Tag Archives: Turkey

Sainte-Sophie ou la revanche de l’histoire

À l’heure du Covid-19, de l’intelligence artificielle, de la crise écologique, du bras de fer géopolitique entre les deux géants, les États-Unis et la Chine, la décision turque de retransformer l’ex-basilique Sainte-Sophie en mosquée pourrait sembler anachronique. Elle s’inscrit pourtant parfaitement dans son époque. Elle raconte, entre autres, l’instrumentalisation du passé par tous ceux qui veulent prendre leur revanche sur l’histoire, le retour des symboles établis pour compenser la difficulté à créer du sens nouveau, le religieux réduit à ses traits les plus grossiers et mis au service du récit politique. Elle est emblématique de l’évolution de la Turquie et de son reïs, jadis porte-étendard d’un islamisme moderne et modéré, aujourd’hui trublion décomplexé d’un mélange de nationalisme exacerbé et de néo-ottomanisme cliché.

« Le passé n’est jamais mort, il n’est même jamais passé », écrivait William Faulkner. Sainte-Sophie reconvertie en mosquée, c’est une claque que le passé adresse au présent et qui sera ressentie avec plus ou moins d’intensité et d’intimité en fonction de la région du monde dans laquelle on habite.

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Posted by on July 20, 2020 in European Union



The long June of our dignity

As someone who experienced uprisings from the crisis in Argentina to Gezi, including Tahrir and Al Kasbah, the best “advice” that I can come up with is to remind Europe of her obligation to recognize the global uprising in the name of dignity, the word she was once so passionate about.

“Remembering the best days of our lives,” read many Turkish social media posts in the first days of June. Although all the photos were filled with tear gas, those who seven years ago joined Gezi protests that spanned the country for more than a month chose to reminisce about the breath of joy they inhaled in the summer of 2013. Around the same time, on the other side of the Atlantic, George Floyd shouted his last words: “I can’t breathe.” When his last cry resonated with hundreds of thousands, causing them to take to the streets, Gezi veterans began spotting the numerous similarities between the rebellions. As demonstrations in support took off in European cities, it was as if the Long Walk of Dignity had resumed after a seven-year hiatus, and yet again in June. It was as though this walk, once in Tahrir and Gezi, was proving not to be intermittent, but consistent enough to keep going from Minneapolis to Trafalgar Square, all the while shouting the same word, dignity.

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Posted by on June 29, 2020 in Middle East



Cómo Turquía convierte en armas a los refugiados

En las últimas dos décadas, la Unión Europea ha endurecido su política migratoria. Los países del sur han levantado alambradas y vallas para reforzar sus fronteras, se han dificultado las peticiones de asilo, se han suspendido derechos fundamentales. El Viejo Continente se ha convertido en lo que los activistas de derechos humanos definen como la Europa Fortaleza. Y, en consecuencia, el presidente turco, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ha decidido trasladar la presión a la frontera europea como en las batallas antiguas: asediando la muralla por diversos puntos. La diferencia es que quienes se hallan al pie del muro no son soldados sino pobres desharrapados ―los refugiados y migrantes más humildes que quedan en Turquía ― y su munición son las esperanzas de quienes desean huir de la guerra en busca de una vida mejor.

“Erdogan nos dijo que la frontera estaba abierta. Vinimos a Edirne pero la policía [turca] nos paró. Nos dijo que no podíamos ir al paso fronterizo de Pazarkule, y nos dirigió hacia el río, donde hay botes para pasar al otro lado. Pero del otro lado los griegos te roban todo y te devuelven a Turquía”, explica Muhammed Hussein, un refugiado afgano. La frontera terrestre entre Turquía y Grecia se extiende a lo largo de 212 kilómetros, en la mayoría de los cuales es el río Evros el que hace de límite natural de ambos países.

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Posted by on March 10, 2020 in Middle East



Putin saves Erdogan from himself

At the start of their discussion marathon in Moscow on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with arguably the most extraordinary diplomatic gambit of the young 21st century.

Putin said: “At the beginning of our meeting, I would like to once again express my sincere condolences over the death of your servicemen in Syria. Unfortunately, as I have already told you during our phone call, nobody, including Syrian troops, had known their whereabouts.”

This is how a true world leader tells a regional leader, to his face, to please refrain from positioning his forces as jihadi supporters – incognito, in the middle of an explosive theater of war.

The Putin-Erdogan face-to-face discussion, with only interpreters allowed in the room, lasted three hours, before another hour with the respective delegations. In the end, it all came down to Putin selling an elegant way for Erdogan to save face – in the form of, what else, yet another ceasefire in Idlib, which started at midnight on Thursday, signed in Turkish, Russian and English – “all texts having equal legal force.”

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Posted by on March 10, 2020 in Europe, Middle East


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‘Just run’: on the Turkey-Greece border as refugees try to break through

It was, or so they believed, the start of their journey to the promised land, a place of safety they had longed for. Hours after the Turkish government announced that it would not stop refugees from attempting to reach Europe, a stream of people from the Middle East and Africa, seeking refuge from wars and economic hardship, left a bleak bus station in the Turkish town of Edirne and begun their journey to the border.

After leaving the buses they broke into smaller groups based on the countries they had left. Ethiopians stood in an orderly queue, as one of the crowd went to negotiate with taxi drivers. Algerians looked at their phones and argued loudly, while two Palestinian couples from Gaza stood by a concrete pilar and debated in hushed voices whether they could afford the taxi ride to the border 15km away.

The Algerians decided to walk, resigning themselves to the fact there were no cars to take them further. They marched in a long column down the well-lit and empty main road in the provincial Turkish town, their entire life’s belongings packed into a couple of school backpacks or small plastic shopping bags.

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Posted by on March 4, 2020 in European Union, Middle East


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Turkey looks to Libya to break its growing isolation in the region

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has framed his country’s military deployment to Libya as a matter of survival, not only for Turkey’s strategic interests across the region but also for Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

The head of Libya’s High Council of State, Khalid al-Mishri, told MEE that Turkey’s upcoming military support to the GNA would prevent General Khalifa Haftar’s forces from taking control of Tripoli. From high-level political figures to military commanders on the frontline, I found consensus during a recent visit to Tripoli that Turkey is the only country able to push back Haftar and contribute to rebuilding the Libyan state.

Turkey’s new military step in the context of the Libyan conflict provides strategic leverage for both sides and will ultimately bring new dimensions – as well as challenges – to Ankara’s regional strategy.

Strategic objectives
On 27 November, Turkey and Libya signed two separate memorandums of understanding on military cooperation and the maritime boundaries of countries in the eastern Mediterranean region, aiming to achieve their mutual strategic objectives.

In the short term, the GNA aims to push back Haftar’s forces in Tripoli; in the medium term, the Libyans seek to consolidate their partnership with Turkey to find a real solution to contain Haftar and bring Ankara into the Libyan picture as an external balance.

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Posted by on January 11, 2020 in Africa, Middle East, Uncategorized


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La vera posta in gioco nell’intervento turco in Libia

Come previsto, il 2 gennaio il parlamento turco ha autorizzato l’invio di soldati in Libia, approvando una risoluzione con 325 voti favorevoli e 184 contrari. Il 10 dicembre il presidente turco Recep Tayyip Erdoğan aveva annunciato l’intenzione di sostenere militarmente il governo di accordo nazionale (Gna) libico guidato da Fayez al Sarraj contro l’offensiva militare del generale Khalifa Haftar. E a meno di un mese dal suo annuncio, ha ottenuto il via libera dal parlamento.

Ora starà al presidente stabilire quanti soldati mandare nel paese nordafricano, in cui in teoria vige l’embargo sulle armi imposto dalle Nazioni Unite. Ma molti analisti sostengono che quella turca sia stata una mossa di deterrenza, che non implicherà necessariamente l’invio di truppe sul campo. Si tratta piuttosto di un annuncio per spingere Haftar alla ritirata e per sollecitare l’apertura di un negoziato con la Russia, ma è anche un modo per Ankara di sottolineare il suo ruolo di potenza regionale.

Il testo della risoluzione approvata dal parlamento di Ankara è ambizioso e parla della necessità di “proteggere gli interessi della Turchia nel Mediterraneo, di prevenire il transito dei migranti irregolari, d’impedire alle organizzazioni terroristiche e ai gruppi armati di proliferare, di apportare un aiuto umanitario al popolo libico”. La Turchia ha firmato con il governo di Tripoli un accordo di collaborazione militare e marittima il 27 novembre 2019, che prevede l’intervento militare “via terra, via mare e via aerea, se necessario”, scatenando reazioni allarmate in tutta la regione.

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Posted by on January 8, 2020 in Africa, Middle East


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Family suicides in Turkey speak of a society that has lost hope

Fatih is known as one of the most conservative districts of Istanbul. Last week some people in the area saw a note attached to the door of a flat: “Beware! There’s cyanide inside. Call the police. Don’t enter.” Whoever wrote the note had clearly wanted to protect the neighbours from a toxic substance. When the police arrived they found four bodies – two men, two women, aged between 48 and 60. The dead were all from the same family, the Yetişkins, who had been residents of the neighbourhood for decades. The siblings had, according to friends, also lived in unemployment and penury – the wages of one sister, a music teacher, used to keep creditors at bay. Unable to find jobs to cover the family’s growing debts, they’d been battling depression and anxiety.

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Posted by on December 11, 2019 in Middle East



Erdogan’s ethnic cleansing of the Kurds is still happening now – and we have Trump to thank

Mass expulsion or the physical extermination of an entire ethnic or religious community – ethnic cleansing – is usually treated by the media in one of two different ways: either it receives maximum publicity as a horror story about which the world should care and do something about, or it is ignored and never reaches the news agenda.

It appeared at first that the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey after its invasion of northern Syria on 9 October would belong to the first category. There was angry condemnation of the forced displacement of 190,000 Kurds living close to the Syrian-Turkish border as Turkish soldiers, preceded by the Syrian National Army (SNA), in reality ill-disciplined anti-Kurdish Islamist militiamen, advanced into Kurdish-held areas. Videos showed fleeing Kurdish civilians being dragged from their cars and shot by the side of the road and reporters visiting hospitals saw children dying from the effects of white phosphorus that eats into the flesh and had allegedly been delivered in bombs or shells dropped or fired by the advancing Turkish forces.


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Posted by on November 18, 2019 in Middle East


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Turkey and Russia Are Teaming Up to Screw Over the Kurds

Russian military police arrived in the Syrian city of Kobani Wednesday to deliver a message to Kurdish forces: pull back 19 miles from the border, or face a renewed onslaught from Turkey.

Those are the terms of a new agreement reached between Turkey and Russia Tuesday which, if enacted, will force Kurdish fighters from the Syria-Turkey border, expanding on their territorial losses since President Trump suddenly cut U.S. support for its ally earlier this month.

Following a marathon six hours of talks in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan unveiled a 10-point memorandum of understanding that would carve up territory previously held by Kurdish forces, against whom Turkey launched a cross-border offensive earlier this month.

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Posted by on October 29, 2019 in Middle East


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