Right of Reply: An open Letter to My Israeli Friends

Prof. Efraim Inbar - whose works on Turkish-Israeli relations deserve much credit - recently wrote an op-ed piece "An open letter to my Turkish friends" in The Jerusalem Post in which he paints a grotesque picture of Turkey's new foreign policy vision and domestic political developments. It misleadingly confines the multi-dimensional Turkish foreign policy vision to politics of ideology that is reminiscent of the Cold War years.

Right of Reply An open Letter to My Israeli Friends
The message' of the elections

The ‘message' of the elections

The results of the March 29 municipal elections go beyond the local scene and will have a bearing on the 2011 general elections. The "message" of the elections, however one reads it, has become the key word. Indeed, the electorate has told political parties, "You've got a message." The question is how to read it. 


To fulfill Turkey's mission as a "civilizational connector" between Europe and Asia, Turkey must be a full member of the East Asian Summit. The path towards this goal, among others, requires Turkey to be a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN. Once ASEAN sponsors Turkey's membership in East Asian Summit,

This policy brief aims to discuss the limits of the freedom of political parties in Turkey. The political party bans consitute one of the most important problems threatening the freedom of political parties in Turkey. The restrictions on the political parties come to the fore in two different forms: dissolution after the military coups and closure by means of legislation. In the current context of the case opened against the AK Party, it may be possible and advisable to apply an amendment, bringing Turkish jurisprudence in such matters in line with the standards of the European community.

Perhaps the most consequential and drastic decision in Turkish foreign policy in recent months was to engage in direct negotiations with Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq. This is significant because, since the onset of Iraq War in 2003, Turkey has sought to ignore or marginalize Iraqi Kurds, and has refrained from all acts that could be viewed as concessions or de facto recognition. Although the Iraqi Kurdish leadership has received red-carpet ceremony in Ankara in the1990s, Turkish foreign policy toward northern Iraq, since the war, has been stymied by anxiety and emotional rhetoric. Indeed, the fear of Iraq’s disintegration and the rise of an independent Kurdish enclave in the north, inspiring or even assisting separatist sentiments in Turkey, have appeared to cloud the possibility of rational evaluation of the pros and cons of policy alternatives. As a result, the policy of projecting illegitimacy to the Kurdish Regional Government has cost Turkey a significant loss of clout not only in northern Iraq but also in the wider Iraqi political affairs, as Kurds have come to occupy significant positions in the central government as well.

Turkey and the Transformation of NATO

Recent years have made it clear that NATO is going through a transformation process; Turkey will be one of the allies most affected by this process. Both the future of NATO and Turkey’s perception of NATO membership will be at stake unless the allies can reach consensus on the core strategic issues of the transformation agenda. Analysts urgently need to come up with convincing answers to the following questions: In which ways has NATO’s transformation been going through? Why does Turkey feel uneasy with some aspects of the process? What steps should Turkey take in order to ensure that the transformation of the Alliance is viewed positively at home?

Turkey and the Transformation of NATO
Turkish Foreign Policy in the Era of Global Turmoil

Turkish Foreign Policy in the Era of Global Turmoil

Turkey’s rapid transition from a buffer state position to a pro-active and multi-dimensional diplomatic activism has led to ambiguities on the aim, intention and realism of the recent Turkish foreign policy.


As I write these words in the garden of the Cordoba Mosque in Spain, the centuries-old memory of Andalusia goes through my mind. Andalusia was the scene of the remarkable experience that medieval Spanish scholars called “convivencia,” or coexistence. Embracing diversity as a constructive challenge of fulfillment was the hallmark of Islamic Spain and the Andalusian culture embodied this spirit in the widest sense of the term.

According to the US News & World Report (Sept. 27), President Bush uses the words “Islamic terrorist” with a clear agenda: the words “extremism,” “radical” and “Muslim” do not have the same dramatic tone as “Islamist terrorist.” The report says that while Bush has lightened up on using the word “Islamic” before terrorists, the advisers said in the background that the word should always be used because Americans believe that “Islamists” are those who act on terrorist threats. Words to avoid are “Muslim,” “extremist” and “radicals.”

According to Louise Arbour, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, bigotry and prejudice against Muslims is increasing in Europe. Arbour made a call to all governments to take action against racism and discrimination towards Muslim communities. Arbour’s remarks are based on a recent study by Doudou Diene of Senegal.

Public Perception of the Kurdish Question” is based on a Turkey-wide survey conducted by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) and Pollmark. The main objective of this large-scale survey was to map public perceptions of the Kurdish question and the government’s intensively debated Democratization Initiative or in other words, Kurdish Initiative. This report presents the main findings of the survey.

Six months have passed since the president first made mention of “some good things” in March. Success of the process that started with this statement depended on two main elements.

This article aims at presenting a descriptive account of the March 2009 local elections in Turkey. Comparing the general and local elections since 2004, an overall evaluation of trends in electoral preferences is presented. Using provincial general council election results, a detailed geographical comparative analysis of the 2004 and 2009 local elections is also carried out. The analyses show that the AKP’s rise has stalled but it still remains as the dominant power in the party system. The electoral map continues to be divided between the coastal western and most developed provinces where the opposition is significantly supported, the east and southeastern provinces where the Kurdish ethnic electoral support is rising and the more conservative provinces in between where the AKP continues to be dominant with the MHP trailing behind. Even though the March 2009 elections had all the characteristics of a local election, they also revel the rising trends in electoral behaviour in Turkey.

How much can an election reveal the deeper issues dividing a country? Certainly, the 2008 US elections are putting out so much about the vices and virtues of American society that a close examination of certain trends and discourses over the last three months can save you years of arduous study at a serious academic institution.

In no period of recorded history have human beings known about different cultures as much as we do. Thanks to the pervasive nature of globalization, what happens in Washington, London or France has an immediate impact on what positions are taken in Istanbul, Cairo or Kuala Lumpur. Our global public space is so powerful yet also so elusive that it leads many to believe that more information brings more understanding. Getting to know each other from close up, however, is not always a smooth and easy experience. It may result in some pleasant surprises and enriching experiences. Yet it may also result in disappointment, frustration and mistrust. In the current state of relations between Muslim and Western societies, we are doomed when we refuse to recognize each other in one way or another. Yet, we also run up against tremendous difficulties when we show the courage and honesty of knowing each other closely for there is too long a history of doubt, mistrust and refusal.

The details of Hrant Dink’s assassination are frightening. Not because they reveal an underground gang or a secret terrorist organization but because they are so ordinary. Ogun Samast, the assassin, is a 17-year-old youth from Trabzon.  He is described by his family and friends as somewhat angry and temperamental. He played soccer in an amateur club. His school record is not bright. He smokes. He socializes with his friends. He has a family. And he is 17 years old.All of these details lead us not to a monstrous killer but to an average person. And this is what is scary about the whole crime.

The Bush administration’s troubles in the Middle East and at home show no sign of diminishing. More and more Americans are coming forward to call the US policy in Iraq a total disaster. Their remedy is immediate withdrawal from Iraq. But there is more to US troubles than the mismanagement of an unjustified war. After much fanfare, the Bush administration’s “new  strategy on Iraq” turned out to be similar to shooting in the dark hoping that some shots will hit their target. Sending more troops to Iraq without pressuring the Maliki government to stop sectarian violence was received with more suspicion than ever.

We’re only five weeks away from April 16, when the candidates for the new president of Turkey will be announced. According to the rules, the new president has to be elected within 10 days of April 16. While the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) continues to keep silent on its name(s), the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is moving ahead under the assumption that Recep Tayyip Erdogan will have himself elected president.

Consider this wild scenario: After years of demonizing each other, the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran put their differences behind them. They agree to be strategic partners and sign a document to seal it.

The string of events beginning with Abdullah Gül’s candidacy for president has revealed once more the fragile nature of Turkish democracy. While an ideological battle is being fought over who owns the core values of the republic, the current crisis puts democracy in Turkey to the test. The current crisis is carefully crafted and based on an old theme in Turkish politics: the ideological legitimacy of those who demand change