28 Şubat 2011 Pazartesi

Azerbaijan fears neighbour Iran's radical influence


The Iranian potatoes, oranges and raisins on sale in the bazaars of Astara are not the only signs of the Islamic republic's influence in this Azerbaijani border town.

There is also the Iranian television station which beams the news according to Tehran into Astara's homes and tea-houses in the Azerbaijani language.

Hundreds of Iranian trucks rumble north each day along the nearby highway, loaded with goods bound for Azerbaijani markets, but despite the trading links between the mainly Shiite Muslim neighbours, their political relationship has become increasingly strained -- particularly over the issue of Islam.

Robert Fisk: The destiny of this pageant lies in the Kingdom of Oil

Robert Fisk  The Independent  
The Middle East earthquake of the past five weeks has been the most tumultuous, shattering, mind-numbing experience in the history of the region since the fall of the Ottoman empire. For once, "shock and awe" was the right description.

The docile, supine, unregenerative, cringing Arabs of Orientalism have transformed themselves into fighters for the freedom, liberty and dignity which we Westerners have always assumed it was our unique role to play in the world. One after another, our satraps are falling, and the people we paid them to control are making their own history – our right to meddle in their affairs (which we will, of course, continue to exercise) has been diminished for ever. 

The tectonic plates continue to shift, with tragic, brave – even blackly humorous – results. Countless are the Arab potentates who always claimed they wanted democracy in the Middle East. King Bashar of Syria is to improve public servants' pay. King Bouteflika of Algeria has suddenly abandoned the country's state of emergency. King Hamad of Bahrain has opened the doors of his prisons. King Bashir of Sudan will not stand for president again. King Abdullah of Jordan is studying the idea of a constitutional monarchy. And al-Qa'ida are, well, rather silent.

26 Şubat 2011 Cumartesi

Why can’t economists predict disruptive events?

Gavyn Davies*     The Financial Times

When the Queen asked asked an academic at the LSE why the economics profession had failed to predict the credit crunch, she raised a topic which continues to resonate. In fact, the IMF’s watchdog criticised the organisation on exactly those grounds yesterday. Although many answers have been given to Her Majesty’s question, I suspect that none of them has really settled the issue. Her question is disarmingly simple, but the answer is not.

The latest academic attempt to tackle the question is this piece by Raghuram Rajan. He is well qualified to write on the matter, having delivered a very perceptive warning about a possible crisis to the entire senior cast of global central banking at Jackson Hole in 2005. They politely ignored him. Prof Rajan now argues that economists had all of the models required to understand the credit crisis, but that the subject suffers from being segregated into increasingly narrow fields. It therefore lacks people with the broad overall view necessary to connect all of the diverse strands. This is indeed a problem, but it may not be the whole answer to the Queen’s question.

How big is the 2011 oil price shock?

Gavyn Davies*  The Financial Times

Each of the last five major downturns in global economic activity has been immediately preceded by a major spike in oil prices. Sometimes (e.g. in the 1970s and in 1990), the surge in oil prices has been due to supply restrictions, triggered by Opec or by war in the Middle East. Other times (e.g. in 2008), it has been due to rapid growth in the demand for oil.

But in both cases the contractionary effects of higher energy prices have eventually proven too much for the world economy to shrug off. With the global average price of oil having moved above $100 per barrel in recent days – about 33 per cent higher than the price last summer – it is natural to fear that this latest oil shock may be enough to kill the global economic recovery. But oil prices would have to rise much further, and persist for much longer, for these fears to be justified.

With global oil supply already impacted by Libyan shut-downs, the threat of an oil shock has moved well beyond the realms of the theoretical. According to recent reports, about half of Libya’s 1.6m barrels per day of oil output have been knocked out, and this has been enough to trigger a rise of about $14 per barrel in the spot price of oil in the past week.

23 Şubat 2011 Çarşamba

Finally, Turkey Looks East

Elif SHAFAK*       The New York Times

I STARTED reading the fiction of the Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz with a delay that embarrasses me, not until my early 30s. In the Turkey of my formative years, he was not well-known. His famous “Cairo Trilogy,” published in the 1950s, wasn’t widely available in Turkish until 2008.

We were far more interested in Russian literature — Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Chekhov and Tolstoy — and European literature — Balzac, Hugo, Maupassant and Dickens — than in Arab literature. Western classics had been widely translated into Turkish since the late 19th century. A number of them were even published as supplements in children’s magazines, and I remember devouring them eagerly.

The Balkans: While you were watching Egypt...

T. J. Skopje     The Economist

SHARP-EYED observers have noted that some of the protestors that brought down Egypt's president used the clenched-fist logo of  Otpor, the well-organised, foreign-financed civic resistance movement that helped topple Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. Parts of the Serbian press, notes Florian Bieber, an academic who works on Balkan affairs, have claimed that former Otpor activists helped train some of the opposition groups.
With the world's attention on the Arab world, the political instability gripping much of the western Balkans has largely been ignored. Yet so serious is the unrest here—including mass demonstrations in Belgrade, Tirana and Skopje—that one diplomat told me his country’s foreign ministry had asked him if he thought that Egypt-style revolution might sweep northwards into the Balkans. (His answer was an emphatic “no”.) Here is a round-up of recent developments: 

BETAM: KRİZ KASABALARI, KASABALAR DA AKP’Yİ VURDU: 2007’den 2009’a yoksulluk ve oy değişimleri


Bahçeşehir Üniversitesi Ekonomik ve Toplumsal Araştırmalar Merkezi, Betam, Prof. Dr. Seyfettin Gürsel ve araştırma görevlileri Arda Aktaş ve Barış Gençer Baykan tarafından hazırlanan “KRİZ KASABALARI, KASABALAR DA AKP’Yİ VURDU: 2007’den 2009’a yoksulluk ve oy değişimleri” başlıklı araştırma notunu yayınlamıştır.


2009 yılında küresel krizin etkisiyle Türkiye ekonomisi yüzde 4,7 oranında küçüldü. Bunun sonucunda işsiz sayısı 2 milyon 300 binden, 3 milyon 700 bine tırmandı, kimi ücret ve kazançlarda ciddi düşüşler yaşandı. TÜİK istatistikleri 2009’da yoksullukta ülke genelinde belirgin bir artış olmadığını söylüyor. Bununla birlikte kentlerin aksine kırsal yerleşimlerde yoksulluğun önemli ölçüde arttığı görülüyor. TÜİK’in bir diğer bulgusu da yoksulluğun tarım sektöründe 2008’e kıyasla belirgin ölçüde azalmış olması. Bu bulgu krizin esas olarak kasabaları vurduğunu gösteriyor. Bu saptamadan yola çıkarak siyasal açıdan şu soruya yanıt arıyoruz: Temmuz 2007 genel seçimlerinde büyük sıçrama yapan Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi’nin oylarının Mart 2009’da yapılan İl Genel Meclisi seçimlerinde düştüğünü biliyoruz. AKP’nin oy kayıpları krizin yoksullaştırıcı etkisinin daha ağır hissedildiği kasabalarda ülke geneline kıyasla daha yoğun olmuş olabilir mi?

Çeşitli tanımlara göre belirlenen kasaba oyları incelendiğinde yanıtın “evet” olduğu açıkça görülüyor; İktidar partisi kasabalarda ülke geneline kıyasla yaklaşık 5 yüzde puan daha fazla oy kaybetti. Araştırmanın bir diğer önemli bulgusu da, iktidar partisinin oy kayıplarının ana muhalefet partisi CHP’nin lehine değil, başta MHP olmak üzere diğer muhalefet partilerine yönelmiş olmasıdır.

Araştırma notunun tamamına aşağıdaki linkten ulaşabilirsiniz.


IEA May Tap Oil Stockpiles

Nour Malas The       Wall Street Journal

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—The International Energy Agency, or IEA, will this week discuss at a governing board meeting whether to tap strategic stockpiles of crude oil against a backdrop of continued political turmoil across the Middle East, the agency's head said Tuesday.

The IEA's members are so far undecided on whether and when they will need to tap emergency stocks in light of potential production outages in Libya, said Nobuo Tanaka in an interview.

On Tuesday Libya shut all of its ports, including those used to export oil, as tensions in the country continue. Libya's estimated 44.3 billion barrels of oil reserves are the largest in Africa. Two major European oil companies, Eni SpA of Italy and Repsol YPF of Spain, said they were temporarily suspending operations in Libya.

TEPAV: "Cari Açık Sorunu Artık Daha Tehlikeli"

Cari işlemler açığındaki hızlı bozulmanın iç talebe dayalı hızlı büyümenin bir sonucu olduğu açıklanarak, cari açık sorununun karakter değiştirdiğine dikkat çekildi. 
 ANKARA - TEPAV cari açık sorunun karakterinde önceki yıllara göre önemli değişiklikler olduğunu açıklayarak, "Cari işlemler açığındaki hızlı bozulma, ihracat canlanamazken, iç talebe dayalı hızlı büyümenin bir sonucudur. Ekonomi, 2010 yılında çok fazla ısınmıştır. Ekonomi yönetimi için 2011 yılının temel meselesi ekonominin soğutulması olacak gibi görünmektedir" dedi.
TEPAV Ekonomi Politikaları Analisti Sarp Kalkan tarafından hazırlanan "Cari işlemler açığında neler oluyor? Bu defa farklı mı, yoksa aynı mı?" başlıklı değerlendirme notu yayımlandı. Not'ta ekonomide gözlemlenen hızlı toparlanmayla birlikte cari açık sorununun hızla gündemin birinci sırasındaki yerini aldığı ifade edilerek, IMF'nin gözden geçirme notunda da, "Türkiye için ana sorun aşırı iç talebe ve kısa vadeli sermaye girişlerine bağlı kırılganlıklara karşı uygulayacağı politika sepetini belirlemektir" uyarısının yapıldığına dikkat çekildi.

22 Şubat 2011 Salı

Turkey's Election: A Muslim democracy in action

The Economist

Popular uprisings in the Arab world are drawing new attention to the example of Turkey’s democracy.

“VOTE for AK. Write Your Own Constitution.” This is the slogan under which Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) party will launch its campaign for the general election that is to be held on June 12th. On one level, the outcome seems predictable. Opinion polls have consistently suggested that the mild Islamists who came to power in 2002 will bag a third term of single-party rule, with over 40% of the vote.

Rather less predictable is whether AK can win enough seats in the grand assembly (it needs 367 of a total 550) to approve a new constitution on its own. But Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, insists that the new document will be based on consensus and that it will give Turkey a full-blooded, Western-style democracy. Can he be taken at his word?

In his eight years in power, Mr Erdogan has done more than any of his secular predecessors to move Turkey closer to its coveted goal of full membership of the European Union. Reforms that he rammed through during AK’s first term in office persuaded the EU to open membership negotiations with Turkey in 2005.

Cruel. Vainglorious. Steeped in blood. And now, surely, after more than four decades of terror and oppression, on his way out?

Robert Fısk     The Independent

So even the old, paranoid, crazed fox of Libya – the pallid, infantile, droop-cheeked dictator from Sirte, owner of his own female praetorian guard, author of the preposterous Green Book, who once announced he would ride to a Non-Aligned Movement summit in Belgrade on his white charger – is going to ground. Or gone. Last night, the man I first saw more than three decades ago, solemnly saluting a phalanx of black-uniformed frogmen as they flappered their way across the sulphur-hot tarmac of Green Square on a torrid night in Tripoli during a seven-hour military parade, appeared to be on the run at last, pursued – like the dictators of Tunis and Cairo – by his own furious people.

The YouTube and Facebook pictures told the story with a grainy, fuzzed reality, fantasy turned to fire and burning police stations in Benghazi and Tripoli, to corpses and angry, armed men, of a woman with a pistol leaning from a car door, of a crowd of students – were they readers of his literature? – breaking down a concrete replica of his ghastly book. Gunfire and flames and cellphone screams; quite an epitaph for a regime we all, from time to time, supported. 

Birol: Petrol fiyatları tehlike bölgesinde


İSTANBUL - Petrol fiyatlarındaki yükseliş küresel ekonomi iyileşmeye yönelik kaygıların artmasına neden oluyor.

Uluslararası Enerji Ajansı Başekonomisti Fatih Birol, petrol fiyatlarının küresel ekonomik iyileşme için ciddi risk olduğunu söyledi. 

Petrol fiyatlarının tehlike bölgesine girdiğini belirten Birol, Ortadoğu'daki kargaşanın büyümesi halinde fiyatların daha da artabileceğini ifade etti. Birol, petrolün enflasyonist etki yaratarak, merkez bankalarını baskı altına sokacağını öngördü. 

Petrol fiyatlarının mevcut haliyle talebin yavaşlamasına yol açabileceğini ifade eden Birol, gerekirse acil durum stoklarını kullanmanın gündeme gelebileceğini dile getirdi.
Birol, Suudi Arabistan'ın üretimi artırmaya hazır olmasının ise doğru bir adım olduğunu söyledi. 

Petrol fiyatlarındaki artış konusunda uyarıda bulunan diğer bir isim de ünlü petrol uzmanı Daniel Yergin oldu. Cambridge Energy Research Başkanı Daniel Yergin, ABD ham petrolünün 100 doları aşmasının dünya ekonomisini olumsuz etkileyeceğini söyledi. 

Yergin, petroldeki yükselişin tüketici güveni, harcamalar ve iş dünyasına darbe vuracağını ifade etti. 

Petrol fiyatlarının yükselmesinde dünyanın en kaliteli petrollerinden birini üreten Libya'da yaşanan olaylar başrolü oynuyor. Libya, küresel petrol üretiminin yüzde 2'sini gerçekleştiriyor. ABD ham petrolü 94 dolara çıkarken, Brent petrolü 108 doları aştı.


19 Şubat 2011 Cumartesi

Turkish-Iranian Economic Ties Flourish

Saban Kardas   The Jamestown Foundation

Turkish President, Abdullah Gul, paid a four-day state visit to Iran starting on February 13, to discuss ways to further bilateral cooperation. The sheer frequency of such high level mutual visits between the two countries in recent years indicates the growing multi-dimensional ties between Ankara and Tehran. Coupled with the convergence of both countries’ positions on many regional problems, the Turkish-Iranian cooperative relationship in economic and political affairs has been one of the most constant elements in the emerging Middle Eastern geopolitical map which is often fluid and full of uncertainties.

Given Turkey’s involvement in international efforts to find a solution to the diplomatic standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, this issue has occupied a large part of Gul’s agenda. So far, Turkey has objected to the Western policy of pursuing coercive instruments to halt the Iranian nuclear enrichment program which has raised suspicions in the West that Iran might eventually opt to acquire nuclear weapons. Turkey has, instead, operated on the assumption that the Iranian nuclear program was driven by peaceful purposes and advocates a diplomatic solution through dialogue and engagement with Iran, which occasionally pits it against the United States (EDM, June 1, 2010).

Russia Mothballs Trans-Balkan Oil Pipeline Project

Vladimir Socor     The Jamestown Foundation

On February 17, the stakeholders and supervisory board of the Russian-led Burgas-Alexandropolis oil pipeline project shelved the project in all but name. The host countries, Bulgaria and Greece, had (each for its own considerations) recently suspended payments to the project company. The meeting decided to lay off staff and give up rented office space of the project company.  Moscow has not given up officially on this project, and has scheduled a follow-up meeting for June. But Moscow does plan a pipeline via Turkey (the Samsun-Ceyhan project) as an alternative option (Interfax, Novinite, February 17).

Led by a consortium of Russia’s Transneft, Rosneft, and Gazpromneft, the shelved project envisaged building a trans-Balkan pipeline from Burgas on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast to Alexandropolis on the Greek Aegean coast. Vladimir Putin oversaw the launching of this project in 2006-2007 while president of Russia.

Turkey: Cyprus Issue Moving to Forefront

Nicholas Birch*          Eurasianet

Tens of thousands of Turkish Cypriots are preparing a second round of protests against Turkey in early March. There is a growing mood of bitterness among Turkish Cypriots over the way nationalist electioneering in Cyprus and Turkey, along with Ankara's fading enthusiasm for European Union accession, is eroding hopes for a lasting settlement on the divided Mediterranean island.

The first since Turkish troops invaded Cyprus in 1974 to counter a coup by Greek Cypriot radicals backed by a junta in Athens, the anti-Ankara protests began January 28, when 40,000 Turkish Cypriots, a sixth of the population, gathered in the divided Cypriot capital of Nicosia.

The protests were sparked by austerity measures imposed by Turkey, which provides $700 million in aid every year to the Turkish Cypriot entity, unrecognized internationally and embargoed by the European Union.
But many are expecting a much larger crowd in March, as Cypriots worried about their jobs are joined by those angered by the Turkish government's heavy-handed reaction to the first protest.

"I wasn't there on January 28 because I am not a civil servant and I'm not likely to be affected by this economic package," said Salih Sahin, a hotelier in the coastal town of Girne. "But I'll be out March 2. I've had enough of all this talk coming out of Ankara about how I have to shut up and do what they say because they saved our lives in 1974."

Sahin was referring to the furious response of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to a handful of explicitly anti-Turkish placards waved on January 28.

16 Şubat 2011 Çarşamba

Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to Be Political Party

CAIRO — The Muslim Brotherhood, the outlawed Islamic group that has long constituted Egypt’s main political opposition, said Tuesday that it would apply to become an official political party as soon as the necessary changes were made to the Egyptian Constitution.

Those changes, which are expected to establish a democratic process in advance of elections in six months, had been widely anticipated in the aftermath of the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
The ousted leader saw the Brotherhood as a chief political rival and initiated the renewal of a crackdown since 2005, when the group ran independent candidates in parliamentary elections and won many races.
The current Constitution bars any political party based on a religious identity, a provision that precluded the Brotherhood from forming a legally recognized party.

Egypt: Doubts cast on Turkish claims for model democracy

Robert Tait*          The Guardian

Supporters say Turkey's ruling AKP party's brand of political Islam could be role model for Muslim Brotherhood, but opponents warn of authoritarianism

According to conventional wisdom, Turkey has become the template of our times: a large Muslim-majority country that has moved from military domination to civilian rule in a few years, spearheaded by a popular democratically elected government trumpeting its EU membership ambitions.
If Egypt, in its current flux, is seeking a path to help it navigate the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, the argument runs, then Turkey surely provides it. The once all-powerful Turkish armed forces – which have toppled four civilian governments in the past 50 years – have been cut down to size by the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development party (AKP) as it has sought to transform the national political landscape.

Energy Security Lessons of the Egypt Crisis

Simon Henderson and Michael Singh       The Washington Institute

The political turmoil in Egypt has prompted renewed concerns about the security of oil and gas supplies from the Middle East. The country's proximity to two key chokepoints -- the Suez Canal and the Bab al-Mandab Strait between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden -- is significant. Yet concerns about these routes highlight the vulnerability of an even more critical energy chokepoint: the Strait of Hormuz, the only exit from the Persian Gulf. The Egyptian crisis should serve as an opportunity to reexamine contingency plans for avoiding or limiting energy supply disruptions. Whether stemming from political upheaval, direct interference by Iran, or other factors, such disruptions could have a devastating effect on the global economy.

Gas Exports Hit by Sabotage
So far, the crisis has resulted in only one energy disruption: the February 5 sabotage of a pumping station in the Sinai Peninsula, which cut off natural gas supplies to Israel and Jordan. Both countries use this gas to generate electricity, and Jordan is particularly dependent on it. Egypt is expected to restore the flow shortly; in the meantime, Amman will have to rely on limited stocks of fuel oil and perhaps seek additional supplies from Iraq or Saudi Arabia. For its part, Israel can turn to fuel oil or coal stocks, though the incident will likely prompt early exploitation of recently discovered offshore gas reserves in the Mediterranean.

U.K., Turkey Near Military Accord

LONDON—The U.K. and Turkey are negotiating a military pact that would see the two European powers take part in joint exercises and share expertise, a person familiar with the matter said.

The agreement underscores how the U.K., Europe's most active military, is eager to work more closely with allied militaries amid budget cuts. In October, the British government announced cuts to the military budget of 7.5% over the next four years.

An accompanying Security and Defense Strategy Review placed great emphasis on alliances and partnerships to "enhance capability."

Britain hopes to have completed its memorandum of understanding with Turkey by July, this person said. Much of the deal will hinge on joint exercises. For instance, the U.K. could train helicopter pilots in Turkey, whose hot and mountainous terrain replicates Afghanistan.

14 Şubat 2011 Pazartesi

What can Turkey do for the Middle East’s freedom-seeking peoples?

Mehmet KALYONCU*      Today's Zaman

About a century ago, Arabs revolted against the Ottoman Empire in a campaign masterminded and guided by the Europeans in order to allegedly liberate themselves from the Turks. About half a century ago, Arabs revolted against the Europeans in a campaign led by nationalist Arab leaders in order to liberate themselves from their European colonizers.
Today, Arabs are revolting against their leaders in a campaign led by ordinary citizens in order to liberate themselves from leaders that have long been backed by the Europeans and the US -- and they have just deposed one in Egypt who had long seemed to be the most invincible. What is odd, if the foregoing is not, is that today Europeans are suggesting that Arabs should take Turkey as a model for development and democratization. A recent Financial Times editorial has suggested that the European governments help the Arab countries to evolve into free societies following the example of Turkey. Perhaps, it is better just to leave the Arabs alone, and let them figure out the best way forward for their countries.

China Replaced Japan in 2010 as No. 2 Economy

Hiroko TABUCHI        The New York Times

TOKYO — Japan’s economy has been surpassed by China’s, the Japanese government confirmed on Monday, after its gross domestic product shrank slightly in the last three months of 2010 compared with the previous quarter.

Japan’s G.D.P. fell 0.3 percent in the October-December quarter as the end of generous government incentives on environmentally friendly cars resulted in a temporary decline in spending.

The contraction, the first in five quarters, brought Japan’s economy for 2010 to $5.47 trillion, the Japanese Cabinet Office said. That compared with a $5.88 trillion economy for fast-growing China. At an annualized rate, Japan’s economy shrank 1.1 percent from the previous quarter.

The latest numbers are just a reinforcement of China’s rapid ascent as an economic superpower, as China surpassed Japan last summer after the half-year gross domestic product numbers were released. Just five years ago, China’s gross domestic product was around $2.3 trillion, about half Japan’s.

13 Şubat 2011 Pazar

Turkish Lessons, if Any, for Egypt

Joshua W. Walker*    The Boston Globe

With the overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on Friday after thirty years in power, it appears increasingly likely that the long-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood will gain political clout in whatever new government emerges in Cairo.

The Brotherhood, suppressed under Mubarak, advocates an “Islamist” agenda, which has alarmed some American analysts worried about the possibility of Egypt turning into a new Iran. But others have argued that the danger posed by the Brotherhood is exaggerated and point to Turkey, where a conservative Muslim party has been in power since 2002, as proof that an Islamic religious movement can coexist with democracy in the Middle East.

Indeed, Turkey has been cited by many as a model for the whole Arab world as it seeks to cope with the demands of greater democratization, economic prosperity, and political representation.

11 Şubat 2011 Cuma

Turkey basks in prestige from early response to Egypt uprising

Fulya ÖZERKAN    Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

Turkey’s strong challenge to Egypt’s ousted President Hosni Mubarak before he resigned Friday will give the country a boost in regional prestige, especially among the Arab public, experts say, while cautioning this outcome depends on how the regime changes in Cairo.

“Ankara’s early reaction to the developments in Egypt could be in Turkey’s interest; the regime change in Egypt would undoubtedly raise Turkey’s growing prestige on the Arab streets,” Professor Mensur Akgün told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review earlier on Friday.

Mubarak resigned as president and handed control to the military Friday evening after 29 years in power, bowing to a historic 18-day wave of pro-democracy demonstrations by hundreds of thousands, The Associated Press reported.

Is China Playing a Dual Game in Iran?

John W. Garve*         The Washington Quarterly 

One aspect of China’s Iran policy suggests a sincere effort to uphold the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime in cooperation with the United States. Another suggests that Beijing believes a nuclear-armed or nuclear-armed-capable Iran would serve China’s geopolitical interests in the Persian Gulf region. Is China playing a dual game toward Iran? This question cannot be answered with certainty, but given its importance, a tentative and necessarily somewhat speculative effort to think through the matter is in order. 

*John W. Garver is a professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is the author of China and Iran: Ancient Partners in a Post-Imperial World (University of Washington Press, 2006) and, with Jon Alterman, Vital Triangle: China, the United States, and the Middle East (Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2008).

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10 Şubat 2011 Perşembe

The Muslim Brotherhood's Strategy in Egypt

Epic Trager*           The Atlantic

Some Americans fear that Egypt in 2011 could repeat Iran in 1979, when a small group of religious fanatics hijacked a revolution. They see another popular uprising overtaking a much-hated, U.S.-backed dictator. They know that the strongest opposition group is the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that is unfriendly to the United States (In my years of interviewing Brotherhood leaders, I've almost never heard one say anything friendly about the U.S., which they regard with open and conspiratorial hostility.) And they worry that the dictator's impending fall will invite another Islamist takeover, which could undermine U.S. interests in the Middle East for decades to come.

Ironically, nobody understands these fears better than the Muslim Brotherhood itself. The Egyptian Islamist organization knows that if it does anything that even remotely appears as though it is trying to take charge of the opposition, it will become the global face of Egypt's popular revolt - subjecting both the revolt generally and the group specifically to the scrutiny of an international community that doesn't want to see a Brotherhood-ruled Egypt. So for the moment, its leaders say that they will neither run a presidential candidate nor participate in any transitional government. Their coyness is likely to continue until a political transition is consolidated.

9 Şubat 2011 Çarşamba

The Second Arab Revolt: Winners and Losers

Immanuel Wallerstein*  

The Tunisian example encouraged the Arab street elsewhere to pursue a similar path - most notably in Egypt, Yemen, and Jordan. The great loser is clearly the US. Of course the biggest winners are the Arab peoples, notes Immanuel Wallerstein

The Arab Revolt of 1916 was led by Sharif Hussein bin Ali for Arab independence from the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans were evicted. The great revolt however was co-opted by the British and the French. After 1945, the various Arab states gradually became independent members of the United Nations. But in most cases their independences were co-opted by the United States as the successor to Great Britain as outside controller, with a minor continuing role of France in the Maghreb and Lebanon.

The second Arab Revolt has been brewing for some years now. It got a substantial shot in the arm from the successful uprising of Tunisian youth this past month. When courageous young people risk their lives to rise up against a supercorrupt authoritarian regime and actually succeed in deposing the president, one has to applaud. Whatever happens next, it was a good moment for humanity. The question always is, what comes next?

Military Holds Key to Egypt's Future

The Council on Foreign Relations
Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, CFR.org
Bruce K. Rutherford, Associate Professor of Political Science, Colgate University

As protests continued in Cairo, questions intensified about when and how President Hosni Mubarak would step aside and what kind of transitional government might replace him. The "key actor" at this time is Egypt's military leadership, which is concerned about growing violence, economic damage, and continued instability, says Bruce K. Rutherford, author of Egypt After Mubarak: Liberalism, Islam, and Democracy in the Arab World. "If they want these demonstrations to end, they can either intervene and use force to disperse the demonstrators or they can ask President Mubarak to leave," he says, which would indicate the army's belief that Mubarak's continued presence is destabilizing. Rutherford says the opposition has organized a ten-person leadership group headed by Mohamed ElBaradei, but that Egyptians are skeptical about the government's offer to open discussions with the opposition because in the past, such dialogues haven't led to any change. He says a possible successor to Mubarak may be former foreign minister Amr Moussa, currently head of the Arab League.

8 Şubat 2011 Salı

Toshiba upbeat on Turkey nuclear deal

Financial Times     

Toshiba, the Japanese electronics and engineering group, says it is confident that it will seal a deal to build a nuclear power plant on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, after talks between the Turkish government and South Korean reactor builders broke down last year.
Norio Sasaki, Toshiba president, told the FT a deal now hinged mainly on the provision of long-term risk insurance by the Japanese government. Tokyo has been working to strengthen financial support for its private sector nuclear groups to help them compete with state-backed manufacturers in Korea and Russia.


Armenia and Azerbaijan: Preventing War

International Crisis Group        Europe Briefing N°60 

An arms race, escalating front-line clashes, vitriolic war rhetoric and a virtual breakdown in peace talks are increasing the chance Armenia and Azerbaijan will go back to war over Nagorno-Karabakh. Preventing this is urgent. Increased military capabilities on both sides would make a new armed conflict in the South Caucasus far more deadly than the 1992-1994 one that ended with a shaky truce. Neither side would be likely to win easily or quickly. Regional alliances could pull in Russia, Turkey and Iran. Vital oil and gas pipelines near the front lines would be threatened, as would the cooperation between Russia and Turkey that is central to regional stability. Another refugee crisis would be likely. To start reversing this dangerous downward trend, the opposing sides should sign a document on basic principles for resolving the conflict peacefully and undertake confidence-building steps to reduce tensions and avert a resumption of fighting.

Turkish industrial output jumps, supports overall growth


Turkey’s industrial production surged 5.7 percent in December from a month earlier, the biggest increase since the data series started in 2005, according to official data released Tuesday.

Output rose 17.4 percent from December 2009 when adjusted for the number of working days, Bloomberg reported. Without adjustment, the annual figure gained 16.9 percent.

The annual rise in intermediary goods production was a massive 24.4 percent, while capital goods production surged by 34.2 percent. “This shows growth has strengthened and this strength will continue in the period ahead,” Fortis Bank economists said in a note to investors.

Egypt: from revolt to change

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi*        Open Democracy

A single incident that took place in the Egyptian city of city of Alexandria on 6 June 2010 anticipates the wave of protest in the country that was to explode in January-February 2011. It involved the arrest of 28-year-old Khaled Saeed, who was detained on his way to visit an internet café in the Sidi Gaber district.

Khaled Saeed was treated so brutally by the two state-security officials who seized him that he died of his injuries. The pretext for the murderous assault is that Khaled was believed to be carrying videotaped evidence that implicated members of the police in drug-dealing.

Those responsible compounded their crime by claiming that Khaled died from swallowing a cannabis joint; in face of a public outcry, they were sentenced to four days in prison.

Many Alexandrians staged a moving protest of mourning and defiance, wearing black and standing with dignity on the city’s famous corniche. The simple and brilliant idea, skilfully practised so that no five people would gather on exactly the same spot, circumvented the terms of Egypt’s restrictive state-of-emergency law.
It also led to further civic action; Wael Ghonim, a blogger and Google executive in the region, established a Facebook page called “We are all Khalid Saeed” during the January 2011 protests. He was detained on 27 January on account of his involvement in the protests, though on 7 February he was released and promised soon to  rejoin the movement in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

6 Şubat 2011 Pazar

Arabs Battling Regimes See Erdogan's Muslim Democracy as Model

Benjamin Harvey, Gregory Viscusi and Massoud A. Derhally         Bloomberg

Arabs seeking a model for post- autocratic governments are looking for inspiration in Turkey, where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s brand of Islamic democracy has helped make him the region’s most popular leader.

Erdogan has been elected twice, presided over an economic boom that’s tripled average incomes while Egypt’s remained stagnant, and shifted Turkey’s foreign policy away from Western tutelage while keeping its status as a U.S. military ally and European Union candidate. His popularity has spread to the Arab world, where he was named the most favored leader last year in a survey by Zogby International and the University of Maryland.

Turkey is cited as a model by opposition leaders competing for power as the region’s rulers struggle to quell a wave of protests. The head of Tunisia’s Islamist party, who returned from a 22-year exile this week after President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled, said his country can emulate Turkey, and opposition groups fighting to oust Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and win political rights in monarchical Jordan cite similar aims.

In Turkey’s Example, Some See a Map for Egypt

Landon Thomas Jr.            The New York Times

As Egypt struggles to reinvent itself, many experts in the region say that it might look to Turkey for some valuable lessons.

Arriving at a template that effectively integrates Islam, democracy and vibrant economics has been a near-impossible dream for Middle East reformers stretching back decades. To a large extent, Egypt’s inability to accommodate these three themes lies at the root of its current plight.

But no country in the region has come closer to accomplishing this trick, warts and all, than Turkey. As a result, diplomats and analysts have begun to present the still-incomplete Turkish experiment as a possible road map for Egypt.

“Turkey is the envy of the Arab world,” said Hugh Pope, project director for the Turkish office of the International Crisis Group. “It has moved to a robust democracy, has a genuinely elected leader who seems to speak for the popular mood, has products that are popular from Afghanistan to Morocco — including dozens of sitcoms dubbed into Arabic that are on TV sets everywhere — and an economy that is worth about half of the whole Arab world put together.”

5 Şubat 2011 Cumartesi

Middle East: Regimes by Type; 1946 - 2008


An Exit Plan for Mubarak

Tarek Masoud*   The New York Times

HOSNI MUBARAK’S promise this week to initiate constitutional reform in Egypt and then step down at the end of his presidential term in September did little to mollify the anger of the demonstrators protesting his rule. Many protesters seemed to agree with the assessment of the opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei that it was “a trick” intended to buy time. With the regime-sponsored ugliness now engulfing Tahrir Square, demands for Mr. Mubarak’s immediate resignation have grown only more urgent, and the risk of a violent conclusion appears to have grown.

But there may still be a chance to effect the “orderly transition” that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for. Paradoxically, it requires that Mr. Mubarak stay on, but only for a short time, to initiate the election of an entirely new Parliament that could then amend all the power out of the presidency or even abolish it.

4 Şubat 2011 Cuma

The Arab revolution and Western decline

Ari Shavit    Haaretz

Two huge processes are happening right before our eyes. One is the Arab liberation revolution. After half a century during which tyrants have ruled the Arab world, their control is weakening. After 40 years of decaying stability, the rot is eating into the stability. The Arab masses will no longer accept what they used to accept. The Arab elites will no longer remain silent.

Processes that have been roiling beneath the surface for about a decade are suddenly bursting out in an intifada of freedom. Modernization, globalization, telecommunications and Islamization have created a critical mass that cannot be stopped. The example of democratic Iraq is awakening others, and Al Jazeera's subversive broadcasts are fanning the flames. And so the Tunisian bastille fell, the Cairo bastille is falling and other Arab bastilles will fall.

Return of the Turks as Middle East kingmaker

Joshua Walker     Foreign Policy

"Enough we say, the decision belongs to the people of the brotherly Egyptian and Tunisian nations... Turkey shares the grief of these nations as well as their hopes." So-declared a self-confident Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday in his prime-time speech on recent events in the Middle East that received broad coverage regionally. While commentators point to the protests and revolutions in the Arab world as being the most recent example of the crumbling vestiges of the Cold War, the more significant long-term global trend is strangely familiar to the Turks. Protests in Tunisia have already overthrown the rule of a 23 year-old regime and inspired a similar uprising in the form of Egypt's ongoing protest movement. Lebanon's continuing instability and threats of Tunisian-inspired revolutions in Yemen and even Jordan further add to the significance of the moment we are witnessing in the Arab world.

The unprecedented levels and inter-linkages of the protests against the traditional authoritarian regimes represented most starkly by President Mubarak, has brought the Middle East back to a period more reminiscent of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of Arab nationalism than anything seen in recent memory.

3 Şubat 2011 Perşembe

Turkey’s Low-Inflation Celebration May Not Be All It Seems

Turkey’s central bank rate-setters may have been grateful that the wave of protest engulfing Egypt and other Arab states shifted the market’s attention away from their controversial monetary policy plan this week. Until Thursday, perhaps.

Thursday saw the Turkish statistics institute announce that consumer price inflation in Turkey decelerated to 4.9% on the year in December, comfortably below the central bank’s target and marginally lower than expectations. The figure marks the lowest annualized rate of price growth since 1968 when student protest movements were erupting across Europe and Turkey’s current central bank Governor Durmus Yilmaz had just turned 21.

China-Turkish Strategic Partnership: Implications of Anatolian Eagle 2010

Chris Zambelis      China Brief Volume: 11 Issue: 1

Since being inaugurated in 2001, Turkey’s annual hosting of its "Anatolian Eagle" aerial military exercises at Konya air base in the central Anatolian region of Konya have been central to its efforts to preserve military preparedness and to enhance relations with the air forces of the United States and fellow NATO allies.  "Anatolian Eagle" has also encouraged closer relations between Turkey and a range of regional partners—especially Israel—as well as Jordan, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  Turkey’s guest of honor in the exercises staged from September 20 to October 4, 2010, however, was China. While China cooperates with NATO countries and other members of the international community in anti-piracy operations in the waters off the Horn of Africa, its participation in "Anatolian Eagle" marked the first time it engaged in joint air exercises with a NATO member (Hurriyet [Istanbul], October 29, 2010; Xinhua News Agency, January 19, 2009).

The exercises featured U.S.-origin Turkish fighters, namely U.S.-built F-4E Phantoms alongside Russian-built Sukhoi SU-27 Flankers operated by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) (Asia Sentinel [Hong Kong], October 7, 2010).  Rumors circulated that Turkey deployed its advanced U.S.-made F-16 Fighting Falcons during the maneuvers, raising fears in Washington and Brussels that sensitive U.S. and NATO technology would slip into the hands of the Chinese.  Turkish officials denied the allegations, however, stating that they took great care to protect sensitive technology, a point confirmed by officials in Washington (Today’s Zaman [Istanbul], October 11, 2010; Reuters, October 9, 2010).  The exercises included mock dogfights and other air-based maneuvers.  Yet key questions remain regarding the details of important aspects of the exercises.  The precise number of Chinese fighters involved in the exercises, for example, is unclear (Aviation Week, September 30, 2010; Asia Sentinel, October 7, 2010).

Thinking the Unthinkable: Is the Gulf Next?

James M. DORSEY*       World Politics Review

It's time to think the unthinkable: Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Persian Gulf states may be next in line to confront widespread popular discontent.

As a wave of mass protests sweeps the Arab world, shaking the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to the core, rumblings of popular restlessness are bubbling to the surface in the Gulf.

Shiite opposition groups in Bahrain, a strategic island kingdom that hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, have called for protests on Feb. 14 to demand greater political freedom, an end to human rights abuses, improved economic opportunities.

To quell rising anger, Arab leaders are scrambling to rejuvenate the existing social contract with measures ranging from cash handouts, to cosmetic changes of government, to a renewed emphasis on job-creation. Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has called for an emergency Arab summit to discuss the wave of protests that have already toppled Tunisian President Zine Abedine Ben Ali.

Change in Turkey has shown another way for ME

Nuh Yılmaz*     The National

Returning to Tunisia this week after more than 20 years in exile, the opposition leaderRashid Ghannouchi said Turkey now provided political inspiration. "The best model I can think of is the one adopted by the AKP [Justice and Development Party] in Turkey," he told reporters. It was an affirmation of what many already knew: the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party have exerted considerable influence on recent events that have rocked the Arab and Muslim world.

From Twitter to WikiLeaks and Facebook to Al Jazeera, many social media phenomena have been credited for what has happened in Tunisia and Egypt. Yet the impact of Turkey's recent actions has not been adequately addressed in the context of the recent demonstrations. In large part, Mr Erdogan and his party have heralded a new political horizon for the people of the Middle East.

Noam Chomsky: “This is the Most Remarkable Regional Uprising that I Can Remember”

Amy Goodman's interview with Noam Chomsky        Democracy Now

In recent weeks, popular uprisings in the Arab world have led to the ouster of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the imminent end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, a new Jordanian government, and a pledge by Yemen’s longtime dictator to leave office at the end of his term. We speak to MIT Professor Noam Chomsky about what this means for the future of the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy in the region. When asked about President Obama’s remarks last night on Mubarak, Chomsky said: "Obama very carefully didn’t say anything... He’s doing what U.S. leaders regularly do. As I said, there is a playbook: whenever a favored dictator is in trouble, try to sustain him, hold on; if at some point it becomes impossible, switch sides." We continued the interview with Chomsky for 50 minutes after the live show. [includes rush transcript]

AMY GOODMAN: For analysis of the Egyptian uprising and its implications for the Middle East and beyond, we’re joined now by the world-renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of over a hundred books, including his latest, Hopes and Prospects.

2 Şubat 2011 Çarşamba

After BRIC comes MIST, the acronym Turkey would certainly welcome

Simon Roughneen         Guardian

The term MIST has been coined to describe the next tier of large emerging economies - Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey. Can Turkey live up to the hype?

Acronyms have long been a favourite of policy wonks and policymakers, shorthand for describing the world and the changes taking place in it. Jim O'Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist who came up with the now-mainstream "BRIC" catch-all for four quite different economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China – has done it again.

"MIST" – or Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey – is O'Neill's latest rhetorical agglomeration, pulling four more far-flung countries together and talking-up the next tier of large "emerging economies".
Pundits might have a field day with this, with MIST obviously more vapid and perhaps lacking the solidity of its BRIC antecedent. Still, all four have in common a number of factors: a large population and market, a big economy at about 1% of global GDP each, and all are members of the G20.

Oil Prices Could Be Obama's Worst Nightmare Come Election Time

Llewellyn King*   OilPrice.com 

Like death and taxes, the price of oil is always with us. And like taxes, it may be President Barack Obama’s worst nightmare at election time next year.

Among forecasters, there is a sharp division between those who see an inexorable rise in the price of oil and those who believe it will stabilize about where it is now.

The hawks see gasoline streaking ahead to $4-a-gallon this year and $5-a-gallon in 2012.

Others say demand will collapse and it won’t go that high. The Energy Information Administration is very conservative in its forecasts and it gives very high prices only a 10-percent chance of coming about.

Adding to the confusion is a nasty little spat between the International Energy Agency in Paris and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries over price, inventory and what OPEC calls “technical factors,” such as pipelines down for repair or the loss of the Deep Water Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico last year. IEA is saying that OPEC is keeping its production quotas low to jack up the price—currently just over $90 a barrel and the highest grade Brent crude from the North Sea as high as $99 a barrel—and it is endangering the global recovery with its actions.

1 Şubat 2011 Salı

Turkey tells Mubarak to listen to the people


Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should heed his people's desire for change, Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday, piling pressure on Mubarak to end his 30-year rule in the face of mass protests.

As hundreds of thousands of Egyptians rallied in Cairo, Erdogan stopped short of explicitly calling for Mubarak's resignation but urged the Egyptian leader to ponder his legacy.

"Mr. Hosni Mubarak: I want to make a very sincere recommendation, a very candid warning... All of us will die and will be questioned over what we left behind," Erdogan said in a speech to members of his ruling AK Party in Ankara.

"As Muslims, where we all go is a two cubic meter hole," he said. The speech was broadcast live by some Arabic-language channels.

"Listen to the shouting of the people, the extremely humane demands. Without hesitation, satisfy the people's desire for change," Erdogan said.

Erdogan, whose country is held up as a model in the West for democracy in Muslim nations and has seen its influence rise in recent years in the Middle East, went on to say the solution to political problems lay in elections.

"If there is a problem, the place for solution is the ballot box," Erdogan said. The United States and other Western powers have also urged Mubarak to hold free elections.