Saturday, December 9, 2017
Authors Posts by Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM

Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM

49 POSTS

Leadership in the Middle East: Culture, Power or Democracy?

Leadership in Middle East - Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM
Leadership in Middle East - Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM

There are four main countries in the Middle East who have the potential of becoming leader in the Middle East: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Israel.

The Middle East is the land of cultural diversities. Cultural context becomes the most defining variable in the Middle East is in case. There are innumerable nations, ethnic groups, religions, sects, and subsects across the region. Any political approach based on a specific religious and/or national identity produces “us – them” division. Divisive approaches consolidated on differences naturally generate distinction, antagonism and ultimately clash.

The only adhesive that can bring the majority of individuals in the Middle Eastern together is democratic values. Any leader state who will be sincerely adhering to the democratic principles (like rule of law; balance of power; freedom of speech; free press; free and fair elections; protection of basic human rights… etc.) will indisputably be the leader in the Middle East. Democracy must be backed up by a free market economy, a social life tolerant to all identities, relative hard and soft power.

Turkey is the probable and viable country for the leadership in the Middle East.

Iran and Saudi Arabia: Divisive Ideological States

In February 1946, George F. Kennan, then at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, sent a wide-ranging report analyzing Soviet policy. In this report, recommended “restraining and confining” of Soviet Union because he observed that the Soviets perceived themselves to be in a state of perpetual war with capitalism and that the Soviets would use controllable Marxists all over the world as their allies against the capitalists. He also noted that Soviet aggression and expansionism was aligned with historic Russian xenophobia and paranoia. This paved the way to the “containment” of Soviets in US foreign policy.

Today, Iran is following exactly the same methods as Soviets were utilizing at that time. Iran uses all the controllable Shiites against any regime and authority in the region. In this sense, it is aggressive and expansionist. Democratic Turkey’s rising influence and power will definitely mean “containment” to the expansionism of Iran, because it will be restraining and confining Iranian influence in the region. The very existence of the regime in Iran is based on a cultural core which defines all non-Shiites as the “relevant other”; i.e. dividing individuals across the region.

Similar to Iran, the political regime of Suadi Arabia is based on Wahhabism, an interpretation of Islam. Generally, Wahhabism is falsely regarded as Sunni Islam, but it is completely different in details. Suadi Arabia has also based its state ideology and foreign policy on expansion of a creed. It is true that Turkish Republic and Suadi Arabia never experienced an explicit antagonistic relationship, yet they did not enjoy any considerable mutual cooperation either. Taking in mind the basic ideological viewpoint of the Saudi regime, it will be quiet difficult for Saudi Arabian decision makers to see an active democratic Turkey in the Middle East.

Democratic Turkey is a natural antidote for divisive, expansionist, undemocratic ideologies of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Israel: Small Island in an Ocean

Israel is a democratic country; however the country has bad relations with most of the Arab countries. Culturally and historically, people in the Middle East will not follow Israel as a leader state.

Israel would be a close partner of Turkey if it was not located in the Middle East. The relationship between Turkey and Israel does not mean anything per se. Even if Turkey and Israel will establish close mutual relations, their respective policies in the Middle East will always contradict. So, when we study the relationship between Turkey and Israel in the big picture of the Middle East, we see that Israel cannot establish as friendly relations with Middle Eastern countries as Turkey can.

As long as it approaches with democratic values towards the Middle East, Turkey does not have to distance itself from Israel in order to develop close relationships with Arab countries, and vice-a-versa.

Why Egypt is never an option?

Those who know Turkey and Egypt closely will right away dismiss Egypt as a potential competitor of Turkey in any possible aspect. Except the conjunctural success of Nasser days, which were merely a “flash in the pan”, Egypt has never been a serious potential leader of the Middle East. Political, economic, and social dynamics of Egypt is far from being ready for playing for the leadership in the Middle East. Turkey actually a very good role model for Egypt.

Turkey: The Natural protector of all in the Middle East

Turkey was deliberately neglecting the Middle East for around 80 years. This was so partly due to internal dynamics of Turkey and partly due to the international dynamics. Things, however, started to change after the end of the Cold War. International conjuncture and internal dynamics of Turkey is obliging Turkey to come back and reclaim its natural role in once forgotten friends in the region.

Actually, nature has bestowed a lot of opportunities to Turkey: Turkey is located in a strategic place which has geographical proximity with Middle East, Balkans, Caucasus, Europe, Asia, Africa and all Eastern Mediterranean states. This region is also rich of important natural resources which enhance Turkey’s importance as a passage for the energy routes.

Turkey possesses a cultural advantage in the region. Turkey has strong cultural ties and speaks the same language with around 300 million Turks. And we share a common history with the countries in the Balkans, Caucasus and Middle East. All of these nations have peacefully coexisted with Turks for centuries in the Ottoman time. One must also mention ‘state tradition’: As a state, Turkey is founded over an ancient legacy of knowledge and the experience in statehood. Turkish military power is one of the strongest armies in the region.

In spite of all its deficiencies, Turkey is the best example with a functioning democracy among all other Islamic countries. It has a vast agricultural land and relatively rich human resources.

Turkey has consolidated its position as a strong regional power and an active global actor. In the last years; Turkey has mobilized all its resources in order to increase its power; i.e. its state tradition, natural resources, its military power, human resources, geostrategic location, developing economy and so many other factors deserves to be placed in such a position. The only thing Turkey needs for going even further is the continuation of the determined political will and stability witnessed in recent years.

 

 

 

Regional peace is top priority for Turkey

Regional peace top priority for Turkey
Regional peace top priority for Turkey

 

China is not engaging in direct antagonistic and conflictual relationship with any of its adversaries. This is primarily so because China is rising and it desperately needs stability in its regional and global relations. The engine of Chinese development is economic growth. Any problem endangering the economic growth will be hazardous for economic growth of China.

Turkey is rising too. The driving element in Turkey’s advancement is economic growth. Turkey must be in good relationship with its neighbours. No country can advance economically if it is engulfed by instability and turmoil. Peace and stability is imperative for Turkish decision makers.

This approach was actually formulated under the brand name “Zero Problem with neighbours” especially when Ahmet Davutoğlu was active in the government, as an advisor, foreign minister and prime minister.

Conflict, war, terrorism, separatism and turmoil, uprising and everything that causes instability and turmoil especially in the Caucasus and the Middle East spoils up Turkish growth and development plans. The higher the violence will be in the region, the slower growth and development in Turkey. Stability contributes to Turkey’s rise as a strong regional (and global) actor, while regional instability satisfies those who never wish to see a strong Turkey.

Peace does not mean neglecting, isolationism and entirely withdraw into its shell. Since, when we look into the region from this perspective, I believe that instability will not ease in the region. Relatively, Turkey should plan and act pre-emptively towards any potential instability in the region. As it is impossible to eliminate conflicts in the region, Turkey must make sure to turn any possible tide towards its own interests.

It will be highly speculative to claim that all sorts of regional problems have caused to stop Turkish influence in region. We can also confidently say that all sorts of unrest and instability in the region have perfectly served those who do not wish to see Turkey as a strong power.

 

More Articles by Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM

* Read: New Global Balance of Power

* Read: Turkish Referendum: Life-or-death issue!

* Read: Turkey and Europe: We need one another!

* Read: Will the EU Collapse?

* Read: Turkish Referendum and Foreign Policy

* Read: Will World War III Start?

Turkey – India relations demand more attention

Turkey and India - Relations demand more attention
Turkey and India - Relations demand more attention

 

After his victory in constitutional referendum, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is traveling to India as part of his tour of global powers.

India and Turkey are among the 20 largest economies in the world. Economies of these democratic countries have shown remarkable stability. India and Turkey are eager to boost bilateral trade, increase reciprocal investments and to develop cooperation between two countries.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was established by the then victorious powers of the World War II. Circumstances, however, have changed since then and both India and Turkey are among strong potential powers eligible to be equally represented in UNSC. President Erdoğan has been criticizing the UNSC and he has been summarizing his criticism as “The World is bigger than five”. Both leaders expressed their support for changing the status-quo in UNSC and they underlined that the UNSC must reflect the world of 21th century.

Turkey and India have suffered from terrorism. So they share a common interest in developing counterterrorism strategies. Both countries support fight against terrorism. Turkey especially wants India to take more decisive stand against Gulenist Movement across India.

India and Turkey have exhibited impressive performance under Erdoğan and Modi leadership. President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Modi are both leaders of rising economies and they are governing vast multicultural democracies. Effective orators as they are, both leaders share progressive visions for the future of their respective nations. In addition, both leaders are committed to take the fight to the established elites and deliver welfare and a more prosperous future for the common citizens.

India has the second-largest Muslim population in the world. The country is a member of the G-20. Alongside Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa; India is also among five major emerging global economies (so-called BRICS countries).

Relationship between Turkey and India has been far from being as successful as it could be. It will not be a mistake to say that both countries have not been allocating the necessary attention to one another. India is Turkey’s second-largest trading partner in the Asia-Pacific region. However, mutual trade between two nations is approximately 6,5 billion USD, rather small compared to the mutual potential of two countries. President Erdoğan’s two-day visit is the first trip at the presidential level from Turkey to India in seven years.

In order to compensate this long time gap, President Erdoğan is also scheduled to hold talks senior Indian officials, including his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee as well as Indian businessmen. Relatively, Mr. Erdoğan has included a 150-member strong business delegation in his entourage for enhancing and deepening trade and investment ties between India and Turkey. A free trade pact between the two countries is another proposed subject for leaders of both countries.

Current bilateral trade between Turkey and India is not in favor of Turkey: Turkey’s exports to India were $652 million while its imports from India were $5.75 billion, in 2016. Mr. Erdoğan said it was not sustainable.

 

India has been striving for admission into Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Turkey is a member of NSG. As NSG controls the export of technology and materials used to produce nuclear power and make atomic weapons; becoming a member of NSG will grant India easier access to technologies and materials that it needs to support its nuclear program. In order to meet the increasing electricity demand of its rapidly-growing economy, India intends to further expand nuclear power. Exclusion from NSG is a damage for the international image of India.

Turkey has so far been following the strategy that the applications of both Pakistan and India to become a NSG member should be treated equally.

Since the foundation of modern Pakistan in 1947, the country’s relationship with India is mostly based on a hostile ground, whereas Turkey has traditionally been in good relations with Pakistan. Does Turkey’s good relationship with India necessarily mean an alternative to Pakistan? Turkey should find a way to balance its relations with Pakistan and India.

Can India and Turkey establish friendly relations regardless of tensions and between India and Pakistan? India must also find a balance between Turkey and Cyprus, both NSG members, as India is also hosting Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades soon. Indians want Cyprus and Turkey to back the country in NSG meeting, planned this year in June.

President Erdoğan was warmly welcomed in India. President Eroğan laid a wreath at a monument to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi, the main figure in Indian independence from the then British Empire.

Turkish government expects more Indian tourists to visit the country.

Turkey and India are also expected to sign a cultural exchange program between the two countries.

Turkey also intends to further develop cooperation with India on the fields of IT, high-tech, software, aerospace and renewable energy sectors.

India is the first stop in Erodğan’s world powers tour, which includes visits to Russia, China and the US. This tour is especially important as it comes after Mr. Erodğan declared victory in crucial constitutional referendum that is believed to pave the way for an ever rising Turkey and further consolidate Turkish democracy.

Turkish Referendum and Foreign Policy

Turkish Referendum and Foreign Policy
Turkish Referendum and Foreign Policy

 

Turkey has voted for the constitutional amendments that changes the political system from parliamentary into presidential republic. With a 1.25 million margin of votes, amendments received the support from 51.2 percent of citizens, whereas 48.59 percent of electors voted against.

The referendum was held for the sake of 18 amendments to the constitution that abolish the post of prime minister and consolidates president’s powers. Henceforth, the head of Turkish state can appoint vice-presidents, ministers and high-ranking officials. The new system also makes it possible for the president to declare a state of emergency and issue presidential decrees.

After the ‘yes’ result in referendum, Turkey is expected to follow more assertive foreign policy. Amendments in constitution and changes in the political system has given the government (“the president”) confidence to negotiate with its foreign foes and allies.

This transition from the parliamentary system to the presidential system marks a turning point in Turkish history, also naturally in its foreign policy approach.

he April 16 constitutional referendum in Turkey established yet again that foreign policy is closely related to domestic politics.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is attending a NATO summit in Belgium and travelling to Russia, India, China and the United States.

In these crucial meetings, Mr. Erdoğan will have stronger standing while negotiating crucial issues with world’s leading powers.

Economic relations and Syria is hot topics in the meeting with Russians. He will have to make clear Turkish standing in key issues to the new unpredictable American President Mr. Trump. Business circles are anxiously watching EU-Turkey relations strained in eve of the referendum. China and India might have important implication for future strategies in Turkish foreign policy.

As I mentioned in my previous articles*, there is an intense “behind the curtain” rivalry between Anglo-American camp and Continental Europe. Relations with the former is unclear and must be reconstructed over mutual trust; whereas the later have generally failed to welcome Turkey as a rising power in general and Mr. Erdoğan in particular.

Turkey will establish a balanced relationship with all major powers.

It is obvious that America, Russia, European countries and the rest of the world must have been reconsidering their approach towards Mr. Erdoğan and Turkey after the change in Turkish political system.

In short, relations between Turkey and leading global powers can be summarized in this way: Those who will approach Turks in a friendly and sincerely manner and consider relations with Turkey based on equality and mutual respect will certainly be benefit from the relationship with Turkey.

 

More Articles by Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM

* Read: New Global Balance of Power

* Read: Turkish Referendum: Life-or-death issue!

* Read: Turkey and Europe: We need one another!

* Read: Will the EU Collapse?

* Read: Arabs should act for the “Unfinished Revolutions”

 

Arabs should act for the “Unfinished Revolutions”

Arabs should take action for the Unfinished Revolutions - Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM
Arabs should take action for the Unfinished Revolutions - Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM

Arabs must strive to pursue welfare, stability and transparency by struggling for liberty, equality, basic human rights and democratic values. Arabs have suffered from sectarianism and tribalism which have so far paved the way for unjust social, economic and political distribution of power and resources.

Conflict in Syria might have a long standing effect in the rest of Arab world. Traditional methods of establishing control over citizens will no longer work. Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and especially Saudi Arabia are vulnerable. All Arabs across the Middle East, men and women alike, are using mobile devices and they are well aware of what is going on in the world. Arabic countries have actually enormous potential for change as the large proportion of the population is considerably young. Percentage of the population with an age under 15 is around 30%. (Estimate, 2016).

In the coming future, we must be ready for witnessing fluctuations across Arabic countries.

Political situation in most of the Arabic countries is in flux. Revolutions have changed the founding stones of the political regimes in these countries. It will be very much normal to expect controversy, unrest, conflict and even counter revolutions in these countries.

The end of longstanding dictators did not and will not solve problems in these countries. All of the deep rooted problems that have been suppressed, delayed, hidden or ignored are supposed to come to the surface. There were a vast number of political, social and economic discomfort and problems in these societies that were all frozen during the rule of the toppled dictators.

More importantly, there are some groups that have lost their privileged position in these countries. These groups will gradually realize that in reality the new situation is catastrophe for them. Some of such groups have lost prestige, others political strongholds in their country and some others have lost their economically advantageous position.

Certain segments in the social strata had direct connections with once strong political circles. Being in conformity with the dictators, these groups were enjoying and utilizing benefits bestowed by their connection to the regime. These groups did not go out of these countries. They are there, trying to adapt to the new situation or possibly trying to restore a similar environment like the old days.

We should not also forget that revolutions did not bring prosperity for people. So there is a disappointment. There was a psychological expectation that a shining sun would come out if the black cloud was removed. But it simply did not happen. Unemployment is persisting; political instability and economic crisis is not yet over.

We know that there are certain disagreements between wealthy Dubai, Abdu Dhabi and poorer emirates like Sharjah and Ajman. With its extremely unjust and fragile social system, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has barely escaped the destiny in the rest of Arab world.

Bloodshed, tears, hunger, cruelty… is not that enough?

Any solution based on creed and identity will certainly bring chaos in Arab world. Universally accepted democratic norms must be established. The political system should treat all citizens equally. Meritocracy, reason and impartiality must prevail.

 

More Articles by Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM

* Read: New Global Balance of Power

* Read: Turkish Referendum: Life-or-death issue!

* Read: Turkey and Europe: We need one another!

* Read: Will the EU Collapse?

* Read: Turkish Referendum and Foreign Policy

Will World War III Start?

Will World War 3 Start? Special Report by Political Analyst Ahmed N. YILDIRIM
Will World War 3 Start? Special Report by Political Analyst Ahmed N. YILDIRIM

People who are worried after American strike in Syria ask me: Is this the start of the World War III?

There are two other questions I am being asked recently: “What is going on in the world these days” and “Where you think Turkey should stand amid all these significant events happening in the world”.

WW I had began following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the WW II began when Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Small incidents turned into world wars.

I think that the post-Cold War global system has not yet been fully established. Especially the spheres of influence between USA, UK, (Continental) Europe, Russia and China have not yet been clearly defined. Brexit, War in Ukraine, Arab Spring, Conflict in Syria, security issues, harsh economic competition in other parts of the world can be given as most outstanding examples.

Global balance of power is subject to dramatic change.

After the collapse of Soviet Union, Francis Fukuyama announced “the End of History”. Western liberal democracies had won the Cold War. Democracies wouldn’t go to war with one another. The main clash, as Samuel P. Huntington had claimed, was supposed take place between civilizations; i.e. between democratic West and non-democratic (mostly Islamic) nations.

Globalization era had begun. Joseph Nye of Harvard had alleged that preferences of states could be shaped not only by hard military power but also by culture, democratic political values, persuasion, economic instruments and other soft foreign policy means.

Integration in European Union was deepening and expanding.

The entire world was supposed to be happy under unilateral American hegemony. Bipolar stability of Cold War period was replaced by unipolar hegemonic stability under American leadership.

Why this dream did not work?

The fundamental reason is the division in Western World. If all Western countries were sharing same interests; things would be different in international relations today. Conflicts in Middle East, Brexit, Crisis in Europe, terrorism, refugee crisis, War in Ukraine… and all most of major international problems arise from this basic fact.

The biggest war, conflict, rivalry, competition, struggle… in the world today, is not between Russia and America or China and America. The biggest conflict is between continental Europe and America. British have explicitly chosen their side by Brexit. Germany and France are standard-bearers of continental Europe.

The West, of course, will cooperate when non-Western actors are in case. However, they will also be competing with one another.

EU will be much stronger after Brexit. EU will become even stronger with Ukraine’s potential membership. Germany and France will never take Turkey as a full member in EU, unless Turkey reconsiders strategic partnership with America.

We cannot say that there are clear-cut lines like in Cold War days. When you look from this perspective, however, you can list hundreds of major and minor points of conflict between these powers.

China and Russia are not real opponents of American global hegemony. Unlike Germany and France, Russia and China lack the necessary social and political background for such a rivalry.

There will be, of course, problems between the West and the rest of the world. Yet this does not nullify the deep division inside the West.

I believe the new global balance of power in the West will be shaped according to the groupings around America-Britain and Germany-France.

War in Ukraine, Arab Spring, refugee politics and fierce economic competition and security related issues (NATO are only some of conflict fields between these polars.

What Turkey should do amid all this?

China is not engaging in direct antagonistic and conflictual relationship with any of its adversaries. This is primarily so because China is rising and it desperately needs stability in its regional and global relations. The engine of Chinese development is economic growth. Any problem endangering the economic growth will be hazardous for economic growth of China.

Turkey is rising too. The driving element in Turkey’s advancement is economic growth. Turkey must be in good relationship with its neighbors. No country can advance economically if it is engulfed by instability and turmoil. Peace and stability is imperative for Turkish decision makers.

This approach was actually formulated under the brand name “zero problem with neighbors” especially when Ahmet Davutoğlu was active in the government, as an advisor, foreign minister and prime minister.

Conflict, war, terrorism, separatism and turmoil, uprising and everything that causes instability and turmoil especially in the Caucasus and the Middle East spoils up Turkish growth and development plans. The higher the violence will be in the region, the slower growth and development in Turkey. Stability contributes to Turkey’s rise as a strong regional (and global) actor, while regional instability satisfies those who never wish to see a strong Turkey.

Peace does not mean neglecting, isolationism and entirely withdraw into its shell. Since, when we look into the region from this perspective, I believe that instability will not ease in the region. Relatively, Turkey should plan and act pre-emptively towards any potential instability in the region. As it is impossible to eliminate conflicts in the region, Turkey must make sure to turn any possible tide towards its own interests.

It will be highly speculative to claim that all sorts of regional problems have caused to stop Turkish influence in region. We can also confidently say that all sorts of unrest and instability in the region have perfectly served those who do not wish to see Turkey as a strong power.

Turkey must keep the balance between rival and divided West as well as West and the non-Western actors.

Importance of Turkish – Russian Cooperation under the speculations of a World War III

Relations between Turkey and Russia should not be evaluated under the light of short term, daily and conjunctural events.

The export based Turkish economy is in need of diverse and multiple markets. In this case, Russian Federation and other former republics of the Soviet Union (who are under Russian influence) are among the prominent markets for Turkish manufacturers and exporters.

The population of Russian Federation is nearly equal to half of the population in Arab countries. The sum of the GDP in all Arab countries hardly reaches that of Russian Federation alone.

I have been in Russia for more than ten times and I had a chance to visit several cities in this country. There are many products that can be exported to Russia. Economically, Turkish Foreign Policy should take Russia seriously. It must be kept in mind that negative relations with Russia will have negative implication over Turkey’s relationship with (some of the) other ex-Soviet countries, who are under the influence of Russian Foreign Policy.

Clash of interest in minor, regional and local problems should not hinder the overall good relations approach towards Russia. Both Russia and Turkey should not risk their mutual relations.

Turkey has strong relations with Western countries and it is quite obvious and understandable that Turkey cannot follow antagonistic relations with the Western countries. Moreover, Westernization (or Westernism) has been one of the most important elements of Turkish Foreign Policy for the last 90 years. However, this reality does not necessarily have to force Turkey ignore “multidimensional foreign policy”.

Currently, there are some procedural difficulties in exportation of Turkish goods to Russia. Eliminating these obstacles will develop economic ties further and Turkish exports to Russia will boom. It can easily be claimed that in tourism, construction, textile, furniture, machinery, energy, services, and many others sectors Turkish exports to Russia is not even in the beginning stage. The economic potential that Russia is offering Turkey is beyond comprehension.

Russian Federation constitutes an important market for Turkey that has to be taken under a serious consideration.

In the last decade, Turkey has been increasing its international popularity by pursuing an active foreign policy. The shape, depth and type of policy between Turkey and Russian will not only have significant implications for regional and international balances, but also to the direction of Turkish foreign policy. In spite of the fact that Turkey and Russia have different standings on certain fields, they both tend to prevent the crisis affect other fields in mutual relationship.

It has been traditionally been said that Turkey’s direction is the “West”. Turkey’s modernization endeavors and Cold War dynamics played important role on this discourse. In today’s conditions, however, this one-dimensional approach has lost its validity. Turkey’s relative power has changed. Regional and global dynamics are not the same.

Should Turkey join the Eurasian Customs Union, founded between Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia?

Does rapprochement between Turkey and Russia necessarily mean a divergence from the West in general and USA in particular for Turkey?

What effect Turkey’s close ties with Russia will have on its relations with Europe?

What about Turkey’s relations with other Turks; both in Russia and other Turkish Republics? Cooperation or rivalry (and collision) will best serve Turkey’s cause towards improving its relations with other Turks in Asia?

With its vast mass of land, young population, big economy, rich natural resources… etc. Russian market constitutes a great opportunity for Turkey. Is there any serious reason for not improving our relations with Russia?

What should be the scope of mutual relationship?

The 2023 Vision declared by Justice and Development Party of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan requires Turkey to come up with brand new approaches in foreign policy. The instability and fluctuations in Middle East and the persisting economic crisis in Europe have explicitly demonstrated that Turkey should establish close relations with the former Soviet Union region. In the same way, cooperation with Turkey will have contributive results in Russian Federation’s economic, political and social development.

So; Turkish and Russian intellectuals, diplomats and politicians should elaborate possibilities of Turkish – Russian cooperation that will be for the benefit of these two nations and the region.

Will World War III Begin?

We do not need certain labels to define global

The globe has always been a battlefield. I think that the war has never stopped on this planet in the course of human history. Only the labels have varied: Diplomatic war, economic war, regional war, ideological war, religious war, Cold War, World War…etc.

Whether American strike in Syria will drag more states into direct conflict or not? Let’s hope and pray that it will not happen. There are no winners in war.

Turkish – Russian Cooperation

Cooperation between Turkey and Russia - Turkish Russian Relations .jpg
Cooperation between Turkey and Russia - Turkish Russian Relations

 

Relations between Turkey and Russia should not be evaluated under the light of short term, daily and conjunctural events.

The export based Turkish economy is in need of diverse and multiple markets. In this case, Russian Federation and other former republics of the Soviet Union (who are under Russian influence) are among the prominent markets for Turkish manufacturers and exporters.

The population of Russian Federation is nearly equal to half of the population in Arab countries. The sum of the GDP in all Arab countries hardly reaches that of Russian Federation alone.

I have been in Russia for more than ten times and I had a chance to visit several cities in this country. There are many products that can be exported to Russia. Economically, Turkish Foreign Policy should take Russia seriously. It must be kept in mind that negative relations with Russia will have negative implication over Turkey’s relationship with (some of the) other ex-Soviet countries, who are under the influence of Russian Foreign Policy.

Clash of interest in minor, regional and local problems should not hinder the overall good relations approach towards Russia. Both Russia and Turkey should not risk their mutual relations.

Turkey has strong relations with Western countries and it is quite obvious and understandable that Turkey cannot follow antagonistic relations with the Western countries. Moreover, Westernization (or Westernism) has been one of the most important elements of Turkish Foreign Policy for the last 90 years. However, this reality does not necessarily have to force Turkey ignore “multidimensional foreign policy”.

Currently, there are some procedural difficulties in exportation of Turkish goods to Russia. Eliminating these obstacles will develop economic ties further and Turkish exports to Russia will boom. It can easily be claimed that in tourism, construction, textile, furniture, machinery, energy, services, and many others sectors Turkish exports to Russia is not even in the beginning stage. The economic potential that Russia is offering Turkey is beyond comprehension.

Russian Federation constitutes an important market for Turkey that has to be taken under a serious consideration.

In the last decade, Turkey has been increasing its international popularity by pursuing an active foreign policy. The shape, depth and type of policy between Turkey and Russian will not only have significant implications for regional and international balances, but also to the direction of Turkish foreign policy. In spite of the fact that Turkey and Russia have different standings on certain fields, they both tend to prevent the crisis affect other fields in mutual relationship.

It has been traditionally been said that Turkey’s direction is the “West”. Turkey’s modernization endeavors and Cold War dynamics played important role on this discourse. In today’s conditions, however, this one-dimensional approach has lost its validity. Turkey’s relative power has changed. Regional and global dynamics are not the same.

Should Turkey join the Eurasian Customs Union, founded between Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia?

Does rapprochement between Turkey and Russia necessarily mean a divergence from the West in general and USA in particular for Turkey?

What effect Turkey’s close ties with Russia will have on its relations with Europe?

What about Turkey’s relations with other Turks; both in Russia and other Turkish Republics? Cooperation or rivalry (and collision) will best serve Turkey’s cause towards improving its relations with other Turks in Asia?

With its vast mass of land, young population, big economy, rich natural resources… etc. Russian market constitutes a great opportunity for Turkey. Is there any serious reason for not improving our relations with Russia?

What should be the scope of mutual relationship?

The 2023 Vision declared by Justice and Development Party of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan requires Turkey to come up with brand new approaches in foreign policy. The instability and fluctuations in Middle East and the persisting economic crisis in Europe have explicitly demonstrated that Turkey should establish close relations with the former Soviet Union region. In the same way, cooperation with Turkey will have contributive results in Russian Federation’s economic, political and social development.

So; Turkish and Russian intellectuals, diplomats and politicians should elaborate possibilities of Turkish – Russian cooperation that will be for the benefit of these two nations and the region.

 

 

Democracy: Presidential or Parliamentary?

Turkey Tribune Turkish Political System
Turkey Tribune Turkish Political System

 

What we should do for living together in a peaceful way?

Democracy is not the apparatus for the rule of one group over another. It is a mechanism which is necessary for keeping the balance between all social groups. In democracies the system of government must be established under the rule of law. That Law which must be outlined in a way that does not prefer one group over the other.

Democracies rest upon fundamental principles, not uniform practices.

Presidential; semi-presidential or parliamentary; whatever the type of the democratic governmental system there are certain undisputable principles of democracy that must be defended regardless of the type of governmental system. Namely the balance of power; rule of law; freedom of speech; free press; government by the majority (coupled with individual and minority rights); free and fair elections; protection of basic human rights… etc.

As long as these values are firmly established, the type of the governmental system does not make much difference.

The most crucial parameter is the rule of law, which defines, establishes and protects the political and governmental system. The law should be codified in a way that establishes neutrality of the political system: Governments must be subject to the rule of law; all citizens must be ensured that they receive equal protection under the law and that their rights are protected by the legal system.

Constitution and all other arrangements have always been defined by those who hold the power. This has been done in a way that consolidates the position of the ruling group and guarantees the permanent control of the ruling group over the political system.

In such an undemocratic apparatus “the path to the power” becomes an impasse for those who are outside the system. If a group cannot find democratic and legitimate ways for reaching the power, they will have to look for alternative ways.

Democratic system is necessary for everybody. Whoever gets the power in hand, acts just to save the day. Bloodshed and turmoil will never stop unless we keep the law and governmental system above all political and ideological considerations.

Each and every individual living across Middle East must start a struggle for democracy, rule of law, equality of all citizens before the law and most importantly respect for the dignity of all individuals.

 

Struggle Against Dictatorship

Struggle Against Dictatorship -Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM
Struggle Against Dictatorship -Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM

 

Dictatorship does not always require a dictator. It is a spirit. It might be embodied in an individual or a group of (privileged) people. There are so many countries in the world ruled by dictators who are not even alive.

Dictatorship is a jealous and patronizing “mindset” which has no tolerance. It is jealous of power that enables control over the “others”. This mindset is conservative as long as all of the resources are under his patronage. This mindset will never accept any change in status quo. It becomes extremely retrogressive once the privileges providing sense of superiority starts fading away.

Democracy, rule of law and citizenship based on equality are all regarded as nothing but a myth by this mindset.

Change is inevitable in contemporary world of globalized communication: Democracy, transparency and rule of law have to be institutionalized. Will of the people has to be gradually consolidated in the political system. All sorts of guardianship must be ousted from the public life. If such steps will be taken in any given society, there will be enormous change and advancement in social, economic and political life.

Change has always faced resistance.

People who are trying to conserve the present or implicitly longing for the past are those who have had privileged position in social, economic and political life. Equality will annoy them. They are alien to justice and development. They will retrogressively dream for the old order.

This is what is happening today, in most of the countries.

Supporters of dictatorship always strive to stride into the past. Restoring the old order where a small group will have a superior status in the country. Ironically, all such claims are pronounced within the democratic formalism. Tragically, the would-be democratic standard bearers applaud this drama.

Is there anyone in the world who is not aware of the fact that this mindset controlled (military) power, economy, politics and all natural resources for a long term? That the majority was deprived of all rights and no democracy was bestowed upon them.

Today, democracy is ignored, just because there is a risk of power moving from the privileged to the people. Will of the majority is neglected, because they do not share ideology of a certain “mindset”.

It seems that struggle for democracy in the world will not be over until the moment when there will be no mindset controlling the political system at the expense of “others”, who do not belong to this mindset.

Such mindset spread such fear: What if the democracy brings about a result that you don’t like? Or what if the free will of the people turns into an ostensibly nondemocratic end?

The administrative, government and ruling apparatus of the state must be immune from any specific ideology or mindset. Any group or any party coming into the power should be running the apparatus in the name of all. Democratic institutions should not be vulnerable or open to the occupation of any certain ideology (mindset) shared by a small group.

Is “democracy” an instrument in the hands of some global actors who use it as an excuse for interfering into the internal affairs of nations across the globe? Is there a “global will” that has to be consulted (that we need the get the consent) in order to have a role in the fate of our own people? Are we to admit that there are rules that are not possible to be changed? Do we have to adapt ourselves to some invisible conditions and rules of a global game?

Is not devotion to the (liberal) democratic values enough for having a say on the political fate of our people?

It is our primary duty to work for consolidation of democratic institutions that have necessary mechanisms for self-protection. Democratic system must be above all parties, sects, ideologies and groups.

 

 

A Piece of Advice to Opposition in Turkey

A Piece of Advice to Opposition in Turkey - Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM
A Piece of Advice to Opposition in Turkey - Ahmed Necip YILDIRIM

What is the reason behind the developments in Turkey’s relative power, capabilities and strength during Erdoğan leadership? What are those internal dynamics and external factors that have contributed in formation of Turkey’s relative weight in international system? What steps Erdoğan and his friends have taken, in such a short period of time, which has build a strong image for Turkey in international community?

The nature has bestowed a lot of opportunities to Turkey: Turkey is located in a strategic place which has geographical proximity with Middle East, Balkans, Caucasus, Europe, Asia, Africa and all Eastern Mediterranean states. This region is also rich of important natural resources which enhance Turkey’s importance as a passage for the energy routes.

Turkey possesses a cultural advantage in the region. Turkey has strong cultural ties and speaks the same language with around 300 million Turks. And we share a common history with the countries in the Balkans, Caucasus and Middle East. Most of these countries have peacefully coexisted with Turks for centuries in the Ottoman time. One must also mention ‘state tradition’: As a state, Turkey is founded over an ancient legacy of knowledge and the experience in statehood. Turkish military power is one of the strongest armies in the region.

In spite of all its deficiencies, Turkey is the best example with a functioning democracy among all other Islamic countries. It has a vast agricultural land and relatively rich human resources. Turkey is a  NATO member since 1952, strategic partner of USA, trying to become an EU member and in friendly relations with other countries.

There have also been internal and external problems, of course.

In my opinion, all of the former governments were equal in the conditions mentioned above. So what is it that makes Erdoğan and his team different? The above mentioned facts have nothing to do with Erdoğan or his party!

Unlike its predecessors, the political movement under Erdoğan leadership has truly taken away the obstacles on the path to development of the country. They have trusted the people they have given them opportunity to flourish. They have brought to the scene that self-confidence that has been frozen for more than two centuries. People have, in their term, continuously rewarded “the sincerity to serve the country and the strong will to do everything necessary in that direction” in every election and referendum.

Turkey does not have a problem in resources at all. Turkey had a problem in comprehending and evaluating the already existing resources. Ak Parti movement has uncovered this already present potential. That is it!

What is the result?

Turkey has consolidated its position as a strong regional power and an active global actor. Turkey has mobilized all its resources in order to increase its power; i.e. its state tradition, natural resources, its military power, human resources, geostrategic location, developing economy. The only thing Turkey needs for going even further is the continuation of the determined political will and stability witnessed in the last years under Erdoğan leadership.

The opposition movements (namely CHP), on the contrary, defend the “people in spite of the people” approach. They do not try to comprehend the already existing potential embedded in the cultural codes of the majority, but they think they know better than the people.

I believe that political movements that will understand, comprehend, internalize and translate the already existing cultural sensitivities and political aspirations of majority in Turkey will be successful in Turkey.

What are these cultural sensitivities and political aspirations? There are three main elements: Sunni-Islam, Patriotism and Liberal Democratic Values. First two elements are understandable phenomena. I would like to make one clarification on the third one: The so-called secular perception regarding Sunni-Muslim majority has been deeply mistaken. They have been thinking that Sunni-Muslims are anti-democratic, retrogressive sentiments who long for the comeback of the Sultan and Sharia. They have been regarded as threat towards the Republic of Atatürk and liberal democratic values.

This underestimation of the opposition – regarding Sunni-Muslim majority in Turkey – has misled all political movements opposing Erdoğan movement. This is the fundamental reason why they have been defeated in all elections.

Today, Sunni-Muslim majority in turkey have become the standard bearers of the social and political change; whereas the so-called secular circles represent the stalemate and retrogressive social and political standing. These so-called secular circles have got stuck into the past, living in a imaginative framework where they regard themselves as sole representatives of progress, defenders of democracy and “Western” values.

The time, however, has changed dramatically: In spite of all obstacles, the conservative majority have transformed and modernized in an astonishing way that they have already moved far beyond traditional privileged few; that is so-called secular circles. They became rich, they are globalized, they have their own intelligentsia, they have their own media, and they share the power in all aspects of the social and political life.

Consequently, any political movement that will not realistically approach the social reality in Turkey and that will not develop political doctrine that will encompass, embrace, understand and evaluate the social-psychological dynamics of the conservative majority, cannot simply be successful.

Rejection, denial and simply ignoring of conservative majority, based on superiority complex, is no more a solution. Sincerely adherence to democratic values, comprehensive political approach taking under the consideration sensitivities of the conservative majority is the key for the success of any political movement in Turkey.

 

 

 

New Global Balance of Power

New Global Balance of Power
New Global Balance of Power

 

Global balance of power is subject to dramatic change.

After the collapse of Soviet Union, Francis Fukuyama announced “the End of History”. Western liberal democracies had won the Cold War. Democracies wouldn’t go to war with one another. The main clash, as Samuel P. Huntington had claimed, was supposed take place between civilizations; i.e. between democratic West and non-democratic (mostly Islamic) nations.

Globalization era had begun. Joseph Nye of Harvard had alleged that preferences of states could be shaped not only by hard military power but also by culture, democratic political values, persuasion, economic instruments and other soft foreign policy means.

Integration in European Union was deepening and expanding.

All the wold was supposed to be happy under unilateral American hegemony. Bipolar stability of Cold War period was replaced by uni-polar hegemonic stability under American leadership.

Why this dream did not work?

The fundamental reason is the division in Western World. If all Western countries were united around one single ideal and if they were sharing same interests; things would be different in international relations today. Conflicts in Middle East, Brexit, Crisis in Europe, War in Ukraine… and all other major international problems arise from this basic fact.

The biggest war, conflict, rivalry, competition, struggle… in the world today, is not between Russia and America or China and America. The biggest conflict is between continental Europe and America. British have explicitly chosen their side by Brexit. Germany and France are standard-bearers of continental Europe.

EU will be much stronger after Brexit. EU will become even stronger with Ukraine’s potential membership. Germany and France will never take Turkey as a full member in EU, unless Turkey reconsiders strategic partnership with America.

We cannot say that there are clear-cut lines like in Cold War days. When you look from this perspective, however, you can list hundreds of major and minor points of conflict between these powers.

China or Russia are not real opponents of American global hegemony. Unlike Germany and France, Russia and China lack the necessary social and political background for such a rivalry.

There will be, of course, problems between the West and the rest of the world. Yet this does not nullify the deep division inside the West.

I believe the new global balance of power will be shaped according to the groupings around America-Britain and Germany-France.

 

 

Turkey: Healthy man of Europe!

Turkey: Healthy man of Europe!
Turkey: Healthy man of Europe!

 

Turks are obviously sick and tired of Europeans looking into Turkey as the “Sick man of Europe”!

In its last two centuries of Ottoman Empire, was the sick man for Europe: The land that was supposed to be divided between superpowers. Turkey is continuation of everything we call Ottoman legacy. Naturally, the “sick man” perception in European eyes was also shifted from Ottoman into modern Turkey.

This perception must change! Mutual relations must be based on a “relationship between equals”.

In history, certain Europeans regarded themselves as superior to others. Automatically, they perceived other nations inferior or secondary.

This perception must change! Mutual relations must be based on a “relationship between equals”.

There are no superiors or inferiors. There has never been.

I do not want to mention Turkish the developments in Turkish economy, democracy or human rights spheres. The strategic importance or the dynamic young generation and so many other things are of my interest here. I do believe that if Europeans look into Turkey with an unprejudiced, unbiased, impartial, objective and neutral perspective, they will surely comprehend that Turkey is very far from being the old “sick man” of Europe.

Dear European friends, please kindly be reminded how fiercely you suffered under ideologies that told you “You are superior to others”.

It is certainly not Turkey who will lose if Europe continues to perceive Turkey as the “Sick Man”! History is the graveyard of groups, States, Empires and people who could not see the change happening beyond the end of their noses.

I think it is the time that we use our commonsense. Sincerely think about the past and honestly embrace the future.

 

 

Turkey and Europe: We need one another!

Turkey and Europe: Mutually Interdependent!
Turkey and Europe: Mutually Interdependent!

In international relations, every state is pursuing its own national interest. We should not be surprise to see political leaders trying to maximize interests of their citizens. The question is how they do it: In a conflictual and antagonistic way or in friendly and cooperative way?

European Union was founded on the destructive lessons derived from the conflictual, antagonistic, realist methods (realpolitik). Europeans had realized that human rights had to be respected, democratic administration had to be consolidated and that national interests had be maximized via a win-win approach.

EU lacks visionary leadership. EU as a whole is desperately in need of farsighted, foresighted and forward-looking leaders.

Domestic political conjuncture (increasing votes and supports) is pushing leaders to move pragmatically and prefer a rather nationalistic discourse. When we look at the long term picture we see that radicalization and extremism in discourse of any political standing has not been serving the interests of any nation in modern history.

Turkey might have solid reasons to criticize European countries for not sincerely approaching towards Turkey. Similarly, Europeans might be disturbed by the discourse of Turkish politicians. However, all sides must realize that taking European continent into pre-WW II conditions will not benefit anyone.

Turkey does not have the luxury of risking its relations with Europe. All Turkey needs is good relations with all major international actors: USA, Europe, Russia, China and others. Moreover, Europe is the biggest trade partner of Turkey. Similarly, it is Europeans do not have the luxury to make an enemy out of Turkey.

Turkey and EU are mutually interdependent.

Is Germany supporting President Erdoğan?

Germany permitted PKK march in Frankfurt, barred Turkish rallies in Germany and denied FETÖ involvement in Turkey coup attempt. Will these steps help “Yes” camp in Turkish referendum or “No” camp?

It is as clear as a sunny day that all these German actions will provoke nationalistic feelings in Turkey and increase support for “Yes” camp.

PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and even European Union, to which Germany is a founding member. Turkish nationalist party, MHP, is also supporting the referendum for constitutional change. It is not only unacceptable for Turks, it is also against commonsense, reason and logic.

There are two possibilities: Germans are unaware of the consequences of the policies that they are following (which is not the case) or they are deliberately supporting Justice and Development Party agenda. Germany cannot be against “Yes” camp in general and against President Erdoğan in particular.

German authorities were very well aware that blocking planned rallies by Turkish government ministers or politicians  from addressing Turkish voters, allowing nearly 10,000 PKK supporters march in the heart of their country and understating FETÖ factor behind coup attempt in Turkey would increase “Yes” votes for referendum.

So why Germany is following these policies? Is there a secret agreement between AK Party government (President Erdoğan) and Germany? Or they are truly not capable of calculating consequences of their policy?

On the one hand, you would not let elected Turkish politicians even talk and on the other hand, you will let a terrorist group shout slogans insulting the Turkish state. Which logic can expect a decrease in “Yes” votes.

There is another option that comes to my mind: President Erdoğan once had said that the time had come for him to exhibit his master-hood in politics. Maybe he truly became a political master full of wisdom who can use “apprentice” politicians to his own ends. Because every move step Germany takes is doing nothing but consolidating President Erdoğan’s stand.

In the simplest meaning of the word, it would be extremely naive to think that PKK meeting would help some Turks make up their minds and vote for “No” in the referendum. Similarly, it would be ignorance to expect that the “Yes” camp would not use it as a strong nationalistic instrument for convincing voters.

There are some groups in Turkey who are are not comfortable under the conservative Party of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and share the following concerns: Where is the country leading under this government? Are we moving away from EU and Western democratic values? Is the referendum making us more undemocratic… etc. When it comes to patriotism and when the homeland is the case; most of the Turks unite in solidarity. Those who are not sure which camp to vote in referendum will certainly prefer patriotic stand. I believe Germans made a mistake if they bet on this option.

From a completely different approach, for Germany, maybe Europe (or EU) is a big and delicious pie and does not want to share it with Turkey. Or they want to establish a strong EU with a strong European identity around religious values and they want to see Turkey as the relevant other of European identity. So they deliberately want to push Turkey away from EU and everything related to EU.

What ever the reason, their current political stand certainly serves President Erdoğan’s interests.

Check two statements by Turkish officials and see how the German policies have served government discourse:

Written statement by Turkish presidential spokesman: “it is not possible to explain for German authorities to claim that Turkey’s elected representatives’ meeting with their citizens is dangerous, but treating terrorists as legitimate actors. It is clearly supporting terrorism. Those, who try to explain this hostile attitude with freedom of expression and assembly, should act seriously.”

Statement released by Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Allowing terrorist group to shout slogans about the upcoming referendum in our country while preventing Turkish deputies from meeting Turkish community in Germany is a grave example of double standards”.

 

Salutaions to all Europeans: Turks are not ‘detached from reality’!

Turkey and Europe: Mutually interdependent!
Turkey and Europe: Mutually interdependent!

What is the logical reason to keep Turkey amused with EU membership perspective for around 60 years!

Propaganda and image building of EU and its member countries does not work in contemporary world.

You need to be sincere with Turkey: Are you honestly supporting human rights and democratic values; or you will keep supporting terrorists and anti-democratic sentiments all around the world.

It is not secret that your welfare is based on colonialist exploitation!

There is a saying in Indian language: “Pani mei rehna hei to magarmach sei dosti karlo”! If you would like to continue living in the water, you have to make friendship with the crocodile. Turkey is the crocodile, in this context. Turkey has the potential to represent all suppressed and deceived individuals, groups, nations and countries.

Let me her quote another Indian saying: “Shishe ki gar me rehne wale, dusro ke ghar mei pattar nahi peg lia karti”. Those who live in a home made of glass, should not throw stone into others’ homes!

Europe should not throw stone into others homes.

Turkey is your friend! Open your eyes.

Was not first and second World Wars a lesson for you!

Do you want to see another Hitler in Europe! Come to your senses.

You might criticize Mr. President Erdoğan for some allegedly anti-democratic practices. However, you must read Turkish example.Who has been ruling Turkey for more than 60 years?

Do you know who is the dictator in Turkey? I wish I could tell you! I hereby kindly invite Europeans to come and search for the real Turkish Stalin. I am sure 100% that they will certainly find one. However, that will not be Mr. Erdoğan. I am sure about that.

European enlightenment, John Locke, Social Contract of John Jacque Rousseau, Tocqueville… and all other European political philosophers have paved the way towards modern democracy. Yet it is very sad to see Europeans leaving democratic values aside and prefer extremist ideas that gave Europe nothing more than destruction.

Just as Mr. Hollande expressed: We all need EU, EU needs Turkey and Turkey needs Europe!

We would like to trust Europeans and Europeans must trust Turkey, Mr. Erdoğan and Turkish common sense.

Salutation to all Europeans who support human rights, who are against all types of extremism and who are supporting democratic principles in all circumstances!

 

 

 

Netherlands and Turkish Hatred in Europe

What price Netherlands will pay for “shameless behavior”?

Natherlands deported Turkey’s Family and Social Policies Minister who is a woman. Also barred the flight of the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs and declared him persona non grata.

It is against all international diplomatic norms for ministers of a friendly country to be refused permission to visit their own consular offices.

Netherlands, is supposedly a friend of Turkey and a country that is not only a NATO ally but also on good diplomatic terms with Turkey. Would the country have done the same, refusing the ministers of any other European countries or the US from entering the country?

The Dutch police were using water cannons and killer dogs against Turkish protesters. Protesters were hit by batons. What have you, to quell the protest, in violation of human rights? Where is the UN?” Moreover, the show of support by the Turks outside their own consular office was in response to the highly unintelligent actions of the Mayor of Rotterdam.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that the Netherlands will “pay the price” for its “shameless” treatment of Turkey’s ministers, which was in all means against the international diplomatic norms.

Europeans become increasingly hostile towards Turkey, after the failed Western engineered coup to topple the not-so obedient Erdogan regime. The due referendum in Turkey will certainly make the Turkish nation more independent and more non-obedient. This is the basic reason why Westerners, particularly Europeans are anxious.

Referring to the Netherlands’ mid-March election, “Hey Netherlands! If you are sacrificing Turkish-Dutch relations for the sake of the elections on Wednesday, you will pay a price,” Turkish President Erdoğan said in a heavily-worded speech on Sunday, at an event in Kocaeli, near Istanbul.

Will Europeans one day comprehend the different types and even much more different levels of democracies practiced by different countries? When criticizing democracy in Turkey, how do Europeans think Turks choose their leaders? They either lack the intelligence to understand, or they are stereotyped, or brainwashed so thoroughly by the “Western” propaganda or maybe simply full of hatred and xenophobia.

There are approximately 5.5 million Turks living outside the Turkey, with around 1.4 million voters only in Germany. It is natural that “the Yes” and “the No” campaigns for referendum are keen to get them on side. Both sides planned a number of rallies in countries with large numbers of eligible voters, especially Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

Netherland’s decisions, citing public order and security concerns, infuriated Ankara and prompted the Turkish government to summon the Dutch charge d’affaires to Foreign Ministry in protest.

Normally, Turks and Muslims all over Europe are “peaceful and law-abiding”. All they demand is respect for the “human rights” and “democratic rights”

Decisions taken by Netherlands and other Europeans have increased concerns that it might provoke or stimulate consequences like endless terrorist attacks in European capitals. It is believed that the Europeans have made a huge mistake to destroy many countries in the Middle East, hence causing a flood of desperate refugees to spill over into Europe.

In the meantime, Dutch Embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul, along with their residences, are closed off late Saturday due to “security reasons”.

The Turkish minister was to take part in a rally aimed at gathering support for a constitutional referendum in Turkey due on April 16. So why it should be regarded as awkward if Turkish minister insisted to hold a rally in the country and address people who are supposed to use vote in elections. Turkish minister wanted to address the Turkish there to garner their votes in referendum that will allow Turkey switch from stale parliamentary system into a presidential system.

EU leaders have been criticizing Turkey, amid a growing row over the Turkish politicians to hold rallies in European countries; while the same criticism has not been projected towards Netherlands, Austria or Germany. Lets ask it sincerely: Our main concern is democratic norms or xenophobia?

It is obvious that recently nationalist, extremist and xenophobic far-right political discourse is very popular across Europe. Relatively, European politicians do not hesitate to grab the opportunity and to manipulate this tendency.

This is why one of the reasons why President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany and the Netherlands of “Nazism” after officials of these countries blocked rallies there, ignoring all norms of international relations.

Neglecting Dutch decisions to block democratic rights of politicians and citizens, the media across Europe preferred to cry “democratic principles are under great pressure” in Turkey. After all, the democratic rallies aimed to encourage a large number of Turks living in Europe to vote in the referendum that would change political system in Turkey. Isn’t voting a democratic right? Can we talk of democracy without meeting, voting and rallying?

Why would France had gone ahead to allow rallies in France if it was a threat to security or it had an undemocratic basis?

President Erdogan likened the Netherlands to “a banana republic”, demanded international organisations impose sanctions on the Netherlands, and accused countries in the West of “Islamophobia”. He also made it clear that “I have said that I had thought that Nazism was over, but I was wrong. Nazism is alive in the West,” he added.

Meanwhile, German, Dutch and some other politicians appeared to harden their rhetoric against Turkey.

What is the row about?

Why are Europeans are trying to prevent the rallies of Turkish politicians? Many of the countries have cited security concerns as the official reason.

Why Referendum in Turkey is a life-or-death issue?

In order to answer this question one needs to know the history of modern Turkey and the last two centuries of Ottoman Empire.

Turkey has been booming under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from every aspect. The country wants to get rid of the stale old system. The country was frozen for over sixty years. A cult of “the establishment” was ruling the country for decades.

Leaders like Menderes, Özal and Erbakan were small deviations from the strict path the formulated by the establishment. Justice and Development Party founded by Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been the strongest anti-establishment movement in Turkey.

Turkey’s vision under Erdogan leadership is simple and clear:

Turkey wants to be independent!

Turkey wants to be democratic!

Turkey wants true justice in distribution of resources!

Turkey will no longer be under the control of a certain circle, well-connected to some international centers.

Turkey wants to be a superpower!

Turkey clearly claims the Ottoman legacy!

Turkey wants to decide the fate of its nation on its own!

Turkey wants to establish multidimensional relationship with different international powers.

No country, not source, no group, no organization… can dictate any policy to Turkey!
Turkey wants to end the terrorism on its lands!

Turkey will be ruled by the real owners of the country. Do you know who are they? They are those who have the same spirit as Sultan Sanjar, Sultan Alp Arslan, Osman Gazi, Fatih Sultan Mehmed; i.e. the Conquerors!

Those who do not share that spirit and those who hate to see Turkey rising are all aligned in one anti-Erdogan camp.

President Erdogan’s opponents claim that the constitutional change will bring about authoritarianism, entrenching dictatorship with unfettered powers. The biggest lie is that with this constitutional change, Erdogan is ostensibly trying to become a dictator. I am very doubtful if these guys have ever read any serious book on “Constitutional Law”. The majority of the people who negatively talk on the constitutional change do not even have a smattering knowledge what these changes are truly bringing about. When it comes to local values and future of the country anyone with an average commonsense would support such a change. For example, the nationalist party (MHP) has stood up to support the constitutional change.

So, the real struggle and conflict is not about the content or the formality of the change in constitution; it is more about the conflict between spirits. On the one hand, there are those who represent the Local, National, Conservative, Ottoman, adhering to traditional values. These are the people who want to see a new and strong Turkey which is holding the core values of Ottoman Empire. On the other hand, there are those who are against this world-view. The first group follow Erdogan and will say “Yes” to this referendum, while the second (anti-Erdogan) group will say “No”. This is the reason why opponents of the bill have fought it every step of the way to the referendum.
President Erdogan is blamed to be divisive. I believe he should be called “awaker”; the person who invoked Ottoman spirit. Self-confidence, decisiveness, determination, unity, solidarity has never been so widespread in the country.

No one is to blame the already alienated marginal groups. Even in Ottoman times, when the army was going for the war, there were small groups stabbing the country from the back. So there is nothing to be surprised about.

The existing constitution of Turkey was drawn up under the surveillance of military after the coup of 1980. Can you imagine: A democratic country living under a constitution that was drawn up under the shadow of a military coup.

The existing political system in Turkey is never suitable for a global power. The draft constitutional change would turn Turkey from a parliamentary system to a presidential republic. The new system is more akin to the United States.

The biggest political disaster in the history of modern Turkey has been the existing parliamentary system resulting in unwieldy coalitions that have hamstrung Turkey in the past and holding back Turkey’s progress.

The new draft constitution, that is to be put to a referendum scheduled for 16 April, will establish a presidential system. Similar to United States of America, the new constitution will significantly increase the powers of Turkish Presidency. The presidential system will consolidate a proper checks and balances system, like the United States.

The president will no longer be chosen by the parliament but directly by the people. The constitutional change will streamline decision-making as the presidents will not have to contend with another elected leader, the prime minister.

Progress and development in Turkey under Erdogan leadership has been simply astonishing. This constitutional change will pave the way for a long standing stride towards becoming a global actor.

One criticism on Dutch move against Turkey: “Since when the Europeans – Dutch colonialists/pirates in particular – have a sense of human morality? Anyone that has half a chance to travel around Asia would be loath to miss numerous Dutch colonialist statues, memorial halls even, mansions built for the Dutch “masters” who rampaged around Asia to ‘civilize’ the Asian ‘barbarians’. Perhaps, Indonesians should tell us how the Dutch were trying in vain to “re-liberate” Indonesia after WWII? Or Chinese should tell us how the Dutch were trying to enforce the “free trade rules” – read opium trafficking – in Tainan, Taiwan in order to smuggle opium into mainland China? Time has changes, hasn’t it? Perhaps the cunning Turks are trying to teach the Dutch how to practice the Western-styled democracy in the world-renowned gigantic brothel called Netherlands? If so, why did the Dutch police prevent them to exercise their noble rights?”

Turkish Referendum: Life-or-death issue!

Turkish Referendum and Foreign Policy
Turkish Referendum and Foreign Policy

Why Referendum in Turkey is a life-or-death matter?

In order to answer this question one needs to know the history of modern Turkey and the last two centuries of Ottoman Empire.

Turkey has been booming under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from every aspect. The country wants to get rid of the stale old system. The country was frozen for over sixty years. A cult of “the establishment” was ruling the country for decades.

Leaders like Menderes, Özal and Erbakan were small deviations from the strict path the formulated by the establishment. Justice and Development Party founded by Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been the strongest anti-establishment movement in Turkey.

Turkey’s vision under Erdogan leadership is simple and clear:

Turkey wants to be independent!

Turkey wants to be democratic!

Turkey wants true justice in distribution of resources!

Turkey will no longer be under the control of a certain circle, well-connected to some international centres.

Turkey wants to be a superpower!

Turkey clearly claims the Ottoman legacy!

Turkey wants to decide the fate of its nation on its own!

Turkey wants to establish multidimensional relationship with different international powers.

No country, not source, no group, no organization… can dictate any policy to Turkey!

Turkey wants to end the terrorism on its lands!

Turkey will be ruled by the real owners of the country. Do you know who are they? They are those who have the same spirit as Sultan Sanjar, Sultan Alp Arslan, Osman Gazi, Fatih Sultan Mehmed; i.e. the Conquerors!

Those who do not share that spirit and those who hate to see Turkey rising are all aligned in one anti-Erdogan camp.

President Erdogan’s opponents claim that the constitutional change will bring about authoritarianism, entrenching dictatorship with unfettered powers. The biggest lie is that with this constitutional change, Erdogan is ostensibly trying to become a dictator. I am very doubtful if these guys have ever read any serious book on “Constitutional Law”. The majority of the people who negatively talk on the constitutional change do not even have a smattering knowledge what these changes are truly bringing about. When it comes to local values and future of the country anyone with an average commonsense would support such a change. For example, the nationalist party (MHP) has stood up to support the constitutional change.

So, the real struggle and conflict is not about the content or the formality of the change in constitution; it is more about the conflict between spirits. On the one hand, there are those who represent the Local, National, Conservative, Ottoman, adhering to traditional values. These are the people who want to see a new and strong Turkey which is holding the core values of Ottoman Empire. On the other hand, there are those who are against this world-view. The first group follow Erdogan and will say “Yes” to this referendum, while the second (anti-Erdogan) group will say “No”. This is the reason why opponents of the bill have fought it every step of the way to the referendum.

President Erdogan is blamed to be divisive. I believe he should be called “awaker”; the person who invoked Ottoman spirit. Self-confidence, decisiveness, determination, unity, solidarity has never been so widespread in the country.

No one is to blame the already alienated marginal groups. Even in Ottoman times, when the army was going for the war, there were small groups stabbing the country from the back. So there is nothing to be surprised about.

The existing constitution of Turkey was drawn up under the surveillance of military after the coup of 1980. Can you imagine: A democratic country living under a constitution that was drawn up under the shadow of a military coup.

The existing political system in Turkey is never suitable for a global power. The draft constitutional change would turn Turkey from a parliamentary system to a presidential republic. The new system is more akin to the United States.

The biggest political disaster in the history of modern Turkey has been the existing parliamentary system resulting in unwieldy coalitions that have hamstrung Turkey in the past and holding back Turkey’s progress.

The new draft constitution, that is to be put to a referendum scheduled for 16 April, will establish a presidential system. Similar to United States of America, the new constitution will significantly increase the powers of Turkish Presidency. The presidential system will consolidate a proper checks and balances system, like the United States.

The president will no longer be chosen by the parliament but directly by the people. The constitutional change will streamline decision-making as the presidents will not have to contend with another elected leader, the prime minister.

Progress and development in Turkey under Erdogan leadership has been simply astonishing. This constitutional change will pave the way for a long standing stride towards becoming a global actor.

Will the EU Collapse?

You guys are mistaken!

UK has never been sincerely supporting the European integration process and the EU idea. Its membership was based on “If you can’t beat them, join them” approach. Moreover, in the course of history, biggest threat to UK always came from continental Europe. UK, motivated with the notion of “the empire that sun never sets” has this mentality of being unique and sui generis. So we can understand why EU is playing its own corner when it comes to common European Identity.

EU means continental Europe and EU spirit means the so-called holey “Alsace-Lorraine alliance”! Plus some other continental European nations; namely Italians, Spaniards and others. Foundation, and the future of EU had never been related or in any means is connected to UK. In the same token, it will never be hindered by Brexit.

Let alone all catastrophes in the entire European history, EU leaders and intellectuals must be fool to forget disasters of the first and the second World Wars. The most logical and the most reasonable option for European nations is to hold EU in any possible cost.

Germany is achieving things under EU umbrella that could not possibly be achieving under Hitler. Would it be more plausible to achieve “Lebensraum” outside EU umbrella. If you doubt, please check exportation of Germany, European market for German exports and how crucial this market is for Germany.

I think that any potential collapse of EU will not bring about positive consequences not only for EU nations, also for other non-EU nations and the rest of the world. System, transparency and predictability is always good for international relations.

It will too naive to think that any given nation will not be striving to maximize its national interests. Since the first blood shed in human history between the children of Adam, mankind is at war. EU is at least somehow disguising this blood shed.

This is the fundamental question: Do Europeans want to see EU countries struggle using hard power, as they did in thousand of years during the entire their history of Europe; or they prefer  to see them compete using soft power under the disguise of EU umbrella?

Article by Necip YILDIRIM

Wedding in Turkey: The Biggest Event!

 

 

In Turkish culture, just like in most of Islamic countries, the wedding is a big event. Traditionally, marriage is regarded as one of the biggest changes in one’s entire lifetime. The wedding is the ceremonial establishment of a new and supposedly a long standing social institution. It is a declaration to the social environment that two individuals have combined their lives and that they are henceforth connected with a very strong tie.

The bigness of the “wedding” as a social event is one of the most important reasons why families in Turkish society are so strong. The “wedding event” by itself does not bring as much change in the lives of two individuals as it brings change in the minds and perceptions of other people surrounding these two individuals.

Weddings are very much crowded in Turkey, sometimes with mostly with an average number of guests that reaches a thousand person. Weddings are loud and colorful in Turkey. Weddings are social announcements. Wedding is an oath which is witnessed by hundreds of people. It means that the bigger the oath, the more difficult to renounce it.

When couples silently agree to live with each other and no one knows about the decision, it will be easy to stop the relationship. However, when hundreds of people know that you have given a word, made a promise that you will share both happiness and sadness with your partner and that you will never leave him/her no matter what will be the hardship, it will not be easy for you to break your word.

In Turkey, “wedding” is a seal on an envelop that contains a lifetime commitment, determination, devotion and mostly a sacrifice.

That’s why in weddings, Turks will strive to inform and invite everyone that they know. Not close relatives or friends, but every possible person that they know.

Wedding, I believe, is the biggest a social construction event in Turkey. An institution is being constructed in the minds, imaginations, perceptions, ideas and beliefs of other people. It is this wedding that makes the marriage “socially” legitimate. In Turkey, wedding is a social declaration. Wedding is the recognition of a new social institution by other individuals of a certain society. By wedding “the family” as a social institution, comes into being and by wedding “the family” becomes socially acceptable and legitimate.

I strongly recommend you to participate a wedding ceremony in Turkey and observe one of the most interesting social construction events that is full of fun, meaning and social lessons.

 

Should the European Union Collapse?

“Will the European Union collapse?” The economic crisis in European Union has made this questions so popular. So much has been writen and discussed in this regard.

No body can say for sure the EU will collapse or not. If we change the question in “Should the EU collapse” different actors might propose different answers: UK who has always been skeptical toward EU integration might not provide a clear “negative” answer to this question. Germany who has been allegedly expanding its sphere of influence under EU ambrella, will not probably be in favour of an EU collapse. In this way each EU member will have different stances.

It is quite obvious that EU is suffering serious “economic” crisis. This crisis, I believe, is an important test for the EU system as a whole. In the same way, in general, there are other problems in EU apart from the economic cirsis.
In my opinion, EU will emerge much more stronger and united from this crisis.

First and most important, European nations have suffured severe loses from the dividedness in history and especially in the last century. Disintegration will mean a rejection of all lessons learned from the long history that has been full of blood and pain.

Secondly, EU is not only an economic system. It is a complex political, economic, social and cultural system. A crisis in one field will not and should not necessarily nullify success in other fields.

Thirdly, as an institution, EU has gained an independent entity with an independent will which is above individual members. This will is already strong enough to overcome problems directed against the very existence of the EU system.

Collapse of EU will be collapse of commonsense.

A European map that will be like a patchwork of nations states will not serve any end and will not European nations more welfare, prosperity, peace and stability. Who would like to see the old “Balance of the Powers” days in Europe. Of course this is an analysis from a European perspective. Any approach from the outside of Europe can be based on a “divide and rule” mentality.

Turkey’s “Zero Problem” Policy and Middle East

Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoglu

 

Has the “Policy of Zero Problems with Neighbours” collapsed? Is Turkey isolated in its foreign relations? Is there any direct relationship between Turkish Foreign Policy and the instability in Middle East? Has this policy derailed Turkish Foreign Policy from its traditional approach?

China is never engaged in direct antagonistic and conflictual relationship with any of its adversaries. This is primarily so because of the fact that China is rising and it desperately needs stability in its regional and global relations. The engine of Chinese stride is economic growth. Any problem endangering the economic growth will be hazardous in economic growth of China.

Turkey is rising too. The driving element in Turkey’s advancement is economic growth. Turkey must be in good relationship with its neighbours. No country can advance economically if it is engulfed by instability and turmoil. There is no doubt that “Zero Problem” policy adopted especially by Ahmet Davutoglu is an imperative option for Turkish decision makers.

Actually, this policy is not entirely new. A similar approach has traditionally been one of the strongest aspects in Turkish Foreign Policy laid down by founder of Turkey, Ataturk, who stressed “Peace at Home, Peace in the World”. So it is not possible to say that “Zero Problem” approach is a completely brand new idea put forward by Ahmet Davutoglu. We can say that this policy is an update of the old notion into the present day requirements.

Has the policy collapsed? The answer to this question is obviously “Not”. Developments in Egypt and Syria have overshadowed Turkey’s relations with the rest of the world.

This question, I believe, must be asked in another way: Who wishes the failure of “Zero Problem” policy? If this political preference contributes to Turkey’s rise as a strong regional (and global) actor, then failure of this policy will satisfy those who never wish to see a strong Turkey.

Unrest erupted in Syria in a time when Turkey was developing close relations with this country. And today, one of the main reasons why conflict in Syria does not end is the possibility of Turkey’s relative gain in Syria. If Esad is replaced with a regime that will be in close relationship with Turkey, all the balance in Middle East might change in favour of Turkey. The situation in Egypt is no more different.

It will be highly speculative to claim that some countries pushed the button in Syria and especially in Egypt to stop Turkish influence in Middle East. Yet one thing can be said confidently: the current unrest and instability in Middle East is perfectly serving those who do not wish to see Turkey as a strong power.

 

Spirit of Resistance

Hosni Mobarak is no more president of Egypt. Yet “Mobarak Spirit” has never left the country!

Dictatorship does not always require a dictator. It is a spirit. It might be embodied in an individual or a group of (privileged) people. There are so many countries in the world ruled by dictators who are not even alive.

Dictatorship is a jealous and patronizing “mindset” which has no tolerance. It is jealous of power that enables control over the “others”. This mindset is conservative as long as all of the resources are under his patronage. This mindset will never accept any change in status. It becomes extremely retrogressive once the privileges providing sense of superiority starts fading away. Democracy, rule of law, citizenship based on equality are all regarded as nothing but a myth by this mindset.

However, change is inevitable in today’s world: Democracy, transparency and rule of law have to be institutionalized. Will of the people has to be gradually consolidated in the political system. All sorts of guardianship must be ousted from the public life. If such steps will be taken in any country, there will be enormous change and advancement in social, economic and political life.

Change has always faced resistance.

People who are trying to conserve the present or implicitly claiming the past are those who have had privileged position for decades. Equality will annoy them. They are alien to justice and development. They will retrogressively dream for the old order.

This is what is happening today.

Egypt is striding to the past. Restoring the old order where a small group will have a superior status in the country. Ironically, all is happening within a democratic formalism. Tragically, the would-be democratic standard bearers applaud this drama.

Is there anyone in the world who is not aware of the fact that this mindset controlled (military) power, economy, politics and all natural resources for decades. Majority was deprived of all rights and no democracy was bestowed to them.

Today, democracy is ignored, just because there is a risk of power moving from the privileged to the people. Will of the majority is neglected, because they do not share ideology of “the mindset”.

***

It seems that struggle for democracy in Egypt (and elsewhere in the world) will not be over until the moment when there will be no mindset controlling the political system at the expense of those who do not belong to this mindset.

Rhetoric Around Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez

Death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez presented a good opportunity for the critics of USA to raise their discontent about American hegemony in global affairs.

Chaves had been portrayed as a hero who has resisted American imperialism.

So much rhetoric has been produced on how Chaves has been bravely criticizing US and how he has nationalized Venezuelan natural resources for the good of Venezuelan people. Similarly his foreign policy which developed close relationship with rivals and foes of USA was extensively praised.

Hatred towards America is pushing critics towards an unconscious sympathy towards its enemies. I would like to ask a simple question: If we dislike Obama, do we have to like Castro, Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, Kim Jong-un or Putin? Even some interpreters looked for a CIA finger in Chavez’s death. Does anti-Americanism mean a blinded love of all America’s adversaries?

I would like to ask Chavez fans: Let us say that Obama is putting “democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights…” at the centre of his rhetoric or if we say that Obama is achieving his imperialistic plans under the disguise of such rhetoric; what is your alternative worldview?

After 14 years of Chavez rule, poverty and unemployment is still popular in the country. Political system has not yet been established in a way that challenges the presidential power. Here, however, the subject is not about questioning Chavez’s achievements, but to exhibit the mistaken approach of the Chavez supporters.

How we can make this world a better place by covering mistakes by faults?

If I were European Union

European Union (EU) has been established over a two millennia of experience. After centuries full of wars, conflicts, blood, tear… European nations have been able to set aside all types of (at least explicit) antagonism and to establish a union based on cooperation.

An identity becomes meaningful only and only if there is a “we” and an “other”. In EU, without any doubt, Europeanness constitutes the “we” or “us”. The ever deepening construction of the European identity requires an internal cohesion and an external contestation vis-à-vis a relative other.

Who is the relative “other” of EU?

In the course of history, Turks have been the relative other for Europe. Turks have been the standard bearer of Islam and the words Turk and Muslim have been used interchangeably by the Europeans.

If EU neglects the identity dimension, it will become an ordinary economic organization.

Turkey’s EU membership will be a “farewell” to all philosophical and ontological principals for Europeans.

Turkey belongs to another civilization. In the Westernization process; alphabet, education, political system… and so many things have been modified in Turkey. But all of these changes are in the material world. The spirit is there: Just shining!

If I were EU; I were a European; I would do everything to keep Turkey out.

EU is a chance for Europeans. Who can deny the fact that EU is an island of peace, security and welfare for Europeans? As a EU I would not take any fatal mistake and spoil the harmony of my union.

As Turkey, we can coexist with Europeans, but we cannot simply be the same!

French in Sahara Desert

The biggest question regarding Mali Crisis is whether the crisis was a conflict by design or not?

 

Analysis and interpretations about the subject can be grouped into two main viewpoints: On the one hand, France’s act is evaluated as a continuation of colonialism and it is claimed that the Mali problem is a “crisis by design” representing Western geopolitical interests in the region. On the other hand, especially Western media prefer to elaborate the case under the subject of “Al-Qaeda related Jihadists and Islamic Extremism”.

 

None of these perspectives can fully grasp the whole picture alone. It is true that the northern parts of Mali are not under full control of the central government and that the region has a potential to become the center for some illegal organizations. In other words, northern Mali, controlled by Taureg rebels, is a potential source of instability for Mali, neighboring countries and even Europe. Smuggling and drug, human and arms trafficking is believed to be common in the region. During the chaos and uncertainty in Libya which led to the crumbling of the Gaddafi regime, some of his weapon is considered to be transferred into Mali by Toureg rebels. This makes the problem even more complex.

 

At the same time, however, one can surely say that the move by France will definitely increase the country’s influence in the region. Support of the Algerian government to French military initiative is one of the most evident examples in this occasion. France wouldn’t take a unilateral step if it did not have a geopolitical interest in the region. We should also remember that legality of the French military operation in Mali is questioned in international community.

 

Europe is struggling with an economic crisis; countries like China and Russia are becoming increasingly powerful, the European continent (in part or as whole) has not been a determinative global super power in global matters… And Africa is the future. Africa will be the battleground of super powers in this century.

 

Do you really think that French came to Mali for searching and toppling some Islamic militants in Sahara Desert?

 

 

Pakistan under Bhutto Dynasty

In Turkey we call Pakistan “brother country”. There have been friendly relations between Turkey and Pakistan since the country’s independence in 1947. Yet the close ties between Turkey and people of Pakistan have a much longer history. Also there is a good dialogue between current governments of both countries.

So far, I have visited Pakistan several times. Unlike all the academic articles and analysis I have read about Pakistan, the observation I have made on the field has always made me deeply sad and full of sorrow. Poverty and the huge gap between the poor and the rich are the most striking aspects of the social life the country.

This is the basic reason why The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has taken over “Food, Clothes and Homes” as the party slogan.

Since its foundation in 1967, the party is ruled by the members from Bhutto and Zardari family. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and her daughter Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, are the most prominent figures in the history of PPP. Benazir Bhutto husband Asif Ali Zardari is current president of Pakistan.

Corruption, favoritism, illiteracy, bad infrastructure (especially in electricity supply), terrorism and health issues some of the major problems in Pakistan. Yet the most important problem is political instability. The people in Pakistan are severely suffering from this fatal problem. “Establishment” is a term that summarizes these problems. Establishment describes a kind of underworld organization which is not formal and legal and people who take part in this set of relationships control every vital department in Pakistan. We can think of it as a network of key positions spreading and dominating almost all the departments in the country.

Democracy is cute and nice curtain which offers a safe field for such non-democratic networks to flourish.

Yesterday, I watched Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 24 year old Oxford educated chairman of PPP who is son Benazir Bhutto husband Asif Ali Zardari. It was interesting to see him on the headlines of nearly all Western media as the potential person who was going to lead next generations in Pakistan.

In his speech, he was promising “food, clothes and homes” to mostly uneducated tens of thousands of supporters of the ruling party. The year 2013 will be a crucial year for Pakistan, since the elections will be held in mid-2013. Will Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is praised as an “articulate” leader in world media, be able to get PPP reelected in the elections is question that we should wait and see.

 

Why Egypt Matters?

 

What if the democracy brings about a result that you don’t like? Or what if the free will of the people turns into a so-called nondemocratic result?

These are the most important questions behind the popular protests in Egypt today.

No one was happy with the outcome of the elections held after the fall of Mobarak regime, except people who voted for the Islamic Brotherhood. The consequence was not favourable for Coptic Christians and seculars inside the country. Especially those who were part of the former regime were deeply sad and anxious about Morsi governing the country.

Outside Egypt, it is hard to say that Israel and even US were happy to see Morsi in power. When we carefully read events happening in Palestine after the elections, we obviously notice that there is a parralellness between Morsi’s presidency and escalation of violence in Palestine. This can be interpreted as a strong reaction to or even a rejection of the “Morsi governing Egypt”.

Morsi and his supporters must admit that there are rules that they cannot change. They will adapt themselves  to the conditions and rules of the game or they will be kicked out of the game. The resistance against Morsi is not merely a pure public opinion arising from the devotion to the democratic values, but it is the reaction of “Middle East reality”.

Morsi has been too impatient. Revolution, fall of Mobarak and his coming to power… all happened in a considerably short time. Apparently he did not have enough time to analize all the dynamics shaping politics in Middle East and Egypt.

Morsi might have been seeing some similarities between his government and Justice and Development Party in Turkey. Yet, as it can be observed from the consequences today, there are deep dissimilarities between the conditions that brought Erdogan to power and those in Egypt. Erdogan was also surrounded by difficulties inside and outside the country, but it took him much longer period of time to reach the position where he is today.

I am sure that Mr Morsi is now learning so many subjecets like “Gaza factor” and “CNN factor” in the political classroom called Middle East. But will he have enough time to practice all of the lessons for securing his presidency is the biggest question still to be answered

 

Erdoğan and Leadership in Middle East

 

Can Turkey become a regional leader in the Middle East?

In order to answer this question, one has to answer another question first: Which Middle East?

There isn’t one Middle East. There are different countries with different political, cultural and historical orientations. Cultural context becomes the most defining variable when the Middle East is in case. For an instance, will Iranians ever adjust their foreign policy parallel to that of Turkey? The answer is much close to “never”. Since the very existence of the regime in Iran is based on a cultural core which defines Turkey as the “relevant other”.

So when we ask “Which Middle East”; we can surely answer that not Iran, not Israel and not Saudi Arabia. Here, I will briefly explain why these three countries are not fertile grounds for an active Turkish foreign policy.

In February 1946, George F. Kennan, then at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, sent a wide-ranging report analyzing Soviet policy. In this report, recommended “restraining and confining” of Soviet Union because he observed that the Soviets perceived themselves to be in a state of perpetual war with capitalism and that the Soviets would use controllable Marxists all over the world as their allies against the capitalists. He also noted that Soviet aggression and expansionism was aligned with historic Russian xenophobia and paranoia. This paved the way to the “containment” of Soviets in US foreign policy.

Today, Iran is following exactly the same methods as Soviets were utilizing at that time. Iran uses all the controllable Shiites against any regime and authority in the region. In this sense, it is aggressive and expansionist. Turkey’s rising influence and power will definitely mean “containment” to the expansionism of Iran, because it will be restraining and confining Iranian influence in the region. Relatively Iran is the biggest rival and adversary of Turkey in the Middle East.

Israel would be a partner of Turkey if it was not located in Middle East. The relationship between Turkey and Israel does not mean anything per se. In other words, one just has to study the relationship between Turkey and Israel in the big picture of Middle East. This is where the problem starts. Israel has bad relations with most of the Arab countries. This does not leave any chance for Turkey. Since Turkey will not be able to develop very close relationship with Arab countries, unless she will distance herself from Israel. So Turkey’s wider national interests dictates her to stand a bit far from Israel.

The political regime of Suadi Arabia is based on Wahhabism, an interpretation of Islam which is fundamentally different than the one in Turkey. Generally, Wahhabism is falsely regarded as Sunni Islam, but it is completely different in details. Similar to that of Iran, Suadi Arabia has also based its state ideology and foreign policy on expansion of a creed. It is true that Turkish Republic and Suadi Arabia never experienced an explicit antagonistic relationship, yet they did not enjoy any considerable mutual cooperation either. Taking in mind the basic ideological viewpoint of the Saudi regime, it will be quiet difficult for Saudi Arabian decision makers to see an active Turkey in Middle East.

Finally, if Turkey is to become the regional leader in the Middle East, she has to base her strategy on the countries that have a population with Sunni majority. Egypt is the most significant country in that regard. Mursi government offers tremendous opportunities for Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement. The current stance of the Turkish government towards Middle East seems to be highly appropriate.

If we read Syrian problem in the light of the above mentioned analysis, we find out the Syrian Question is the Leadership Question of Turkey in the Middle East. Syria is actually a battlefield of all the potential rivals of Turkey. As a consequence, Syrian Question has the potential of determining the regional leader in Middle East.

 

 

Struggle for Democracy

The time has come for the people living in Middle East to ask the critical question: What we should do for living together in a peaceful way?

Democracy is not the apparatus for the rule of one group over another. It is a mechanism which is necessary for keeping the balance between all social groups. In democracies the system of government must be established under the rule of law. That Law which must be outlined in a way that does not prefer one group over the other.

In Middle East the biggest problem is regarding the law, which establishes the political and governmental system. In the first place, the law has not been codified in a way that establishes neutrality of the political system.

Constitution and all other arrangements have always been defined by those who hold the power. This has been done in a way that consolidates the position of the ruling group and guarantees the permanent control of the ruling group over the political system.

In such an undemocratic apparatus “the path to the power” becomes an impasse for those who are outside the system. If a group cannot find democratic and legitimate ways for reaching the power, they will have to look for alternative ways.

Democratic system is necessary for everybody. Whoever gets the power in hand, acts just to save the day. Bloodshed and turmoil will never stop unless we keep the law and governmental system above all political and ideological considerations.

Each and every individual living across Middle East must start a struggle for democracy, rule of law, equality of all citizens before the law and most importantly respect for the dignity of all individuals.

 

Russian Influence in Central Asia

 

Immediately after 9/11attacks Russia had welcomed American existencs in its “backyard”– Central Asia. Subsequently, however, Russia launched a comprehensive effort to bring Central Asia under its control using military and economic instruments, particularly after the war in Iraq.

Russian policy towards Central Asia displays a combination of economic and business realism mixed with geopolitical pressure. In other words, Russia utilizes all possible means to make sure that Central Asia is under her control.

Russia takes every necessary measure to eliminate any potential from being ousted from the CIS area. Especially American presence in the region would be a serious risk. Therefore, especially after American policies towards the region following the 9/11 attacks Russia has adopted a set of measures that will reassure its hegemony in the region, particularly by searching the ways of curtailing American presence in the region.

Russia has always done its best to prevent American presence in the region. Since American presence will, at the end of the day, will become a permanent actor of the region, because, once it stepped in, this country will not leave the region easily. This situation is perceived as a serious challenge for the Russian interests in the region, because Russia has already placed Central Asia at the top of its foreign policy priorities by labeling it as “near abroad”. Also American economic policies in the region have caused concerns and it is thought that close relations of the US with these countries will mean an ultimate American military presence.

Russian Foreign Policy makers often argue that Central Asia has to be taken under control also for security considerations. That is, if there would be instability and turmoil along Russia’s southern borders certain threats to Russian security might mainly come from Central Asia. These threats are: terrorism and flow of weapons, drugs, refugees; the dangers of nuclear proliferation and of WMD falling in the hands of terrorists in the region and Central Asia’s oil gas could substitute Russian energy firms. But I believe this is not the main motivation behind Russian stride towards Central Asia.

Russian foreign policy under Putin sought close and active relations both with the West and with Eurasia. In order to establish its “coalition circle”, Moscow has signed various bilateral deals on military cooperation free trade etc. with countries of Central Asia. Also, Russian oil and gas companies gained active presence in the region.

Moscow has also launched a set of coordinated attempts to subordinate the local states and to monopolize access to and influence over their energy resources and defense policies. It is easy to claim that, in general, Russian policies will bring further militarization and division to Central Asia.

The most critical factor that will determine the consequence of Russia’s efforts of keeping Central Asia under its sphere of hegemonic influence depends on the deliberate choice of political elite in Central Asia.