Theresa May in Turkey: Will Cyprus be the down payment for Brexit?

Theresa May in Turkey: Will Cyprus be the down payment for Brexit?

[Photo credit: PA, via the BBC] By Joshua Tartakovsky, 28 January 2017 After a fairly successful meeting with US President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Theresa May is now in Ankara. Officially, May is in Turkey to discuss bilateral trade in the post-Brexit era, and security arrangements in the war against ISIS.  Turkey has been both a trade and security partner of the UK. But according to The Economist, May will also be pushing for a compromise in Cyprus: An end to the division between northern Turkish-Cyprus and Greek-Cyprus, a multinational state with a rotating presidency, a unification of the island. Most young Greek-Cypriots oppose such a plan, however.  Turkey has occupied north Cyprus in 1974 and as a civil war ensued the island has been artificially divided. If to judge by the case of multinational Bosnia and the deadlock between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, a multi-national state run in tandem by rotating presidents is highly unpopular and ineffective in creating a strong, common national identity. In the case of Cyprus, a international police force may be stationed there. Why the need for an unpopular international force if the island has been peaceful for decades? The Economist states that the 1960 independence settlement for Cyprus entails that Britain, Greece and Turkey have the right to intervene militarily in the island if the constitutional order of the country is in danger. The Greek-Cypriot majority has called for the removal of Turkish forces from the north of the country as well as for the removal of the security guarantees by Britain, Turkey and Greece. President Erdogan, however, has opposed a settlement that would unify the island and turn it into...
Turkey’s Sovereignty is Under Attack

Turkey’s Sovereignty is Under Attack

(Photo Credit: Hurriyet Daily News) By Joshua Tartakovsky   Preface  A key characteristic that must be adopted by those who wish to understand the world, dream of a multipolar world or take political action is to rapidly adapt to new realities rather than remain stuck in the framework of the past. In today’s dizzying speed of global developments what was relevant one day ago may no longer be relevant today. An enemy of yesterday may become the friend of today. And the world’s sole superpower may seek to remove or topple an ally once he no longer serves its purposes or takes an independent position. The coup against Erdogan At the coup-attempt that took place on Friday night, the Turkish parliament was bombed by jets and helicopters as 10 people were wounded. The plotters entered forcefully into the state-sponsored TV station TRT and made a female news anchor read a statement at gunpoint. The central police station in Ankara was bombed. The Fatih Sultan Mehmet and Bosphorous bridges in Istanbul were blockaded by tanks. The Chief of Staff, Gen. Hulusi Akar, was taken hostage. After President Erdogan called on the Turkish people to come to the streets on Face Time, the Turkish people bravely resisted the coup. Despite considerable risks, citizens of Turkey overwhelmed the streets with Turkish flags in their hands. All four major political parties denounced the coup. The first key point to understand is that this coup-attempt was not just about removing Erdogan. It was an attack against Turkey as a republic. The parliament was bombed. Can anyone imagine how news agencies would cover developments if...
DID ERDOGAN’S WAR AGAINST KURDS REACH BRUSSELS?

DID ERDOGAN’S WAR AGAINST KURDS REACH BRUSSELS?

Photo by Joshua Tartakovsky (C) All Rights Reserved 2016. By Joshua Tartakovsky, 23 March 2016 On March 18, 2016, Turkish President Erdogan Recep Tayyip Erdogan marked the victory of the Ottoman soldiers who repelled British and French attacks on the Gallipoli peninsula. The British who were allied with the Russians, tried during the campaign held between April 25, 1915, and January 9, 1916, to open the Dardanelles Straits for the Russian Navy during World War I. The British were hoping to capture Constantinople. But the Ottoman soldiers dug in the trenches on the shores, managed heroically to repel the onslaught of British and French ships. The Turks remember this battle as a turning point of World War I and as a saving moment from the humiliation of losing the Ottoman Empire. Only several days ago, Turkish TV broadcasted a convincing reproduction of the Gallipoli battle. Hurriyet Daily News reported on Erdogan’s speech in Çanakkale that marked the Gallipoli battle: “There is no reason for the bomb, which exploded in Ankara, not to explode in Brussels, where an opportunity to show off in the heart of the city to supporters of the terror organization is presented, or in any city in Europe. Despite this clear reality, European countries are paying no attention, as if they are dancing in a minefield. You can never know when you are stepping on a mine. But it is clear that this is an inevitable end,” he [Erdogan] said, referring to the PKK and the March 13 suicide bomb attack which killed at least 35 people in the heart of Ankara. A PKK offshoot claimed responsibility...
IMPRESSIONS FROM ISTANBUL: TERROR SHATTERS ISTIKLAL STREET

IMPRESSIONS FROM ISTANBUL: TERROR SHATTERS ISTIKLAL STREET

Photo by Joshua Tartakovsky (C) 2016. All Rights Reserved. By Joshua Tartakovsky, 20 March 2016 Merely several days after the suicide bombing in Ankara, today a suicide bomber hit again, this time in Istiklal Street, Istanbul’s busy and modern commercial and touristy area, right by Taksim metro station and Gezi Park. 5 were killed and 37 wounded. 2 Israelis were among those killed. A visit to Istiklal Street a day prior revealed a street relatively empty in comparison to its glory days. People were going out and guitarists played in the square by the metro, but the streets were not packed as they usually are. The restaurant was nearly empty and closed early. Security was on high alert and Turks were nervous following the explosion in Ankara. By and large, it was sad to see Istanbul in this state. Near Istanbul University on Friday a policeman standing by the traffic held his gun up in the air. Turks are generally confused these days. Erdogan is supposed to be a proud and tough leader, and the rural uneducated religıous masses feel that he made them proud again. Finally, we have a tough leader, they think. However, unlike Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, Erdogan did not develop the countries he conquered nor are the arts flourishing under his rule. Instead, he has been allying himself with the ISIL gang whose members frequently come to Istanbul, hardly a noble or sultanic thing to do, while the educated university students and liberal middle class are past the stage of concern. They are depressed and scared. Hundreds have been arrested for insulting the President.  Various newspapers...
How to Crush Erdoğan’s Expansionism

How to Crush Erdoğan’s Expansionism

By Joshua Tartakovsky, December 28, 2015 Erdoğan’s Turkey is angry. It feels repressed and hated unjustly. It is hungry for respect but insatiable in its demands. It brought down a Russian jet unwarrantedly and militiamen fired on its parachuting pilot, but Erdoğan’s Turkey believed it was protecting itself. Despite its supposed sensitivity to questions of sovereignty, it sent troops across the border to Iraq against the wishes of the Iraqi government, supposedly to train anti-ISIS fighters. No one believes this.  It is engaged in a bloody crackdown against the Kurdish Workers Party guerrilla group (PKK) inside Turkey resulting in a bloodbath, which may very well be only the beginning. Erdoğan’s Turkey views itself as a victim of Russia, the “killer of Sunnis.” But it is Erdoğan’s Turkey which is aiding and trading with the Islamic State while presenting itself as a victim of false accusations. To view the invasion of Iraq in isolation is to miss the point. Erdoğan’s Turkey is hoping to regain the pre-1917 Ottoman lands across the border and/or to reunite with its brothers the Turkmen in Syria. It is only a question of time before Erdoğan’s Turkey invades Syrian territory illegally, just as it did in Iraq, under the full protection of NATO.  It is expansionist by nature. Many prefer to view Erdoğan’s actions as whimsical or as contrary to the wishes of the United States or NATO. According to this narrative, Erdoğan is a madman but he is acting on his own. This is a mistake. Let one who claims so answer candidly the following questions: Did the United States or NATO denounce the...