Protestors clash with riot police between Taksim and Besiktas AFP PHOTO/GURCAN OZTURKGURCAN OZTURK/AFP/Getty Images | Flickr
EssaysEventsFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

Pre-Coup, Coup and the Media Intellectuals in Turkey

There are many unknowns about the July 15th coup d’état attempt in Turkey. Putschists, instead of taking down the leadership or shutting down communication, ineffectually closed off some roads, attacked government buildings including the Parliament, and killed many innocent civilians without clear operational objectives. The level of confusion and disorder among soldiers was mind boggling. It is hard to believe that these putschists were part of the “one of the most powerful NATO armies.” The sloppiness of this military operation raises a lot of questions; who gave the orders? What was the network diagram of this operation? Did they have a plan B? What was going to happen if the coup was successful? Who are the political collaborators? Even after two weeks, none of this is evident. …

Elazığ Panoramik © Mustafa AYDINOL | Flickr
EssaysFeatureIn Depth

A Kurdish Paradox in Turkey’s Wine Country

It is June and I’m in Elazığ, a city of just over a quarter of million in eastern Turkey. Streets bustle with families and packs of young men clutching their tespih or prayer beads. It is a modern city, but at its height in the 1930s and 1940s, Elazığ served as an important administrative center for Turkish Republican rule in the east. In the last sixty-five years however, much of the city’s historical role of governance has evaporated. Hardly a single vestige of the city’s Ottoman or Republican past remains. Elazığ, I am told, has suffered much.

I am picked up from the airport by a colleague of mine, Bora, who knows the city well. He’s jovial and Kurdish, originally from a small village in between Mardin and Diyarkbakır, two large cities to the southeast of where we stand. We get in his car and drive into the countryside. …

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Quito, February, 2016 © Cancillería del Ecuador | Flickr

A Report from Turkey

The following comes to us on Friday, July 15 from a colleague in Turkey who wishes to remain anonymous.

For the past three hours my friends and I have been listening to a continuous ezan or Islamic call to prayer from the local mosques. The imam, however, is not just summoning the pious to reflect on their spiritual stations, but rallying the faithful behind Turkish President 

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. They are calling for the “preservation of democracy,” but they are also calling for war. The Turkish military, meanwhile, has announced that it has taken over state media and that martial law will be declared. No one is to leave their apartments or step outside. Erdoğan, speaking on Facetime of all things, encouraged his supporters to come out in force, and the imams heeded his call. …

Women and children among Syrian refugees striking at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis. Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe, 4 September 2015 © Mstyslav Chernov | Wikimedia Commons

Refugee Crisis and European Shame

On fences and fronts

If we had to describe the European Union’s response to the current refugee crisis with a single word, that word would be “chaos.” If we could use two words, the second word would be “shame,” necessary to refer to what European leaders and technocrats should feel upon reading the statement released by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF) on March 22, 2016, announcing that the humanitarian organization would cease all activities connected to Moria, the main camp in the Greek island of Lesvos, where refugees are registered and fingerprinted before being relocated or deported. As Marie Elisabeth Ingres, MSF head of mission in Greece, said, ““We made the extremely difficult decision to end our activities in Moria because continuing to work inside would make us complicit in a system we consider to be both unfair and inhumane …