[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.]
The Situation in Idlib
Intel: Why Russia went on counteroffensive against US criticism over Idlib. Moskow seeks to affirm its “moral high ground by framing the debate on the Idlib offensive as a ‘just war’ on terrorists. Those who oppose it, this logic suggests, support Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which is hiding behind the civil population,” writes Maxim A. Suchkov, explaining the rationale behind the latest development in Syria.
A ticking bomb: Idlib. “Moscow seems to have no choice but to sit down at the table with Turkey to adjust the Sochi deal; that is, only if the Kremlin cares about the Astana process and the Sochi deal. Otherwise, Ankara and Damascus will eventually confront each other on the field,” argues Merve Şebnem Oruç.
The limits of Turkish-Russian strategic engagement. According to Talha Köse, “Russia may control Syria without Turkey, but if the Russian side wants to establish order and reduce its economic and military costs in Syria, they need to strategically coordinate with Ankara.”
Turkey’s Options for Pressuring Russia in Idlib Are Limited. “Moscow will not allow Erdogan to push Assad’s forces out of Idlib entirely. And given the asymmetrical nature of Turkey’s relationship with Russia and the real threat Moscow poses to Turkish interests in Libya, Erdogan will have to take an Idlib deal if Putin offers one,” argues Soner Çağaptay.
Idlib chaos: The latest test for Turkish-Russian ties. According to Aslı Aydıntaşbaş “Turkey and Syria are now at war – but the ultimate arbiter of what happens next is likely to be Vladimir Putin.”
Syrians are putting down roots in Turkey. “Despite hardening attitudes, the refugees are putting down roots, especially in border towns like Reyhanli,” reports The Economist. After the recent developments, “Syria may have to brace for more bloodletting, and Reyhanli for more refugees."
Desperate, Thousands of Syrians Flee Toward Turkish Border. “With bloodshed and tensions rising between Syria and Turkey, the last rebel holdout of Idlib is turning into the biggest humanitarian crisis of the war,” reports Elizabeth Tsurkov.
End game in Syria. Turkey “does not have a stake in the fight between the Syrian regime and the diverse radical and terrorist militia groups. It does however have a huge stake in Syria’s stability and territorial integrity. [...] The whole issue should not be allowed to become yet another U.S.-Russia tug-of-war,” argues retired diplomat Şafak Göktürk.
Turkey’s Intervention in Syria Will Slow Assad, But It Won’t Stop Him. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “will remain on the throne so long as the world turns a blind eye,” argues Kareem Shaheen.
Latest Battle for Idlib Could Send Another Wave of Refugees to Europe. Fabrice Balanche argues that “the threat of a new refugee march toward the EU will keep rising, leading some states to consider ways to fortify their frontiers” and it “may play a decisive role in Europe’s most pressing dilemma: how to maintain its humanitarian principles while still preserving its security and unity.”
Turkey’s Pivot to Africa and the Libyan Crisis
Is France irked by Erdogan’s passion for Africa? “True, France has lost economic ground to China and India, which have stormed into Africa in recent years, as well as to Spain, [...] and even to Britain,” writes Fehim Taştekin. “Still, one could hardly argue that a French decline is underway in Africa due to Turkish strides,” he argues, denying the veracity of comments that recently appeared on Turkish media.
For Erdogan, Western Libya is North Cyprus II. Nervana Mahmoud argues that for the Turkish president “Libya is the 2020 version of North Cyprus. The Turkish president is seeking to challenge Europe again by carving up a loyal entity facing European shores in an ambitious bid to expand his East Mediterranean gas exploration plans.”
The Earthquake in Elazığ
The charity work that brought AKP to power will also bring it down. Commenting on the criticism emerged in the aftermath of the earthquake in Elazığ, Berrin Sönmez goes back to another earthquake, in 1999, and to its political consequences. The columnist writes that “the negligence and ideological practices attributed to the state in relief organizations led by Kızılay and in all institutions became the wind beneath the wings of AKP. Everything people were fed up with on that day in 1999 is now being repeated in the hands of AKP.”
How ready are we for earthquake? According to a new survey by TurkiyeRaporu.com, “43.7% of attendants believe their homes are earthquake resistant even though they never conducted an earthquake test.” Nonetheless, “statistics demonstrate that Turkey is not prepared for earthquakes at both an infrastructure and individual level,” writes Can Selçuki.
Politics and Literature
Demirtaş between literature and politics. “Despite efforts to silence him, Demirtaş has remained an active figure in Turkey’s political scene, and now its literary scene,” writes Kenan Behzat Sharpe, arguing that “the literary significance” of the third book of the former HDP party co-leader risks, however, getting lost.
The Crackdown on the Gülenist Movement
The Turkish Woman Who Fled Her Country only To Get Sent Back. Der Spiegel reports on the story of Ayşe Erdoğan. “Persecuted in Turkey as an alleged follower of the Gülen movement, the young teacher fled to Greece to seek refuge. This is how she wound up back in a Turkish prison.”
Turkey and Its Minorities
Cizrespor's story is a fraction of Turkey's Kurdish question. “How strange it is that my mother, Cizrespor’s president, and many more Kurds cannot believe what is happening to them. They assume that if you host your neighbour well, your neighbour will host you well in return. But your neighbour does not even see you as a neighbour, and instead tries to throw you out of your own home,” writes Nurcan Baysal, commenting on recent events involving the football club of the city of Cizre, in southeastern Turkey.
Batı'ya göre biz artık Ortadoğu ülkesiyiz. Wondering whether “a good thing will ever happen” in Turkey, after a flurry of tragic news, Rahmi Turan argues that in terms of economy, peace, and democracy, Turkey has moved away from the West.
The Situation in Idlib
Suriye’de en tehlikeli aşamaya geçiliyor. Sedat Ergin analyzes in his column on Hürriyet the developments on the ground in and around Idlib, in Syria, where pro-government forces have attacked the last stronghold in the country outside of Damascus control. In the last few days Turkish troops in the area have come under fire, and a number of soldiers have died.
Beş şehit haberi Ankara’ya Ruslarla görüşürken geldi(*). “Countering the threat outside of Turkish borders can be a security policy; but who thought first to send Turkish soldiers into the quicksand before taking necessary measures? [...] Once we weather this storm and the soldiers are home safe and sound without any further loss, this too will surely be a topic of discussion,” writes Murat Yetkin.
Kapsamlı operasyon. Turkey has two options, writes Burhanettin Duran. “It can empty the ‘observation points’ as the opposition has proposed,” or continue negotiation with Moscow while showing determination with an extensive operation on the field.
Alan markajı. “We need to convince Russia and the Syrian regime that we are able to respond disproportionately,” argues Hasan Basri Yalçın.
Şam rejimiyle topyekun bir savaşa doğru mu gidiyoruz? “Are we going towards an all-out war with the Syrian regime?” asks Mehmet Acet, after President Erdoğan stated that Turkey will push Syrian forces beyond the observation posts in Idlib “by any means necessary.”
Suriye’den çıkmak, girmekten zor olabilir! “There are geographies from which pulling out might turn out to be harder than getting in,” comments Mustafa Balbay.
Ergenekon, Gülen, and the AKP
FETÖ’yle değil, AK Parti’yle mücadele ettiler. Former Chief of General Staff İlker Başbuğ, who was jailed as part of the Ergenekon investigations, made the news by accusing “Gülenists in parliament” for passing in 2009 amendments that allowed civilian courts to try military personnel. Columnist Abdulkadir Selvi argues that if the military had really fought the “political arm of FETÖ” instead of the AKP, there would have not been an attempted coup in July 2016.
Siyasi yalan rüzgârları. Başbuğ “sees no harm in putting on the same level civil politics and the Parliament and FETÖ,” writes Mahmut Övür, arguing that the vast majority of the soldiers on trial for Balyoz and Ergenekon never abandoned the “coup mentality.”
Erdoğan ‘Ergenekon’ çıkışıyla muhalefetin zayıf karnına oynuyor! CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Turkey’s President Erdoğan traded accusation of being part or having helped the Gülenist movement in the past. Erdoğan's goal, writes Yusuf Karataş, is to bury this discussion and “to divide the opposition.”
The Opposition and the Media
Kılıçdaroğlu’ndan CNN Türk açıklaması: A Haber tarzı yayını kabul etmiyoruz. “We cannot accept a broadcasting style resembling the one of A Haber,” stated Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the CHP. Turkey’s main opposition party started a boycott of the CNN Türk channel, accusing it of maintaining a political stance that is deliberately damaging the CHP.
CNN Türk CHP için daha ne yapsın? Melih Altınok comments on the decision, writing that he cannot remember such a boycott call against FOX TV or Halk TV. Both channels are close to the opposition.
CNN Türk ilk kez mi boykot ediliyor? Akif Beki argues that today’s CHP is as right in calling a boycott of CNN Türk, as the ruling AKP was to boycott the Doğan Group media outlets in the past.
Kişisel olarak hesabımı veriyorum. “I have always represented the perspective of the government and of the opposition equally,” writes Ahmet Akan, who is also a television news anchor on CNN Türk.
The Accident at Sabiha Gökçen
Uçak kazası Sabiha Gökçen’de değil yeni havalimanında olsaydı ne gürültü kopardı? Commenting on the news of a Pegasus aircraft that skid off the runway at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen airport, in an accident that killed three and injured dozens, Mehmet Barlas accuse the opposition: “Can you imagine how someone would exploit the events if it had happened at the new airport?” Turkish opposition fiercely condemned in the past the plan for a new airport in Istanbul.
İkinci pist. “The DHMI (General Directorate of State Airports) should explain why the planned second runway [at the Sabiha Gökçen] was never completed,” writes Çiğdem Toker, arguing that the need for it was already established ten years ago.
Published on Jadaliyya
Ayşe Parla, Precarious Hope: Migration and the Limits of Belonging in Turkey (New Texts Out Now)
Camila Pastor, The Mexican Mahjar: Transnational Maronites, Jews, and Arabs under the French Mandate (New Texts Out Now)
Urban Transformation and Resistance in Tarlabaşı: The Politics of a Delayed Construction Project in Istanbul
Judith E. Tucker, ed., The Making of the Modern Mediterranean: Views from the South (New Texts Out Now)