VOICES: Turkey’s Pivot Away from Democracy

For the second time in two months, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is clashing with secularists and opposition forces. The latest clash brings to the fore the question of whether Turkey will remain democratic, or if it is descending into authoritarianism. While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) rightly emphasizes that More »

INSIGHT: Democracy’s Losing the Street Fight

Should we have democracy on demand? In Egypt, protesters who have been in the streets for weeks trying to reverse the outcome of June 30 have been dispersed by bulldozers and bullets, and the future of democracy is no more secure than when they first set up camp. But not only Egypt – Spain, Turkey, Brazil, More »

INSIGHT: Islam Is Not the Solution to What Ails the Middle East

During the decades when Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was a barely tolerated opposition party, it campaigned against the reigning secular autocrats under the banner “Islam is the solution.” With the military’s removal on July 3 of the Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, the region’s oldest exemplar of political Islam has lost its best and perhaps only chance More »

QUICKTAKE: Why Turkey Can Still Become a Model Muslim Democracy

If Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan respects the will of his people, Turkey can become the first consolidated Muslim democracy of the 21st century. That is the observation of Soner Cagaptay, Director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in an article published in the New York More »

QUICKTAKE: What’s Behind the Protests in Turkey?

Turkish riot police have cleared protesters from Istanbul’s central square, following a night of clashes between the two sides. The police operation follows nearly two weeks of demonstrations in Taksim Square and locations in several other Turkish cities. Several people have died since the protests began. About 5,000 people are reported to have been More »

INSIGHT: Temperatures Rise in Turkey

The public rioting and resultant police crackdown in a number of Turkish cities has left political analysts scratching their heads. With over 1,700 people arrested so far at demonstrations that have spread from Istanbul to Izmir and beyond, some analysts are forecasting a ‘Turkish Spring’. At a recent news conference, Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan More »

INSIGHT: Mr. Erdogan Goes to Washington

In what the Turkish press is building up to be a “historic” trip, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be visiting Washington next week.  Much has changed since he was last here in December 2009.  In particular, Turkey’s position in the region has, despite its strong economic performance and rising diplomatic stature, deteriorated More »

INSIGHT: Is Turkey Ready for a Kurdish Peace?

Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a 28-year war against the Turkish state, is an unlikely candidate for peacemaker. Yet recently he has become Ankara’s key ally in its efforts to end the three-decade-old armed struggle. On December 28, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that More »

INSIGHT: Turkey’s Crackdown on Academic Freedom

In Turkey, it is not “publish or perish” that scholars must fear.  It is prison. There was a time, not very long ago, when Turkey seemed on the edge of a new era of academic and intellectual freedom.  New private universities created institutional support for more independent scholarship, while the Turkish government showed at least More »

INSIGHT: The Middle East Distraction That’s Obscuring Asia

Asia specialists will not openly admit it, but they hate the Middle East. To them, the Middle East is the great distraction that keeps people from focusing on what’s really important – their own area in the Western Pacific. The media are primarily to blame, according to this narrative. The media love sudden drama, even More »

WATCH: Kurdish City in Turkey Heals Wounds with Basketball

Turkey’s largest Kurdish city, Diyarbakir, is at the center of a decades-long conflict between the state and Kurdish rebels fighting for autonomy. The city often sees clashes between young people and security forces. But one man has devoted his life to bringing hope and a way out of violence for the city’s youth through More »

INSIGHT: Obama’s Win – What It Means for the Middle East

With President Barack Obama’s re-election, many people across the Middle East are contemplating what this region might expect from his second term. Over the next four years, Obama will likely continue the policy directions set in his first term: by completing the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, for example, and reaching out to global players like More »

INSIGHT: Turkey Increasingly Entangled in Syrian Conflict

On October 15 Turkish air force jets forced an Armenian plane en route to the Syrian town of Aleppo to land at Erzurum in eastern Turkey for a security check. Also, according to the Turkish disaster management agency (AFAD), the number of Syrian refugees in camps in Turkey has now exceeded 100,000. Since Syrian shells More »

Middle East Monitor: NATO Stands With Turkey

- NATO is willing to defend Turkey against Syria - The Syrian economy falters, although Damascus is somewhat spared - Why are early elections being held in Israel? - A new poll asks Americans: what if Israel attacks Iran? - A scientist says sanctions on Iran are working – sort More »

Images of the Week: September 29 – October 5

This week in the Middle East, fighting continues in Syria and tension develops on the Syria-Turkey border after a deadly attack that killed five Turkish civilians on Wednesday. In Egypt, women protest against the Muslim Brotherhood, demanding rights, and President Mohamed Morsi visited former President Anwar Sadat’s tomb. In Israel, many celebrated the Jewish More »

QUICKTAKE: Turkish Vote Does Not “Exacerbate” Syrian Tensions

The lawmakers seen during a debate at Turkey's parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. Turkey fired on Syrian targets for a second day Thursday, but said it has no intention of declaring war, despite tensions after deadly shelling from Syria killed five civilians in a Turkish border town. (AP Photo)

The Turkish parliament has voted to authorize possible further military operations outside its borders. Turkish forces have already struck Syrian targets in response to a cross-border mortar attack that killed five civilians in Turkey. Bulent Aliriza is Director and Senior Associate of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. VOA’s Susan Yackee asked for his More »

Middle East Monitor: Turkey OKs Possible Action Against Syria

- Turkey’s parliament votes on military operations outside its borders - A new report on Gaza prison abuse - The U.S. secretary of state pledges a full inquiry into the consulate attack in Libya - The U.S. expands its military operations in More »

Middle East Monitor: Turkey Sanctions World’s Museums

- Turkey has a new and aggressive policy to get top museums around the world to return its ancient artifacts – sanctions. - Aid agencies are scrambling to relocate refugees sheltered in Syrian school buildings before classes resume in two weeks. - Some 300 Jewish settlers left their homes in a West Bank outpost – some More »

Middle East Monitor: White House Has “Eyes” on Iran’s Nuclear Program

-The White House is studying a new report by the U.N. nuclear agency on Iran, and says the U.S. and its partners have their “eyes on” Tehran’s nuclear program. -Syrian rebels attack security compounds in Aleppo while conditions on the border with Turkey are worsening. -Syria’s neighbors tell the U.N. Security Council they need international assistance More »

QUICKTAKE: Syrian Lives Are at Risk Because of Paperwork – Human Rights Watch

More than 200,000 Syrians have fled their country as the civil war escalates, but their neighbors are having difficulty taking them all in. Turkey’s foreign minister is worried that Turkish refugee camps cannot handle any more people. Syrians are also at risk on the Iraqi border and in Jordan, where more than 20,000 have sought More »