Burak Bekdil

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.


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.


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.


Turkey: NATO’s Odd One Out

| June 9, 2017

Discounting the sincerity of Turkish President Erdoğan’s fiercely anti-western rhetoric ahead of the April 16 referendum is akin to disregarding bitter facts about once staunch NATO ally Turkey. NATO’s deepening “Turkey problem” is contained in the country’s Islamist ideology, conspicuous “un-likemindedness”, and democratic anomalies, which stand against NATO’s founding values of safeguarding freedom and the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and rule of law.


Turkey’s Indigenous Weapons Industry: A Rover with Rolls-Royce Ambitions

| May 27, 2017

Turkey has reduced its dependency on foreign arms technology in recent years to the advantage of its local industry, which is striving to design, develop, and build a rich menu of indigenous systems. Turkey’s goal in fostering this industry is to achieve self-sufficiency in weapons technology that it can then use to bolster its regional political clout. However, there are technological, financial, and political challenges standing in the way of reaching that goal.


Turkey: Directionless and Friendless

| May 7, 2017

Optimists thought Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s inflammatory, anti-Western pre-referendum rhetoric was just election talk that would disappear after the ballots were counted, but that was a vain hope. The sweeping new powers granted to Erdoğan by the constitutional amendments, and the average Turk’s persistent desire for more confrontation with Turkey’s “enemies”, will force Erdoğan to keep up the fiery language, especially ahead of crucial presidential elections in 2019.


Turkey: Divided We Stand

| April 18, 2017

The referendum victory of April 16, 2017, which gave Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unchecked powers, has left Turkey bitterly polarized. Fresh rounds of political tensions are likely in a country where half the population loves the president and the other half hates him. Erdoğan’s longer-term game plan is to ensure that Turkey will continue to elect conservative, nationalist presidents and governments after his day is done.


Turkey: Europe’s “Angry Bird”

| April 7, 2017

Since 2004, Turkey has descended from winning accession talks with the EU to the “sick man of European democracy.” President Erdoğan, in his efforts to consolidate his conservative and nationalist voters, continues to fan fears of real or fabricated enemies, with particular emphasis on “Christian crusaders.” Few Turks (or Kurds) appear to care about Ankara’s disturbing and ever-worsening democratic deficit. Twenty-first century Turkey is behaving like the country described decades ago by a Turkish philosopher: “[It] is a ship heading east. Those aboard think they are heading west, but they are just running west on a ship sailing east.”


Turkey: A Sunni Iran in the Making?

| March 22, 2017

The rising tide of an aggressive blend of nationalism and Islamism might be prompting Ankara to pursue its own WMDs, and its preference appears to be long-range missiles. As Turkey feels more threatened by real or (mostly) imagined enemies, it increasingly views maximum possible military deterrence as essential to both survival (a defensive goal) and assertiveness (an offensive one). Precise long-range missiles are unlikely, and nuclear warheads even more so. What matters is not whether Turkey can build up a dangerous arsenal but why it wants one.


Russian Air Defense Architecture … for NATO Member Turkey?

| March 14, 2017

Turkey, a NATO ally, may be on the brink of purchasing an air defense system from Russia. If the Turks place that weaponry on their soil, they will no longer have access to the NATO satellite signals critical for that very defense system to be useful. And if that is not reason enough to hesitate, Turkish officials might recall that a year and a half ago, Ankara suffered a serious diplomatic crisis with its prospective air defense system supplier. Considering the fragile situation in neighboring Syria, another Turkish-Russian rift is not unlikely. Would a Russian air defense asset protect Turkey against Russian air power?