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Turkish State and Society in Precarious Position

The attempted coup d’etat against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came as little surprise to some observers of Turkey. And apparently, it was not a surprise to Erdogan himself. E.U. officials have suggested that prior to the recent unrest, the Turkish government had already drawn out a list of those it wanted to purge after any attempted coup. This does not signify a false[…]

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Secular chagrin, authoritarian dreams: Turkey’s 2014 elections

As contested local election votes are being recounted over and over again in several cities under state of emergency conditions, Turkey is about to leave behind one of the most controversial elections in its political history amidst the opposition’s accusations of election fraud. The polls on March 30th resulted in a yet another victory for[…]

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Devlet ve mahremiyet: Erdoğan, Hobbes, and Us

“Nature (the Art whereby God hath made and governs the World) is by the Art of man, as in many other things, so in this imitated, that it can make an Artificial Animal.” So declares Thomas Hobbes in the first sentence of his Leviathan (1651), one of the founding texts of classical republicanism, and of[…]

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Red Hands Waving False Flags

The Erdogan Administration’s Plan for War in Syria Earlier this week, two videos, totaling 15 minutes,  began circulating on YouTube wherein senior Turkish officials, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu and Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan, discuss at length their intentions to have extremist groups in Syria carry out an attack on the Tomb of Suleiman Shah,[…]

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Where do you find rainbows in Turkey? Up in the skies or down on the street?

Not long ago, Turkey experienced one of the largest and most diverse public protests of the last thirty years. The numbers on the streets were not accurately calculated, and the mainstream media failed to report the entirety of events and their wide geographical scope. Named after the well-known park in Taksim, Istanbul, the Gezi Movement[…]

A Tyranny of the Half? Protests, Democracy and the Ethos of Pluralism in Turkey

Brian Silverstein Turkey is going through very significant events that will have lasting effects on the country. From bringing hitherto fragmented groups opposed to the AK Party government together, to new uses of satire and humor; from the AK Party’s openly taking up the Turkish state tradition of brutality and violence against its own people,[…]

How to Avoid Being a Turkey

 Taking a Closer Look at the Taksim Protests   In recent weeks there has been a deluge of coverage and analysis of Istanbul’s Taksim Square protests. These events have typically been framed as another case of a popular and peaceful youth movement being crushed by an authoritarian dictator; often pundits have gone so far as to[…]

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A Tale of Two Consulates

Even Coppola couldn’t whip this one up… It’s been the weirdest of times, for sure. L’affaire Petraeus has shed some light on the military-intelligence complex that generally avoids the myopic scrutiny of the public. It’s not the lack of transparency nor the vicious post-election politicizing, but rather the feckless improvisation behind the skirts of the[…]

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Prisoners’ political hunger pains

In 66 prisons across Turkey, 683 Kurdish prisoners are refusing meals in protest of Turkey’s official policies curbing Kurdish culture and political power among a diverse array of demands. The hungerstrike began on 12 September when 65 prisoners began starving themselves, quickly gaining numbers by the end of October, building on momentum sparked by public[…]

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And to the Victor Goes the Ruins

The next phase of the Syrian Civil War As the Syrian conflict has dragged on, growing in intensity with no sign of resolution or international intervention, the regime may seem incredibly resilient: they have been able to push the rebels out of Damascus, to protect the majority-Alawite territories, to hold Aleppo, and to keep pressure[…]

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The Lion’s Advocate

Working through misconceptions in the Syrian uprising While one would never know it from the news, the reform process in Syria is actually going smoother than it is in Egypt. If this might sound crazy to the everyday headline reader, think of it this way:  Syria has a popularly approved new constitution, a democratically elected[…]

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A Shift in Islamist Discourses, A Prelude to the Arab Spring?

Recent events in the Arab World have brought the Islamists back to the fore after many Western scholars had declared the dawn of a post-Islamists era.[1] This premature declaration emerged in parallel with great shifts in Islamist discourses in late 1990s. These shifts manifested in these movements’ rejection of violence and in their desire to[…]

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Jordan’s Big Tent

Hejazis, Palestinians, Iraqis, Chechens…and now Syrians Sometime in the morning of June 21, Syrian pilot Colonel Hassam Merei al-Hamade walked across the tarmac of the al-Dumair military airport and climbed into the cockpit of a Russian-made MiG-21 fighter jet, determined to desert. The colonel took off rapidly to avoid radar detectors and flew 110 miles[…]

Aleppo demonstrates the everyday politics of revolt

Let’s stop asking “what is to be done” and start asking “what is going on” With the normalization of violence and a national impasse inside Syria since last fall, foreign commentary has been dominated by developments outside Syria, including the Arab League Peace Plan and Kofi Annan’s UN monitoring delegation.  While the interaction of these[…]

Conflicts of another kind…

The intellectual conflicts of PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan Only two months after the “operational incident,” which killed 35 citizens due to false intelligence, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is leading not one but two new “conflicts” against other human targets: prominent American novelist Paul Auster and Turkish columnists siding with the Republican People’s Party[…]