Perhaps, it is time for the opposition to start re-thinking the republic and switch priority from rights and freedoms to administration and social contract. In this month of June it will not be way off-the-mark to claim that Junes as in 2013 or in 2015 were not one-off singular events.
June 8 2020
Do you remember 100 meters men world record holder Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt? I am pretty sure you do. During his reign, he had dominated the field so much that he had used to pound his chest even 20m to go before the finish line and to zip past seemingly effortlessly through it with his arms wide open as if asking to himself and us “why worry when I am already number one?” Many of us before their TV screens used to huff and puff that if he had pulled his act together he would have been able to better his own world record.
More or less since 2002, Tayyip Erdoğan did the same in all election races. Even today, even the worst polls show him as the most popular leader with a handsome low 3O percents lead, the most rosy ones still going up to over 50 percents. Why then Mr. Erdoğan pushes so hard an open door?Comparisons with the likes of the Central Asian or the Middle Eastern dictators garnering always over 90 percent of the votes did not hold the ground at least for a long while. As in my humble opinion it is also unfair and lazy to cite Trump in the same breath as Putin and Xi.
For a brief moment on June 7, 2015 the opposition believed clinching a partial yet significant victory just to see all hell breaking loose right afterwards. The times got tough and tougher while they were outwitted and outgunned. Turkish citizens are not known for their appetite neither in taking part in the so-called democratic process nor taking to the streets to resist. Another month of June in 2013 remained a vivid exception. But Turks break records too every election day by lining up in masses to cast their ballots. Unfortunately, as republican institutions are being hollowed from within, the once untouchable High Electoral Committee too lost most of its credibility in the meantime. In our time, the democratic opposition is left with the social media and professional chambers as the last bastions of civil society. Hence, these too are coming under serious attack.
Nowadays a silver lining again timidly seems to appear beyond the dark clouds to stem the political erosion. Dr.Pınar Dinç showed courage by taking to Twitter to publicly share her own #MeToo harassment that she suffered since years at the hands of a more senior Turkish academician at Lund University in Sweden where she currently works. Many other followed suit right after. Then, women from different ages and walks of life made a wise and poignant mockery of traditional Turkish “machismo” by turning popular sayings up-side down. The following day, users spontaneously did the same this time by converting discriminatory sayings about the Kurds to Turks. The brutal killing of George Floyd came as a wake-up call to many that racism, albeit in a different form, exists here in Turkey too.
It is obvious that the voters and especially the first time voters not only look for fresh political formations but also for a brand new political lexicon to express their dissatisfaction with the system. Almost a century after the foundation of the republic the struggle between fake traditions and real progress is still under way. This nation looks for its identity. Perhaps, it is time for the opposition to start re-thinking the republic and switch priority from rights and freedoms to administration and social contract. In this month of June 2020 it will not be way off-the-mark to claim that Junes as in 2013 or in 2015 were not one-off singular events.
Bold Pilot too was a champion like Husain Bolt. The slight difference was that he was a horse not a human being. In 1996, during the International Bosphorus Cup Race he competed against his German rival Galtee. He was a capricious champion who disliked to run on rainy days. That day the rain had stopped just before the race and the turf was muddy. Yet Bold Pilot, confirming his winning character, managed to respond to Galtee in the last few meters and put his nose through the finish line. Many years later Bold Pilot passed away in his peaceful retirement still owned by the same distinguished Mr. Özdemir Atman who famously replied when asked about the prospects of selling Bold Pilot, “well you can offer me the Central Bank for all you want but I will never exchange him for any sum of gold or money.”
TV programmer Mr. Enver Arslan, who had witnessed live most of Bold Pilot’s victories, recalls how hearing the news of his demise through his car radio pulled over and broke into tears as if he had lost a cherished relative. Bold Pilot is irreplaceable in the memories of many. A true champion, he had won the hearts and minds of the people not with his string of victories but with his attitude in the paddock as well as his resilient character of never accepting defeat. That horse in those dark nineties kind of embodied an audacity of hope. That it is never over until it’s over. That the home stretch is not the same as the march to the scaffold. The opposition in Turkey is in desperate need of not a bolt but a bold pilot. And, make no mistake, that is the reason why the victor of the June 7, 2015 elections Mr. Selahattin Demirtaş is in prison since November 4 of 1996.
Who is Aydın Selcen?
Born in Istanbul in 1969, Aydın Selcen graduated from Saint Joseph High School and the International Relations Department of Marmara University. Selcen has taken up several positions at the Foreign Ministry between 1992 and 2013, his latest post being the Erbil Consul General of Turkey between 2010 and 2013. Upon his return to Ankara, he resigned from the civil service and served as a political advisor at the General Energy oil company for one and a half years. Since 2015, he has been writing independently, with a focus on Iraqi and Syrian issues. Selcen is a member of the Galatasaray Football Club congress.
A state which very reluctantly offers its visa only after receiving allegiance to the centralism of Turkey and to the leadership of the Turk following a thorough body search to the ideas that arrive to its custom gates, demands the exact opposite when it turns toward the Kurd: A rootless and nationless global muslim brotherhood.” This […]
According to Turkey's presidential spokesperson Kalın “We were told other people’s tales under the guise of modernization. Now, it’s time to write of our own tale.” Just to avoid any sensationalism, let’s put it on the record that Mr. Kalın is no lunatic. That’s why his expression of his teenage dreams of accomplishing a full back-somersault must be taken for what it’s worth.
Not practically, but theoretically the recent scene at Hagia Sophia was not un-reminiscent of Al Baghdadi’s Mosul Friday sermon. This is not who we are. We must be better than this and we are better than this. The year is 2020.
In recent years and increasingly so, Turkey’s near abroad policy can be described assertive and defiant at best, foolhardy and hazardous at worst. For some, it is just looking for trouble almost all the time, everywhere. The latest addition to the list is the Azerbaijan-Armenia border skirmishes.
The recent explosion of interest in Turkey for the likes of Sebastian Haffner’s and Ernst Fraenkel books is telling on its own. These German exiles of pre-WW2 period relate the story of lockstep marching of their societies to outright fascism. And we relate to them. And we look at Russia and China and we relate to them as well.
A good start is not often times sign of a good finish. “Start as a Turk, finish as a German” the saying goes around here. One outcome may well be a de facto or Sudanese style de jure partitioning of Libya –what with Turkey finding itself left with the dry end.
Today in Turkey, thanks to Erdoğan’s shrewd politics and survival instinct, nationalism and Islamism are blended together. No nationalistic opposition will find the tiniest bit of space anymore against the rampart of the new Islamism 2.0 on steroids unless it gathers the guts to adopt pluralistic and geared towards de-centralization policies.
True, Turkey’s neither Syria nor Libya military adventures can in real terms be compared to the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. neither in scope nor in content. Nevertheless, reasoning-wise it makes sense –to me at least. Why, because I would simply like to know how much is being spent out of taxpayer’s pocket?
Our official and public/individual reactions to Mr. George Floyd’s killing is a perfect looking glass mirror. We are exempt of all sins. There were no enslaved Circassian women’s blood running in our veins. No property “confiscated” from our Armenian neighbours who decided to take an unexpected walk.
Turks and Kurds are not exotic fruits that grow in faraway lands. As citizens of this country, namely the Republic of Turkey, they yearn for equality, justice for all, state of law, plurality, agency, effective administration through decentralization, secularism, better education and economy for their children, security.
Perhaps at glacier speed yet things appear to have started to move between Turkey and the U.S. Stars are almost getting aligned what with Turkey in dire need of fresh monies to fill its fast emptying forex coffers and the U.S. shifting its military focus for the umpteenth time from the MidEast to global rivalry with first China and then Russia.
If the truth is circumvented or sterilized, finding a solution to a problem that is being carried along since almost a century will be harder if not impossible to reach. Politics is one thing, law is something else, political science is another and history is yet another.
Lefter Küçükandonyadis (1925-2012) was Fenerbahçe football club’s and Turkish national team’s star player during the many long years when he played football. Last week, my good friend and distinguished sportswriter Bağış Erten named his new born son “Lefter” and announced the happy news through social media.
The capacity and the capability of the Turkish Armed Forces is overwhelming compared to its regional peers. The resolve of the leader and the public support are formidable. The pandemic keeps the global powers at bay. The worm in the apple is the economic engine.
An appointed official, in this case the interior minister, defies and elbows the elected mayor of a city, for example Istanbul with its 16 million inhabitants because he represents the state also known as the office of the presidency and also because he has a hunch that if these pernicious activities are allowed, then God forbid, HDP municipalities may follow suit and raise money for PKK!
The imam too is apologetically in a hurry. I try to appear comforting in reiterating over and over again that everything is in order according to Islam. I even attempt to reassure him by patting his shoulder but my hand remains hanging in the air as the wide-eyed imam is aghast of this potential physical contact.
At the end of the day, Ankara’s undisclosed three-way bet appears to the naked eye as resting first on a hybrid mitigation approach as opposed to the full throttle suppression. Second, that the storm will pass quicker than others expect. Third, that Turkey will find itself on the winning end once the skies clear.
The Moscow Protocol puts the task on Ankara’s shoulders of stopping the armed militia like the HTS and the Turkey backed SNA from endangering traffic on that road to be jointly controlled. By the same token, while effectively offering the use of the road on a plate to Damascus, it allocates the burden of preventing the SAA to take it over and make a northbound push to Russia.
Not quite. One can safely assume that Moscow dictates the, call it “new order” or the “new status quo” in Idlib. And at that, effectively getting in between the Turkish Armed Forces and the Syrian Arab Army. No more, no less and temporarily. Compared to a potential full-blown Turco-Syrian war, encouraged first and foremost by the U.S., it is no small feat either.
The assumption of those who predicted a sudden death to Erdoğan-Putin bromance is proven to be only wishful thinking. The two leaders, as shared with the public by Kremlin’s spokesperson Peskov are slated to meet in Moscow either on the 5th or the 6th of March. How many more Syrian Air Force Soviet made attack jets will be downed by then is anybody’s guess. The tally stands at three at present time.
Title is from a song by Sheffield band Pulp’s well known 1995 debut album: “Mis-shapes, mistakes, misfits / Raised on a diet of broken biscuits, oh…” With a sleight of hand replace “biscuits” with “promises” and there you have it, a concise executive summary of Erdoğan’s Syria and Libya policies.
The art of diplomacy, among other things, is to create time and space for a rationale within the possible outcomes. That would be in this case, for the recently heavily fortified TAF observation posts establish a new frontier line leaving the control of the M4 and the M5 highways together with all the towns along them to Damascus and keep a much narrower pocket including the Idleb town to host the almost a million Syrian IDPs and hence allowing them conditions not push for the Turkish border.
Bana, on her term, travelled numerous times from Istanbul to Misrata than to Genoa and so forth. Recently though, the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle sailed through the disputed eight parcel declared by Greek Cyprus and, “to add insult to injury”, also topped its flag displaying mission by monitoring the same Bana being escorted by Turkish navy fregates to Libya. Before AFP had time to break the news, President Macron had already denounced Turkey as breaching the UN imposed arms embargo to Libya.
I have no single bit of sympathy at all for this ridiculous Trumpian unilateral MEPP that makes a mockery of diplomacy and the Palestinian land. But I do worry about the fact that Turkey carries no weight to dictate its will upon all the rest of the world. For that matter, no other power, be it regional or global, not even the U.S. enjoys that sort of latitude. There is no need for Ankara to constantly pick unnecessary fights while in the meantime there is no shortage of conflicts that Turkey’s national security all around it.
Today, a shaky hodge-podge opposition coalition of sorts seems to have emerged following the metropolitan municipality victories in 2019, first and foremost winning the prized duchy of Istanbul among them. Now, the secularist nationalists and muslim democrats with the Kurds and leftists suspiciously eyeing but soldiering on with them have a quite clear shot at the presidency in 2023 the latest -in ceteris paribus conditions.
The outcome of the Berlin Conference on Libya is anybody’s guess and whether it will make any difference is anybody’s guess as well. The safest bet is to claim that we are just starting a long de-escalation period with its inevitable ups and downs unless General Hafter manages to upend it militarily.
President Erdoğan’s combative foreign policy appears to let off steam and slow down on both Syrian and Libyan fronts. It is too early to tell whether finally reason had found a foothold in Ankara. For Mr. Erdoğan the hardest bit to tackle in 2020 will be the U.S. President’s repeated invitation for the NATO’s mission to be expanded to the Mid East and namely to Iraq.
Turkey, if it stops short of going all in in Libya and taps into its long forgotten diplomatic arsenal, has a unique opportunity to step forward with its home brew de-escalation efforts. President Erdoğan already had both Mr. Rouhani and Mr. Saleh on the phone. Briskly, Ankara can step forward and play on both its hundreds year long relations with Teheran and its half a century old NATO membership.
Mr.Erdoğan went to Tunisia but came back empty handed following his meeting with his counterpart Mr.Saied. The joint diplomatic, military, intelligence team that was dispatched to Moscow got no deal after three days long talks. Italy, Britain, France and Germany are seriously considering imposing a No Fly Zone which will definitely put a hold to armed drones provided by Turkey to GNA.
Vienna, no need to be a historian to reach that conclusion, is an imperial capital. Coming from Istanbul, I can’t help but think about the parallelism of these two cities being amputated of their respective empires almost simultaneously at the end of World War I.
Ankara went ahead and put the pedal to the metal in all files. No restraint, no consultation, no foresight: Just jump in head-on wherever, whenever you see trouble. Why? Simply because it almost always paid off at the ballot box. Second, there was no payback, no price tag attached to any of all these reckless foreign policy moves, manoeuvers and adventures.
So here I was back at heart of the blob. Or alternately, here I was knee-deep back in the swamp. Ten years ago this city was sort of abuzz. This time though, if President Macron kindly allows me to borrow the description he recently used for NATO, DC appeared to me sort of “brain-dead”. A good friend who had navigated these treachourous waters for decades had warned me that I would come to witness “the demise of an empire.”
Never in the history of mankind, less than ten richest persons in the world possessed more than half of the global wealth. But also, never in the history of mankind, humans lived so long and a billion people to global population was added in such a short span of time. Statesmen are in short supply in our time and at the same time all the public upheaval from Santiago to Najaf can be understood as a global rejection of being lead by anyone anyway.
It seems like Erdoğan’s Turkey not only wants to go it alone almost in all foreign policy issues but also actually expects almost all other countries, friend or foe, to, at best, applaud its acts and decisions or to understand them and to remain silent, at worst. That’s not a realistic goal.
What is the secret of the “Kılıçdaroğlu Doctrine”? That’s “winning with a disappearing act”, in a nut-shell. That is, now you see Mr.Kılıçdaroğlu and he dexterly shuffles the deck of cards lurking in the shadows, and now you don’t, the cards are open on the table with brand new names facing the voter. Ergo, CHP rises as the legendary phoenix from its ashes.
Where will Iraq go from here, I do not know. The historical process triggered by the U.S. military that toppled the most brutal dictator of its era in 2003 does not yet appear to have arrived at its final destination. It is perhaps a good enough thing to be alive for some of us, but then again, for some of us to merely survive is not enough. The brave young generation of Iraq, unlike the frequent traveler that your humble servant was, plays this game for their lives: They want to live, to be free and pursue their happiness as they see fit.
The relations between Turkey and the U.S. are beyond repair. The bilateral relations are either going to look like “operational” as in U.S.-Egypt relations for example, in which case people who consider themselves democrats will definitely go under the bus. Or, another option may appear to be, as it derives from the dominant narrative of Erdoğan, a character similar to the U.S.-Russia relations: Turkey playing the part of an equal and indispensable but difficult partner.
Turkey is anchored in the West since the Paris Peace Conference in 1856 that ensued the Crimean War. Today, over the control of a godforsaken piece of land of 120 to 32km, Putin is invited to kill too many birds with one stone.
As the U.S. pulled out, Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Arab Army (SAA), supported by Russia, moved into Manbij and Kobane to the west and to the Qamishli axis to the east of the said rectangular field of ongoing operations. Hence, there is no reason why the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) should heed the U.S.-Turkish Joint Statement, and there is no reason why the congressional sanctions effort should stop—it didn’t.
Last week marked the fourth anniversary of the Ankara Train Station massacre. The pain caused by the hundreds of dead and injured subsists. The victims simply demanded peace. But they paid a high price for it.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said, rather ungrammatically, that they would 'raggedy' Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu if he doesn't mind his own business. He openly and directly threatened him with these words
Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki are joined by Robert Bosch Academy's Galip Dalay to discuss the impact of Turkish government's recent domestic policy moves on Ankara's international relations. They look for answers to whether there is any possibility that Turkey's relations with the West might change for the better any time soon.
Taner Akçam writes: The regime’s bold stroke vis-a-vis Hagia Sophia should not be seen as stemming from desperation. Rather, it is simply meant to relay the not-so-subtle message of the path to be followed by the "New Republic", and that message is that the “annihilationist tradition” of the old regime, inherited by the Republic’s founders, will be retained in the era to come.
Economist and former Treasury advisor Mahfi Eğilmez has said that the Turkish economy is no longer predictable. "In an unpredictable economy, due to the fact the risks increase, this means that expenses will also increase,” Eğilmez wrote in a column on Aug. 5.
Şaban Vatan, the father of Rabia Naz who was found dead in a suspicious way two years ago, has been stopped by the police for wearing a t-shirt that read “Where are you justice?” and “What happened to Rabia Naz?” “So it turns out, a person's being in Taksim with a t-shirt that has Rabia Naz's picture on, is a crime," Vatan wrote on Twitter.
A prominent health expert has said that about 3,000 people are believed to have been infected with the COVID-19 virus during the prayers held at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia on July 24. "There were about 1,000 asymptotic patients there, based on forecasts. If we think of the transmission rate, those patients have infected 2,000-3,000 others. I believe that gathering will increase the cases in Istanbul,” Assoc. Pro. Dr. Üner said on Aug. 8.
Turkey's parliament speaker Mustafa Şentop, from the ruling AKP, has said that there is no need for Turkey to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, an international accord designed to protect women. Şentop's comments came as the AKP is considering whether to pull Turkey out of the convention, alarming campaigners who see the pact as key to combating rising domestic violence.
Turkey's Arab Alawite community has celebrated the Gadir Hum holiday amid concerns of rising cases of coronavirus in Turkey. Mehmet Ali Dönmez, who organized Gadir Hum festivities in the Samandağ district of Hatay, which is prominently Arab Alawite, said that the celebration of the festival is in defiance of cultural assimilation.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has voiced support to Finance Minister Berat Albayrak amid the country's worsening economy. Several AKP officials, including Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, defended Albayrak on Twitter via using the hashtag "We stand with Berat Albayrak."
Amnesty International has called on the Turkish government to "fully implement" the Istanbul Convention rather withdraw from it. The prominent organization said that Turkey's withdrawal from the convention would have "disastrous consequences" for millions of women and girls in the country.
Rights organizations will take the case of Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal -- who have been on a hunger strike since April 5 to support their demand for a fair trial -- to the Constitutional Court. The move comes after an Istanbul court in July denied the release of Timtik and Ünsal, despite a medical report that says it is not “suitable” for the two lawyers to remain in jail.
Some 64 percent of Turkish people are of the belief that it is not safe to allow schools to reopen on Aug. 31 amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a recent survey conducted by Metropoll. The survey also looked at how supporters of different political parties view this issue, finding that 53 percent of AKP voters do not support the government's planned move.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the country's economy is on the fast lane, downplaying Turkish Lira's sharp fall against dollar and euro. "No one should try to deceive the public. We're stronger than yesterday," he said. While experts voice concern on the situation, Erdoğan claimed that the "zigzags" in the economy can be seen around the world following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Two people were detained for shooting the car of a restaurant owner over late takeaway delivery in the southern province of Adana on Aug. 6. E.K. and his friend Ö.T. opened fire on the restaurant owner with a pump rifle and blank cartridge following an argument.
The Turkish Interior Ministry on Aug. 7 announced that coronavirus quarantines are currently underway in 83 residential areas in 32 provinces. The areas are home to some 54,053 people. The ministry's comments came as the country's daily COVID-19 cases have recently shown a sharp rebounding trend, with more than 1,000 daily jump in successive days.
The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) has protested a factory run by the tuna fish company Dardanel in the province of Çanakkale after it imposed a closed-circuit working system on some of its employees after they contracted coronavirus. The workers have been forced to stay in quarantine dormitories since July 26.
Congolese opposition politician Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko has disappeared in Ankara after flying to the Turkish capital for health treatment in late July. He boarded a plane belonging to Qatar and landed at Ankara's Esenboğa airport on July 30, and has not been heard from since.
Employees of Turkish Airlines (THY) have been facing an uncertain future due to the salary crisis that has been ongoing for five months in the company. According to Sözcü, talks between the THY and Hava-İş, the Turkish union representing a large number of workers in the civil aviation sector, have failed to reach a conclusion.
Turkish steeplechaser Gülcan Mıngır has been banned for two years after a re-test of her samples from the London Olympics in 2012 revealed the presence of a prohibited substance, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said on Aug. 6. The 31-year-old's ban has been backdated to Feb 3, 2020.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Aug. 6 that return of Germans from holiday destinations such as Western Balkan countries and Turkey is increasingly contributing to the rise in new coronavirus cases. Spahn also said that everyone arriving from high-risk areas will be tested for the disease unless they can produce a negative test certificate no more than two days old.
Former MHP deputy Cemal Enginyurt has said it was him who started the legal process that led to the cancellation of a dissident-led congress back in 2016 aiming to challenge the leadership of Devlet Bahçeli. “When Meral Akşener won the congress with 715 votes on June 19, it was me who took the case to the court. It was me that led to the cancellation of the congress, which they had won," Enginyurt said on Aug. 5.
Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener has said that the majority of the Turkish people want to return to a parliamentary system, adding that the current "freakish" system can't govern the country. "Turkey's economy has worsened, the youth doesn't have hope to find jobs, agriculture and industry have collapsed. The people are suffering from not being able to find food and fear being unemployed," she said.
The Turkish Lira has devalued drastically against the dollar, reaching almost seven liras on the dollar. Ankara has invested almost $60 billion in currency interventions in 2020 to no avail, Financial Times reported on July 28.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 15 that companies involved in construction of the TurkStream pipeline will be subject to the U.S. penalties unless they stop their works. “It’s a clear warning to companies. Aiding and abetting Russia’s malign influence projects will not be tolerated. Get out now or risk the consequences,” he said.
The Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation (TÜPRAŞ) ranked as Turkey's largest industrial business with 87.9 billion liras in annual production revenue. The oil company was followed mostly by automotive producers.
On the second anniversary of Turkey's transformation into a presidential system, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has prepared a report detailing how the country stands in the ensuing years, finding that the Turkish lira has lost four times its value since 2007.
Mois Gabay writes: Do you think the Camondo family will be included in the Beyoğlu Culture Road project conducted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism? What about Arif Ergin’s “Tekvin” novel, in which he imagined that there would be a “Camondo Museum” one day?
Artifacts from Istanbul's ancient Hagia Sophia will be displayed in a nearby public building that will be transformed into a museum. Formerly used as a land office, the late-19th-century building in historical Sultanahmet will be converted on the president's orders.
Luke Frostick writes: Edanur Kuntman’s Tales from Behind the Window has been nominated for an Eisner Award. If she wins, she will be the first Turk to win an Eisner. The story is a piece of creative-nonfiction and its main narrative is drawn from the memories of Kuntman’s grandmother growing up in the Çarşamba district of Samsun.