Independent and cutting-edge analysis on Turkey and its neighborhood

Middle East Focus: Democratic Deficits & Sectarian Struggles, Spring 2015

Middle East Focus: Democratic Deficits & Sectarian Struggles, Spring 2015

This issue of TPQ takes up a wide range of problems plaguing the Middle East and North Africa today: from internal conflicts and proxy wars to rising sectarianism and the predicament of minorities to strategic incoherence against a potentially global jihadist threat. The need for cooperation and moderation is articulated by authors of diverse conviction, background, and professional affiliation. This issue comes at a time when important game changers are in store for the Middle East. The...

Nigâr Göksel | 18 June 2015

Turkey’s Middle East Policy, Spring 2015

Turkey’s Middle East Policy, Spring 2015

The Middle East is blessed with a rich heritage, is the birthplace of world’s three great monotheistic religions, and has contributed a great deal to humankind’s scientific, philosophical, and cultural progress throughout history. However, for those of us who grew up in the second half of the 20th century and who witnessed the recent devastation and human suffering in the region, the Middle East is mostly associated with crisis, conflict, and turmoil. Most of the...

Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu | 05 June 2015

Democracy for Another Spring, Spring 2015

Democracy for Another Spring, Spring 2015

Four years after a wave of protest movements swept across the Middle East in 2011, the revolutionary impulses and calls for democratic regime change have been all but stamped out. The author argues that the region is increasingly divided along sectarian lines, a polarization that impedes stability, and which has produced an egregious humanitarian crisis. According to the author, the consequences of how the relationship between the principles of Islam and democracy are established will be one of...

Şafak Pavey | 05 June 2015

Cooperation as a Way Out of Turmoil for the Middle East, Spring 2015

Cooperation as a Way Out of Turmoil for the Middle East, Spring 2015

In discussing the turmoil that has recently engulfed the Middle East, the author considers a parallel with Europe in the 17th century and the beginning of the Westphalian order. The author lays out his vision for the future of the region, which is predicated upon four main parameters: mutual acceptance among all the peoples of the Middle East, embracing the spirit of moderation and modernization, the quest for political stability, and economic cooperation. According to the author, regional...

Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu | 05 June 2015

The Middle East In Conflict: The Empires Strike Back, Spring 2015

The Middle East In Conflict: The Empires Strike Back, Spring 2015

In consideration of the general instability in the Middle East – the bloody Syrian civil war and its mounting refugee crisis, the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the emergence of ISIL and ongoing fighting in Iraq, and the war in Yemen – the author argues that the geographical map of the region based on the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement is disintegrating. Furthermore, the author argues that the region’s turmoil has to some extent had a spillover effect on the three...

Dov S. Zakheim | 05 June 2015

The Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s Role in Defeating ISIL, Spring 2015

The Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s Role in Defeating ISIL, Spring 2015

The summer of 2014 was a fatal summer, not only for the Iraqi Kurdistan Region but also for the Middle East and the rest of the world. It witnessed the rise of one of the deadliest terrorist groups: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Kurdistan Regional Government and its Kurdish military forces, the peshmerga, have been instrumental in deterring ISIL’s further encroachment However, the author argues that the peshmerga cannot fight ISIL alone and calls upon the...

Hemin Hawrami | 05 June 2015

Turkey’s Islamists: From Power-Sharing to Political Incumbency, Spring 2015

Turkey’s Islamists: From Power-Sharing to Political Incumbency, Spring 2015

The complex relationship between political Islam and the Turkish state – from political exclusion in the early Republican era, to power-sharing in the post-World War II multi-party era, to political incumbency in the 2000s – was crowned by AKP’s landslide electoral victory in 2002. The author debunks two myths regarding this relationship: first, that Kemalism enjoyed a monopoly of political power for decades and second, that Islamists achieved victory in 2002 after being the...

Behlül Özkan | 05 June 2015

The Turkmens of the Middle East, Spring 2015

The Turkmens of the Middle East, Spring 2015

The Turkmens, descendents of the Oghuz confederation of Turkic-speaking nomadic tribes of the early Middle Ages, are currently scattered across the Middle East and Central Asia. Focusing on the Turkmen populations of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iran, the author delves into their situation as minority groups who are barred from political participation and from expressing their cultural identity. This plight has only been exacerbated for the Iraqi Turkmens since the rise of the Islamic...

Erşat Hürmüzlü | 05 June 2015

Protecting Eastern Christianity in the Middle East: Russia’s New Diplomatic Tool?, Spring 2015

Protecting Eastern Christianity in the Middle East: Russia’s New Diplomatic Tool?, Spring 2015

The intensification of Russia’s diplomacy in the Middle East is combined with a clearly defined objective: positioning itself as the new protector of persecuted Christians in the region. The author highlights both the ambitions of the Kremlin in the Mediterranean and the ever-growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has become a major political actor. Moscow sees Shiite Islam as its ally in the Middle East and is increasingly aligning itself with a Shiite axis composed of...

Bernard El Ghoul | 05 June 2015

Hezbollah’s Ascent and Descent, Spring 2015

Hezbollah’s Ascent and Descent, Spring 2015

Hezbollah today is Lebanon’s strongest political party. However, its military intervention in the Syrian conflict has put it at a crossroads. While the party’s domestic strength continues, largely due to the weakness of its Lebanese political opponents and to its reliance on the possession of weapons to intimidate them, Hezbollah is facing increasing challenges in Syria. The author argues that as a deal on Iran’s nuclear ambitions looms, and with it the possibility of imposed...

Lina Khatib | 05 June 2015

Turmoil in the Middle East and Turkish-American Relations, Spring 2015

Turmoil in the Middle East and Turkish-American Relations, Spring 2015

Turkey’s Middle East policy under the AKP government – in particular, its stance on Syria and the fight against ISIL – has had a damaging effect on not only its 60-year-old alliance with the US, but also its regional standing. The author chronicles several of the government’s blunders, arguing that they ultimately stem from a “fundamental miscalculation of Turkey’s power and capacity to shape regional developments.” From the government’s misplaced...

Sabri Sayarı | 05 June 2015

Turkey and Iran: The Best of Frenemies, Spring 2015

Turkey and Iran: The Best of Frenemies, Spring 2015

Inheriting a legacy of imperial competition, the Turkey-Iran rivalry today manifests itself through the contest for leadership of the Arab Middle East, and Muslim hearts and minds more generally. The authors contend that Turkey and Iran’s relationship transcends the boundaries of amity or enmity that traditionally define actors in the modern Middle East state system. Rather, Ankara and Tehran have been able to successfully compartmentalize elements of their rivalry while strengthening...

Merve Tahiroğlu & Behnam Ben Taleblu | 05 June 2015

Iran’s New Social Media-Friendly Approach, Spring 2015

Iran’s New Social Media-Friendly Approach, Spring 2015

The Islamic Republic of Iran entered into a new era of public diplomacy following Hassan Rouhani’s victory in the June 2013 presidential election. Iran seeks both to revitalize its soft power tools and reach out to the international community through a more moderate, tolerant, and open dialogue policy. Digital diplomacy and social media have become increasingly important to this end. The author expounds on the new administration’s social-media friendly approach to fulfilling its...

Mojtaba Barghandan | 05 June 2015

Israel: Interrupted Democratic Development?, Spring 2015

Israel: Interrupted Democratic Development?, Spring 2015

Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Israeli democracy has followed a unique trajectory. Despite its strengths – regular and fair elections, an independent judiciary, a pluralistic party system etc. – the author argues that democratic development is in fact “interrupted.” The author identifies four main areas: the continuous occupation since 1967, the status of the Arab citizens within Israel, the growing socio-economic gaps, and the relationship...

Itzhak Galnoor | 05 June 2015

Education for Social Change in Lebanon, Spring 2015

Education for Social Change in Lebanon, Spring 2015

Lebanon has been hosting refugees for over half a century. While the Palestinian refugees have been present since 1948, the recently incoming one million Syrian refugees have only exacerbated the already unstable assistance the country provides for refugees. One of the most devastating consequences of this is the lack of proper education and academic opportunities for the youth. The author’s organization, Unite Lebanon Youth Project (ULYP), aims to tackle this issue through providing a...

Melek El Nimer | 05 June 2015

Turkey: The Almost Mediator State, Spring 2015

Turkey: The Almost Mediator State, Spring 2015

Most analysts consider Davutogˆlu’s “zero problems with neighbors” strategy a failure, and typically cite Turkey’s decision to lend its support to religious conservative movements like the Muslim Brotherhood during the Arab Spring as a primary example. However, the failures of the last few years must also be understood within the framework of a larger narrative where Turkey has insisted on functioning as an intermediary between Israel and Syria, and the United States and...

Gabriel Mitchell | 05 June 2015

The Gender Dimension of the Authoritarian Backlash in Egypt, Spring 2015

The Gender Dimension of the Authoritarian Backlash in Egypt, Spring 2015

The campaign against the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood during its short-lived rule instrumentalized the notion of gender equality for political purposes – namely demonizing the Brotherhood and the subsequent overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi. Narratives were constructed along the dichotomy of emancipated Egyptian woman and oppressed, traditional women. However, there has been a rapid de- politicization of the discussion on women’s role in society following Morsi’s ouster. The...

Liina Mustonen | 05 June 2015

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