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  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: U.S. concerns center on Turkey’s democratic backslide and deepening ties between Erdogan and Putin—but the Turkish president also wants to develop a rapport with Joe Biden and fortify his country’s weakened economy. In the seventh in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining the Middle East and North Africa, Soner Cagaptay offers guidelines for reinforcing the strained U.S.-Turkey relationship. Principal causes for unease involve U.S. concerns about Turkey’s democratic backslide and deepening ties between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, particularly Ankara’s decision to purchase the S-400 missile defense system from Moscow. Yet Erdogan also wants to develop a rapport with President Biden and fortify his country’s weakened economy. Further, Ankara and Washington can find many areas for tactical cooperation in places such as Syria, Libya, and China’s Xinjiang province, where the government is carrying out a genocide against the Muslim Uyghur population “Erdogan needs to reverse the current dynamic by advancing the narrative that he is getting along just fine with Washington,” the author explains. “Thus, in this early phase of the U.S. administration, Biden would appear to have a brief window of leverage over his Turkish counterpart.” In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Even as U.S. policymakers must stay focused on the Assad regime’s culpability, they also face a complex web of power dynamics in which Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel, and other actors are attempting to secure their various interests. After a decade of civil war in Syria, the core antagonist remains the Assad regime, which in 2011 ruthlessly suppressed peaceful protestors and has since tortured and executed tens of thousands of detainees. The regime also bears responsibility for fostering the growth of the Islamic State, in part by releasing Syrian jihadists at the start of the war. Yet even as U.S. policymakers must stay focused on Assad’s culpability, they also face a highly complex web of power dynamics in which Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel, and other actors are attempting to secure their various interests. In this Policy Note, expert Aaron Zelin details how the world’s counterterrorism and Great Power challenges converge in Syria, and how they must be addressed holistically. To this end, he proposes policies on the diplomatic, humanitarian, legal, economic, and military fronts that can calm the fears of U.S. allies such as Israel, Jordan, and Turkey, and perhaps inspire a more robust opposition, backed by a diverse set of local and diaspora activists.
  • Topic: Counter-terrorism, Syrian War, Strategic Competition, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Maged Atef
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Turkey is making overtures for rapprochement with Egypt. How will Sisi respond? In a surprising development, Turkey-based media channels opposed to the Egyptian regime announced the suspension of all political programs attacking President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and his regime, based on directives from the Turkish government. Supporters of the Egyptian regime met the news with happiness and approval, counting it as a victory for Sisi. Yet the Egyptian regime itself refrained from showing enthusiasm towards this paradigm shift, contenting itself with a remark by Minister of Information Osama Heikal in which the minister said the move represented a “good gesture from Turkey.” Meanwhile, Egyptian Islamists residing in Turkey were struck by concerns that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could be contemplating handing them over to Cairo. Looking ahead, despite the importance of Erdogan’s gesture, any response from Sisi is still unclear
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Muslim Brotherhood
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Can Kasapoglu
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: In late 2020, Turkey finally secured a lucrative arms sale package to Tunisia after a long period of negotiations. The $150 million portfolio, which attracted key players of the Turkish defense technological and industrial base, such as Turkish Aerospace Industries (TUSAS) and British Motor Corporation (BMC), will mean more than only defense revenues for Turkey (TRT Haber, December 24, 2020). It will additionally mark Turkish weaponry’s entrance into the Tunisian market against the backdrop of Ankara’s geopolitical quests in North Africa, which has become a geopolitical flashpoint encompassing various forms of militancy, transnational terrorism, and proxy warfare.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Weapons , Drones, Arms Trade, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Turkey, North Africa, Tunisia, Mediterranean
  • Author: Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After the fall of Sirte, Erdogan and Putin’s desired ceasefire can only be achieved with Washington’s support. Over the past week, regional and European actors have increased their diplomatic activity around Libya in response to intensifying violence in the nine-month-old civil war. On January 8, less than a week after the Turkish parliament approved sending forces to support the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin met in Istanbul and called for a Libya ceasefire to begin on January 12. Whether or not Moscow and Ankara manage to pause the violence temporarily, their growing influence in Libya represents an epic failure of Western attempts to resolve the conflict diplomatically. The longer-term effort to jumpstart Libya’s political transition requires a wider international effort at peace and reconciliation—something Russia and Turkey can support but not lead. Putin and Erdogan seemed to acknowledge that fact at their summit, endorsing a long-planned multilateral conference in Berlin aimed at recommitting all relevant actors to support an end to hostilities and respect the UN Security Council’s mandatory but widely ignored arms embargo. Even assuming Putin is serious and withdraws Russian mercenaries from the frontlines, a full, lasting ceasefire cannot transpire until the other actors who support Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) agree to withdraw their equipment and personnel for a fixed period while negotiations are launched—especially the United Arab Emirates, which provides the LNA with critical air superiority. At the same time, Turkey would have to take commensurate de-escalatory steps of its own. The United States is the only actor that holds enough weight with all the foreign parties to bring about an authentic ceasefire. Despite being consumed with crises in Iran and Iraq, Washington should expend the diplomatic effort required to pursue durable stability in Libya before the country slips further toward endemic chaos.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, United Nations, Conflict, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Libya, North Africa, United States of America
  • Author: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: During the war years in Syria, the northwest, specifically Idlib, has become a site of heavy internal displacement. Observers on the ground recognize the green buses traveling to Idlib carrying migrants who have refused reconciliation agreements with the Damascus regime. Since around 2014, a range of jihadist, Islamist, and Salafi actors have wielded control in the area, the most recent being the al-Qaeda offshoot Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which has ruled—ineffectively and brutally—through its so-called Syrian Salvation Government. But the group's reign is unlikely to last long if current trends persist. The regime's recent move against the town of Maarat al-Numan suggests plans for a broader takeover in the northwest, aided by Russian firepower and other allies such as Iran. In this Policy Note filled with local insights, jihadism expert Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi presents the current scene in and around Idlib province, the last Syrian outpost still run by independent rebels. Absent an intervention by Turkey, the Assad regime will likely prevail in a campaign that quashes the insurgency at a high humanitarian cost.
  • Topic: Al Qaeda, Displacement, Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Charles Thépaut
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: If the latest conference is to succeed, the principal actors stoking the civil war must endorse a genuine ceasefire and a return to Libyan internal dialogue. On January 19, international leaders will convene in Berlin to discuss a way out of the nine-month civil war between the so-called “Libyan National Army” led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar and the internationally recognized Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. The Germans led several months of preparatory efforts at the request of UN envoy Ghassan Salame, but had been reluctant to choose a specific date until they were assured that the event stood a reasonable chance of producing practical steps to improve the situation on the ground and jumpstart the UN’s stalled negotiation efforts between the LNA and GNA. Chancellor Angela Merkel finally took that step after several key developments unfolded earlier this month, including a January 8 ceasefire proposal by Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Putin’s subsequent failed attempt to have each side sign a more permanent ceasefire agreement in Moscow on January 13 (the GNA signed but Haftar balked, though most of the fighting has paused for the moment). Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been averse to engage on Libya during his tenure, but he is expected to attend the Berlin conference alongside National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. Accordingly, the event gives the United States a chance to play a much-needed role on several fronts: namely, pressuring the foreign actors who have perpetuated the war and violated the arms embargo; working with Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia to codify a ceasefire at the UN Security Council; and backing Salame’s efforts to reinvigorate the Libyan national dialogue, which Haftar preempted by attacking Tripoli last April despite European support to Salame. Since 2011, Libya has struggled to establish a legitimate transitional government despite three national elections and the creation of at least four legislative bodies. Challenges to the 2014 election results eventually led to rival governments in the east and west, and the division solidified when Haftar started the first civil war with support from his allies Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. That war halted in 2015, but several years’ worth of domestic and international efforts failed to bring Sarraj and Haftar to an enduring resolution.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, United Nations, Conflict, Negotiation, Conference
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Libya, Germany, North Africa, United Arab Emirates, Berlin, United States of America
  • Author: Fabrice Balanche
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Various displacement scenarios may unfold as the fighting escalates, each carrying a high risk of negative humanitarian and economic consequences even if the parties live up to their promises. The battle for Idlib province, the last stronghold of Syrian rebel forces, is heating up again. As Turkish troops clash with Assad regime forces and displaced civilians continue piling up along the border, various foreign and domestic players are considering moves that could send hundreds of thousands of refugees to other parts of Syria, northern Iraq, or Europe.
  • Topic: Refugees, Displacement, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Reilly Barry
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Challengers to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are proliferating, with two breakaway parties drawing particular notice. In December 2019, Ahmet Davutoglu, who served under Erdogan as foreign minister and then prime minister, formed Gelecek (Future) in an attempt to resurrect a gentler version of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). And this past March, former finance minister Ali Babacan, credited with masterminding the country’s “economic miracle” in the early Erdogan years, established the Democracy and Progress Party as another right-leaning alternative to the AKP. The remaining aspirants include the Peoples’ Democratic Party, whose capable leader remains imprisoned for allegedly supporting Kurdish militants. This Policy Note, by Soner Cagaptay and Reilly Barry, examines the political identities of Turkey’s opposition parties as compared to the AKP and allied Nationalist Action Party. It does so through an unconventional method: analyzing voter outreach through Twitter, a medium widely used by Turks. The results reveal striking trends in how these parties view Turkey’s republican (and imperial) past, and what these views suggest about the country’s political future.
  • Topic: Government, Domestic politics, AKP
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Sirwan Kajjo
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In October 2019, the U.S. troop withdrawal and subsequent Turkish invasion of northern Syria upended Kurdish plans in the region. But a year later, the major Syrian Kurdish rivals—the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Kurdish National Council (KNC)—are coming together after a lengthy estrangement. This past June, representatives from the two blocs announced a new understanding to govern Syria’s northeast, in talks mediated by the Syrian Democratic Forces. The negotiations are aimed at creating a representative Kurdish-led leadership that could prevent further Turkish military interventions while also reducing Syrian-regime and Russian influence. But the PYD and KNC’s differing approaches to governance, as well as divergent alliances, pose serious challenges. In situating this timely Policy Note, Sirwan Kajjo offers a revealing history of Kurdish politics in Syria, especially in the post-Arab Spring period. Despite the uncertain outcome of the talks, for which activity resumed in late summer, both sides assert that a positive course can only be ensured by a strong U.S role.
  • Topic: Military Intervention, Syrian War, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Kurdistan, United States of America
  • Author: Nick Danforth
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Over nearly two decades, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan has managed to strengthen his hold on power despite numerous political reconfigurations. With the next presidential election scheduled for 2023, many figures within his camp are already maneuvering for leverage while the opposition mulls how to defeat him. Among his potential rivals are Selahattin Demirtas, head of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party; Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayor of Istanbul who bested Erdogan’s pick for that post; and Ahmet Davutoglu, the country’s former prime minister and Erdogan’s former ally. In this Policy Note, analyst Nick Danforth assesses current dynamics in Turkish democracy, including rifts within the leading Justice and Development Party and potential alliances in the opposition. He also discusses factors such as the fragile Turkish economy, which is sure to be destabilized further by the coronavirus pandemic. However Turkey emerges from the crisis, an Erdogan triumph in the next presidential vote would likely seal the country’s trajectory away from liberalism and the West for a generation.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Bríd Ní Ghráinne
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: On Wednesday 9 October 2019, Turkey launched a cross-border operation in Northern Syria. Turkey justified its actions as a response to an ‘imminent terrorist threat’ from Kurdish-led forces. Its operation was directed at pushing back these groups from its border and creating a ‘safe zone’ in Syria where up to two million Syrian refugees can be resettled. This reflection aims to assess whether the Turkish operation to establish the safe zone was lawful; and whether the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the safe zone is in conformity with international law.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, Refugees, Syrian War, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Rami Jameel
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: On October 9, the Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) signed the “Sinjar Agreement” to normalize the situation in the war-torn district of Sinjar in northern Iraq. The agreement stated that only Iraqi federal forces should operate in Sinjar and all other armed groups must leave the town. It also gave the KRG a say on establishing a new local government, including appointing a new mayor, and planning and running reconstruction efforts in Sinjar, including related budgetary matters (Rudaw, October 10).
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Non State Actors, Kurds, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Engin Yüksel
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Recent Turkish interventions in parts of Syria, Iraq and Turkey itself, look like pushing various Kurdish armed forces and political groupings towards ‘defeat’ via a concerted regional strategy that combines battlefield action with repression and co-optation. But the ‘anti-terrorist’ frame and tactics that Ankara uses in a bid to solve its Kurdish problem feature many sticks and no compromises to improve Kurdish collective minority rights. It is likely that this approach will inhibit peaceful resistance and fail to reduce support for armed groups like the PKK and PYD despite their own authoritarian practices. Moreover, Turkey’s new regional militarism risks escalating conflict across the Middle East because of the complex international and transnational contexts in which Ankara’s interventions take place.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Non State Actors, Conflict, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Asli Aydıntaşbaş
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Turkey now controls a long stretch of Syrian territory along its southern border that hosts nearly four million people, most of them Sunni Arabs. The challenges for Turkey there include a difficult balancing act with Russia, the huge financial costs of direct rule, the presence of radical Islamist factions, and the lack of a modus vivendi with the Kurds. Turkey faces the risk of the “Gazafication” of the area – the emergence of a militarily controlled territory that is perennially poverty-stricken and unstable. EU member states can find ways to cooperate with Turkey to support stabilisation in parts of the safe zone, without violating their interests and core principles. They should single out the Euphrates Shield Zone for stabilisation work, on the understanding that other areas captured from the Kurds are politically sensitive for European governments and voters alike. Europe should aim to strike a grand bargain with Turkey: in return for targeted European reconstruction aid to the safe zone, the country would lift its veto on stabilisation in Kurdish-controlled areas, allow trade between these zones, or agree to Kurdish participation in the UN-led political process on Syria.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Treaties and Agreements, Border Control, Geopolitics, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Gaza, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Angeliki Dimitriadi
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)
  • Abstract: The recent crisis in Evros brought back to the fore the issue of immigration and Turkey’s role in its instrumentalization. The EU-Turkey Statement has not had the expected outcomes. Rather it showed that prevention policies and the outsourcing of migration management strengthens transit countries such as Turkey, without resulting in a a steady reduction in flows. Greece remains a country that bears a disproportionate burden of responsibility due to its geographical location. At the same time, it has delayed in the planning of a holistic immigration policy, which should aim, among other things, to ensure human living conditions, substantial access to asylum and result in the integration of those who will remain in the country. COVID 19 will bring about significant socioeconomic changes globally as well as impact human rights. Practices of the past do not necessarily fit for the new reality and this is the biggest challenge for Greece and the EU; a willingness to move forward by investing on migration within Europe and beyond. It will not be easy, and it will come at a high financial (and likely political) cost. The pandemic makes any long-term commitments seem impossible, however the alternative scenario, of deterrence and outsourcing is already proving insufficient. Balancing the scales is a challenge which the EU cannot afford to lose.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Migration, European Union, Refugees, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Greece, Mediterranean
  • Author: George Tzogopoulos
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)
  • Abstract: This essay by Dr. George Tzogopoulos, focuses on the multidimensional nature of Greek-Israeli relations. The understanding of the depth of these relations can explain why the two countries – along with Cyprus – are interested in coming closer. On the other hand, the effort of Israel and Turkey to normalize bilateral ties – already under way since 2016 – is a logical development that deserves attention. However, it is not related to the future evolution of Greek-Israeli collaboration. The evolution of Greek-Israeli relations in the last decade and trilateral Greece-Israel-Cyprus summits outline the common interest of the three countries to enrich their cooperation. Israel and Turkey have started since 2016 to normalize their relations. This is an ongoing process that has evolved in a period during which Greece, Israel and Cyprus charted a joint course in the Eastern Mediterranean. Israel and Turkey are expected to find a modus vivendi by agreeing on some issues and disagreeing on others. A potential Turkish-Israeli collaboration against Iran in Syria might pave the way for new synergies between Israel and Turkey. This is a highly controversial and complicated matter that entails risks for Ankara.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Syria
  • Author: Ioannis N. Grigoriadis
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)
  • Abstract: As the American elections are about to take place, many in Turkey brace for the outcome. After countless disputes between the United States and Turkey during the 2010’s, coupled with growing divergence of Turkish foreign policy, two allies’ relationship has been deceptively good for the last two years. This was not due to a meaningful rapprochement, but to Erdogan’s well-executed personal diplomacy with Trump which has proved beneficial for Turkey in many cases. Yet, this superficial rapprochement is challenged by the prospects of a Biden presidency. Biden, whose remarks are far from affable towards Erdogan and who has even pledged to support Turkish opposition, is very likely to demand Turkey to recommit to its alliance with the West. Hence, we may soon see a Turkey at a serious crossroads: either Turkey will turn its face to West once again, or it will further alienate from the West.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Elections, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Turkey, North America, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: After Turkey’s unsuccessful ultimatum set for the Syrian regime and its Russian ally to commit to the Sochi Agreement, Ankara has targeted the Assad regime and its allies’ locations along the de-escalation zone by launching Operation Spring Shield. Russia has capitalized on Turkey’s anger by offering an agreement establishing new facts on ground during a Turkish-Russian summit on March 5th.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Armed Forces, Geopolitics, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, Idlib
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: Although all indications are that most of the principal players favour a political resolution, the military situation will remain volatile as long as Haftar’s forces are in Sirte and remain in control of the economically vital oil region.
  • Topic: War, Natural Resources, Conflict, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Libya, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the recent escalation and the stark divide between their vision of their interests and roles, both Turkey and Egypt realise that a direct clash would be damaging for both of them. In fact, there are indications that both states are more pragmatic than their bellicose statements indicate.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Military Strategy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: The Turkish-Greek conflict over maritime borders is unlike any other in the world. Not only does it involve potentially vast wealth under the seabed in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean, it relies on diverse and competing legal sources and interpretations.
  • Topic: Oil, Bilateral Relations, Natural Resources, Maritime, Borders
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Greece, Mediterranean
  • Author: Cheol-Won Lee, Hyun Jean Lee, Mahmut Tekçe, Burcu Düzgün Öncel
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: The Agreement on Trade in Services and the Agreement on Investment between Korea and Turkey came into effect in August 2018. This article focuses on the construction sector and the cultural contents sector to seek possible cooperative measures between the two countries.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Culture, Economy, Investment, Industry
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Sofia López Piqueres
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: The recent escalating tensions between Greece and the Republic of Cyprus on the one hand and Turkey on the other have shown how contentious the issue of energy is in the Eastern Mediterranean. The planned EastMed pipeline is a case in point. But, paradoxically, adopting a ‘selective engagement’ approach and focusing on the energy and climate dimensions of the countries’ relations could be a starting point to rebuild trust. A discussion on the future of the EastMed project, in particular, could present an opportunity to get all parties at the table and diffuse the situation. To play a constructive role in this, the EU must act in the spirit of the Green Deal and stop investing in the EastMed pipeline, and find ways to encourage Greece, Cyprus and Turkey to make the shift to renewables now and ditch offshore gas exploration altogether.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil, Gas, Renewable Energy, Pipeline
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Amanda Paul, Demir Murat Seyrek
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: The establishment of two new political parties by former AKP heavyweights, Ahmet Davutoğlu and Ali Babacan, in December 2019 and March 2020 respectively is cause for hope. President Erdoğan’s AKP is suffering from mounting domestic headaches and a moribund economy, which is taking a toll on its public support. Still, he is sure to push back fiercely against any effort to weaken AKP rule. The EU must keep its channels of communication with Turkey open and work to improve and deepen their currently contentious relationship.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, AKP
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Mediterranean
  • Author: Başak Akkan
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Children had received less attention in the early stages of the pandemic. The mortality rates among children have been almost non-existent, and consequently they have not constituted a risk group. However, in a country with high incidences of child poverty, Covid-19 could have a significant impact in aggravating the existing inequalities among children and in creating new forms of deprivation. Within this context, the impact of Covid-19 on children is analyzed under four headings: The poverty aggravating effect of the pandemic; the manifestation of inequalities regarding the physical (home) environment and living conditions of children; the deepening of digital inequalities and access to education; and increased and unrecorded cases of domestic violence and child abuse amid the lockdowns.
  • Topic: Children, Inequality, Social Policy, COVID-19, Health Crisis, Abuse
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Mediterranean
  • Author: Ezgi Seçkiner Bingöl
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Universal basic income, which denotes a country allocating a regular unconditional cash grant to all its citizens, is back on the debate stage following the Covid-19 pandemic. This brief evaluates universal basic income together with the pandemic and focuses on examples of countries where basic income has been implemented. How can the universal basic income debate be grounded in Turkey in line with these examples? How can universal basic income acquire a position within Turkey’s social assistances regime, or can it even be positioned as an alternative to it? Is universal basic income possible in Turkey? This brief aims to discuss these questions.
  • Topic: Public Policy, Economic Inequality, Universal Basic Income, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Mediterranean
  • Author: Gökçe Uysal
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: The high prevalence of informal employment constitutes one of the most important structural problems of Turkey’s labor market. The labor market in Turkey has a dual structure: Formal employment protected by legal regulations such as the Labor Law and the Unemployment Insurance Law on one hand, and informal employment with no legal regulations and harsh working conditions on the other. This brief will summarize the current situation by analyzing the 15-year trajectory of informality in Turkey, discuss the possible effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on informal employment and propose a new direction for fighting it.
  • Topic: Migration, Labor Issues, Employment, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Mediterranean
  • Author: Esra Kaya Erdoğan
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: The question we need to ask is this: how do we determine whether a government is successful or not in the face of a pandemic of such proportions? While it may seem like there is an objective answer to this question, in fact the answer will inevitably be influenced by the political stance, worldview and party preference of the person responding.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Governance, Accountability, Transparency, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Mediterranean
  • Author: Zeynep Balcıoğlu
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: According to data provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than half of the refugee population of the world lives in non-camp areas, predominantly in cities or city peripheries. Access of refugees to social and public services in cities is more difficult compared to camps where social services such as health, education and shelter are provided centrally by states or humanitarian aid institutions. The most sustainable way of overcoming this difficulty in non-camp settings is integrating refugees into existing service infrastructures.
  • Topic: Migration, United Nations, Infrastructure, Governance, Bureaucracy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Istanbul, Mediterranean
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Facing pressure from General Haftar and his foreign military backers, the Tripoli government has welcomed the helping hand extended by Ankara, whose own lack of regional options has drawn it into the middle of another conflict. On December 10, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he was willing to deploy troops in Libya if the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli requested it. He reiterated the offer during a December 15 meeting with GNA prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Ankara—a visit that arose after Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who heads the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) and seeks to replace the GNA, renewed his push to take Tripoli by force. Meanwhile, Turkey signed two controversial agreements with Tripoli over the past month: a memorandum of understanding on providing the GNA with arms, training, and military personnel, formally ratified by Tripoli earlier today; and a November 28 maritime agreement delineating exclusive economic zones in the Mediterranean waters separating the two countries. The latter move drew protests from Greece and Egypt and was condemned “unequivocally” by the European Council. These and other developments indicate Libya’s emerging status as a focal point of Ankara’s foreign policy, which seemingly regards the country as an arena for Turkish proxy competition with rivals old (Greece) and new (Egypt and the United Arab Emirates). At the same time, Libya’s GNA has become increasingly dependent on Ankara for military reasons—namely, a lack of other allies willing to provide arms capable of countering the LNA’s Emiratisupplied drones, and the arrival of Russian mercenaries who have added new technology and precision to Haftar’s war against Tripoli. Unless Washington invests more diplomatic energy and fully backs the German-led initiative to implement a ceasefire and return to peace negotiations, the proxy war in Libya will only escalate. In that scenario, Turkey and Russia—not the United States or its European partners—could be become the arbiters of Libya’s future.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Civil War, Military Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Libya, North Africa, United States of America
  • Author: Bilal Wahab
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The U.S. withdrawal of troops from northeast Syria has placed Kurdish fighters in a near-impossible situation, while alarming Kurdish communities in other countries, but Washington can still take steps to mitigate the damage. On October 21, footage of Kurdish civilians heckling withdrawing U.S. troops in both Iraq and Syria offered a rare and disturbing sight. This scene was facilitated by President Trump’s October 6 decision to unilaterally withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, in effect paving the way for the Turkish military to cross the Syrian border three days later and attack the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Thereafter, a safe haven quickly became a war zone. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 180,000 people have now been forced from their homes. James Jeffrey, the U.S. administration’s envoy to Syria, told Congress on October 22 that the fighting has resulted in hundreds of SDF deaths, a likely war crime by a pro-Turkish militia, and the escape from prison of more than a hundred Islamic State (IS) fighters. The U.S. action has unsurprisingly left the Syrian Kurds feeling abandoned and exposed against the militarily superior Turkish army and its Arab militias. On a deeper level, America appears to have entirely lost Kurdish sympathy and trust, while at the same time failing to either deter or appease Turkey. Rather than ameliorate matters, President Trump has poured salt on the wound. He responded to backlash against his policy by claiming the Kurds were “no angels” and that they had failed to contribute to the Allied cause in World War II, while characterizing their Syrian military campaign as a fight over “long-bloodstained sand.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Public Opinion, Military Affairs, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, Rojava
  • Author: Gülen Derya Zayim
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: The age of globalization has brought about interdependency between the nation-states in all aspects of life while uncovering challenges for the sovereignty of the nations. Therefore, how an integrated world system involving multiple actors can efficiently be governed remain a subject of serious discussions. This study briefly explains the historical background of G7/8 along with its evolution to G20 and discusses their effectiveness and legitimacy in the context of global governance. It is worthy to discuss the issue since these global forums’ legitimacy and effectiveness subject to both critics and praises. Although the lessons from the global financial crisis consolidates the idea of global coherence, integrity and compliance, diverging political and economic conflict of interest of nations still make the international forums’ existence and future position in global governance open to discussions. Additionally, the last part of the study draws conclusion about Turkey and its place in global governance.
  • Topic: Sovereignty, Financial Crisis, Governance, G20
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Global Focus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Burak Cop
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: As the most divisive issue of the British politics since 2016, the Brexit phenomenon continues to shake the two biggest mainstream parties, Conservatives and Labour. The Conservative Party is affected by the tension between the Soft and Hard Brexiters, but the divisiveness Brexit brings about hits Labour even worse. A No Deal or Hard Brexit is likely to strengthen Scotland’s bid for independence. Scotland’s probable departure from the UK will surely be encouraging for other secessionist movements in Europe, however it should be noted that the window of opportunity Brexit opens for Scottish nationalists constitutes a rather exceptional case in Europe. One could argue that the “Norway model” for post-Brexit UK could be valid for Turkey too, but that model aims to bring about a deeper integration than what the proponents of “EU-Turkey exclusive partnership” prescribe for Turkey.
  • Topic: European Union, Brexit, Political Parties, Secession
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, North America, Scotland, European Union
  • Author: Erwin van Veen, Engin Yüksel
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This policy brief analyses the official discourse and actual practices of Turkish control and reconstruction in northwestern Syria. It finds that Turkey pursues a strategy that seeks to achieve control and influence through a mix of military occupation and fullscale reconstruction based on the logic of Turkification and the deployment abroad of the domestic apparatus of the Turkish state. The main objective of this strategy is to contain and undo the politico-territorial gains of the Syrian Kurds. In the process, Turkey largely bypasses the Syrian National Coalition. While this ‘reconstruct-the-buffer-zone’ strategy has been comparatively successful in the Al-Bab-Azaz-Jarablus area, it is running into trouble in the Kurdish-dominated Afrin area due to heavy-handed Turkish tactics of repression and the insurgency campaign that was launched by the Syrian Kurds. Yet, the nature of Turkish reconstruction engagement suggest it is there to stay, which in turn is likely to prolong the Syrian conflict. It will also create several problems from an EU policy perspective, including repression of Syria’s Kurds, an uncertain future of Syrian refugees in Turkey and violation of international law.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: Overall, the AKP’s vote share in the 30 biggest cities declined from 2014, continuing a trend seen first in the 2017 referendum. The reversal in AKP fortunes is most evident in Istanbul, often considered a microcosm of Turkey.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: Overall, the AKP’s vote share in the 30 biggest cities declined from 2014, continuing a trend seen first in the 2017 referendum. The reversal in AKP fortunes is most evident in Istanbul, often considered a microcosm of Turkey.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Efe Baysal
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Let us face it: we are in the midst of a catastrophe, a state of calamity unprecedented in human history. We are living in those scenarios that once depicted a terrible future due to “global warming”. Extreme weather events, not-so-natural disasters have become the new norm. Given the fact that more than half of the world’s population now live in urban areas, it is fair to say that these new climate norms pose an especially dire threat to cities.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Governance, Economy, Crisis Management, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Global Focus
  • Author: Bertil Emrah Oder
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: The recently announced Judicial Reform Strategy was subject to public debate with a series of promises ranging from issuing green passports to lawyers as a privileged of visa exemptions to the introduction of an appeal process in criminal cases concerning the freedom of expression.1 The fundamental shortcoming of this new strategy and other reform efforts is the lack of a specific agenda on the representation of women professionals in the judiciary, especially in the leading positions including the apex courts. Policies on women’s representation in the judiciary remained “invisible” in recent reform efforts on judicial policies.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Law, Women, Inequality, Courts, Criminal Justice, Representation
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Sezai Ozan Zeybek
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: I aim to open to discussion one of the critical barriers to potentially transformative environmental policies. In response to challenging problems there are moves being carried out to save the day, to make it seem like the issue is already solved. These moves end up postponing the real solutions. This is a trap that not only municipalities, public institutions and companies, but even civil society falls into.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Climate Change, Environment, Governance, Democracy, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Hakkı Onur Arıner
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Turkey’s Law on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP) was adopted on 4 April 2013 by the Turkish Grand National Assembly. In the five years that has passed since the coming into force of the LFIP in its entirety, it appears that the LFIP has been made to adapt to the conditions of Turkey, rather than the other way around, due to the sheer unexpected size of the phenomenon of immigration into Turkey, and the challenges encountered in establishing the institutional capacity and the inter- institutional cooperation necessary to deal with the inflows as required by the Law.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, Migration, Refugee Issues, Law
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Jean-Philippe Platteau
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: There are three main channels of women’s empowerment: legal or policy reforms, outside economic opportunities, and collective action. Legal (or policy) reforms are generally based on statutory laws that enact rules to be followed or prohibit certain practices. External economic opportunities for women represent alternative activities and places of working and living. Collective action brings women together to advance their collective interests.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Women, Discrimination, Equality, Empowerment
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Africa, China, Europe, Turkey, India, Asia, Senegal
  • Author: Michael Asiedu
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: On the 11th and 12th of February 2018, the “2nd Turkey–Africa Ministerial Review Conference” transpired in Istanbul. The Conference was held under the tutelage of the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. In participation was the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, H. E. Thomas Qwesi Quartey together with several foreign affairs ministers of African countries as well as AU representatives. Considering that a Turkey–Africa Summit is scheduled to be held in 2019 in Turkey, this TurkeyAfrica Ministerial Review Conference was held to evaluate the progress of Turkey’s Africa partnership so far in conjunction with steps that could be taken to even solidify this special relationship.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Education, Health, International Affairs, Bilateral Relations, Conference
  • Political Geography: Africa, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Tobias von Lossow
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: With the liberation of Mosul from so-called Islamic State (IS) in November 2017, Iraq entered – once again – a post-conflict period. In his Policy Brief Tobias von Lossow analyses how shrinking water quantities and acutely declining water quality pose tremendous challenges in the process of rebuilding the country: Dam building in Turkey and Iran has contributed to a remarkably reduced water inflow of the Euphrates and Tigris; Iraqi water installations had been in very poor condition before IS used water as a weapon and further damaged infrastructure; Tigris River’s waterflow upstream of Baghdad requires careful coordination between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and central government; extremely salinised water resources and environmental degradation in the Marshes risk the extinction of agricultural activities and livelihoods in that area. To address these challenges, technical measures will be important, and necessary – for instance, investment in water infrastructure. But that will not be nearly enough, as the water issue has the potential to accelerate re-emerging social divisions and political fragmentation and thus undermine Iraq’s stability and security. The political implications of water policies must be carefully taken into account in Iraq’s postconflict process and should complement technical efforts in this crucial sector. The basin-wide protection of the supply infrastructure could serve as a technical as well as a political entry point for water cooperation in the region.
  • Topic: Natural Resources, Water, Infrastructure, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: So far, Turkey has been successful in its pursuit of internationalising the Khashoggi case and playing its cards strategically to keep the attention of international media and appeal to the morality of peoples and governments while also avoiding a direct clash with Saudi Arabia
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: So far, Turkey has been successful in its pursuit of internationalising the Khashoggi case and playing its cards strategically to keep the attention of international media and appeal to the morality of peoples and governments while also avoiding a direct clash with Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Benjamin Augé
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The July 2016 failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government not only resulted in a dramatic upheaval in Turkey, it also had a significant impact on the structure of its international relations and its networks of influence abroad. The way this coup affected the political actors who shaped Turkish policy in Africa highlights the extent to which Fethullah Gülen’s movement – accused by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of having organised the coup- shaped those relations up to 2016. Today, Turkish diplomacy in Africa is undergoing a process of reconstruction, as it dismantles functional networks, and supports the new actors championed by Ankara. The destruction of what has been patiently established for 20 years and the creation of new channels of influence is a challenging task for Turkish diplomats and politicians who multiply their visits to Africa. In some countries, Turkish diplomacy sometimes faces difficulties in removing the Gülenist networks, as some are closely linked to high-ranking local leaders.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fethullah Gülen
  • Political Geography: Africa, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Berfu Şeker
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: We are at a time when the global politics of women’s rights, gender and feminism are intersecting at the regional and national level, forming around similar dynamics and practices. Against the gains made by women and LGBTI+ groups towards changing gender politics until the 2000s, we are seeing that new populist trends have been gaining power since 2000s.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Women, Inequality, Populism, Feminism, LGBT+
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Emrah Irzık
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Founded on a rationale that is different than access to income and the benefits of social security systems such as pensions and health insurance which are earned in exchange for work, the importance of social assistances today is increasing both in the quantitative and in the qualitative senses. To what extent however is the present social assistances regime in Turkey that is fragmented, insufficient and based on debatable principles, able to respond to the changing face of poverty?
  • Topic: Poverty, Governance, Social Policy, Universal Basic Income
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Akif Burak Atlar
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: The resurfacing of ‘populist’ legal arrangements such as raises for civil servants and pensioners, minimum wage policies, paid military service and debt restructuring that carry along vote potential are a strange tradition of our country’s politics. Zoning Peace is a legal arrangement that was part of the omnibus bill passed in the run up to the 24 June elections. As the 2018 version of zoning amnesties which have been recurring throughout Turkey’s urban history and creating spatial and legal chaos by redefining zoning rights, it has taken its place in the urban planning dictionary. What will then be the practical outcome of this new edition zoning amnesty?
  • Topic: Governance, Legislation, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East