The key to understanding liberalism’s consistent presence at the core of otherwise illiberal governance in Turkey lies in the history of another word, muhalefet. It’s the word at the center of Christine M. Philliou’s brilliant new book.
“My baba left,” I would say to friends, who were still a little mystified I had moved by choice, “and now I’ve come back.” I could never stop myself from saying “back.” In a way, it makes no sense. I had never lived in Turkey before. But it acknowledges something that feels true: that the arcs of our stories stretch beyond our own lifetimes.
In the dusty farms and villages of Sinjar, the interests of Iran and Turkey collide. Here in northern Iraq, Tehran is allying with non-state actors in order to further its own interests — this time with the controversial PKK group, which will bring it into conflict with Ankara.
After 1923, homogeneity, sameness, consistency, and obedience were qualities strictly enforced — a kind of ethnic chauvinism that repudiated the weak pluralism of the Ottoman state … When the entire political class of a nation is so consumed by a furtively distrustful mindset, there is never a correct time to trouble the state with a demand for greater rights or greater equality.
Within Kurdish politics in Turkey, there is an emerging style of right-wing discourse. No longer content to be a silent partner of the governing Turkish right-wing coalition, the new Kurdish right defines itself in opposition to both the Turkish state and the PKK’s left-liberation mythos.
The 1940s and ’50s were a golden age for Turkish travel writing. These were boom years for the Turkish publishing industry, and visitors invariably wrote up their experiences in books and newspaper columns with titles like “Letters from America,” satisfying a hungry audience.
The alliance has proved remarkably enduring, and rarely have Russia and Turkey enjoyed such a stretch of fruitful cooperation. But so much hinges on the personal relationship between Putin and Erdoğan. Not even they can change the brittle nature of a relationship between two powers that have been rivals for centuries.