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Turkey

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The Iraqi government has banned international flights to the Kurdish capital Irbil from 6pm this Friday, isolating the Kurds in Iraq to a degree they have not experienced since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The isolation is political as well as geographical as traditional Kurdish allies, like the US, UK, France and Germany,... Read More
President Trump’s decision to provide weapons to the Syrian Kurds, who are fighting Isis, potentially marks a crucial change in the political geography of the Middle East. In effect, the US is choosing to support its Kurdish ally in Syria, in defiance of Turkey, whose aim is to prevent the establishment of a quasi-independent Kurdish... Read More
What critics claim is the openly fraudulent Turkish referendum ends parliamentary democracy in the country and gives President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dictatorial powers. The most unexpected aspect of the poll on Sunday was not the declared outcome, but that the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) allegedly found it necessary to fix the vote quite... Read More
In the final days before Turks vote in a referendum on 16 April on whether or not to give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dictatorial powers and effectively end parliamentary government, the mood in Turkey is prone to conspiracy theories and suspicion of foreign plots. A sign of this is the reception given to a tweet... Read More
Winners and losers are emerging in what may be the final phase of the Syrian civil war as anti-Isis forces prepare for an attack aimed at capturing Raqqa, the de facto Isis capital in Syria. Kurdish-led Syrian fighters say they have seized part of the road south of Raqqa, cutting Isis off from other its... Read More
As the international political order fragments, Theresa May flies from seeing Donald Trump, who speaks approvingly of the use of torture, to a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is presiding over the reintroduction of torture in Turkey. The opportunism and hypocrisy of British foreign policy, as the UK flails around for new allies... Read More
The Turkish army is suffering unexpectedly serious losses in men and equipment as it engages in its first real battle against Isis fighters holding al-Bab, a small but strategically placed city north east of Aleppo. Turkish military commanders had hoped to capture al-Bab quickly when their forces attacked it in December, but they are failing... Read More
The Syrian peace talks arranged by Russia, Turkey and Iran that opened today in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, show that President Bashar al-Assad is winning the six-year-old war, but his final victory may be a long way off. Several participants in the conference have good reasons to fight on and Isis has recently made... Read More
As Donald Trump prepares for his inauguration, he is struggling with opposition from the US media, intelligence agencies, government apparatus, parts of the Republican Party and a significant portion of the American population. Impressive obstacles appear to prevent him exercising arbitrary power. He should take heart: much the same was said in Turkey of Recep... Read More
The killing by an Islamic State (Isis) gunman of 39 civilians in a nightclub in Istanbul is the latest massacre in Turkey, where such slaughter is now happening every few weeks. The perpetrators may differ but the cumulative effect of these atrocities is to persuade Turks that they live in an increasingly frightening and unstable... Read More
The assassination of the Russian ambassador to Ankara by a 22-year-old riot policeman underlines the degree to which Turkey is being destabilised by the hatred and violence spreading from the wars in Syria. Spectacular killings and bombings are happening every few days in which the identity, affiliations or motives of the perpetrators are often in... Read More
The bombings that killed 38 people and injured 155 after a football match in Istanbul is the latest episode to underline Turkey’s violent instability. Government officials blame the attack on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), with which the Turkish state has been fighting a guerrilla war since 1984. But only a week ago the spokesman... Read More
The decibel level of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s denunciations are invariably so high that it is impossible to know how seriously to take them. He has threatened to let loose a wave of three million Syrian and Iraqi refugees who would then try to make their way from Turkey to Europe at a time when... Read More
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Iraq and Turkey are threatening to go to war with each other over who should hold power in Mosul and the surrounding region after the defeat of Isis. Turkish tanks and artillery have deployed along the border and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said that while Iraq “did not want war with Turkey” it... Read More
The Iraqi government and its allies may eventually captureMosul from Isis, but this could be just a new chapter in the war. It will only win because of the devastating firepower of the US-led air forces and sheer weight of numbers. But the fight for the city is militarily and politically complex. The Iraqi army,... Read More
The Syrian Kurdish leadership vows to defend their de facto state in north east Syria to the end, but is fearful of a growing understanding between the Syrian and Turkish governments in opposition to Kurdish separatism at a time when US support for the Kurds is faltering. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, a... Read More
Turkey is back in the game in Syria. Turkish tanks and special forces last week joined anti-Assad rebels to capture the border town of Jarabulus from Isis. It was the first significant Turkish ground operation in Syria since the beginning of the war in 2011. The immediate target was Isis, but a more important Turkish... Read More
The record of Turkish involvement in the war in Syria over the last five years has been one of repeated disaster. It wanted to get rid of President Bashar al-Assad and his government and it is still there and in control of at least two thirds of the Syrian population. Instead, the Syrian wing of... Read More
Coup attempt and purge are tearing Turkey apart. The Turkish armed forces, for long the backbone of the state, are in a state of turmoil. Some 40 per cent of its generals and admirals have been detained or dismissed, including senior army commanders. They are suspected of launching the abortive military takeover on 15-16 July,... Read More
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan started to use his powers under the newly-declared state of emergency today to close 15 universities and over one thousand schools alleged to have links to the Gulen movement, which is accused of having staged the failed military coup on 15 July. The extent of the closures underlines the sizable nature... Read More
Turkey is reacting angrily to what it considers to be tepid support from the EU and US in the aftermath of a failed coup that left hundreds dead and could have plunged the country into a civil war had the plotters achieved a little more success. Foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Monday that the... Read More
The failed military coup is a disaster for Turkey, but its success would have been a far greater calamity. If the plotters had killed or captured President Recep Tayyip Erdogan then other parts of the armed forces might have joined them, but a civil war would have been inevitable as the security forces split and... Read More
“I went to Taksim Square where there was a rally against thecoup,” says Gokse, a 30-year-old woman journalist and photographer. “I was so scared because all the women there looked at me as if I was a demon. The men said that ‘if you go on dressing like that you deserve to die’. Most people... Read More
Turkish leaders are fearful that there may be a second attempt at a military uprising in Turkey following the failure of the recent coup. Several important military units are confined to their bases and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been slow to return to Ankara from Istanbul, apparently because the capital has not been deemed... Read More
Why was the coup mounted? This requires assumptions about who carried out the coup. One theory is that the followers of self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen knew that they were going to be purged and decided to strike first. Was the coup concocted by President Recep Tayyip​ Erdogan to give himself the excuse to crack down?... Read More
As crowds chant calls for the execution of those involved in the failed coup in Turkey, there are fears that this once-secular country is decisively turning the corner towards full scale Islamisation. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using the attempted military takeover to justify a purge of state officials and army officers who do not... Read More
The sweeping purge of soldiers and officials in the wake of the failed coup in Turkey is likely to be conducted with extra vigour because a number of close associates of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are among the 265 dead. The number of people detained so far is at 6,000 including soldiers, and around 3,000... Read More
Fierce criticism has greeted the claim by the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, about the dangers of giving Turks easier entry to Europe. He said that for the EU “to offer visa-free access to 75 million Turks to stem the flow of migrants across the Aegean seems perverse, like storing gasoline next to... Read More
The war in Syria is reaching a climax. The Syrian army, supported by Russian bombers, is advancing north of Aleppo to cut off the Syrian armed opposition from the Turkish border. The Syrian Kurds, backed by US air strikes, are closing in on Isis and non-Isis supply lines in the same area. In the wake... Read More
At an early stage of the war in Syria, an Iraqi official went to see a Nato commander. “What’s the difference between what is happening in Syria and Libya [where Muammar Gaddafi had just been overthrown]?” he asked. The reply of the Nato general was simple and crisp. “Russia is back,” he said. The rebirth... Read More
A month before Turkey shot down a Russian bomber which it accused of entering its airspace, Russian military intelligence had warned President Vladimir Putin that this was the Turkish plan. Diplomats familiar with the events say that Putin dismissed the warning, probably because he did not believe that Turkey would risk provoking Russia into deeper... Read More
The Syrian peace talks between government and opposition will begin in the next few days in Geneva in an atmosphere of almost undiluted gloom about the prospects for success. The two sides hate each other and have spent five years trying to kill each other, making it unlikely that they will agree to share power... Read More
Turkey is becoming a more dangerous place, but then so is the Middle East and North Africa and anywhere Isis can send its suicide squads. The Turkish authorities say that the bomber who killed at least 10 people, mostly German tourists, near the obelisk of Theodosius, not far from Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque... Read More
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Explosive violence breaks out on an international scale
The CIA analyst is confident about what is likely to happen in Syria. He says that “Assad is playing his last major card to keep his regime in power”. He believes that the Assad government will step up its efforts to prove that its enemies “are being manipulated by outsiders”. The probable outcome is a... Read More
Ankara is accused of tolerance of – if not complicity with – the terrorists, who use border as a crossing point for Isis recruits and oil sales
The US is demanding that Turkey close a 60-mile stretch of its border with Syria which is the sole remaining crossing point for Isis militants, including some of those involved in the massacre in Paris and other terrorist plots. The complete closure of the 550-mile-long border would be a serious blow to Isis, which has... Read More
Nato will be worried by strike on Russia
Turkey must have been eager to shoot down a Russian aircraft. Even going by the Turkish account of what happened, as illustrated by a Turkish map of the route of the Russian plane, it would only briefly have been in Turkish airspace as it crossed a piece of Turkish territory that projects into Syria. Why... Read More
Turkey and the US are to carry out operations aimed at driving out Isis from a militarily important part of Syria’s border region with Turkey. The move is part of the elaborate chess game being played in the area in which the ultimate prize is Aleppo and a decisive victory in the Syrian civil war.... Read More
The European Union has published its delayed annual report on Turkish membership of the bloc, urging Turkey to resume talks with the Kurds, limit restrictions on the media and respect human rights. Its publication was delayed by the EU so as not to influence the Turkish elections, but it is hard to see why, since... Read More
The resounding victory of the President’s party reflects the way he has shaped opinion
Cars filled with militant supporters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) celebrated its unexpectedly decisive victory in the Turkish parliamentary election by driving through the streets of Istanbul cheering and waving their party’s yellow and blue flags. They even penetrated the middle-class Bohemian district of Cihangir, where they beat drums and defiantly chanted the... Read More
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won a decisive victory in the Turkish parliamentary election, with his Justice and Development Party (AKP) winning a majority of seats and defeating the other three opposition parties. With 98 per cent of the vote counted, the AKP had won 49.4 per cent and 316 seats in the 550 seat... Read More
Turks vote on Sunday to choose a new parliament amid fears that Turkey is turning into an authoritarian one-party state and political, ethnic and religious polarisation is so great that the country is becoming permanently unstable. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), in power since 2002, need to elect just... Read More
The country is finding itself increasingly at odds with the US, Russia and Iran over developments in the conflict
Russian planes carried out 71 sorties and 118 air strikes against Islamic fighters in Syria over the past two days compared to just one air strike by the US-led coalition – and this single strike, against a mortar position, was the first for four days. The Russian air campaign in Syria is far more intense... Read More
Fears that if President Erdogan wins a simple majority of 276 seats in the 550-seat parliament, he will establish an authoritarian presidential system
Turkey goes to the polls on Sunday in a parliamentary election that threatens to increase polarisation in a country that is already deeply divided. At stake is the extent to which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has ruled Turkey since 2002, can establish one-party rule and near monopoly... Read More
While rivals in every other respect, both are supporting the local branch of the PKK in Syria conflict
Turkey has summoned separately the American and Russian ambassadors in Ankara to complain about their countries acting in support of the military forces of the Syrian Kurds who are fighting Isis. The Turkish government’s alarm underlines its problem in fighting a guerrilla war against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey at a time when... Read More
Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the two suicide bombings, but the attack has all the hallmarks of Isis
Is Turkey joining the array of eight countries engulfed by violence in the Middle East and North Africa? The suicide bombing of a peace rally in Ankara that killed more than 100 people on Saturday is an ominous sign that the same factors that have effectively destroyed Iraq and Syria as unitary countries are affecting... Read More
Meanwhile Moscow steps up air strikes against opposition targets
Turkey said that radar used by Russian aircraft and its surface-to-air missile systems in Syria locked on to Turkish jets as the Russian air campaign intensifies against opposition targets. The Turkish military said that eight Turkish F-16 fighters patrolling the Turkish Syrian border had been threatened by a Mig-29 and later by an anti-aircraft missile... Read More
But the real losers are the Kurds, the only force to have effectively resisted the jihadis in Syria
The disastrous miscalculation made by the United States in signing a military agreement with Turkey at the expense of the Kurds becomes daily more apparent. In return for the use of Incirlik Air Base just north of the Syrian border, the US betrayed the Syrian Kurds who have so far been its most effective ally... Read More
Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase
The deal between the US and Turkey which will allow American bombers to use Incirlik airbase while Turkey takes action against Islamic State (Isis) looks stranger and stranger. When first announced over a week ago, US officials spoke triumphantly of the agreement being “a game-changer” in the war against Isis. In fact, the war waged... Read More
Turkish President Recep Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK
So far the Turkish offensive against “terrorism” has been directed primarily against the PKK Kurdish guerrillas in the mountains of northern Iraq rather than Isis in Syria. In the first two days of the Turkish campaign it sent only a few planes to bomb Syria while there were 185 air missions against about 400 PKK... Read More
Was approving air strikes against the PKK America's worst error in the Middle East since the Iraq War?
Kurdish guerrillas have killed two Turkish soldiers in an ambushin south-east Turkey as fighting resumes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants, ending a two-year-old ceasefire. The attack came after Turkish aircraft heavily bombed bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq. In a sign that the PKK has... Read More
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Patrick Cockburn
About Patrick Cockburn

Patrick Cockburn is the Middle East correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent. He was awarded the 2005 Martha Gellhorn prize for war reporting. His book on his years covering the war in Iraq, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (Verso) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction.


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