[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Turkey and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Turkey Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to email@example.com.]
A Year in the News
Bittersweet. “If I had one way to describe this year, it would be ‘bittersweet’. While I am more optimistic about Europe in general, I am less optimistic about Turkey and Greece as we slowly step into 2020,” writes Sezin Öney.
Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean
The Libyan bamboozle. Aydın Selcen argues that president Erdoğan’s recent trip to Tunisia to discuss cooperation to establish a ceasefire in Libya failed in its intent. According to the columnist, “Mr.Erdoğan needs another story. National automobile production, Channel Istanbul, tension with the EU due to drilling for fossil fuel in the EastMed and the EEZ deal signed with Libya’s GNA alongside the AKP congress will provide the springboard for him to re-energize his presidency before a highly probable snap election in 2020.”
Could Turkey’s military capacity match Erdogan’s ambitions in Libya? Metin Gurcan looks into the objectives of the Turkish government regarding Libya, and contends that “what they have in mind is far beyond a limited train-and-equip mission,” but there are “lingering questions on whether the Turkish army is capable of delivering what Erdogan has promised his allies.”
Turkey's military mission in Libya. Yahya Bostan reminds the public that the Parliament “is required to sign off on any military operation outside the country's borders.” According to the columnist, several reports suggest that a vote could come before the new year.
Turkey's three key steps in the Eastern Mediterranean. According to Burhanettin Duran, steps taken by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean in 2019, “indicate that the Libya question will fare as prominently in Turkey's agenda as the Syria file.”
Kanal Istanbul: A debate to end all debates! Can Selçuki comments on a recent poll regarding the Kanal Istanbul project. Despite the fact that “Turkey is locked into a single issue,” the pollsters found that the public does not have adequate knowledge of the project.
Kanal İstanbul will not replace passage from straits. “There is no way Turkey can force third party vessels to pass from Kanal Istanbul,” argues Barçın Yinanç, commenting on a topic that has been widely debated in Turkey in the past few weeks. According to Yinanç, if the government brought up the Montreux Convention, it is because it “comes in handy to mobilize support from the traditional Justice and Development Party (AKP) voters and silence those who are against” the project.
Kanal Istanbul: A necessity or the murder of Turkey's largest city? The Kanal Istanbul project is highly controversial, but “it actually is a technical matter, so nobody should automatically choose sides,” Nagehan Alçı writes, also arguing that it “is necessary and will make the city [of Istanbul] even more prosperous.”
Freedom of the Press
Emin Çölaşan ve Necati Doğru'ya FETÖ'ye yardım suçundan hapis cezası. Six journalists of the opposition newspaper Sözcü have been sentenced to jail, charged with helping the Fethullah Gülen movement.
Bir gurur, bir utanç. Nagehan Alçı argues that Sözcü did not act in the right way during the 2013 corruption investigations, which involved members of the government and was seen as a sign of a worsening conflict between the government and Gülen. Nonetheless, the six journalists should not be criminalized. According to the columnist, “back then many wanted FETÖ to succeed.”
Çölaşan ve Doğru’ya “FETÖ’cü” diyen yargı adalet mi dağıtıyor? Journalist such as Emin Çölaşan and Necati Doğru “were targeted back then because they criticized Gülen and his organization,” writes Murat Yetkin. “If the punishment is upheld, now they will be jailed for the same reason.“
Hep aynı tepkiler… Ve cezaevi yolu açılırken. “I want to say this. Not a single person believed that we are terrorists,” Emin Çölaşan argued in his column on Sözcü.
Hem İstanbul hem Kanal. Mahmut Övür criticizes those who are against the construction of Kanal Istanbul, arguing that the maxi-project is not merely a way to grant profits to Turkey, but “a project to save the Bosporus,” from the dangers related to the ships crossing the Straits.
‘Kanal İstanbul’: İktidar sarhoşluğu mu, umutsuzluk mu? According to Emre Kongar, whatever the reason might be for the construction of Kanal Istanbul, the project will speed up the end of the government and help the political career of Istanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu.
İmamoğlu Cumhurbaşkanı adayı olmak istiyor mu? Commenting on the political future of İmamoğlu, columnist Abdulkadir Selvi suggests that the mayor of Istanbul might want to be a presidential candidate, but at the moment he is aiming for two terms as a mayor. “No success story has been written yet,” he argues.
Cumhurbaşkanlığı seçiminde anahtar hangi liderin elinde? Selvi contends in a separate column that at the moment the key of possible early elections is in the hands of İYİ Parti leader Meral Akşener. “It is not without a reason that mayor İmamoğlu went to visit her with his wife and daughter.”
A Domestically-produced Car
Tok bir arabaya benziyor. Turkey recently unveiled its first fully homemade car. “For the first time, Turkey is moving at the pace of the world giants in a technology race,” argues Melih Altınok, commenting on the unveiling of the electric vehicle.
Türkiye'nin Otomobili göz kamaştırıyor. Yaşar Hacısalihoğlu contends that the unveiling of the first fully domestically-produced car should be seen as a part of the broad attempt to produce technology domestically, which spans from the defense industry to “almost every other sector.”
Yerli otomobil, milli heyecan. Mustafa Karaalioğlu comments on the matter and argues that whether the car is ‘fully Turkish’ or not - a topic hotly debated - is relevant up until a point. What is crucial is for Turkey to be able to mass-produce it and find a market for it.
Mutsuz muhalefet. “A section of the society makes the biggest injustice to this country, and in the name of opposition looks at events with a negative outlook no matter what,” argues Hilâl Kaplan, contending that a domestically-produced car will bring a number of benefits to Turkey and that the opposition should recognize this fact.
Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean
Libya’da çözüm için yeni bir işbirliği hattı. “Ankara wants to prevent the destabilization of Libya’s neighbors and stop the humanitarian drama from expanding,” writes Burhanettin Duran, arguing that Turkey is well aware of the fact that the solution in Libya should be political, and that therefore Turkey’s intention is not to fight, or to take part into a regional conflict.
Şam’da namaz kılamadık Trablus’ta kılalım! “We could not pray in Damascus, let’s pray in Tripoli,” writes Mehmet Tezkan, reminding the public of a sentence famously pronounced by then prime minister Erdoğan, promising a rapid solution to the Syrian civil war. Tezkan criticizes the government, apparently ready to embark on a military operation in Libya.
Cihatçı çöplüğü arıtma merkezi. Colonel Ahmed al-Mesmari, the spokesman of the Libyan armed forces loyal to General Khalifa, accused Turkey of sending extremists from Syria to Libya. “It seems like the jihadi highway has now reverted its course,” Erk Acarer writes.
Libya’da karşımızda Rusya, Mısır olacak! Commenting on the developments on the Libyan issue, Mustafa Balbay recalls what happened on March 1, 2003, when Turkey rejected the proposal that would have allowed US troops to operate from Turkish bases in the event of a war with Iraq. The columnist argues that the National Assembly should make a realistic decision also regarding the Libya dossier.
Published on Jadaliyya
Ussama Makdisi, Age of Coexistence: The Ecumenical Frame and the Making of the Modern Arab World (New Texts Out Now)
Yossef Rapoport, Islamic Maps (New Texts Out Now)
Reem Abou-El-Fadl, Foreign Policy as Nation Making: Turkey and Egypt in the Cold War (New Texts Out Now)