Below you may find the abstract of my PhD thesis, completed in 2014, on Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East under the AKP. The thesis was recently released online by the University of Warwick. You may reach the full document here.
The latest developments show that the Turkey-European Union (EU) deal on the refugee crisis is in limbo. On the one hand, the EU (through Merkel) seems to be standing firm regarding Turkey meeting all criteria (including the amendment of the anti-terror law) for the liberalization of visas for Turkish citizens. On the other hand, Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is relentless; he is unwilling to accept the amendment of the law under the pretext of Turkey’s need to fight the Islamic State and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Even though the definition of “terrorism” is so broad that actually allows the violation of freedom of speech and freedom of press since virtually anything could be deemed pro-terrorism propaganda. Academics, journalists and (Kurdish) MPs have already been prosecuted for this reason.
Update no. 3 – 24 November 2015
A new crisis is unfolding on the Turkish-Syrian border and Russia is once again a central actor. According to reports so far, Turkey seems to have downed a Russian Su-24 jet which, according to Ankara, violated Turkish airspace over Hatay. Russia disputes Ankara’s claims and argues that the jet was within Syrian airspace when shot down. The plane crashed in Syria (see the Guardian map below). The body of one of the pilots appeared in a leaked video and is estimated that it’s been captured by the anti-Assad Alwiya Al-‘Ashar group.
When the international anti-ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) coalition was formed back in September 2014, Turkey was thought to be a pivotal participant. However, the international initiative divided Turkey’s political scene which appeared reluctant to follow in the footsteps of its traditional ally, the United States (US). Even after October 2, 2014, when the Turkish parliament voted on a motion that would authorize the government to conduct operations in Syria and Iraq as well as provide Turkish soil and military bases for allied operations, Ankara kept resisting any kind of meaningful military engagement of ISIS. Not only that, but it seemed to be turning a blind eye on foreign fighters crossing into Syria through its borders. Continue reading
Below you may find brief comments on Turkey’s elections that I provided to a Turkish news agency in the form of an interview after their own request; the answers were accepted for publication but then censored and eventually not published. Simply because they describe President Erdogan’s policies as authoritarian. The same thing happened to me last year, from a different Turkish news agency, with regard to Turkey’s policy vis-a-vis the so-called “Islamic State” in Iraq and the crisis with the Turkish hostages. Continue reading
The Turkish presidential elections of August 10, 2014, bear great significance for the country’s future as well as for its domestic and foreign policies. This will be the first time that the Turkish people will directly elect the president of the Republic; something which, in conjunction with the constitutional reform process, signifies Turkey’s gradual shift from a parliamentary to a presidential system.
The main candidates are three. The current Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of Justice and Development Party (AKP); Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who is supported by the two main opposition parties (Republican People’s Party and Nationalist Action Party), as well as by three smaller parties (Democratic Left Party, Independent Turkey Party, and Democratic Party). The third and with less chances candidate is Selahattin Demirtas, the co-president of the main pro-Kurdish party of Turkey, People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Continue reading