Istanbul’s Taksim Square has a new feel. A giant mosque — not yet completed — now towers over a monument to the Turkish Republic in the center of the square. The monument glorifies Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the secular Turkish Republic. On Sunday night, supporters of Erdogan celebrated the president’s election victory, gathering around the busts of Ataturk, screaming “Allahu akbar” (God is great), Palestine is for Arabs and other chants, including singing a song glorifying Erdogan. They paused their celebration briefly during the call to prayer. Down the street on Istiklal Avenue — a hub for bar and entertainment venues — the tourist contingent is dominated by people from the Middle East and the Muslim world. While tourism appears to be picking up in Turkey,
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The article first published in americanthinker.com on 03/03/2018. Milton Friedman once said open borders and the welfare state are incompatible. This is easy to prove in California, where, according to a recent essay by Victor Davis Hanson, half of all immigrant households are on welfare and the state accounts for a third of the nation’s welfare recipients with only 12% of its population, even as 20% of California’s population lives below the poverty line. Recent figures published in Europe’s economic powerhouse, Germany, indicate that following Angela Merkel’s disastrous open-borders experiment of two and a half years ago, that country is well on its way to joining California in proving the wisdom of Friedman’s admonition, to the huge detriment of the German people. Official figures of the German statistical office show that beginning
The news from Ankara these days ascertain an important segment in President Erdogan’s drive for global prominence as he is borrowing heavily from President Putin’s guide for autocratic leaders. Yet it is hard to see how he will be able to profit from the Kremlin’s recipes, lacking the tsar’s resources and insatiable pool of social patience. Russia has been seeking to build on the rifts within NATO and US-Turkish relations by enticing Erdogan into a pool of geopolitical tradeoffs and gambles. Putin’s attempts to undermine the EU and the US are persisting. The chance to help Turkey steer away from NATO’s mainstream and turn into its weakest element seems up for grabs. President Putin is visiting Turkey this week to talk over a new strategic framework
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cemented his control over Turkey Sunday, establishing a new political order out of the chaos that has gripped the country over the last couple of years. With a narrow victory in Turkey’s constitutional referendum, Erdogan will now become head of government, in addition to being head of state. He will have the legal ground to rule largely by executive decree, something he has already been doing under a state of emergency. Erdogan also said he plans to parlay Sunday’s victory into a referendum on bringing back the death penalty. Additionally, if twice reelected as president, Erdogan could serve as Turkey’s executive leader until 2029. On Sunday, Erdogan’s “yes” campaign received about 51.4% of the vote. The “no” campaign received
In a year that has begun with a bloody attack on Europe’s southeastern edge, the SEE region figures to again factor prominently in world events. What transpired in Southeastern Europe in 2016 and what lies ahead in 2017? 2016 was a very violent year in Turkey, where war, terror and mass arrests grabbed the headlines. In 2017, the bloodshed has already begun. More than three dozen New Year’s Eve partygoers were killed just minutes after the year began. Now, Turkish President Recep Erdogan will seek to exploit the chaos in order to transform Turkey’s system of governance and obtain the executive presidency he has long desired. While blood spilled in Turkey, the year 2016 in the Balkans was characterized by an uneasy peace. Following the Brexit vote
President Erdogan’s radical departure from previous policy lines toward the Kurdish minority and its political representatives in the Turkish Parliament could derail Turkey’s ambitious plans to act as a crucial energy hub for gas and oil flows destined to the EU and global market. He is not only fighting the PKK but all Kurds, as HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş was arrested along with at least 11 MPs in a marked escalation of the post-coup crackdown. Intensification of the government’s war against Kurds in the southeastern region of the country might spell the end of a risk-free environment for all major transit projects passing through Turkey — both existing and planned. A sequence of bombs blasts — the last one two weeks ago on the gas line
Following President Putin’s trip to Turkey and a sequence of publicity stunts, some of them jointly with President Erdogan, it has become clear that the Russian leader is engaging in another game of poker politics in a desperate attempt to make headlines, impress the international audience and sell more gas to Europe, bypassing EU directives and concurrently Ukraine. Although most of his plan is a deja vu, the decision to proceed with the intergovernmental agreement on Turkish stream and start maneuvers on the gas front from Istanbul contains a piece of novelty. Most of the background remains the same – intentions, plans for the future, verbal rather than real streams – but the new moments are worth noting. Russia has changed several key elements in its approach to the ‘streams’ issue.
President Erdogan has managed to scare and tie up Europe in a poker play classic – lift visas or refugees will flood your countries. This is another common feature between presidents Erdogan and Putin – they are masters in poker politics and more modest in real time economic and foreign policy achievements. It is suffice to look at the friends they have made and sustained over the years. A quick review in retrospect of the zero problems policies of Erdogan would speak volumes for the Turkish president’s diplomatic and policy skills when measured in new friends. Davutoglu’s dismissal might have signaled a change in Erdogan’s mindset – rapprochements with Russia, Israel and Iran are already making news headlines. But underneath this façade of events – there is a double
“Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act.” Howard Zinn Following the freeze in the relations between Russia and Turkey and the affluent geopolitical context of Putin and Erdogan’s personal diplomacy, some analysts were quick to affirm that the bilateral relations are heading towards an unprecedented era of strategic partnership. The story went further to passing alarmist concerns that the two leaders could be acting in tandem, commanding considerable weight and shifting fragile balances in the international system, including eroding from within the internal cohesion within the EU and NATO. This is an entirely false assumption, that ignores blatant facts. As a hypothesis it provides ample ground for manipulative interpretations and even self inflicted wounds. The truth is that the seemingly perfect match of the