[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 firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Turkey and Iran, after the killing of Soleimani
A new dangerous page opens in the Middle East. Commenting on the recent killing of Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. strike, and on its international consequences, Serkan Demirtaş argues that countries such as Turkey should now urge both Iran and the U.S. to not “further jeopardize the delicate situation in Iraq.” The columnist also calls for Turkey to “re-calibrate its entire Middle East policies.”
Intel: Why Ankara is maintaining cautious silence on Soleimani killing. In the hours following the killing of Soleimani, no comments came from Turkey’s political leadership. According to Pınar Tremblay, “Erdogan’s silence and the neutral statements of presidential agencies signal that Ankara is aware of how the risk levels in the region have been heightened. They were caught unprepared and unsure of how to make the best of the situation.”
Erdogan treads carefully on Soleimani killing. President Erdoğan’s first detailed comment was “cautiously worded but left no doubt that he doesn’t want his country embroiled in a conflict between the United States and Iran,” argues Amberin Zaman.
Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean
Turkish parliament approves sending troops to Libya. The Turkish government has approved in the first days of the year a one-year mandate to deploy troops in Libya in support of the Tripoli government.
A century later, Turkey is set to return to North Africa. Michael S. Daventry comments on the approved motion on the Libyan crisis and on its behind the scenes, arguing that the Turkish government “is risking an overseas deployment that could prove both risky for his forces and unpopular among the public.”
Libya's only chance is Turkey. Melih Altınok is sure that “the Turkish military, which has been very successful in purging Syria's north from terrorist groups and restoring order in the region, will soon succeed in Libya as well.”
Libya move and risk for strategic overextension. Barçın Yinanç stresses how Turkey is already facing economic difficulties and problems related to the Syrian civil war, and therefore argues how the country should be careful to avoid overextension.
Will Russia, Turkey launch 'Syria scenario' for Libya? Kirill Semenov writes that “by uniting efforts Russia and Turkey may reach their respective geopolitical goals in a more effective manner than if they pursued this path alone,” also arguing that “should Russia and Turkey each pressure the warring parties, a peace process in Libya may be possible.”
The Syrian Crisis
With Turkey preoccupied with Libya, Idlib slips through Ankara’s fingers. The Syrian army has begun its third major offensive against Idlib. “Russia’s uncompromising attitude signals that Ankara will not get what it wants in Syria,” writes Fehim Taştekin.
Idlib Violence Puts Pressure on EU-Turkey Pact. The offensive is pushing a new wave of refugees from Syria towards Turkey, and Ankara has signaled that the Turkish-EU refugee pact might soon be over. “Turkish President Erdogan is keeping the refugees out of Turkey with the help of a wall. But with hundreds of thousands of suffering refugees swarming the Turkish border, women and children among them, will he continue to do nothing?” asks the Spiegel.
Turkey and Russia
TurkStream gas pipeline will bring Moscow, Ankara closer than ever. Russian President Putin arrived in Istanbul's Atatürk Airport on Tuesday to take part in the inauguration of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline project.
Russia-Turkey commerce: unilateral dependence. “Improved ties with Russia have not turned out to be economically fruitful for Turkey,” argues Huseyin Sefa Cavdaroglu, according to whom one side of the deal is getting more benefit than the other also from the TurkStream project.
Turkey and Iran, after the killing of Soleimani
Trump kendi ülkesinde kanunsuz ilan edilirken İran’a dönük eylemi nasıl yapabilir ki? Mehmet Barlas asks how President Trump could order the strike against Iranian major general Soleimani, killed in a drone strike in Iraq, while “the House of Representatives has voted to dismiss him.”
Ortadoğu’da kanlı zincir. “Ankara is in no position to take a stand against Tehran or Washington,” writes Taha Akyol. Looking back at what prime minister Özal did during the Iran-Iraq war. he argues that Turkey should “develop relations with all parties” in the Middle East, without taking sides.
Cehenneme bilet almayalım! “This is not our war,” writes Rahmi Turan, contending that Turkey should stay away from a conflict between the U.S. and Iran.
İran-Amerika gerilimi. Hasan Basri Yalçın addressed in his column the possible outcomes of the U.S. strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, arguing that Iran does not seem to “have learned the lesson” that the U.S. wanted to teach with the deterrence operation. He stated that, nevertheless, the quest for revenge “will not lead to a conventional conflict.”
Elmanın içindeki kurt uyandı. Nagehan Alçı maintains that there is a risk, especially for Iraq and Lebanon, to plunge into chaos as a consequence of the events and that this ”might make way for a great loss of lives and new migration waves.”
ABD’nin “Derin İran”ı vurması. According to Mahmut Övür, now Turkey “can play an important role, as the sole State able to negotiate with both the U.S. and Iran.”
Dünya diken üstünde. Commenting on a recent interview that president Erdoğan gave to Turkish tv channels, Hande Fırat argues that Turkey should continue to push for a “peace-oriented” politics, and rebuke the attempts “of those who want to set the world on fire.”
İran geleneği. “Do not be afraid of what Iran will do, fear what Trump will do,” writes Fatih Altaylı, arguing that the US president “and those like him” are the real danger for the world, not the Iranian leadership.
Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean
Cumhurbaşkanı Erdoğan, CNN TÜRK ve Kanal D ortak yayınında. In a long tv-interview aired by Kanal D and CNN Türk, President Erdoğan delved into the details of the Turkish mission in Libya, speaking of an ongoing “gradual deployment of troops.”
Trump’ın bundan sonraki adımı ne olacak? Columnist Abdulkadir Selvi writes that, at the moment, a group of 30 or 25 men reached Libya and that they will be busy in a “sort of a train and equip program.”
Türkiye’deki karar merkezleri askerlerin can güvenliğini hiç düşünmezler mi? Mehmet Barlas criticizes the voices that rose in opposition to the motion to send Turkish troops to Libya. “Those who ask ‘Why in the world Turkey would go to Libya?’ should remember from time to time that there is no place in the world where America is not present.”
Libyalı misafirlere de hazır olun. Saygı Öztürk writes that he wishes the U.N. could be engaged in Libya, reporting on a comment according to which “as [Turkey] hosts those who escaped from the civil war in Syria, so it will welcome guests from Libya.”
Teee Fizan'a tezkere öyle mi? “Is it necessary for these islands to belong to the Muslim Brotherhood for the government to approve a mandate?” writes Yılmaz Özdil, arguing that the Turkish government has left 18 contested islands to Greece and it is not willing to take them back, but is willing to move for Libya.
Students and the Economy
Yemek kartı ve Türkiye'nin intiharı! “This is not just our Sibel’s suicide, but the suicide of Turkey,” writes Arslan Bulut, commenting on the recent news of the suicide of a young student at Istanbul University. Students at the institution had been protesting against measures that made the canteen unaffordable to many already struggling in the current economy.
Siz hiç aç yattınız mı? (2) Abbas Güçlü cautions against linking Sibel Ünli's suicide directly to the hike in food prices at the canteen of the university, as some have done in the last few days. “It was perhaps the final straw,” he writes, nonetheless acknowledging that university students are facing many problems.
Kanal İstanbul kanser riski de demek. Commenting on the project for the construction of Kanal Istanbul, which has been widely commented upon in the last few weeks, Çiğdem Toker argues that the waterway will have a negative impact on so many aspects of life that “it is impossible to prioritize one and say ‘this is the most relevant’.”
Erken seçim ve kabine. Abdulkadir Selvi argues that, despite an ongoing debate on the matter, there will likely be no early elections in 2020. Early elections might come, or seem at least more plausible, from the second half of 2021 on.
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)