March 20, 2017
A bit late in posting this. But last week I wrote for War on the Rocks about Turkey’s upcoming referendum and a trip to the cinema to see “Reis” (The Chief), the bonkers biopic/hagiography of President Erdoğan.
Here’s a trailer:
The film is really bad – not even so bad it’s good, just bad.
In other news, there’s a new addition to the special 1/3 off discount for Turkey Book Talk listeners on selected books from Hurst Publishers: Renowned sociologist Olivier Roy’s new book “Jihad and Death: The Global Appeal of Islamic State.”
So now you can support the podcast by ordering any of the following titles for at least 33% off plus free delivery (cheaper than Amazon!):
- “The New Turkey and its Discontents” by Simon Waldman and Emre Çalışkan
- “The Poisoned Well: Empire and its Legacy in the Middle East” by Roger Hardy
- “Out of Nowhere: The Syrian Kurds in Peace and War” by Michael Gunter
- “The Circassian: A Life of Eşref Bey, Late Ottoman Insurgent and Special Agent” by Benjamin Fortna
- “Jihad and Death: The Global Appeal of Islamic State” by Olivier Roy
(I will post a new podcast episode with Basharat Peer on his book “A Question of Order: India, Turkey, and the Return of Strongmen” later this week.)
August 6, 2016
I’m currently on holiday, but posted below are a couple of things I wrote on the coup attempt and its aftermath.
The view from Taksim Square – Times Literary Supplement.
I also spoke on the TLS podcast about that piece. Listen here (my bit is from 30.22). I wouldn’t have framed the whole thing as the presenters do, but they’re not the only ones who got the balance wrong in the aftermath of the coup, as I describe here:
Turkey and the West are heading for a breakup – War on the Rocks.
I’ll be posting the next Turkey Book Talk podcast in two weeks. Thanks for your patience.
April 16, 2016
Cihan Tuğal, a sociologist at UC Berkeley, chats about “The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism” (Verso), charting how Turkey went from a model “Muslim democracy” for the Middle East to an increasingly authoritarian state.
Download the podcast or listen below:
Here’s my review of the book at Hürriyet Daily News.
Support the Turkey Book Talk podcast via my Patreon account. You can help me keep producing the podcast by making a monetary donation, big or small, on a per episode basis! Many thanks to current supporters Sera Aleksandra Marshall and Andrew Cruickshank.
September 17, 2015
I’ve written a piece for New America’s Weekly Wonk newsletter about the current mess in Turkey. Unfortunately it’s not very optimistic:
“Turkey has been rocked in recent weeks by a fresh wave of violent clashes between its security forces and the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). After each PKK attack on security forces, politicians and the media stress that Turkey stands “united” against terror, but rarely has the country been more bitterly divided…
“The situation now seems to be spinning out of anyone’s control … Turkey desperately needs unifying statesmen to rise above the political fray. Instead, it is heading into yet another needless and divisive election campaign. President Erdoğan faces a personal fight for his political survival. The AKP’s senior figures, enjoying legal immunity so long as they remain elected officials, are paranoid in the face of what they see as a stark choice: office or jail.
“With the stakes so high, what should we expect from the November elections? What if again no single-party winner is produced, forcing fresh coalition talks? Turkey’s major parties are essentially based on expressions of identity politics, so voters tend to shift allegiances very little. But Turkey is also a very unpredictable country, and the violence currently shaking it may also shake voter behavior in ways currently unclear. Do Turks agree with Erdoğan that only a strong AKP under his thumb can resolve the current unrest? Or do they think this instability is being cynically manipulated by the AKP? Can an election even take place in environment of such bloody instability? Whatever the answers, the fact that such questions are even being asked makes it difficult to be optimistic about Turkey’s short-term future.”
Read the whole thing at New America.
I should say that the two things in the title are unrelated.
My interview this week was with Toni Alaranta of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, discussing his new book “National and State Identity in Turkey: The Transformation of the Republic’s Status in the International System” (Rowman). In the book, Alaranta traces how the entrenchment in power of authoritarian political Islam in Turkey after 2002 was critically aided by the West’s misguided search for a “moderate Muslim democracy” after the end of the Cold War and the 9/11 terror attacks.
And read my review of the book here.
This also marks my first step into the world of podcasting. From now on I’ll be publishing these author interviews in audio as well as written form, through my new podcast “Turkey Book Talk.” The podcast will include some extra parts that didn’t make the written edit, as well as some fancy music, etc.
Click here to listen to the first episode (a work in progress as I’m still figuring out the best host, player, etc).
To subscribe to the feed, visit my PodBean page.
Please spread the word to anyone you think may be interested, and do get in touch with any suggestions on how I can improve the podcast!
I’ve written a piece for Politico about Turkey’s critical general election. Specifically, the article looks at the shift by President Erdoğan and the government in recent months from emphasising economic competence to peddling bombastic conspiracy theories:
“While signs of this paranoiac shift have long been evident, the AKP’s earlier years in power mostly focused on making an economy-based pitch to voters. Economic competence and extending services to the poorer sections of society – along with an appeal to the conservative religious values held by many Turkish citizens – proved a winning combination for a string of crushing election victories. But while the party still pledges to spur development, its rhetoric leading up to Sunday’s election has tilted decisively in favor of a combination of conspiracy theories laced with historic posturing about reconnecting Turkey with the glory of the Ottoman Empire. When you’re on a glorious path, the AKP’s leaders suggest, you will inevitably have enemies.”
Read the whole thing over at Politico.
March 19, 2015
I’ve written a short piece taking a longer view of the ongoing tug-of-war between the government and Turkey’s Central Bank.
The piece argues that current speculation about the Bank’s independence should not be seen in isolation, but considered within the context of the government’s long-flagging enthusiasm for the economic reforms passed after the meltdown of Turkey’s financial sector in 2000-01. The jettisoning of long-term economic planning is one side effect of President Erdoğan’s bid to centralise all power in his own hands, and could herald a period of severe economic turbulence in the country.