Cengiz Çandar in Radikal writes that Turkey is seeking a closer relation with the EU because the historical rivalry between it and Russia has been revived, with Turkey being encircled on three fronts by a Russia that has annexed Crimea to the north, has strengthened its military ties with Armenia to the east and has become entrenched to the south by its support to the Kurds in the vicinity of Aleppo and has denied Turkey access to the north Syrian air space. In this context, Ankara (which does not mean exclusively the AKP government) views the PKK as an “asset” that Russia is using or will use against Turkey. The Turkey-EU “refugee bargaining” becomes intelligible by looking at this big picture. Turkey, which is “besieged” by Russia and feels to under “strategic threat” is reorienting in the direction that remains open for it, that is to the West, across the Aegean Sea. At the same time, Ankara is exploring a “common ground” with Iran in countering the Kurds, just like Turkey did back in 1937, when the Saadabad treaty was concluded with Persia. This “political maneuver” by Turkey is also an attempt to break the Russia-Iran entente over Syria.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00

Belge: Erdoğan the new hero of Kemalists?

Murat Belge in Birikim writes that the reigning mentality in Turkey is that tension is the best ally of rulers. Tayyip Erdoğan saw that declaring war on the Kurds would give him back what he had lost, and he made those who called for stern measures against the Kurds happy. Tayyip Erdoğan had also decided to make peace with the neo-nationalists with whom he had been jarring until recently. After the parting of ways with the Gülenists, there is a potential to make peace with the Kemalists, or at least with some of them. When the Kurds are struck, some of the nationalists who hate the AKP can’t help but to be happy about it and they start thinking that the AKP may have some “positive” sides. Can these circles forget, let alone pardon, all those “Sledgehammers” and “Ergenekons?” I don’t think so. But this is the world of politics. It may be necessary to store away some problems for a while; and then, when you have become sufficiently strong, you think that you will extract them again. For the time being, this is the prevailing mood among those circles. So, can we thus conclude that Tayyip Erdoğan has gotten his “rose garden without thorns?” Well, history has never seen any such “rose garden.” What a look at the facts tells us is that these policies of tension and quarrel that Tayyip Erdoğan has made so much use of have confined him to a terrain that is becoming increasingly narrow.

Metin Münir on t24 news site writes that the regime in Turkey is engaged in an attempt to reverse what Atatürk and his friends did when they founded the republic in 1923; they are founding a new republic. It is going to a place where conservatives, the pious and the lumpen rule supreme, and where everyone else is excluded; it is going to be a Sunni and not secular, a Middle Eastern and not European Turkey. If Atatürk and his friends had not emerged when the empire fell, Turkey would have been a mix of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. This fate was averted, but the founders of the republic were unable to create a peaceful regime. That was because they did not accept that Turkey is a mosaic that is made up of Turks and Kurds, of Sunnis and Alevis and of many other religious and ethnic minorities. Instead, they erected a regime ruled by secular Turks. That did not work. The emergence of Erdoğan and his friends is the result of this neglect. Now, they are repeating the same mistake in a different way. They have replaced the rule of the secular Turks with the rule of the Sunni Turks – again by disregarding the Alevis and the Kurds and the seculars who have become the biggest minority. This is not going to work either. It is going to crumble. A new order will eventually be created, but only after we have gone through indescribable miseries and destruction.

Tuesday, 02 February 2016 18:12

Gültekin: No Peace without Democracy

Levent Gültekin on Diken news site notes that some have been encouraged by the fact that Erdoğan has accepted to meet with Kurdish politician Leyla Zana, that hopes for peace have been kindled for this reason. Asking for rights and liberties for only one part of society when there is no democracy… We have already seen that this is not possible. The peace process during two and a half years showed us that it is only childish to expect result from negotiations when democracy is regressing and authoritarianism is on the rise. The Kurdish political movement pretended not to see the rising authoritarianism in the country. It acted as if “there can be peace even without democracy, the problem can be solved.” We are now paying the heavy price for that baseless illusion and for that wrong policy. And they are still persisting with the same mistake. They still think that the Kurds can get their democratic rights when the country itself has become authoritarian. I’m really curious when they are going to realize that this simply isn’t possible.

Tuesday, 02 February 2016 18:07

Cemal: Öcalan is Indispensable for Peace

Hasan Cemal on t24 news site comments on a recent book by Abdullah Öcalan, “The Notes of İmralı”, about the negotiations between the Turkish government and the imprisoned leader of PKK. The book confirms that “solution” for Erdoğan meant the disarmament of PKK. And for this purpose, Erdoğan was holding out a carrot for Öcalan – his gradual liberation. Erdoğan used the “solution process” only to win votes at the ballot. Or he started the process with only this objective in mind. The book shows that Öcalan was always clearly aware that Erdoğan at some point was going to reopen the door for a period of violence. My two main impressions after reading the book are first that Öcalan this time was not fooled by the classical tactics of the Turkish state to drive a wedge between Kandil and Öcalan and to split the PKK. Second, one has to salute Öcalan for the leading role for peace that he plays today, despite having endured solitary confinement in a cell for fifteen years. Lastly: If we say solution and peace, then we have to acknowledge that Öcalan’s leading role is vitally important.

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Joint Center Publications

Op-ed Halil M. Karaveli "Assasination in Ankara"Foreign Affairs, January 3, 2017

Essay Halil M. Karaveli "Erdogan's Journey"Foreign Affairs, October 19, 2016

Op-ed Halil M. Karaveli "Turkey's Fractured State", The New York Times, August 1, 2016

Op-ed Svante E. Cornell "A botched coup and Turkey’s descent into madness", Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, July 19, 2016

Article Halil M. Karaveli , "Turkey's Decline", Foreign Affairs, March 2, 2016.

Article Halil M. Karaveli , "La Turquie, est-elle destinée à durer?", Centre for International Policy Studies, January 27, 2016.

Monograph Eric Edelman, Svante Cornell, Aaron Lobel, Halil Karaveli, "Turkey Transformed: The Origins and Evolution of Authoritarianism and Islamization under the AKP", Bipartisan Policy Center, October 2015.

Article Svante E. Cornell and M.K. Kaya, "The Naqshbandi-Khalidi Order and Political Islam in Turkey", Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, September 2015.

Article Svante E. Cornell, "Understanding Turkey's Tilt", Journal of International Security Affairs, no. 27, Winter 2014.

Monograph Eric S. Edelman, Svante E. Cornell, Aaron Lobel, Michael Makovsky, The Roots of Turkish Conduct: Understanding the Evolution of Turkish Policy in the Middle East, Washington: Bipartisan Policy Center, December 2013.

The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.

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