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Turkey

Migrant Lives

How An Erdogan-Assad Truce Could Trigger A New Migrant Crisis At Europe's Border

In Turkey, resentment against Syrian refugees is growing. And President Erdogan – once their patron – is now busy seeking good relations with the man the Syrians fled, the dictator Bashar al-Assad.

ISTANBUL — At some point, they'd simply had enough. Enough of the hostilities, the insecurity, the attacks. In a group on the messenger service Telegram, Syrians living in Turkey called for a caravan – a march to the Turkish-Greek border, and then crossing into the European Union.

Tens of thousands of users are now following updates from the group, in which the organizers are asking Syrian refugees in Arabic to equip themselves with sleeping bags, tents, life jackets, drinking water, canned food and first aid kits. The AFP news agency spoke to an organizer who wants to remain anonymous because of possible reprisals. "We will let you know when it's time to leave," said the 46-year-old Syrian engineer.

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How Istanbul Became The Top Destination For Russians Fleeing Conscription

Hundreds of thousands of men have left Russia since partial mobilization was announced. Turkey, which still has air routes open with Moscow, is one of their top choices. But life is far from easy once they land.

ISTANBUL — Sitting on a bench in front of the Sea of Marmara, Albert tries to roll a cigarette despite the wind blowing his blonde hair strands. This 31-year-old political philosophy doctor is staying at a friend’s place in Kadıköy, a trendy neighborhood on the Asian bank of Istanbul and popular amongst expats.

On Friday, Sept. 23, Albert left Moscow, where he was visiting his parents, with two shirts and two pairs of pants hastily shoved in a backpack. “When I heard about the annexation referendums in the new Ukrainian territories, I knew the situation would get worse. I thought I had a few more days. But when Putin announced the partial mobilization on the morning of Sept. 21, I booked my tickets right away.”

Albert had tried to stir up a student movement against the war in St. Petersburg. He was arrested with his partner on Feb. 27, spent a night in jail and was fined a few hundred euros. They persevered and took part in protests but in April, while he was going to a demonstration, he was arrested once again. His detention lasted five days.

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LGBTQ+ International: Istanbul “Hate March,” Non-Binary London Marathon — And The Week’s Other Top News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

This week featuring:

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Europe v. Turkey: A New Mediterranean Gas Race That May Turn Nasty

Europe needs new energy sources. One alternative to Russian gas could be in the eastern Mediterranean. But with Turkey also actively exploring the region for reserves, the potential for conflict is high.

It is the pride of the Turkish fleet. The bow of the "Abdülhamid Han" ship is painted red, with a crescent moon and star emblazoned on the sides. Like all four of Turkey's drillships, which are used for exploratory offshore drilling, it is named after a sultan and embodies Istanbul's claims of being a great power.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls the state-of-the-art drilling ship a "symbol of Turkey's new vision in the energy sector."

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Turkey
Philipp Mattheis

On China's Leash: Why Erdogan Stays Silent On Muslim Uyghurs

Turkey is home to the largest Uyghur diaspora in the world. The Muslim minority group, which is persecuted in China, sees the Turks as “cousins”. But as the country’s economy grows increasingly dependent on Beijing, Erdogan is holding his tongue about human rights abuses — and he is not alone.

ISTANBUL — Omer Faruk is a serious-looking man. He stands very straight and speaks clearly. The 32-year-old Uyghur has laid out photos in front of him – his mother in her wheelchair and baby pictures of two of his daughters.

For a few years now, Faruk has run his own bookshop for Uyghur literature in Istanbul. In 2016, along with his wife and two older children, he fled oppression and violence in the Chinese region of Xinjiang.

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Geopolitics
Johannes Jauhiainen

Why Turkey Could Still Block NATO Membership For Sweden And Finland

The U.S. Senate has ratified NATO membership for the two Nordic countries. But one sticking point remains: Turkey wants the Nordic nations to adopt tougher anti-Kurdish policies.

HELSINKI — Sweden's and Finland's NATO membership took another leap forward this week as the United States voted in favor of the Nordic countries joining the military alliance, with 95 senators for and one against. After the vote Wednesday night, the ratification is still pending in seven countries. But all eyes will now be on just one: Turkey.

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NATO cannot accept new members without the green light of all its member states, so Helsinki and Stockholm have had no other choice than to listen to Ankara’s demands. Many fear that this will make it more difficult to criticize Turkey for human rights violations — something both Nordic countries have done in the past.

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Geopolitics
Carolina Drueten, Christine Kensche

Erdogan's Opening? Why Turkey Sees Ukraine War As A Chance To Target Kurds In Syria

As the leaders of Turkey, Iran and Russia meet to discuss the situation in Syria, the West is closely watching Turkish President Erdoğan's moves on Kurdish separatists in northern Syria, now that Moscow is focused on Ukraine.

-Analysis-

It wasn't long ago that Moscow dictated what happened in Syria. Vladimir Putin has been the most important ally of Syria's regime, which would have likely collapsed long ago without Russia's support.

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But the war in Ukraine has shifted the political balance in the region — and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan can see his chance.

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LGBTQ Plus

LGBTQ+ International: Spain’s Transgender Bill, Istanbul Pride Arrests — And The Week’s Other Top News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — a topic that you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

Featuring, this week:

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Geopolitics
Meike Eijsberg

NATO Entry For Sweden And Finland? Erdogan May Not Be Bluffing

When the two Nordic countries confirmed their intention to join NATO this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated his plans to block the application. Accusing Sweden and Finland of' "harboring" some of his worst enemies may not allow room for him to climb down.

-Analysis-

LONDON — When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared his opposition to Finland and Sweden entering NATO, it took most of the West's top diplomatic experts by surprise — with the focus squarely on how Russia would react to having two new NATO members in the neighborhood. (So far, that's been a surprise too)

But now Western oversight on Turkey's stance has morphed into a belief in some quarters that Erdogan is just bluffing, trying to get concessions from the negotiations over such a key geopolitical issue.

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To be clear, any prospective NATO member requires the consent of all 30 member states and their parliaments. So Erdogan does indeed have a card to play, which is amplified by the sense of urgency: NATO, Sweden and Finland are keen to complete the accession process with the war in Ukraine raging and the prospect of strengthening the military alliance's position around the Baltic Sea.

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Society
Manuel Ligero

Orhan Pamuk On Pandemics, Press Freedom And An Eye On Erdogan's Defeat

Nights of Plague is the latest book by the Turkish Nobel Prize winner, a fictional rendering based on historical reality that draws parallels (political and health-wise) between the past and the present.

MADRID — Orhan Pamuk is a kind of Bosphorus Bridge of literature: He unites two continents, two cultures, two philosophical and religious visions that have, over the centuries, tenaciously turned their backs on each other.

In his country, as the authoritarian drift of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has deepened, the author and public intellectual has progressively become a thorn in the side of the government. However, his run-ins with the Islamo-nationalist regime have not made a dent in his cheerful and optimistic personality.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Massimo D'Angelo

Ukraine Peace Talks: Erdogan's Chance To Cement Turkey As Key Power Broker

After more than a month of fighting, a fresh round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine has begun in Istanbul in the hope that progress can be made. Following weeks of fruitless talks in Belarus, negotiations were hosted by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who made a short opening statement telling both sides: “The world is waiting for good news, and good news from you.”

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The very fact that talks have moved from Belarus, a key Russian ally, to Turkey is an indication that things have changed and that Russia’s military position is not as strong as it had originally hoped for. Meanwhile, the decision to hold the meetings in Turkey make sense for a number of reasons.

It’s not the first time the two sides have met since the invasion on February 24. Turkey hosted a meeting in Antalya on March 10 between the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and his opposite number, Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba. The talks took place against a backdrop of worsening violence across Ukraine and were largely unfruitful, except as an opportunity for the two sides to send messages to the watching world.

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Weird

Why These 7 Eternal Flames Around The World Keep On Burning

The president of Turkmenistan announced plans this year to extinguish the country's famous "Gates of Hell" gas crater. But it's by no means the only one of its kind. We rounded up the eternal flames still burning in all corners of the globe.

On Jan. 8, Turkmenistan’s leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, known for his authoritarian tendencies, announced on television that he had set his sights on the Darvaza Gas Crater, also known as the “Gates of Hell”, a mysterious vat of flames that has been spewing fire for over 50 years in the Karakum Desert.

The burning crater is one of the central Asian country’s few tourist attractions, yet President Berdymukhamedov has ordered it extinguished once and for all, saying the methane-belching pit was bad for the environment and locals’ health, while also representing a lost opportunity for the impoverished nation to capture marketable gas.

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