When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

TOPIC: akp


The West Is Dreaming Of Erdogan’s Defeat, Very Quietly

Western leaders hope the end is coming for the reign of Turkey's longtime leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but saying it too loudly is just too risky in geopolitical terms.


PARIS — Always thinking about it, never talking about it. In Paris, Berlin or Washington, few would shed a tear if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were defeated in Sunday’s presidential election. On the contrary, they would be delighted.

But no one in these capital cities would dare say a word about Turkey that could be considered as an “interference” by the outgoing president or, worse, as foreign support to his rival, the opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Watch VideoShow less

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, The Tranquil Force To Save Turkey's Democracy

The 74-year-old veteran politician has a solid chance of unseating Erdogan from power after 20 years. Kilicdaroglu has displayed the kind of calm and open attitude to save Turkish democracy.


ISTANBUL — The world may soon get to know Kemal Kilicdaroglu well. The leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) is the presidential candidate of the six-party opposition coalition challenging the lengthy rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Polls now show that the 74-year-old veteran politician and trained economist has a solid chance to garner more than 50% of the ballots in May 14 first round of voting to take the presidency.

If Kilicdaroglu is elected, we’ll witness a long transition period to replace Erdogan, who first rose to power as prime minister in 2003, before moving on to the presidency in 2014 after a Constitutional reform changed Turkey's democracy into a presidential system.

A Kilicdaroglu victory would be a new experience for Turkey, and some of it will be made up on the go — no matter how much planning may go into it.

Keep reading...Show less

From Algiers To Ankara, A Warning To Authoritarian Leaders

In Algeria, the Bouteflika clan was driven out of power. In Turkey, Erdogan’s AKP has “only” lost ground in the big cities. In both cases, the government’s legitimacy is being deeply questioned, in a context of economic recession and democratic demands.


PARIS — Turkey. Algeria. It is perfectly artificial to compare the political events that have occurred in these two countries. A simple defeat in municipal elections for the AKP, President Erdoğan's party, in Turkey; the end of a reign, that of the Bouteflika family, in Algeria.

Keep reading...Show less

Turkey's Local Elections Test The Very Limits Of Democracy

With no other elections set for the coming years and the AKP party's increasing use of bully tactics, Turkey's local poll is a last chance to send a true political message.


ISTANBUL — The March 31 municipal elections are the last time voters in Turkey will go to the polls for the next four years — making these elections far more relevant than others for increasingly less important local governments. This vote is an opportunity to send a message to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) about their policy of anti-politics and their attempt to portray themselves as the only legitimate source of politics. Should there be politics in Turkey outside of the AKP? This is what we will vote for in the short term.

Keep reading...Show less
Ozgur Ogret

Why Turkey's Assault On Press Freedom Is Different This Time

When I told the guy at my neighborhood grocery store in the Turkish city of Istanbul that I was traveling abroad, he said, "Don't come back. Not if you can."

I told him I have a life here. "They will arrest us all, one day," he responded.

I'd never previously discussed politics with my grocer. He does not know that I'm a journalist. He's not politically active as far as I know. He's the guy who works the cash register in the store. One person among the tens of millions who feel like hostages in their own country.

After a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, we've been under a state of emergency that includes a crackdown on press freedom. So what's new, you may ask. Chances are you've heard of media clampdowns in Turkey before. Journalists are routinely jailed, media outlets are shut down, prosecutors equate pens with guns, state officials compare books to bombs. The concept of due process itself is often a myth.

But this time the repression is different. It's larger in scope, deeper in severity, more definitive. Yes, previous crises were damaging too. But I promise that what comes next is not a "Turkey at a crossroads' cliché.

I have been a vocal critic of previous administrations in Turkey, which were largely controlled by the military. Today I'm glad that the military is no longer the deciding political force in the country and I'm even more pleased that this summer's coup attempt failed. What I'm now worried about is that the fate of Turkey is now tied to the political career of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

Even when Turkey did things by the book, I used to complain because it was a terrible book. Still, there was a book. Today, there is no guide for what happens next. The state is liberal when it is politically advantageous to make peace with the Kurds, and ultra-nationalist when it is not. Turkey may be the mortal enemy of country X today. Tomorrow, we become best friends with that same country. Rules and procedures are applied only when it's beneficial for the AKP to do so on a given day.

The failed coup and the state of emergency have enhanced the authority of Erdogan and offered a veneer of legitimacy to his fickle policies. In terms of press freedom, a crisis has now turned catastrophic. This is not just another free speech issue for Turkey. The current situation will destroy independent publications and will leave none intact to survive the next fight with the administration.

The government and its devoted media and trolls may twist facts about press freedom and imprisoned journalists as much as they like. But facts do not lie. You can't count with both hands the number of independent media outlets that remain on the national level today. Publications critical of the government have been shut down and their assets confiscated. This is a fact. Working at an unbiased publication is sufficient to be labeled a traitor and prosecuted as a terrorist. This is a fact. It is also a fact that supposedly independent Turkish judiciary consists of judges and prosecutors whose entire careers are at the mercy of the justice minister.

The government and its apologists can pick and choose facts to further their arguments. When they say that the journalists behind bars do not have official press credentials, it's partly true. The whole story is that those credentials, the "yellow press cards," are granted arbitrarily by the press desk of the prime minister's office, and only if the journalist is hired with a certain insurance that's too expensive for many newsrooms to afford. Fewer than 10% of active journalists in Turkey have them. Even at a pro-government newsroom in the country (except for maybe the capital), nine out of 10 people don't have these yellow cards. That's the whole truth. Turkey is now the world's leading jailer of journalists. That too is an undeniable fact.

As I've said before, Turkey is not at a crossroads. Turkey is on a one-way road to a one-party system, which is going to be glorified by an obedient media. Turkey is about to arrive at a place where not being affiliated with the ruling party will be considered a transgression, and where speaking outside the officially-approved script can be criminalized. All journalists who are not jailed or condemned to unemployment will only have one option left — to become PR agents for the government. Turkey is heading full-speed toward this dark new place, with no sign of detours anywhere along the road.

Watch VideoShow less
Nuray Mert

Turkey, Beware Of Erdogan's Blind Faith In Majority Rule


ISTANBUL — The 2010 referendum to change Turkey's constitution to give more power to the presidency prevailed in part because of the "It Is Not Enough, But Yes" call for support. I voted "No" then. And now, as it appears that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to hold another referendum that will give even more power to the executive, I will vote "No" again. And this time, "No" is not enough.

Watch VideoShow less
Emre Kongar

A Woman's Sacred Right To Wear Shorts — Or A Headscarf


ISTANBUL — After a woman was kicked in the face on a public bus for wearing shorts, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the event as an "individual" act of discrimination. His ruling party, the AKP, expressed a similar opinion, calling it an "isolated incident."

Watch VideoShow less
Aydın Engin

Turkey's Failed Coup, Why The Official Line Doesn't Add Up

Who knew what and when? Questions linger two months after the coup attempt was quickly stamped out.

ISTANBUL — It has been more than two months since the coup attempt in Turkey, ample time, we might have thought, to learn what really happened that Friday night. And yet urgent questions linger, questions that the AKP government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prefers to leave unanswered.

First, a brief summary: detected signals of extraordinary activity within some military units reached the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) and the headquarters of the chief of general staff at 2.00 p.m. on July 15, according to one claim, and at 4 p.m. according to another.

Watch VideoShow less
Tobias Heimbach

Reading Erdogan In The Heart Of Germany's Turkish Community

In Berlin's Kreuzberg district, home to many people of Turkish descent, opinions about Recep Tayyip Erdogan and last week's failed coup that tried to oust him range from shock to skepticism.

BERLIN — The TV in the Turkish Café was tuned to CNN Türk, which was broadcasting continuous images that caused the world to collectively hold its breath on the night of the failed coup in Turkey. The images of tanks on the bridge spanning the Bosphorus; soldiers in front of the Turkish Parliament in Ankara; angry supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gathered in public squares all around the country.

"Thank goodness it's over," sighed Yaman Isa, a man in his mid 50s, as he stirred his tea. Isa has been living in Germany for 35 years but still has many relatives in Turkey. "I was shocked to the core when I heard of the attempted coup."

Watch VideoShow less
Nuray Mert

When Turkey Plays Nice With Russia And Israel, It Plays With Fire

ISTANBUL Since Turkey made conciliatory moves towards Russia and Israel last week, critics have pointed to the inconsistencies between what has been said before and what is being said now. But that is not the real issue here: The real issue is about the roots, the true nature and the costs of these changes in foreign policy.

The current state of the deal with Russia is not clear, but if matters unfold as planned, we can start selling tomatoes to Russia again. That part is easy. But dealing with jihadists is nothing like selling tomatoes, and this issue is going to give us a headache. The Istanbul airport attack was a clear sign of the cost: Is it a coincidence that ISIS members who carried out the suicide bombings turned out to be jihadists with Russian citizenship?

Watch VideoShow less
Erdem Gul

The Victims Of Erdogan's Ambitions Just Keep Piling Up

Will the Turkish President's discarded former allies ever dare to form a new party to challenge him?


ISTANBUL — Justice and Development Party (AKP) leaders never liked the way Ahmet DavutoÄŸlu became Turkey's prime minister two years ago, nor did they approve of his performance or professional style once he got the job. The only thing they actually appreciated was the way he left.

Watch VideoShow less

Turkey Intrigue, Kim's Congress, Mongolian Privacy


Turkish politics comes with no shortage of intrigue. Before Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced his resignation yesterday, the first word of the depths of his rift with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came via an anonymous blog post succulently entitled The Pelican File. Meanwhile main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu described Davutoglu's departure as a "palace coup," amid growing concerns about Erdogan's thirst for power.

The ramifications of the resignation go well beyond the corridors of Ankara or internal differences in the AKP ruling party. Turkey is at the center of major international conflicts, from its relationship with other key Sunni-dominated countries in the Gulf to the Kurdish question to the fate of a continuous stream of Europe-bound refugees crossing its border with war-torn Syria.

One long-held dream for some was the idea that Turkey could eventually become part of the European Union. Writing in Geneva-based Le Temps, Boris Mabillard says there should be no rush to integrate Turkey, and the EU "betrays its own values by turning a blind eye to Erdogan's authoritarian drift." In more immediate terms, the stakes of foreign policy can be tallied in the Turkish border city of Kilis. For years, it has been forced to absorb countless Syrian refugees. Now, it's Syrian missiles.


Leader Kim Jong-un is expected to further cement his power at North Korea's first congress since 1980. BBC reports that some foreign journalists have been invited but banned from entering the guarded congress — and whisked off instead on a factory tour.


An out-of-control blaze has swallowed whole neighborhoods in Canada's energy heartland and now threatens two oil sands sites as it edges south.


Happy birthday to George Clooney, turning 55 today! What else? Check today's 57-second shot of history.


It's not just liberals who can't stomach the idea of a Donald Trump presidency. Even the GOP's highest ranking elected official, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is not ready for Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee. See his interview here.


For the second time this month, SpaceX has landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a ship at sea, after bringing a Japanese communications satellite to orbit, Space.com reports.


As part of the next Act in the Greek austerity drama, a three-day strike kicks off today to protest a Parliamentary vote Sunday on pension and tax reforms, a prerequisite for the cash-strapped country to receive more international bailout money. Read more on the Greek Reporter.


Guatemalan Marimba — Antigua, 1989


"Today we have to admit that this dream of one European state with one common interest, with one vision … one European nation, this was an illusion," EU Council President Donald Tusk said during a meeting on the state of the European Union in Rome.

Watch VideoShow less