Turkey in a Tailspin

The Foiled Coup Attempt of July 15

by Ümit Cizre | published August 10, 2016

The epic blunder of the military coup attempt on July 15 has sent Turkey into a tailspin. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the prime minister and cabinet, the parliament, the top military brass, the intelligence community and the police all became aware of the plot at the same time as ordinary Turkish citizens—after it got underway. The president and his team have conceded a massive intelligence failure. Unable to reach the head of the armed forces or the chief of the National Intelligence Agency, Turkey’s political leaders were spared death or arrest thanks purely to the gross incompetence of the would-be coup makers.

Financial Citizenship and the Hidden Crisis of the Working Class in the “New Turkey”

by Basak Kus
published in MER278

Substantial political, economic and social changes have taken place in Turkey since the early 2000s. Much of this transformation has happened on the watch of the Justice and Development Party (best known by its Turkish acronym, AKP), which has been in power since 2002. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, founder of the party and president of the country since 2014, has proclaimed several times that the old Turkey is no more and a new Turkey has taken its place.

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Letter from Ellinikon

by Parastou Hassouri
published in MER278

On a bright and sunny day in early April, outside a terminal at what was once the Ellinikon International Airport in Athens, I listened as Javad, 16, told the story of the second refugee flight of his life. Javad (not his real name) is a member of the Hazara ethnic group and originally hails from the Baghlan province of Afghanistan. His family fled his home country during the rule of the Taliban, who infamously targeted the Hazaras for massacre, in part because most Hazaras are Persian-speaking Shi‘a. They escaped to Iran, where they lived in relative safety, but not dignity, as Afghans often face the exploitation of Iranian employers and the discrimination of the government.

Mobilizing in Exile

Syrian Associational Life in Turkey and Lebanon

by Killian Clarke , Gözde Güran
published in MER278

The neighborhood of Narlıca sits on the outskirts of the small city of Antakya, Turkey. A spread of low-rise, brick-and-cement buildings separated by unpaved roads, Narlıca was a lightly populated working-class suburb prior to the outbreak of civil war across the border in Syria. Today, with that war dragging into its sixth year, the neighborhood has taken on a new identity as Antakya’s “little Syria.” The population has more than doubled, with Syrian residents now outnumbering Turks; most of the storefront signs are in Arabic; and newly opened schools teach the Syrian curriculum.

Defending Academic Freedom

by Laurie A. Brand | published February 23, 2016 - 10:56am

Constraints on academic freedom or violations of it are not new in the Middle East and North Africa. Indeed, while there is certainly variation among the countries of the region, regime attempts to control what is studied, how it is studied, and what faculty and students may do and say both on and off campus have a long history.

Leadership Gone Awry

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Two Turkish Elections

by Ümit Cizre
published in MER276

In representative democracies, elections allow the peaceful replacement of leaders, infuse government with new blood, legitimize both winners and losers, and restore public faith in democracy. More importantly, “the people’s voice” is cast as the ultimate check on national leaders whose power has grown too strong. In practice, there are a number of problems with this ideal—“the people’s voice” is identified with the majority, perhaps at the expense of minorities; it is inarticulate; and often it actually channels rather than challenges the wishes of rulers. [1] Do the twin general elections held in Turkey over the course of five months in 2015 confirm or rebut these key assumptions about representative democracy?

Regional Responses to the Rise of ISIS

by Curtis Ryan
published in MER276

Regional responses to the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, have varied depending on regime perceptions of threat, not only from ISIS itself, but also from other potential rivals, challengers or enemies. Despite the jihadi group’s extensive use of violence in Syria and Iraq and its claims of responsibility for bombings and attacks in Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen—as well as France in mid-November—it was not necessarily the top security priority for any of these states.

Youth in Turkey’s 2015 Elections

by Aydin Özipek | published June 19, 2015 - 11:48am

On June 7, Turkish citizens went to the polls to elect the 550 members of the Grand National Assembly. Although the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won 41 percent of the vote, it lost its majority in the parliament for the first time since 2002. It was a major blow for the party’s founder, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose plan to become a more powerful executive with fewer checks and balances seems to have been vetoed by the electorate.

Discrete Forms of the Petty Bourgeoisie

by Karen Pfeifer
published in MER117

Çağlar Keyder, The Definition of a Peripheral Economy: Turkey, 1923-1929 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).

Gavin Kitching, Class and Economic Change in Kenya (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1980.

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Berberoglu, Turkey in Crisis

by Karen Pfeifer
published in MER121

Berch Berberoglu, Turkey in Crisis, From State Capitalism to Neocolonialism (London: Zed Press, 1982).

This is a useful, concise rendition of Turkish political history and economic development. It is rich in facts and easy-to-use economic data. Its best conceptual contribution is the portrayal of the contradictions of the “state capitalist” development path. The analysis is presented chronologically rather than thematically. There is a strong sense of inevitability in this method: of Turkish history marching inexorably toward the pitched “class” battles of the 1970s and the implicitly fascist coup of 1980.

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