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Hurriyet ("Liberty") is a leading Turkish newspaper founded by Sedat Simavi in May 1948. Based in Istanbul, the newspaper is printed in six cities in Turkey but also in Frankfurt, Germany. Owned by Aydin Dogan, some 600,000 copies of Hurriyet are distributed everyday.
Poopgate: Is Beloved Istanbul Street Dog Caught In Turkey’s Political Dirty Tricks?
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Poopgate: Is Beloved Istanbul Street Dog Caught In Turkey’s Political Dirty Tricks?

Boji the dog was giving a good image to Istanbul's public transportation system. Some wonder if opponents of the mayor exercised the canine nuclear option...

Boji, a street dog in Istanbul, has garnered national and international acclaim in recent weeks for his ability to navigate the Turkish megapolis all on his own — commuting on the metro, riding ferries and even taking elevators.

According to Getty Images photographer Chris McGrath, who followed him around the city, Boji loves riding the city's trams and trains. The dog's name comes from the word "bogie" ("boji" in Turkish), the framework of a vehicle that houses the wheel and axle, since his favorite spot is sitting on top of the bogie and feeling the vibrations of the engine.

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A workshop in Cannes, France dedicated to making protective masks for the community.

Face Masks Around The World, Manufacturing And Moving On

There has been plenty of debate and questions surrounding the use of masks since the coronavirus pandemic started. Should we wear them or not? What type of mask works the best? Should countries make them compulsory? But even as a general scientific consensus has emerged that masks are one of the most effective tools at our disposal to prevent the virus from spreading, countries faced another problem: how to obtain, produce and control the millions of masks necessary for their health workers and population.

Many countries had to deal with severe shortages with cargos of masks being sold to the highest bidder. For some, which found themselves unable to produce masks quickly and in large volumes, the manufacturing of these protective products has become an example of the shortfalls of outsourcing, while others took this opportunity to expand their market.

After more than six months since the beginning of the pandemic in China, here's how three countries are currently dealing with the manufacturing of masks:

France - Overproduction: The textile industry finds itself with tons of cloth masks as orders have almost come to a halt, causing real difficulties to some of the 400 companies which invested hastily to respond to the government's call, according to Les Echos.

An ironic situation considering the country was facing a severe shortage at the beginning of the pandemic. According to the French Union of the textile industries, around 40 millions masks are still waiting for buyers at the moment and some companies, which mobilized all their workers for weeks to produce masks, now find themselves with the equivalent for several years of raw material stocks, that will certainly fall in value.

But why can't they find any buyers? Because French citizens and companies tend to buy cheaper single-use paper masks from Asia, Le Parisien reports. The latter cost between 0.55 and 0.60 euros compared to 3 to 5 euros for a French cloth mask. But in the end, the latter is more cost-efficient and environmentally sound, as it is reusable. The government is currently working to find a way to promote the Made in France masks, as well as to quickly find an outlet to distribute the surplus.


A worker demonstrates non-woven filter fabric used to make face masks in a factory in Zhongli, TaiwanPhoto: Lin Yen Ting

Turkey - Exporter: As soon as the virus started to spread worldwide at the beginning of 2020, Turkey was sought out to produce masks on a grand scale. According to data from the World Trade Organization, Turkey is one the world's largest textile exporting countries and had therefore sufficient raw material stocks to meet the high demand.

China ordered 200 million masks from Turkish medical firms in January, according to the Anadolu Agency and later on, several EU countries requested the protective products as well, a textile firm even receiving a one-billion mask order.

A Turkish protective gear factory, which was founded in less a month during the pandemic, claims to be the world's largest mask production facility that doesn't use imported material. The company is currently repurposing three ships to use them as floating masks factories that could each produced around 500 million face masks during their sea voyages to sell to countries in North and South America, Hürriyet reports.

Finland - Self-Sufficiency: At the end of May, the government announced that three Finnish companies had started to produce protective materials such as masks and respirators, following an initiative launched by the Ministry of Employment and Economy to start domestic production, Yle reports.


Inside a medical mask production workshop in Tangshan, Hebei Province, China Photo: Yang Shiyao

At the beginning of the pandemic, Finland faced major shortages of protective equipment and had to fight with other countries on the international market, as prices were soaring. For Minister of Labour Tuula Haatainen, the pandemic "has exposed the vulnerability of international supply chains and highlighted the importance of domestic production."

The government hopes that domestic manufacturing will cover the needs of health and social workers, who, according to its estimates, require around one million masks everyday, News Now Finland reports. Though masks are not compulsory for Finnish citizens, the country's authorities say they want to be prepared for a possible second wave of the virus in autumn.

Taiwan - Setting Standards: Since the crisis began in neighboring China, rival island nation Taiwan has been at the cutting-edge on controlling the spread of COVID-19 — and an innovative policy for distributing and tracking the use of masks gets some of the credit. It included a name-based rationing system for face masks in the beginning, and once production was accelerated, made masks widely available in convenience stores and through an app.

And now, the country continues to reap the benefits, having virtually halted the spread of the virus. Taiwan News reports that the government has further eased restrictions, including allowing passengers on trains and airplanes to take off their masks once they've passed temperature controls. Still, China Times reports an estimated 90% of passengers on mass transit were still wearing masks.

Warplane at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey
Sedat Ergin

On Erdogan's Ambitions: A Short History Of Nuclear Weapons In Turkey

ISTANBUL — One of the more prestigious duties for the pilots of the Turkish Air Forces during the Cold War years was the "nuclear watch." The four main air bases in Turkey had been housing U.S. nuclear warheads since the beginning of the 1960's. The nuclear class planes piloted by Turks were assigned to drop the warheads on certain Warsaw Pact countries in case NATO would decide to do so.

The main jet bases of Eskişehir, Balıkesir, Ankara Mürted (Akıncı) and Malatya Erhaç had a nuclear capacity fleet (first the F-100s, then the F-104s and then the F-4s) assigned to it. The nuclear watch required that, around the clock, four pilots from each fleet be ready to immediately take off with nuclear weapons if necessary.

I wanted to offer some brief reminders of the history of nuclear weapons in Turkey since the 1960s and their status today as we witness the discussion raised by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who has voiced his desire for Turkey to have nuclear weapons of its own.

Turkey played a key role in NATO's nuclear deterrence for many years.

Back through the Cold War years, U.S. officers were on duty too. Their job was to enter the nuclear codes to be sent by the U.S. President in the event of a nuclear mission. The planes would have nuclear capacity only after these codes were sent by the White House. A small U.S. military unit was present at each base, responsible for the security of the warehouses where the nuclear weapons were stored.

There were also nuclear warheads at the U.S. Incirlik Air Base in Adana, alongside these four Turkish bases. Incirlik had a different status; U.S. warplanes with American pilots would be flying the nuclear warheads in case of an event.

The U.S. Incirlik Air Base in Adana — Photo: U.S. Air Force

So, yes: Turkey played a key role in NATO's nuclear deterrence for many years. Turkey was the most important front on the south wing of the alliance to deploy nuclear weapons by planes towards the Soviet Union and other countries of the Warsaw Pact.

Thankfully, the feared nuclear war never happened. The Turkish pilots never had to take off on a nuclear mission. Following the end of the Cold War, in the early 1990s, there was no more need for the Turkish bases to house nuclear weapons, which were removed and the nuclear watches abandoned.

The exception to this change to the doctrine was the decision to keep the nuclear warheads at the Incirlik Base, where the U.S. has continued to maintain the ability to use nuclear weapons from there in the event of a conflict — to this day. This arrangement is, naturally, based on an agreement with Turkey which houses the warheads within its borders.

The nuclear weapons, which were removed and the nuclear watches abandoned.

How would the system work if it comes to deploy the warheads today? The Turkish authorities have always stated that the use of the nuclear capacity of Incirlik is based on a two distinct types of systems. There are certain procedures that the Turkish side must agree to, such as taking the weapons out of storage, loading them onto planes and having the planes take off. Therefore any nuclear action to come from Incirlik would require both the codes from the U.S. President and the approval of the host, Turkey.

Artificially employed
Irene Caselli and Rozena Crossman

Work → In Progress: Keeping It Human

A lot of the current debate surrounding the world of work is about figuring who will get the job in the future: machines or humans? We have covered it before, and we will continue covering it. But are we becoming too fixated with the idea that robots and algorithms will replace us, that we have stopped thinking about the future of work for us humans? Yes, the data itself shows that people will keep working! So in this edition of "Work → In Progress," we want to dig a little deeper to see how the future of work will look for us … and, yes: This is being written by a human!

IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID! While store giant Walmart has rolled out thousands of robots across the U.S. in order to clean floors and scan inventory, real cleaners are more in demand across Latin America, reports BBC Mundo, citing data by the Inter-American Development Bank. So, what is behind such opposing trends? Cleaning floors and scanning inventory can be easily automatized. But robots are too expensive for the up-and-coming middle classes in Latin America that only now enjoy more financial stability to be able to afford cleaners at home. And, unfortunately, low-skilled jobs such as cleaning are still poorly paid, and hence more affordable than buying cleaning robots.

SUPERJOBS A recent Deloitte study on human capital puts the spotlight on what they predict to be the future of work: Welcome superjobs! The idea is that one person will be able to do what several people used to do, combining digital knowledge with traditional skills. Does it sound somewhat ominous? Swiss financial platform Allnews says that superjobs will be "more interesting". But Steve LeVine, future editor at Axios, suggests that "superjob" may be just another word for "optimization of the workforce," i.e. more work for fewer people.

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Erdogan and Modi in India
Ayaz Ali

Turkey, India And Israel: The Changing Faces Of Populism

Political Scientist Soner Cagaptay once dubbed Recep Tayyip Erdogan the "inventor of 21st-century populism." There may be some truth to that, especially given the way the Turkish president's style of leadership has quickly spread in recent years. But as we progress further into the millennium, it's also clear that populism has evolved. Those with a claim to redefining the populist formula include U.S. President Donald Trump, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, and India's Narendra Modi.

Still, since his election as prime minister in 2003, Erdogan's rise is instructive. Initially working on a mandate of liberal inclusivity with echoes of Tony Blair, his policy and rhetoric alike morphed as he consolidated power. An analysis by the Guardian shows how he changed his language to stir and take hold of his electorate: His enemies became "enemies of the people;" his electoral successes became victories against the "tyranny of elites."

In time, to spread his populism he needed to infuse it with religion, and soon the "will of the people" became the "will of God." Grounded in Islamic Nationalism, Erdogan won the presidency in 2014 and 2018 after a decade as prime minister — despite persistent allegations of corruption.

Perhaps Erdogan's brand of populism is finally losing its appeal.

But with his party's recent failure to capture Istanbul's mayoral seat, Erdogan's influence seems in question. The shock loss of the AKP in Istanbul initially prompted calls for a recount, which confirmed the result. Its first defeat in the city in a quarter century, the party's response has now been to up the stakes: they want to re-do the election altogether, Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News reports.

A high-risk move that threatens its legitimacy, the strategy speaks to how thoroughly the AKP's power is at risk; perhaps Erdogan's brand of populism is finally losing its appeal. To understand why we must look beyond Turkey's borders.

Erdogan's style is echoed by the likes of Benjamin Netanyahu and Narendra Modi, both of whom appeal to the common voter with a religious nationalism that in some degree relies on the exclusion of Muslims. All three leaders face a time of uncertainty in their leadership, and a look at how they maneuver it may prove revealing.

Netanyahu after elections results earlier this month — Photo: Oliver Weiken/DPA/ZUMA

Netanyahu has faced his own challenges of late. Dogged by corruption allegations from his own attorney general, he also battled through an unexpectedly tight election. But unlike Erdogan and the AKP, Netanyahu prevailed by forming a coalition. His success also stems from his good international standing, another way in which he distinguishes himself from the Turkish leader. As such he continues to enjoy powerful support from international leaders like Donald Trump.

Modi is the latest of the three to face a leadership challenge, as India begins the early stages of humanity's largest ever election, seen by many as a referendum on Modi himself. While by no means certain, the fate of India's leader seems somewhat secure. The Israeli daily Haaretz noted that like Netanyahu, Modi's style of populism sees success in stirring and uniting voters against international danger. For Israel, this remains Iran, while for India, the clearest enemy is Pakistan, reconfirmed by tensions in Kashmir.

Modi's style of populism sees success in stirring and uniting voters against international danger.

In the case of both Netanyahu and Modi, their brand of populism feeds on fears of national security, rallying the franchise not just against a domestic elite but against the global enemies of progress, fighting those who oppose the "national interest" and the wellbeing of the common people.

In many senses, Modi, the newest of the three leaders, fuses the two populist styles that preceded him in both Netanyahu and Erdogan. Like Erdogan, his rhetoric stresses the importance of his nation's historical legacy, as noted by Indian politician Shashi Tharoor. And Modi's final aim, according to Professor Sumantra Bose of the London School of Economics, seems to be to emulate the Israeli model of the religious nation-state.

Without exception, all three populist leaders present themselves as a champion of marginalized people excluded by modern secularism. But where India distinguishes itself alone is in not just its size, but its position as a rapidly developing world power with a deep, historically entrenched commitment to democracy. Using this may be Modi's key to forming a newer kind of populism, and avoiding the mistakes of the "inventors' before him.

Seether concert at the Bataclan on Oct. 15
Tori Otten

Bataclan To Pulse, The Show Must Go On. Or Must It?


PARIS — Next month marks the two-year anniversary of the Bataclan attack — and the one-year anniversary of its reopening. The Nov. 13, 2015 shooting that took place at the historic Paris music venue, along with coordinated attacks at nearby cafes and a soccer stadium, left a total of 130 people dead. It was an attack on everything that the Bataclan, which had featured everything from Offenbach operettas to heavy metal bands since its 1865 opening, had stood for: youth, joy, entertainment and life.

After its reopening last year, with a concert by Sting, the concert hall had trouble booking other acts, as many musicians were reluctant to perform in a place where so many people had been killed. In the 11 months since, Le Monde reports on Tuesday, the Bataclan has booked 20% fewer shows than before the attacks. The first six months were especially hard, according to Jules Frutos, one of the current top managers at the Bataclan. "We obviously weren't drowning in calls from agents who wanted their artists performing here."

In the aftermath of such a tragic event, especially when the venue has been specifically targeted, deciding what becomes of the site is never easy. The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was faced with the same dilemma as the Bataclan after the massacre there in June 2016. As with the Bataclan, the symbolism of the locale is crucial. After the shooting, Pulse's owner Barbara Poma launched the onePulse Foundation, with the goal of turning the club into a memorial and museum for the shooting victims. She is now looking to reopen the club, but in a different location, leaving the original building for the memorial. "This project is not about replacing a building or a fun hangout for the gay community," said Jason Felts, a onePulse Foundation board member, in an official statement. "This project is about healing."

There is, however, a third option. After the New Year's Eve shooting at Reina nightclub in Istanbul, carried out by an Islamic terrorist, the Municipality Board decided to demolish the venue, saying that parts of the building had been built illegally. According to Turkish daily Hurriyet, the club's owner said he also no longer wanted to "sell entertainment in a place in which many people died."

Deciding what becomes of the site is never easy.

More and more attacks seem to target people enjoying themselves, including the Oct. 1 mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas and last May's attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. A tragedy at these kinds of major venues, of course, also leaves its mark, though such spaces are less likely to be immediately associated with that event.

For the Bataclan, the challenge is to simultaneously overcome and remember what happened on November 13, 2015. Next up at the Bataclan, on Wednesday night, is a performance by French comedian Michaël Gregorio. That, ladies and gentleman, will be one tough room to play.

Erdogan, center, marks the coup anniversary in Ankara

Turkey Referendum, Erdogan Victory Leaves Questions Open

ISTANBUL — The narrow win of the "yes' camp in Sunday's crucial constitutional amendment to change Turkey to a presidential system is a major victory for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP). Though final results are not yet certified, 51.3% of the more than 58 million Turkish voters (turnout of more than 84%) favored the sweeping package of changes.

The approval of the amendment package — which was backed by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and opposed by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), the third largest party in parliament — means an administrative shift will take place in 2019 if no early elections are held, Istanbul-based top daily Hürriyet reports.

But, as Ali Kayalar wrote in Hürriyet, the tight win in the April 16 constitutional amendment referendum will raises as many questions as it answers for AKP. "The party lost its dominance in Turkey's largest cities Istanbul and Ankara, falling far behind the sum total of 60.4 percent that it and its referendum ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) achieved in the most recent general election on Nov. 1, 2015."

Read the full piece here.

Protests by the opposition were expected Monday.

Protestors took to the streets of Istanbul to rally against the referendum results on April 17.
Ahmet Hakan

A Sacred Right To Celebrate? 7 Questions After Istanbul New Year’s Attack

ISTANBUL — The New Year's Eve terrorist attack at a popular nightclub in an upscale neighborhood of Istanbul has left 39 dead and dozens wounded. As Turkish authorities continue their search for the suspect, the terror group ISIS claimed responsibility Monday for the attack at the Reina nightclub, which some have noted came after loud public debates about the celebration of Western secular holidays. Here are seven questions and answers to better understand what happened, as well as the broader context in Turkey, and beyond.

1. What is the symbolic meaning of the nightclub Reina?

Reina may be out of fashion for the locals of Istanbul, but the club is quite well-known outside of Turkey, which is what would make it a target with immediate recognition and importance.

2. What was the ultimate goal of the Reina massacre?

Even if there may be dozens of explanations for what happened, the most basic objective is to provoke hostility among the people of Turkey, by dividing them into camps of those who celebrate the (Western) New Year and those who do not. In other words, no matter who is behind it, this was a way to simply plant the seeds of hate.

3. With all the warnings we've had, how could this massacre have happened?

After all the alarms and so much law enforcement and intelligence devoted to averting such attacks, there was exactly one single police officer outside of Reina.

4. Are we supposed to not discuss the failure of security this time around?

I guess we will have to skip it again: so many of us are just too busy banning discussion of another security failure to have time enough to figure out how not to cause the next security failure.

5. What if these Western holidays make you want to punch Santa Claus or put a gun to his head?

You may not want to celebrate the New Year. You even may have criticism towards those who do. But it is hate crime territory after you start to express yourself with guns and violence.

6. What can we learn from the message from the head of the Turkish Office of Religious Affairs?

The statement from Office of Religious Affairs President Mehmet Gormez after the massacre is very important. He said: "There is no difference between an inhuman attack on an entertainment venue or a marketplace or a sacred temple." If only he would have said this before the New Year celebration, and tell his imams at mosques to pass on the message stop with the language of hatred and violence towards those who celebrate the New Year.

7. Will those who praise terrorism on social media be prosecuted?

Let us see what will happen to those who say things like "it is a good thing that the infidels are dead" in this era of detaining everybody because they said this or that on the social media.

Confiscated ISIS chemical weapons
Tolga Tanis

The ISIS Rockets “Made In Turkey”

In Iraq, near Mosul, ISIS was running a sophisticated operation to make guns and explosives. A new report has found much of the material used came from facilities in Turkey.

ISTANBUL — The events took place after the beginning of the Mosul operation. The Iraqi military had gained control of both the Gogjali neighborhood and the town of Qaraqosh, also known as Bakhdida, both near Mosul. The Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a British NGO researching arms in conflict zones, entered these areas alongside the military. They found terror group ISIS's weapons manufacturing facilities.

It turns out that ISIS was running a sophisticated operation to make guns and explosives. They apparently had the same standards as a country would have. Much of the material used came from facilities in Turkey — the sugar used in rocket fuel, the grade of aluminum needed for bombs, the grease to smooth guns and ammunition, the cement used for making mortar shells, the potassium nitrate manure used to make rockets.

There are two important angles here. First, CAR had published another report in February that detailed the materials used by ISIS to produce explosives. The NGO revealed that 13 Turkish companies supplied the components used by ISIS. Nine months later, CAR saw in its Mosul research that these materials remained on the ISIS supply chain. Second, CAR staff could not make any progress when they contacted the Turkish companies and government because no one shared information.

I recently met CAR executive director James Bevan to speak about the findings of his NGO's research. I asked for details about their findings of potassium nitrate to deepen my research. Why did I choose this substance? It's because all the other materials are legal in industrial production. But potassium nitrate was banned in Turkey in June because of its usage in the production of bombs. So how did it enter the ISIS supply chain?

First, I got the numbers on the packages with the logo of the Turkish company Doktor Tarsa: 18258, 21019, 18745, 100427, 12657, 120215, 11407, 240412 and 18472. Then I contacted Doktor Tarsa. It's a respected company with foreign partners and manufacturing plants in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions of Turkey. I wanted to know the name of the retail dealers the company sold the packages to. I received an answer from the communications associate at their sales department. They first wanted to know why I was asking for this information, and then told me: "I want to inform you that we can answer officially when this information is requested by an official document in writing or to share the information with the National Intelligence Organization of Turkey." I contacted the company's higher executives. This time the answer came from the company's general director Ali Behzat Özman; it was a response with accusations that advised me to contact the government of Turkey.

So, I contacted the government. I was told that related data is at the agriculture department. But the official I spoke with at the ministry told me that their database does not include the numbers on the packages. He told me they know which retail dealer gets how much but they do not keep track who the packages go to. Since the company has already stated that they would share this information only with Turkish intelligence, I had exhausted my options as a journalist.

I do not know if Turkish intelligence asked for this information or Doktor Tarsa told them. The company refused to answer that question too. I do have some data that might be useful though. The potassium nitrate manure used by ISIS to make rocket fuel in the kind of rockets that hit Kilis among other places. Ammonium nitrate manure used by ISIS directly produces explosives. Check the website of the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) to see when Turkey had exported ammonium nitrate to Syria before the civil war. It was sent just twice — in 2003 and 2008. What about after the war started? "Syrian farmers' suddenly realized the importance of ammonium nitrate and started to import it from Turkey since 2013 — 1195 tons in the first year, 9542 tons in 2014 and 2576 tons in 2015. They were well-stocked before it was also banned in 2016. I thought you had the right to know this.

Church on the Greek island of Leros
Mehmet Y. Yilmaz

Greek Conspiracy Theories, Turkish Truths And Lies

ISTANBUL — There is an Italian saying: "Una faccia, una razza." It means "One face, one race," and is used by Italians and Greeks to note the characteristics the two peoples share.

When it comes to Turkish and Greeks, I use this phrase as "One face, one mentality." I don't know how similar Greeks and Italians are — I haven't spent enough time in either of those countries to know — but I can say for a fact that Greeks and Turks have plenty in common. One of my friends says it all boils down to the fact that we eat the same kind of food. But we also share the same sea and breathe the same air. And somehow, it has all led to us having the same conspiring mentality.

Two weeks ago, I went for a few days to the Greek island of Leros, which is not far from the Turkish coast. I've gotten to know the restaurant and bar owners, the grocers, taxi drivers, and bakers on the island. They are my friends.

While I was on Leros, came the words from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that made major headlines in Turkey and Greece: "Lausanne is not a victory: It's a fiasco." He was talking about the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which is usually seen as the founding basis of modern Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and a triumph of Turkey's secular leadership.

As you can imagine, there is a difference between hearing those words in Turkey and on a Greek island, which Erdogan apparently considers Turkish territory.

But if you sit on the beach of a nearby Greek island, you'll immediately understand why. There is a huge piece of land just to the East that is packed with armed soldiers. And if you are on a small island facing a giant land, it's impossible to avoid flinching, for there is nothing but water that surrounds you and scary "history lessons" that have been registered in your mind since your childhood.

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Leros waterfront — Photo: KV 28

And so I heard the locals on Leros captivated in conspiracy theories set off by Erdogan's speech. It quickly reminded me of the way we Turks try to find the "evil U.S." responsible for every single unfortunate event, and of the way the Greeks look for the "Merkel witch" under every bad stone. The most recent conspiracy theory is this: Merkel is so panicked about the Syrian refugees from Turkey eventually arriving in Germany that she is prepared to give Erdogan anything he wants.

Following Erdogan's declaration that the loss of 12 islands to Greece with the Lausanne treaty was a huge failure, the Greek conspiracy theory takes shape as follows: Erdogan will promise to take all refugees back to Turkey; in exchange, Merkel and the European Union will force Greece to return the 12 Islands to Turkey — the remaining three million refugees will then be placed on the islands. Erdogan's dreams of triumph will come true and Merkel will be able to finally rest at ease!

What do you think? Are Greek conspiracy theories crazier than the Turkish ones?

The coup effect

Meanwhile, in a different speech, Erdogan again complained about attempts to demean the presidency. In our country, the president is elected to power and represents the unity of the nation according to the constitution. That's why the president swears to stay impartial at the beginning of his tenure.

But Erdogan didn't keep his promise. He should have resigned from his party the day he was elected president, but he didn't. He has acted as a partial president, and continues to do so. He doesn't hesitate to divide the country in terms of "us vs. them." And he has again made it clear that he doesn't agree with the founding values of the Turkish Republic.

But, as the state of emergency is now extended for another three months, following the July 15 coup attempt, Erdogan doesn't have to answer to anyone. The state of emergency allows the president to rule the country as an authoritarian regime, without any checks and balances that can limit his power. This was always his dream. This is not a conspiracy theory, it is reality.

Syria-Turkey border
Mehmet Y. Yilmaz

The Many Double Meanings Of The Turkey-Syria Border

Note: This article was originally published on July 13, before the failed coup attempt


ISTANBUL — This newspaper (Turkish daily Hürriyet) published the following report last month: "Syrians who want to spend the Ramadan Bayram (Eid al-Fitr) holiday with the relatives they left behind in their country where a horrible civil war is still going on, started to pass through the Cilvegozu border crossing located in Reyhanli, Hatay ..."

One Syrian migrant who crossed back into his native country at the Cilvegozu border said that he was going to spend 10 days in Syria, before returning to Turkey.

We have been told repeatedly that Syrian migrants come to Turkey because they cannot stay in their own country due to the civil war. So that would seem to mean that they have no place to go back to. But as you can see, there are those who have the option and resources to go to their own country, and then come back to our country. This naturally leads us to ask: If someone can go back to his own country and freely stay at least 10 days there, then what is he doing in this country as a refugee?

On the Syrian side of the Cilvegozu border crossing, the gate — called Bab al-Hawa — is controlled by the Islamic Front, a Salafi and jihadist organization. It took the border gate from the Free Syrian Army and is also fighting against ISIS and the Assad regime. For a Syrian to pass freely from the border crossing to go back to his country, they need to be at least not opposed to this organization. Or does that mean some of those crossing might even be supporters of this Salafist group? In any case, people identified as refugees because of an ongoing war are going back to the country they fled to spend a holiday with relatives — isn't there something strange going on here?

The border between Turkey and Syria is also central to news reported last month by The Washington Post: Rifai Ahmed Taha, a prominent al-Qaeda leader, was killed by a U.S. drone strike at a gas station in Idlib, Syria. Taha, 61, had gone to Syria from Istanbul to mediate between Jabhat al-Nusra, considered al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, and other jihadist groups. Taha had also been a senior leader in Gamaa Islamiya, the terrorist organization responsible for killing 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptian guides in 1997 in Luxor, Egypt, and was on Washington's terror watch list as a "specially designated global terrorist."

Until now, it sounds like the recap of a familiar story: The U.S. pursues global terrorists who are on the watch list. When the terrorist is located, he becomes a target for drones or for military operations like the one that killed Osama Bin Laden.

But a closer look reveals that the reason why Taha had been able to avoid surveillance for so long was the fact that he was living in Istanbul. Evidently, to avoid causing a diplomatic problem with Turkey, the U.S. had settled with keeping an eye on Taha while he was in the Turkish capital, but the moment he crossed the Turkish border and was spotted in Syria, he was hit.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan uses every opportunity to condemn the West for a hypocritical, two-faced attitude in the face of terror organizations. "Tomorrow, you will be hit by the terrorist you are supporting today by staying silent," said Erdogan.

And yet, it is the Turkish government that turned a blind eye to a jihadist terrorist living freely in Istanbul. Taha was allowed to meet with other terrorist organizations, freely cross into Syria and act as a mediator among them.

You sure can learn a lot by looking at the Turkey-Syria border.

After the terrorist attack on Istanbul's Ataturk Airport
Melis Alphan

What To Say To A Child When Terror Attacks Become Routine

A developmental psychologist in Turkey offers some answers.

ISTANBUL — In the past year, more than 10 terrorist attacks in Turkey claimed the lives of at least 300 people.

Terror, sorrow and trauma have now spread to the big cities. We are psychologically damaged by the attacks in central Ankara and Istanbul — two cities we had believed to be well protected. Meanwhile, attacks have spread in frequency around Europe in the past two weeks.

We are worried and scared. But never mind us. What about children? How are we going to protect children who have to live with violence as part of their daily lives and keep them from becoming psychologically damaged adults?

Professor Dr. Bilge Selcuk, director of the child and family studies laboratory at Koc University's department of psychology, says that children do not fully comprehend events they hear about from their parent's conversations, and everything that is not completely understood increases a feeling of anxiety: "Since children's ability for self-control is not yet fully developed, their feelings of anxiety and fear are increased and it is harder for them to deal with these emotions."

In cities where there is a bomb attack almost every month, parents talk about staying at home, avoiding the metro and other crowded places and paying attention to people who look suspicious. They caution their children to "be careful" and to keep their eyes open.

Selcuk recommends abstaining from offering such advise.

"You are informing the child that there are threats in an environment that is impossible for him to control and you're saying, ‘Be careful, protect yourself.' This increases the level of anxiety and stress for children. And long-term stress and anxiety can damage both physical and mental health. They can develop learning, sleeping and eating disorders," she says.

Moreover, this type of advise encourages children to constantly search for threats. They start examining people around them, their physical attributes, their clothes and their behavior. This constant sense of threat breeds feelings of insecurity and generates discrimination in society. People start seeing anyone who is different from them as a potential threat and feel hostile to those who are not one of them.

"If it were possible to detect terrorists from their appearance, intelligence agents would not have any difficulty finding them," Selcuk says. "Giving children and teenagers a task that even the best security forces cannot accomplish damages their health. It also causes societal discrimination, marginalization and animosity. When people who live together start seeing each other as potential threats, violence becomes widespread in society."

So what should we do?

Selcuk says it's important to avoid emotionally loaded or discriminating language that increases anxiety. She says that children should stay informed with simple language which doesn't hold the child responsible for security and takes the weight off their shoulders.

"We need to teach our children how to unite as a community without discriminating against anyone and to act in solidarity. Sometimes politics benefits from singling out differences, polarization and sharpening divides. We, ordinary citizens, are not part of this type of politics. We should stick to basic human values independent of any political stance, recognize the disadvantaged and heed to a life of peace," says Selcuk.