Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Turkey and Iran: Preserving a lucrative partnership














New essay by Ziya Meral on Turkish Iranian relations in report "Post-Nuclear: the Future for Iran in its Neighborhood", European Council on Foreign Relations


Turkey and Iran have once again found themselves facing parallel challenges in the form of the group that calls itself Islamic State (here ISIS) and its implications for both countries’ security policies as well as interests in Syria and Iraq. These developments have led to some suggestions that Turkey and Iran could explore and co-operate on areas of mutual interest closely.

While such efforts and regional developments do bring the two countries closer, this essay argues that a brief look at the history of relations between the two countries, particularly during the last ten years, reveals a pattern of similar moments when both countries faced shared challenges and sought to work closely, which only revealed deeper differences and conflicts of interests and produced primarily mutual economic benefit. It argues that Iran and Turkey continue to walk a tightrope between the prospects of major diplomatic fallout caused by opposing policies and interests in the Middle East and the benefits of maintaining good bilateral relations.


Download the Report which includes the essay here:

Most Britons with migrant origins are natural Tories. Here’s why the Conservatives are losing them.

Published by





29 October 2014

It is that time of the political calendar once again when politicians try to outbid each other in what is now horribly dull and repetitive public discussion on migration. Whilst voices from the business world have continually raised their concerns about the adverse effects of such politics on the British economy, and academics have demonstrated serious problems with the figures and hyperbole casually thrown into discussions to incite hysteria over migration, not many have asked what the Conservatives might be losing in this process.


Attempts to appeal to cohorts concerned enough about migration to consider voting for UKIP is not surprising. Thus the appointment of Sir Andrew Green to the House of Lords and the careless comments made by Michael Fallon did not really shock or awe any of us. If anything, we have been underwhelmed. Yet, what has been increasingly shocking is the continual short-sightedness of such moves, and that the Conservatives still do not recognise what they are losing in this process: the substantial number of votes that they could attract from British citizens who are naturalised or with migrant origins.


For those whose understanding of contemporary Britain and its myriad communities and citizenry is outdated, the main constituency of the Conservative Party might still be imagined to be the archetypal “English” voter. But the reality is that a significant portion, if not the majority, of naturalised citizens and their children have values much closer to traditional Conservative ones than to those of any other party.

What the UK can do to advance religious freedom worldwide

Published by
 




29 October 2014


The developments in the Middle East over the last three years have brought home the points which many experts and practitioners have been making: persecution on the basis of religious belief and affiliation is increasing in the world. It is affecting every faith community and those with no faith,  fuelling a wide range of interrelated problems from radicalisation to violent conflict, with direct impact on UK domestic concerns such as increasing numbers of asylum applications and faith community relations.

Now, articles calling for an immediate UK response to religious freedom can be seen emerging from all corners of the political and social spectrum. Whilst these articles stem from good intentions, they suffer similar shortcomings.

Often they start from domestic political and religious positions with a wide range of unspoken anxieties about particular religions or the overall place of religion in today’s world. Most of the time they lack a grounded understanding of local contexts in which religious persecution happens, and lapse into reductionism, seeing a particular religion as the root cause of all that we see unfolding before us.

They also lack awareness of global trends and mirror-image developments in Africa, Asia, and even Europe, that make such reductions of the issue down to a single religion rather shallow. Most worryingly, such articles often ascribe no agency whatsoever to persecuted communities themselves and what they can do and how they can respond in the short and long term to address factors leading to persecution.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

ISIS Advances in Syria and Influx of Kurdish Refugees into Turkey









BBC World and BBC News interviews with Ziya Meral on ISIS advances in Syria, Syrian Kurdish refugees fleeing to Turkey.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Interview: Release of Turkish Hostages by ISIS


Ziya Meral is interviewed by Al Jazeera on release of Turkish hostages by ISIS and whether or not this would mean Turkey would now support a US campaign against ISIS.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Interview: Turkish reponse to new US campaign against ISIL



Ziya Meral comments on Turkish responses to ISIL threat and why Turkey is not willing to publicly join a military campaign against ISIL.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

France 24 Interview: Political leadership change in Turkey




Ziya Meral discusses inauguration of President Erdogan and the new political era under Prime Minister Davutoglu.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

What can regional actors deliver on Syria?



Ziya Meral presents what Turkey can do at the "How can a regional accord help the war in Syria?" conference in Copenhagen, organised by DIIS, Danish Institute for International Studies, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Soma Mine Tragedy in Turkey and Political Implications




Ziya Meral is interviewed by Zainab Badawi on BBC World' World News Today,  16/05/2014

Friday, 2 May 2014

Turkey and Egypt: Misconceptions & Missed Opportunities












Published by The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, 05 May 2014


The relationship between Turkey and Egypt has rarely been an easy one. During the British Mandate, the Turkish government found itself clashing with Egyptian authorities over the rights and entitlements of Turks living in Egypt. Then, of course, there was the infamous 1932 incident in which Ataturk humiliated the Egyptian ambassador at an official Turkish state reception by requiring that he remove his fez; the traditional hat had been banned in Turkey as part of Ataturk’s efforts to make Turkey become a “civilized, Western” country.

The 1952 revolution in Egypt brought no positive change to this state of affairs. In one incident, the Turkish ambassador—whose wife was an Egyptian with royal blood who had lost family assets after the Free Officers took control—refused to shake Nasser’s hand at a reception and insulted him publicly. Shortly thereafter, the ambassador was sent back to Turkey, and Turkish – Egyptian relations remained in a poor state for years afterwards. Turkish foreign policy, particularly its engagement with Iraq and its Western orientation, regularly brought both countries into collision as Nasser pursued his ambitious regional projects: Turkey’s support for the British in the Suez Crisis attracted Nasser’s anger, for example, while Nasser’s stances on Cyprus and Syria caused serious concern in Ankara.

Interestingly, it was the Democratic Party government of Adnan Menderes—a religious-conservative Prime Minister who was hanged following a military coup and who serves as a frequent reference point for Erdoğan—that pushed for more Turkish engagement with the countries of the Middle East following decades of Turkish disengagement. Turkey’s feeble attempts to unite and lead the Middle East clashed with the foreign policy efforts of Nasser’s Egypt, and it was only after the 1960 military coup that ousted the Menderes government that Egypt and Turkey began a normalization process.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

IISS Event: Turkey Beyond the Headlines




Dr Mina Toksoz and Ziya Meral discuss the developments in Turkish economy, politics and foreign policy at the IISS in London.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Turkey: Whose Side Are You On?

NOTE: Unpublished Post, it can be used in full by notifying the author.


Last 12 months have been truly draining for all who research and write on Turkey. We not only saw dramatic events and ups and downs that were difficult to decipher and make sense, we saw a toxic and suffocating climate descending on the Turkish public space and conversations on Turkey anywhere in the world.

Often, it felt like tidal waves of strong and clear views carrying masses and with it those whose day time jobs are covering and analysing those events. Polarization has been fierce, and there has been no option for anyone but to fit into a clear camp in clash with others.

In Turkey, one either had to sing praises of PM Erdogan and see him as the Messiah, or had to see him as the new Hitler committing mass crimes. One either had to be supporting a 'revolution' symbolised by urban and self-assuredly 'modern' Turks or 'protection' of the nation and 'national will' of similarly self-assured bearers of 'authentic' Turkishness.

Then came the further fragmentation as AKP-Gulen Movement clash unfolded, now, we had to take one side or the other, either enjoy the tremendously worrying damage caused to the state structures since it was the 'Islamists' clashing with each other, or take the side of AKP or its challengers from within the state.

Chronic troubles of Turkish public space only amplified these clashes; our incapacity to engage in a conversation with different views without intense emotions outbursting and the ultimate result of that being attacks, slurs, relativisation of whoever simply does not agree with us 100%.

Friday, 7 February 2014

BBC Radio 4 program on Gulen movement







Ziya Meral joins a discussion on Gulen movement and its relationship with politics in Turkey.

Listen to the special report "Turkey: The Gulen Movement"

Thursday, 9 January 2014

BBC World interview on Unfolding Crisis in Turkey


Ziya Meral is interviewed by George Alagiah on BBC World about the ongoing corruption scandal in Turkey.


Friday, 20 December 2013

Debate: Corruption Scandal in Turkey, France 24

Ziya Meral joins the Debate program on France 24, discussing on going corruption scandal in Turkey and its significance.





Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Interview: Corruption Scandal in Turkey

Ziya Meral joins HuffingtonPost Live to discuss the on going corruption scandal in Turkey. 


Friday, 6 September 2013

BBC World discussion on 2020 Olympics


Ziya Meral joins BBC World discussion on whether Istanbul, Tokyo or Madrid should be the host for 2020 Olympics.

Turkey beyond Islamism and Authoritarianism









Cairo Review of Global Affairs, 04 September 2013


As protests spread and grew first in Istanbul, then in other parts of the country, we all struggled to conceptualize what we were witnessing. Many in Turkey opted for clear and neat narratives, which often left out other aspects of the protests and burdened events with legendary meanings ascribed onto them.

A significant portion of commentary on Turkey in international media was by and large repetition of old positions with new 'proofs' found in protests themselves and Turkish government's handling of them. Many saw the fulfillment of long prophesied Turkish lapses on spectrums of Islamism-secularism or democracy-authoritarianism.

The resulting cacophony demonstrated that we were witnessing a new era in Turkey, and our intellectual tool kits were simply insufficient in making sense of it. Intense language of debates in Turkey and angry outbursts of emotions only helped to cloud our vision.

We had faced a similar situation in 2002, when the lenses we used to analyze Turkey hindered us from realizing that emergence of Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey was far from victory of Islamism as we know it, but its end. The AKP was representative of a new paradigm for Islam inspired politics that blended historical romanticism, cultural identity with open markets and global integration. It had emerged from the rubble of collapsed Islamist movements and managed to move beyond their legacy.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Human Face and Cost of Violence


War and violence become abstracted the further we are away from them. All of our exposure boils down to news reports and research updates that try to capture in words, numbers and images a fact that can never be truly conceptualised; brutal destruction of individual human beings.

Amidst all the grandeur geo-political thought exercises, partisan condemnations of who really is the wrong one, victims of this ageless story melt into mere sub-points in an argument.

If numerical citations of how many people died numb us to the deep suffering behind each number uttered, theories and soundbites on why such suffering occurs also distance us from all that is taking place in the world. Human involvement and responsibility disappears as we blame it all on elusive categories, such as politics, religion, power and education.

TS Eliot is right; human beings cannot bear very much reality. All this destruction has a human face and a human cost; both the perpetrators and those who perish are human beings like you and me.

By blaming it on external factors, we are shielded from the knowledge that violence is human, and that you and I too have the potential to destroy. Most subversively, we are protected from facing the deep moral failure in our apathy and lack of action to stop and care for those in need.

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Limits of Erdoğanology

7 July 2013, Today's Zaman


Until the Gezi Park protests broke out, I didn't know there were this many Turkey experts in the world. Thousands of articles were published.

The vast majority of them were pretty much the same, used the same vocabulary, reached almost identical conclusions and had similar punch lines using different anecdotes.

Most articles had two major focal points: Gezi Park and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As the protests spread across the country and showed tremendously complex and varied patterns even in different parts of İstanbul, all of the protests were reduced to clear and tidy narratives and observations inferred from the limited scope of Gezi Park, if not personal experience with tear gas.  


Much has been said about the protests and their different interpretations, although we still do not have a nationwide study and analysis of all the different types and phases of the protests. Yet very little reflection has been done on how quickly the most talked about issue was Erdoğan, both at home and abroad, and whether this helped or blurred our perception of what was happening.