Burak Bekdil

Putin’s Turkish Gambit

| June 9, 2019

The first-ever NATO member state to shoot down a Russian military jet has willingly fallen in line with Vladimir Putin’s “Turkish Gambit,” a strategy designed to drive a deep crack into the NATO alliance.

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Turkey and the EU: A Doomed Engagement

| April 28, 2019

The March 31 elections, which blended victory with defeat for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, put a further brake on Turkey’s de facto stalled membership talks with the EU. The Islamist strongman appears to be the willing political hostage of Turkey’s grey wolves.

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Turkey’s Bizarre Approach to Missile Defense

| January 22, 2019

The US administration has offered to sell $3.5 billion worth of Patriot missiles to Turkey, apparently in an effort to stop Ankara from going ahead with a planned S-400 deal with Moscow. The Turks will probably shrug off the offer (after making sure it’s not an offer they can’t refuse). For reasons largely unrelated to its military requirements, Ankara has no intention of scrapping the S-400 deal and risking its geostrategic bonds with Moscow.

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Erdoğan: Ideological but not Suicidal

| December 7, 2018

Turkey’s radical shift in crises, first with Russia and then with America, shows that while President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan can be confrontational along ideological lines, he is not suicidal. He cannot afford to risk a punishing economic crisis that might cost him his power.

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Turkey’s Syrian Quagmire

| October 10, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan does not understand that his biggest divergence with Russia is over the future of all of Syria, not just a Syrian province. In theory, it is understandable that he wants to protect the “moderate fighters” because he feels indebted to them for their help to the Turkish army in two cross-border operations. But more than that, he wants to protect them in order to maintain a force that can eventually fight either or both of his two nemeses in Syria: President Assad and the Syrian Kurds.

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The US-Turkey Diplomatic Crisis

| September 3, 2018

The present Turkish-American diplomatic crisis is fundamentally different from other such crises in 1964 or 1975. Turkish public sentiment in the 1960s and 1970s was largely pro-American (and anti-Soviet). Today, 79% of Turks have an unfavorable opinion of the US. Also, the earlier Turkish-American crises were largely single-case issues whereas the current one is multi-dimensional – and more difficult to resolve.

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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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