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TOPIC: turkey


Turkish Airlines, Erdogan's Ultimate Soft Power Weapon

In the last 20 years, Turkish Airlines’ rapid development has shocked its competitors. The carrier is generating substantial profits, while serving the interests of the Turkish state.

ISTANBUL — A young pilot takes off in a biplane reminiscent of the interwar period. He lands on an asphalt runway and parks alongside Boeing 737s. On the tarmac, another pilot in a contemporary uniform greets him and escorts him into a gleaming airport lined with Asian stewardesses and passengers.

A screen announces a departure for Lusaka (Zambia). "All these nationalities and destinations..." marvels the young pilot, scanning a flight display panel. "Of course, we're the airline that flies to the largest number of countries in the world," replies the proud modern-day pilot.

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This scene, taken from a commercial broadcast last June, celebrates the 90th anniversary of Turkish Airlines, the country's national carrier. Founded in 1933, the airline's history is, in many respects, remarkable. With service to 129 countries, it is the carrier with the most international connections in the world, 9 countries ahead of second-placed Air France-KLM.

In the span of 20 years, Turkish Airlines has become a major player in the global airline industry, with seemingly unstoppable expansion. Having extended its network to the European, North American, Middle Eastern and African markets, the Turkish carrier has set its sights on India and Asia.

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Worldcrunch Magazine #59 — How The World Sees The War In Gaza

November 20 - November 26, 2023

Here's the latest edition of Worldcrunch Magazine, a selection of our best articles of the week from top international journalists, produced exclusively in English for Worldcrunch readers.


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Gaza, A View From Istanbul: Why I Still Believe In Western Values

Palestinians are suffering under the Israeli regime and relentless bombardment of Gaza, yet the Western world, also known to be the "civilized" world, continues to support Israel. Turkey's complex relationship with Islamic and Middle Eastern countries as well as with the West brings back the most fundamental questions about the past and future.


ISTANBUL — Civilians in Palestine are being bombed in front of our eyes. The “civilized” world continues to stand witness to the reckless use of violence by Israel, as it has done so many times before. Yet a part of the world does not just witness the violence: It openly excuses and supports it — much the same as the blind eye turned for decades to the tortures suffered by the Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

The Palestinians are suffering under a rotten Israeli regime currently run by racists. The right-wing fanatics among the world's Jewish population in various parts of the globe are doing their best to wear down the anti-war supporters, who are doing their best to make their voice heard. We've heard these voices from both sides many times before. I believe the existence of the Jews who take to the streets of Tel Aviv and in the cities of the West to protest the Israeli assault on Gaza are the most meaningful acts of opposition. They are not many, but they are being heard and seen.

Turkey, meanwhile, is no less predictable. Everybody knows who will react to what, when and for what purpose. The ruling administration and some small opposition parties who share much in common perceive what’s happening from a window of pan-Islamism. Their current reaction is unfortunately not related to commitments to human rights or international law, or even from an anti-war stance against the fascistic attitude of the Israeli government.

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Has The Time Come To Take U.S. Nuclear Weapons Out Of Turkey?

It was a wakeup call for some: pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Turkey tried to storm the U.S. base Incirlik where nuclear weapons have long been stationed. There is more discussion than ever about whether the NATO partner is still a trustworthy military ally with such potent weapons within reach.


BERLIN — They came with Turkish and Palestinian flags and tried to enter the grounds of one of the most important U.S. military bases in the Middle East: On November 5, thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey to protest Israel's offensive in Gaza. The police dispersed the crowd with tear gas and water cannons.

The American airbase is a singular symbol for the presence of both NATO and the U.S. on Turkish territory for one reason above all: U.S. nuclear weapons are stored there.

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Shortly after the demonstrators attempted to enter the site, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Ankara, though was not received by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. These coinciding events once again raise the question of whether the U.S. can still trust Turkey, a full-fledged NATO member, as a partner — and whether the Incirlik military base and its atomic arsenal is a wise choice.

According to estimates, the number of nuclear weapons stationed there had been around 50, accounting for one-third of the total of 150 U.S. nuclear bombs thought to be in Europe. In recent years, experts believe the U.S. is said to have reduced its arsenal at Incirlik to perhaps around 20.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Serhii Sydorenko

Zelensky Should Cancel His Visit To Israel Right Now

After the postponement of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's planned trip to Israel, there are voices now saying it should be cancelled outright. What's the price of Ukraine publicly declaring its support for the current actions of the Israeli government and military?


KYIV — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's planned visit to Israel on Tuesday was postponed after a weekend leak that revealed details of his arrival. Reports suggest that Zelensky remains eager to travel to Tel Aviv to express support for the Jewish state amidst the ongoing conflict.

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This risks becoming the President's most significant foreign policy blunder since the start of the Russian invasion.

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Christoph B. Schiltz

Why The West Says Nothing About Erdogan's Pro-Hamas Rhetoric

The Turkish president praises the Hamas terrorists as "freedom fighters" and NATO says nothing. This is a snapshot of realpolitik at 360 degrees — starting with Erdogan.


BERLIN — It is hard to bear that the leader of a key NATO country like Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, praises the Hamas terrorists as "freedom fighters" — while accusing the Israelis of committing "war crimes" in Gaza "in a state of madness."

How much longer will NATO put up with Erdogan? Why is the alliance still tolerating his antics?

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The answer is simple: the world's largest defense alliance is powerless to do otherwise. Even if it were possible to kick Turkey out of NATO, no member state — except Greece — would support that. Why? Erdogan is simply far too important for security in Europe and as an ally of NATO countries in the Middle East and Africa.

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Lucetta Scaraffia

Genocide To Ethnic Cleansing, Why Europe Has Forsaken Armenians Again

As Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh are forced to flee their homes, is culture or corruption or something more sinister forcing a people to suffer so greatly a century after a genocide tried to wipe them out?


TURIN — When we hear that an animal is endangered, — maybe even at risk of being extinct — our collective outrage pushes us to defend its survival, passionately. And yet we can't seem to muster the willingness to do anything about the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The more than 100,000 Armenians who have left their land in a matter of days did not choose to abandon a land to which they have been attached for centuries, nor did they choose to abandon their ancient churches and monasteries, which will be destroyed with bulldozers. They were forced to do so to save their lives.

The European Union has not lifted a finger to protest against the Azerbaijanis or to stop the ethnic cleansing of an ancient people from the land they have occupied for millennia.

In fact, they insist on calling the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh separatists, adopting the Azerbaijani point of view. How can a people who have lived in that territory, without ever leaving it for 2,500 years, be considered separatist?

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İrfan Donat

The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with a coastline 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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Gökçer Tahincioğlu

What's Changed, What Hasn't: A Turkish Political Prisoner Walks Free After 31 Years

Mehmet Aytunç Altay was finally released last month after being arrested in Istanbul for his political activity in 1993. The world around has changed, even if his convictions stand firm.

ISTANBUL — Mehmet Aytunç Altay spent 31 years of his life behind bars.

While he was behind bars, governments came and went; Turkey changed, as did the world. Technological advances like smartphones and social media changed the way we live our daily lives. Mob bosses, murderers and rapists were released from prison during multiple rounds of pardons during that time.

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Valeria Berghinz

Roe v Wade To Mexican Supreme Court: What's Driving Abortion Rights Around The World

A landmark decision Wednesday by the Mexican Supreme Court is part of a push in Latin America to expand abortion access. But as seen by the U.S. overturning Roe v. Wade last year, the issue is moving in different directions around the world.

Updated on September 8, 2023

PARIS — It has been 14 months and 15 days since the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ruling that safe access to abortion is no longer a Constitutional right for American women.

For women in the rest of the world, the ruling reverberated on the weight of the U.S. judicial and cultural influence, with fears that it could have repercussions in their own courtrooms, parliaments and medical clinics.

Yet in what is perhaps the most momentous decision since Roe’s overturning, the U.S.’s southern neighbor, Mexico saw its own Supreme Court unanimously decree that abortion would be decriminalized nationwide, and inflicting any penalty on the medical procedure was “unconstitutional … and a violation of the human rights of women and those capable of being pregnant.”

Mexico is the latest (and most populous) Latin American country to expand reproductive rights, even as their northern neighbor continues to take steps backward on the issue.

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This Happened

This Happened — September 2: Alan Kurdi Photograph

The Alan Kurdi photograph was taken on this day in 2015.

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Bahadır Kaynak

Unpacking Erdogan's Charm Offensive In The Gulf (It's Complicated)

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent tour of Gulf states is proof that the Turkish president aims to repair his country's diplomatic ties in the region, all the while looking for investment for Ankara's floundering economy. Quite the reversal of fortunes considering that not so long ago Gulf countries faced accusations of sponsoring the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

ISTANBUL — After traditional stops in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus and Azerbaijan, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently went on an official tour of Arabian Gulf countries, highlighting the importance he pays to the region. The Turkish markets were promptly boosted by news of economical collaboration and investment opportunities.

The goal of Erdogan’s rushed visits to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar is obvious: it's the economy, stupid, no matter how much government pundits try to argue that both sides are looking for multidimensional collaborations. Turkey needs foreign investments, and the sooner, the better.

The easiest doors to knock on are those of the deep-pocketed kingdoms and emirates of the Gulf. Qatar, especially, is an emirate that Turkey has been close to even at its loneliest times, but relations between the two countries have been rather problematic lately. The Gulf countries, in particular, were not so long ago presented by government-friendly media in Turkey as the sponsors of a coup attempt in 2016 against the Turkish president. However, problems date back from even before that, when the coup in Egypt unfolded.

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