on July 9. Several MEPs called for a complete end to accessions talks with Turkey, saying the country should no longer receive payments from the EU budget as part of pre-accession support.
Turkey has voiced discontent with the United States' decision to provide International Military Education and Training (IMET) to Greek Cypriot soldiers in accordance with the 2020 fiscal year appropriations act. "This and similar steps do not contribute to the efforts towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue, but on the contrary, lead to strengthening the intransigent attitude of the Greek Cypriot side," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
A recent simulation by Istanbul Municipality revealed the southern suburbs of the city to be the highest-risk areas in a potential earthquake. While the suburbs are located on both sides of the city, they're all placed alongside the southern Marmara Sea shoreline.
The Istanbul Convention, an international initiative that aims to combat domestic violence against women, has led to fractures within the ruling AKP as one of the party's lawmakers has said that she is puzzled why the convention has come under attack after so many years. AKP MP Canan Kalsın asked why the convention turned into a “scapegoat” nine years after it was signed in Istanbul.
Attending a demonstration can't be a proof of terrorist organization membership, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in the case of four applicants from Turkey. The applicants faced the said accusation for attending a demonstration in 2008, with the ECHR saying that their rights to freedom of assembly were violated.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to carry out a cabinet reshuffle and rearrange ministries. Erdoğan might part ways with three to four ministers, sources told Duvar, adding that two ministries, including the Family and Social Services Ministry, might be divided into two.
The police force of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) early on July 9 shot two Syrian refugees for attempting to run away after arriving at a beach on a boat. The TRNC police said that refugees continued to run away despite warning shots, and eventually they opened fire on them, injuring two.
A tender for hunting mountain goats in eastern Dersim was scheduled despite public outcry against it. Endemic to the Munzur Valley National Park, mountain goats are considered sacred among locals.
A parliamentary commission revealed that some 462 children in Turkey died under suspicious conditions in 2019. Police data showed that 21 children's deaths were suicides and 29 were the result of poisoning.
Four U.S. senators have penned a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper saying that Turkey's expulsion from the F-35 supply chain needs to be expedited, regardless of what the cost is. They said that the Defense Department's delay regarding the matter “has undermined the effectiveness of our clear message to the Turks.”
Turkey tested Russian-made S-400 air defense systems on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets in November 2019, a source close to the Turkish defense industry told TASS on July 7. "Yes, such trials have indeed taken place last November," the source told TASS when asked to comment on several media reports.
The main opposition CHP’s proposal calling for an investigation into last week's deadly explosion at a Sakarya fireworks factory has been rejected by the votes of the AKP and MHP lawmakers.
Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the country will soon start mass production of favipiravir, a drug used in COVID-19 treatment, as the licensing process is expected to be completed in a couple of days. Koca said that the country will sell it on the international market and also use it to treat its own coronaviurus patients.
Economy
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said that Turkey was an exception to the global financial crisis emerging in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The minister said that Turkey has been outperforming other countries in "all measures of economic success."
Foreign investment in Istanbul's stock exchange fell below 50 percent for the first time since 2004, daily Sözcü reported. Almost four billion dollars have reportedly been sold out of the exchange in the first six months of 2020.
Turkey's foreign trade deficit doubled between January and May as exports fell by 20 percent. The monthly trade deficit also doubled in May, surpassing $3 billion.
The Turkish Competition Authority has launched a probe into German automotive giants Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The authority's announcement on July 1 came as Volkswagen AG canceled plans to build a car factory in Turkey after the coronavirus pandemic jolted auto markets.
Urban Beat
Fossils discovered by a nature enthusiast in mountainous eastern province of Iğdır revealed that the area, now completely landlocked, used to be a shore and underwater. The fossils contained palm leaves, which grow in hot areas by the water.
Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry will be turning the iconic Galata Tower into a museum. The ministry will also launch a "culture route" that spans from the tower, along Istiklal Avenue and to Taksim Square. Minister Ersoy also said that the construction of the AKM would be completed within a month, ongoing since February 2019.
The United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) likened railroads and highways in Turkey's capital Ankara to arteries in an eagle-eye shot of the city at night, dubbed "photo of the day" on June 28.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on June 25 announced that the municipality purchased a portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II at a London auction. According to the London-based world-famous Christie's auction house, the municipality's winning bid amounted to £770,000 ($955,000) for the oil painting, which is believed to be the work of Italian painter Gentile Bellini in 1480.