Turkey

The Kurdish Movement’s Disparate Goals and the Collapse of the Peace Process with Turkey

The Kurdish movement in Turkey has three stated objectives: to achieve a resolution of the Kurdish issue, to democratize Turkey and to establish a decentralized political system formulated as Democratic Confederalism by Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the...

Where Will You Find That Many Women?

Aysel Tuğluk is a Kurdish politician, a founding member and the first co-chair of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) in Turkey. She was elected as a member of parliament in 2007 and banned from politics for five years when the Constitutional Court outlawed the DTP in...

The Kurdish Movement’s Relationship with the Palestinian Struggle

The Palestinian and Kurdish struggles for self-determination share several common features. Both are stateless movements fighting against colonial, apartheid regimes in the Middle East and both have tortured histories of oppression and resistance. Despite the...

The Armenian Genocide in Kurdish Collective Memory

Kurdish acknowledgement of participation in the Armenian genocide of 1915 along with Kurdish municipal efforts to atone have grown tremendously in the past 20 years. Adnan Çelik draws on his fieldwork and personal experience to explain how Kurdish memory work—drawing on knowledge transmitted for more than a century through Kurdish language, communal memories and traces left in the landscape—is making space for all oppressed groups in Turkey to seek justice. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

Tracing the Conceptual Genealogy of Kurdistan as International Colony

İsmail Beşikci is the first social scientist in modern Turkey to analyze the oppression of Kurds, distributed across four nation states, through the concept of the “international colony.” In recent years, Beşikci has been celebrated among his peers and a younger...

The Elusive Quest for a Kurdish State

Kurdish communities in the Middle East have been struggling for independence, autonomy and civil rights since at least the 1880s. While Kurdish movements across the region have suffered from fragmentation, the more formidable obstacle to fulfilling Kurdish aspirations are regional and global geopolitics. Djene Rhys Bajalan explains the many challenges, both historically and in the present day. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Armenian Genocide in Kurdish Collective Memory

Adnan Çelik 08.4.2020

Kurdish acknowledgement of participation in the Armenian genocide of 1915 along with Kurdish municipal efforts to atone have grown tremendously in the past 20 years. Adnan Çelik draws on his fieldwork and personal experience to explain how Kurdish memory work—drawing on knowledge transmitted for more than a century through Kurdish language, communal memories and traces left in the landscape—is making space for all oppressed groups in Turkey to seek justice. Forthcoming in MER 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Elusive Quest for a Kurdish State

Kurdish communities in the Middle East have been struggling for independence, autonomy and civil rights since at least the 1880s. While Kurdish movements across the region have suffered from fragmentation, the more formidable obstacle to fulfilling Kurdish aspirations are regional and global geopolitics. Djene Rhys Bajalan explains the many challenges, both historically and in the present day. This article is from the forthcoming issue of Middle East Report, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

Turkish Intervention in Syria Heightens Authoritarianism in Turkey and Fragmentation in Syria

Sinem Adar 07.14.2020

Turkish military incursions into Syria since 2016 are shaping power dynamics not only in Syria but also domestically. Turkish state building practices in Syria are changing the demographics of the border area in Syria and benefiting Turkish industry and political elites. At home, Ankara is suppressing Kurdish political power and cracking down on anti-war activists. Sinem Adar explains who gains and who loses from the cross-border interventions.

Voices from the Middle East: On the Frontlines of Inequality in Turkey During COVID-19

Berra Can 04.23.2020

Pharmacists in Turkey, like the author’s parents, are working overtime to serve their communities and to adapt quickly to shifting government orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. While steps are being taken to mitigate the impact of the virus on the most vulnerable, various forms of inequality entrenched across the country mean that certain groups suffer much more than others.

The Political Economy of Erdoğan’s Syria Gamble

The Turkish invasion of northern Syria, with President Trump’s acquiescence, illustrates Turkish President Erdoğan’s authoritarian populist penchant for treating foreign policy as an extension of domestic crisis management.  But it will only further aggravate...

Autopsy of Erdoǧan’s Istanbul Defeat

Nabil Al-Tikriti 09.12.2019

Turkey’s authoritarian President Erdoǧan’s attempt to manipulate Istanbul’s recent mayoral election led to a humiliating defeat.  Despite the tight grip Erdoǧan and the AKP appear to have over Turkish politics, Turkey’s population is much more fractious and agitated by the regime than previously known.

Turkish Voters Upset Erdoǧan’s Competitive Authoritarianism

Nabil Al-Tikriti 04.22.2019

Turkish voters sent a strong message to its long-standing ruling party and its leader on March 31, 2019 that the government’s authoritarian turn has not fully succeeded. In nationwide municipal elections, for the first time in a quarter century, the political movement largely associated with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan lost control over both the country’s economic and political capitals, as well as numerous other districts throughout the country. The symbolic and economic significance of losing both capitals, especially Istanbul, cannot be discounted. This article explains why this happened.

“It is still early to write the history of Gezi”

Mücella Yapıcı is an architect and activist, known for her work against urban renewal projects and environmental destruction in Turkey. She is the secretary and spokesperson of the activist group Taksim Solidarity, which was one of the leading organizations during the June 2013 Gezi Park protests. MERIP editorial committee member Elif Babül spoke to Yapıcı on June 22, 2018 in Istanbul at the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects, shortly before the 2018 presidential elections took place. The interview has been edited and condensed for publication.

The Crisis of Religiosity in Turkish Islamism

In 2017 İhsan Fazlıoğlu, an Islamist professor of philosophy at Istanbul Medeniyet University, was visited by a group of concerned teachers and parents from the İmam Hatip high school (a government-funded secondary school that trains Muslim preachers) he once attended. The visitors wanted his advice on the growing trend of deism and atheism among young people and what was to be done about it. The professor responded with a shocking observation of his own: In the past year, of the many religious students who came to consult with him, no fewer than 17 women had confided that although they continued to wear a hijab (headscrarf) they had left Islam and considered themselves atheists.

The AKP’s Problem with Youth

Government-funded religious İmam Hatip schools have expanded considerably across Turkey since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan came to power in 2002: from 84,000 students in 450 schools in 2002 to 1.3 million students in over 4,000 schools by 2017. The Ministry of National Education (MEB) justifies this expansion as a natural response to what they claim to be “high demand from parents” but recent reports reveal that these schools draw about 50–60 percent less students than their capacity each year.

The Politics of Family Values in Erdogan’s New Turkey

Often peppered with religious references, “family values” rhetoric has become a trademark of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002. His frequent encouragement of early marriage and criticism of childless women illustrate an ever-expanding repertoire of conservative pronouncements regarding gender, reproduction and the family. During an iftar dinner in 2014, for example, Erdoğan urged female college students not to be picky in selecting a prospective spouse “because our dear prophet advised us to get married and to procreate, so that he could take pride in the sizable presence of the ummah in the afterlife in comparison to other [religious] communities.” At a ceremony hosted by the Women and Democracy Association in 2016, he claimed that “A woman who abstains from maternity by saying ‘I have a job’ means that she is actually denying her femininity … She is lacking, she is an incomplete person, no matter how successful she is in the business world.”

The Contradictions of Turkey’s Rush to Energy

The Turkish energy sector—companies involved in the exploration and development of oil or gas reserves, drilling and refining, or integrated power utility companies including renewable energy, coal or nuclear power—has experienced major and systemic transformation and growth since the early 2000s under the rule of consecutive Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments.

Unequal Turkey Under Construction

Turkey has undergone major socio-economic transformations that have generated numerous contradictions since the 1980s. One of the most significant has been Turkey’s transformation from a predominately rural and agrarian society to a largely urban society as it enters the new millennium. The fast pace of urbanization, coupled with a decrease in agricultural employment and an increase in service sector employment transformed Turkey into a largely working-class society by the mid-2000s. This unprecedented urban and socio-economic development has in turn generated, and in some cases heightened, pressing social and economic problems such as unemployment, stark income inequality and restricted access to adequate housing.

Turkey’s Purge of Critical Academia

Academic freedom has always been limited and under threat by the state in Turkey. But since the beginning of 2016, academic freedom in Turkey—and the broader field of higher education—has been subject to a sustained campaign of state repression that is unprecedented in the history of the Turkish Republic.

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