Burak Bekdil

Turkey: New System, Old One-Man Show

| July 30, 2018

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, undoubtedly the most popular and divisive leader in modern Turkish history, has already ruled the country longer than Atatürk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey. By 2023, when his presidential term expires, Erdoğan will have ruled Turkey for 21 years compared to Atatürk’s 15. It may sound like a joke, but the Turkish president, among other duties, will now have the authority to set pharmaceuticals prices and traffic fines for motorists driving without winter tires on snowy roads.

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Post-Election Turkey: The Birth of an Islamist-Nationalist Alliance

| June 29, 2018

Four decades after they emerged as marginal parties in the 1970s, Turkey’s militant Islamists and ultranationalists won a combined 53.6% of the national vote and 57% of parliamentary seats. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said in the past that he would make foreign policy “in line with what my nation demands,” highlighting the Islamist sensitivities of his voter base. He will now add nationalist sensitivities to that foreign policy calculus. This will likely mean confrontations with nations both inside and outside Turkey’s region.

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Turkey: Election Time Again

| June 17, 2018

On June 24, Turkey will hold its sixth election in four years. The Turks will choose between augmenting what is practically one-man rule based on Islamist politics and returning to a regime based on the separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers.

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Turkey’s Tactical Bear Hug with Russia

| June 3, 2018

In theory, Turkey’s relations with Russia have never been brighter. However, behind the nice façade lie a deep ideological divide, mutual mistrust, and diverging regional interests. Eight decades after Atatürk’s “transactional” Soviet initiative, Turkey’s Islamist leaders are ironically following a similar line. For Erdoğan, Russia is not just a strong trading partner and the top supplier of Turkey’s energy. It is also the eastern ground of his political acrobatics with the Western world.

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Erdoğan vs. the Free Press

| April 27, 2018

The takeover of Turkey’s largest independent media group by an Erdoğan crony was not unexpected given the troubles and systematic state harassment suffered by the Dogan Media Company over the past decade. After the takeover, the opposition media will be limited to one large-circulation daily, a couple of small, left-wing newspapers, and a number of small digital platforms, with the third group now facing new pressure from the government.

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Turkey’s Syrian Battleground

| March 21, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been the main beneficiary of a newfound feeling of glory among Turkey’s increasingly nationalistic masses. The main loser is the YGP, which has sought to consolidate control over Kurdish areas of Syria in the hopes of forging an autonomous state. But in the Syrian war theater, alliances are fragile and complex. Russia has given Turkey a limited free hand in its engagement in northern Syria, mainly in order to deepen Turkish-US and Turkish-NATO divisions. But Russia is not Turkey’s strategic ally.

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Turkey and NATO: From Loveless to Hateful Marriage

| March 5, 2018

Erdoğan prepares to launch his campaign for presidential elections scheduled for November 2019. At a time of rising xenophobia and anti-western sentiments across Turkey, his campaign will undoubtedly target the “evil powers of the West,” adding to the isolationist Turkish psyche. Russian President Vladimir Putin could not have possibly found a better partner for his attempts to divide and weaken NATO.

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Turkey and Iran’s Skin-Deep Friendship

| February 13, 2018

Like most moments in the passionate Turkish-Persian relationship, incidents of Muslim-to-Muslim fraternity are misleading. For the mullahs in Tehran, Turkey remains too western, too treacherous, and too Sunni. For the neo-Ottomans in Ankara, Iran remains too discreetly hostile, too ambitious, too untrustworthy, and too Shiite.

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Trump’s Security Strategy: Its Messages for Turkey

| January 7, 2018

US President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled National Security Strategy paper does not specifically mention Turkey. Some Turks think this is good, as any mention would likely have been negative. But some think it is bad for Turkish interests because the absence of a mention highlights Turkey’s diminishing political clout in its region. Regardless, the strategy paper has messages for Ankara on several wavelengths.

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Why Does the Average Turk Love Erdoğan?

| December 10, 2017

A quick glance at Turkey’s facts and figures helps to explain why the Turks love their leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. There are striking parallels between the political sociology of the average Turkish voter and Erdoğan’s Islamist worldview. In a way, Erdoğan is what the average Turk sees when he looks in the mirror.

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