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Istanbul voters dealt Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a tremendous blow last Sunday when they resoundingly rejected the country’s former prime minister and close Erdogan ally, Binali Yildirim, in his bid to become mayor of Istanbul and maintain the quarter-century grip on Turkey’s largest city that Erdogan and his allies had held. New Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu defeated Yildirm 54 percent to 45 percent in the re-run of a vote in March that Imamoglu narrowly won. The loss amounted to Erdogan’s first major electoral defeat of his political career and a serious blow to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which Erdogan co-founded. The Turkish president and his allies had controlled Istanbul since Erdogan was elected mayor of the Turkish metropolis 25 years ago. A variety of
Next week’s elections for European parliament are likely to be treated as irrelevant by most European voters with considerably less than 50% expected to turn out at the polls. Nonetheless, they are watershed elections even though you wouldn’t know that by reading the European press. The reason for that is that both the press and most politicians strenuously avoid discussing what is really at stake in European politics. Instead, they conjure up doomsday predictions of the rise of supposedly anti-European “nationalists” and “populists.” In fact, the “nationalists” are anything but anti-European. Expected to win between a quarter and a third of the vote, few if any of them want to leave the European Union and in most ways they are much more representative of traditional European values than the
The ratification of the Macedonia name deal between Athens and Skopje on Friday capped a year in which the West renewed its focus on integrating the Western Balkans into the Euro-Atlantic community. Bulgaria factored into the renewed push to integrate the region into NATO and the EU because Sofia made Western Balkan integration a focal point of its European Council presidency that spanned the first half of 2018. Sofia capped its EU presidency by hosting the EU-Western Balkans summit last May. The summit was a high-level gathering of EU and Western Balkan leaders, the first of its kind in 15 years. Now that 2018 is complete and the Macedonia name dispute has been settled, one can have a clearer look at the fruits of Bulgaria’s push to
The article first published in americanthinker.com on 11/29/2018. When European 21st century history is written, the picture above will be considered as emblematic of its times as the one of Chamberlain waving his ‘peace in our time’ piece of paper in 1938. And it may be even more damning, because while they were a few isolated criticisms of the abject cow-towing of democratic politicians to the monstrous Hitler regime in 1938, not a voice of disapproval to the blatant pandering by Merkel and Macron to the evil dictatorships of Putin and Erdogan was heard from either Brussels or the mainstream press in Europe. Instead, Macron and Merkel called shortly after their late October meeting in Istanbul with Erdoğan and Putin for an E.U. army to defend Europe from the United States, while
Election snapshot Late in a campaign dominated by typical ethnic divisions and nationalist rhetoric arose a rather touching story of Bosnians of different ethnicities uniting against abuse of power. But when the votes were counted, nationalist politics prevailed, with one notable exception. And in the case of the nationalist leader who lost, there may be an unintended consequence of even more divisiveness and gridlock in Bosnia. Meanwhile, with Bosnia’s Euro-Atlantic integration progressing at a snail’s pace, other geopolitical actors, including the Russian and Turkish governments, can exploit these tensions, leaving the country in a volatile situation. The drama and complexity At least several thousand and possibly tens of thousands of people gathered in the center of Banja Luka Friday night, the final night for rallies ahead
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On August 28, an event took place in Washington that few media covered at all. To the extent that they did at all, it was to report on Nicky Haley’s speech criticizing the United Nation’s organization (UNRWA) that has kept the Palestinians branded and supported as refugees ever since 1948. The event at the conservative Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies (FDD) main purpose was to give Haley, a star of the Trump Administration, another award, but there was another part of it that was more politically significant. That was awards given to 7 FBI and Department of Justice officials for their work in preventing Turkish government efforts to circumvent Iran sanctions. What was most unusual about the appearance of these officials, who are normally seen in
The article first published in americanthinker.com on 08/14/2018. And so by mid-2018, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has achieved virtually everything he sat out to achieve when he first came to power in 2003. Turkey is now in everything but the name an Islamist dictatorship with Erdogan as the unchallenged leader. Yet, instead of feeling supremely confident, Erdogan and his clique are beset by ineluctable problems and foreboding of disaster down the road. In many ways, this was inevitable and stems from the very nature of the radical transformation of an imperfect democracy into an oppressive tyranny. Disaster for Turkey may not be around the bend, it was thought, but it was inevitable sooner rather than later. The collapse of the Turkish lira last Friday may have signaled that ‘sooner’ is now. To
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,