Erdogan’s Attacks on His Old Ally Could Backfire

For Foreign Policy ISTANBUL — Parting ways with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not been easy for former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Since being forced to resign his post in 2016, Davutoglu has occasionally waded into the public sphere to offer careful criticism of Erdogan’s one-man rule that is threatening Turkey’s democracy. But over the last few months, Davutoglu has opposed Erdogan more forcefully, culminating in his public plans to form a new opposition party—an announcement that could mean a death blow to his…Continue Reading “Erdogan’s Attacks on His Old Ally Could Backfire”

For Foreign Policy ISTANBUL — In the run-up to Turkey’s ongoing operation against Kurdish nationalist forces in northern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan presided over a sweeping crackdown on Kurdish mayors in Turkey, justified by the same impetus: connections to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. In Turkey, support for the PKK, which Ankara and Washington consider a terrorist group, has long been grounds for dismissal or imprisonment. But what exactly constitutes support is subject to the state’s discretion, and the line is by…Continue Reading “Turkey’s Crackdown on Kurdish Mayors Could Backfire”

For The Los Angeles Times AKCAKALE, TURKEY-SYRIA BORDER — Schools in the Turkish city of Akcakale, on the border with Syria, sat empty Thursday because it was too risky for students to gather in one place. Shelling in the area since Turkey’s incursion into Syria a week ago to push back Kurdish forces had disrupted a basic understanding for Akcakale schools: Turkish students attend classes in the morning and Syrian children go in the evening. But now no one was there out of fear. A…Continue Reading “Turkish incursion into Syria brings danger for residents along border”

For The Intercept Despite all the disastrous consequences of Donald Trump’s Syria policy, the U.S. president has in fact been right in one respect: The world has done far too little to find a solution for the individuals who once made up the Islamic State. In pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, Trump has said that Turkey is now responsible for the fate of thousands of ISIS fighters in the areas it is seizing, and he has threatened to impose sanctions on Ankara for its…Continue Reading “Nobody Has a Plan for Thousands of ISIS Fighters Detained by Kurds in Syria”

For The Los Angeles Times AKCAKALE, TURKEY — By the time U.S. forces withdrew Tuesday from the northern Syrian city of Manbij, it had become the prize in a race for territory involving a mix of fighting groups with changing alliances. The city, part of the territory controlled by Kurdish fighters backed by the United States until last week, appeared on the verge of being rushed by Turkish troops and Syrian rebel proxies gathered on the city’s outskirts. The Kurds, feeling betrayed by the U.S.,…Continue Reading “A race for control of Syria’s Manbij, with the U.S. nowhere in sight”

For The Los Angeles Times ISTANBUL — A brief kiss by two female characters in the animated series “Tales of Arcadia,” a moment that did not generate major criticism from viewers worldwide, became a scandal in Turkey. Major news outlets like the pro-government Sabah called the July availability of the program on the Netflix streaming service an attempt by what it called a global LGBTQ lobby to promote homosexuality among Turkish children. And by early August, Turkish authorities had announced that Netflix and other online…Continue Reading “Turkey extends censorship rules to streaming services. Critics say political dissent is the real target”

For The Los Angeles Times ISTANBUL — When Amjad Tablieh went out to buy some groceries one night this week, he thought it would be a quick trip. But when police stopped him to ask for his identification card, known as a kimlik, all he had in his pocket was about $5 in cash. The 18-year-old student from Damascus is one of a half-million Syrian refugees officially registered to live in Istanbul. But increasingly, he and others are finding that their welcome is fraying, and…Continue Reading “Anti-refugee sentiment grows in Turkey as government begins to send Syrians back”

For The Los Angeles Times DIYARBAKIR — The Turkish government’s enemy No. 1 has spent the last two decades in physical isolation on a prison island off the coast of Istanbul. But Abdullah Ocalan’s influence extends to Kurds across the Middle East. Statements by the 71-year-old — carried out of Imrali island by sporadic visitors — have been published in best-selling books, and inspired both war and peace. Now, there are signs Ankara may be turning to him to broker a new peace with Kurdish…Continue Reading “Turkey may enlist its No. 1 enemy to broker a peace with Kurdish separatists”

For The Intercept ISTANBUL — Finding oneself in the crosshairs of a military drone is, for most people, not the most comforting situation. Yet at an air show last fall, tens of thousands of people had a different reaction. A military drone took off from a runway, and moments later it began transmitting its view to a giant screen on stage. The video from the drone was clear enough to pick out your own face among the crowd. It was exactly what the drone’s pilot,…Continue Reading “The Second Drone Age: How Turkey Defied the U.S. and Became a Killer Drone Power”

For The Los Angeles Times ISTANBUL — The Turkish government deems Abdulkadir Yapcan too dangerous to attend his own extradition proceedings here. So instead he appears in court by video link from the detention center where he has been held for three years while he fights efforts to send him to China to face charges that he is a terrorist. During a hearing last month, he watched in silence until a witness referred to Xinjiang, the region in western China where members of the country’s…Continue Reading “Uighur dissident in Turkey fights effort to extradite him to China”