Burak Bekdil

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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Erdoğan’s Kurdish Gambit

| November 15, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan perceives the Kurdish belt along Turkey’s Syrian and Iraqi borders as the country’s top security threat, and has recalibrated his policies accordingly. But he has a Kurdish constituency inside Turkey and will need their votes in 2019. During the upcoming presidential campaign, Erdoğan will have to find a miracle equilibrium: how to win Kurdish votes without losing nationalist Turkish votes?

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The Turkish Love-Hate Relationship with America

| October 10, 2017

About the same proportion of Turks view the US (72%) and ISIS (73%) as a threat to their country. That’s weird. Erdoğan’s generation of Islamists were anti-American largely because of the Arab-Israeli dispute – although they feared Soviet communism more than American imperialism. Future generations of Turkish Islamists will hate America even more because they will have gone through long years of anti-American indoctrination by a beloved leader and his powerful propaganda machine.

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What’s On a Muslim Refugee’s Mind?

| September 10, 2017

Almost all the “poor” illegal migrants on the Greek islands want to go to Germany, where they have heard from friends and relatives that they will be the best paid for being refugees. The cliché “the-poor-souls-are-fleeing-war-in-their-native-country” is becoming less and less convincing by the day. True, most Syrians fled to Turkey after the start of civil war in their country. But is flight from war their motivation as they proceed onwards to Greece, Serbia, Hungary, and Austria?

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A Turkish-EU Opera Buffa

| August 17, 2017

Turkey says it wants to join the EU, but has no intention of complying with membership rules. The EU says it wants Turkey to join, but is fully aware that it does not qualify. Turkey pushes forward in the hope that the EU might someday change its rules; the EU pushes forward in the hope that Turkey might someday qualify. Neither will happen.

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Erdoğan’s Mission Impossible: Sustainable Turkish-Arab Solidarity

| July 20, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who firmly believes it is religion that should shape national friendships and enmities, has tried singlehandedly to inject love for the Arab into Turkish society. The desire to accomplish this has implications for Turkish foreign policy. Erdoğan’s grand design has crashed not only into the Arab Spring but also into Middle East realism. The Saudi-led Gulf siege of Qatar came as a complete shock: one Sunni brother had taken out the sword against another.

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Erdogan’s “Language Revolution” Epitomizes His Anti-Western and Cultural Islamism

| July 4, 2017

In deeply polarized Turkey, words are not just words. It has been part of Erdoğan’s campaign to make Turkey more Islamic and more Turkish. In his view, this entails ridding the Turkish language of “foreign” words – but foreign, to Erdoğan, does not include Arabic.

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Turkey’s Failed Grand Design for the Middle East

| June 16, 2017

The siege of Qatar is sending messages on many wavelengths, some intended for Turkey. Sadly, Erdoğan is too ideologically blind to see that Turkey is standing on the wrong corner at the wrong moment. Doha may not be the same place after the Gulf Arabs find a way out of their crisis. A less Turkey-friendly Qatar may well emerge.

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