Current Issue

Winter 2016 Volume 18 No. 2


Insight Turkey Volume 18 No 2, 2016




The Mayhem in Syria: Where to?

Azzam Tamimi

Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, pp. 11-21

Abstract What started as a peaceful protest in the spring of 2011 soon developed into one of the most vicious and internationalized conflicts of modern times. The Syrian people’s quest for freedom has proven to be so costly that nearly an entire population is today homeless and entire cities are in total ruin. No longer localized, this conflict has attracted the intervention of groups and countries from across the region and around the world. Yet, the Syrian people seem no less resolved to pursue the objectives for which they rose 5 years ago.
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Geopolitical Realignments around Syria: Threats and Opportunities


Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, pp. 21-31

The Syrian uprising took the regional powers by surprise and was able to disrupt the regional balance of power to such an extent that the Syrian file has become a more internationalized matter than a regional one. Syria has become a fluid scene with multiple spheres of influence by countries, extremist groups, and non-state actors. The long-term goal of re-establishing peace and stability can be achieved by taking strategic steps in empowering local administration councils to gain legitimacy and provide public services including security.
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The Syrian Political Opposition: What Went Wrong?


Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, pp. 31-41

The uprising against the decades-long Assad rule in Syria started as a series of peaceful demonstrations; however, the brutal crackdown of the Assad regime transformed the uprising into an armed rebellion. The opposition has been characterized by disunity, power struggles, and lack of direction, while half-hearted international backers with conflicting agendas have deepened the divides within the opposition, directly or indirectly empowering the Assad regime. Three main shortcomings have hindered the political opposition from creating a meaningful bloc which could independently advocate for the rights of the Syrian people and enjoy widespread legitimacy at home and abroad: representation deficit, dependency on outside actors, and the irrelevance of the political track.
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The Multiple Faces of Jabhat al-Nusra/Jabhat Fath al-Sham in Syria’s Civil War


Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, pp. 41-51

Jabhat al-Nusra has long been one of the most militarily effective armed actors against the Syrian Ba’thist regime and it continues to play a central role in the country’s civil war. With a leadership that mixes the transnational jihadi ideology of al-Qaeda with Syria-specific interests, the group is also at the forefront of battling the Islamic State in Syria. In the midst of its battlefield offensives, Jabhat al-Nusra is also busy building governing structures to control territory in different parts of the country including Idlib, Latakia, Hama, Homs, Damascus, and Aleppo governorates.
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Post-Nuclear Deal Iran: Back to the Fold of Imperialism?


Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, pp. 51-61

Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, sought to chart out an independent course for Iran in regional and global affairs: ‘neither East, nor West, the Islamic Republic.’ Khomeini’s successors have often attempted to compromise with the West by undertaking economic reforms aimed at reintegrating Iran into the imperialistic capitalist world economy. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed in mid-July 2015, brings Iran new opportunities but it also greatly compromises the ideological, philosophical and economic foundations of Khomeini’s Islamic Republic. After four decades of anti-imperialist struggle, Iran has now largely come back to the fold of imperialism.
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What the ISIS Crisis Means for the Future of the Middle East


Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, pp. 62-85

Despite all the intellectual energy devoted to understanding “what ISIS really is,” the group remains unpredictable and inexplicable for two main reasons. First, the existing frameworks are not appropriate for a holistic assessment of the organization, prompting analysts to mistake ISIS’ tactics or propaganda for its political objectives. Second, an almost exclusive emphasis on ISIS per se distracts from the symbiotic and complex relationship between ISIS and the bigger regional crisis. This article draws attention to three interrelated dynamics. First, ISIS is best seen as a “process,” not as a static “thing” that can be easily identified. Second, ISIS’ successes and failures cannot be divorced from the multi-dimensional crisis in the region. Third, it is necessary to consider the groups’ impacts on the greater Middle East with respect to two interrelated dimensions: sectarian tensions and existing ethnic relations.
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The Uncertain Role of the EU Countries in the Syrian Refugee Crisis


Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, pp. 85-109

This article analyses the EU’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, both inside the EU and in the Syria’s neighboring countries. It first focuses on the background of the common asylum policy of the EU and major challenges posed by the refugee crisis to the common EU refugee policy. The article then focuses on an analysis of the impact of the refugee crisis on the EU, the failures of the EU to adopt a common approach towards the refugees from Syria, and the EU initiatives. As the Syrian refugees/asylum applicants constitute a large part of the asylum applicants/refugees in the EU and because the core documents do not differentiate among the refugees based on their nationality, we will simplify the EU position towards the refugees by assuming that it holds true for the Syrian refugees specifically. Should there be a special condition applied to Syrian refugees only, this will be explicitly mentioned.
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The Role of the Military in Syrian Politics and the 2011 Uprising


Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, pp. 109-129

Abstract In this research I examine the effect of the military on Syrian politics and the uprising of 2011. I consider the military’s will to protect the Assad regime in the context of the “army-party symbiosis” that has been composed in the historical process. I rename this symbiosis as a power bloc because of Assad’s designation of the military to be used not only against external threats but also to protect his regime against the Syrian opposition. The political and economic reforms implemented by Bashar Al-Assad did not affect this power structure, which is the source of the military’s will to suppress the uprisings of 2011. The armed organizations which emerged during the civil war, whether they are named as terror organizations or not, will be a challenging factor not only in the resolution of the Syrian crisis but also for the reorganization of the Syrian army.
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Freedom and Democratization: Turkey’s Need for a Paradigm Shift in the Media Freedom Debate


Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, pp. 129-145

When considering the problems of media freedom in Turkey, two types of pressures come to the fore: (1) the first-hand and tangible pressures exerted on the media by the civilian and military powers, and (2) the indirect and intangible pressures caused by the ideological circles encapsulating the civilian and military powers. Looking at the history of media in Turkey, it becomes apparent that it is not the political institution that is the main factor limiting media freedom, but rather the official ideology surrounding the political institution. In this context, it is necessary to consider the issue of freedom of media in Turkey through the perspective of the democratization of both the country and its media sector. This study will discuss freedom of media in Turkey and the relation between media and politics by focusing on the democratization of the sector, without excluding the perspective that the media should be distant from the pressures of the civil and military centers who hold the administration in their hands.
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Gezi Park Protests as a Litmus Test for Mainstream Western Media


Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, pp. 145-161

This article focuses on the coverage of Gezi Park protests in the mainstream western media. It analyzes the details of the incidents and argues that the Gezi Park protests became a negative turning point in the already worsening quality of foreign media coverage of Turkey and AK Party. It argues that the basic codes of media ethics have been frequently violated, while Erdoğan-phobia became an almost unquestionable rule for the mainstream western media in the post-Gezi era.
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Reinvention of Turkish Foreign Policy in Latin America: The Cuba Case


Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, pp. 161-181

The current research has the purpose of analyzing Turkey’s approach toward Latin America and the Caribbean region through the prism of soft power theory, and through a specific case study, i.e. Turkey-Cuba relations. The working assumption is that Turkey has been able to increase its presence and influence in the region, thanks to a particular soft power-oriented approach known as multi-dimensional policy, which reflects both new behavior and new agents. An analysis of Turkey-Cuba relations will not only help to improve the literature about Turkey’s foreign policy on a subject which has not yet been adequately examined, but will also underline features and peculiarities of Turkey’s soft power, such as the emerging “Mosque Diplomacy.”
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Towards a Truly Global IR Theory?: The Middle East and the Upcoming Debate


Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, pp. 183-190

Rethinking Power, Institutions and Ideas in World Politics. Whose IR?
By Amitav Acharya
New York: Routledge, 2014, 264 pages, £31.99, ISBN: 9780415706742.

The Dao of World Politics. Towards a Post-Westphalian, Worldist International Relations
By L. H. M. Ling
New York: Routledge, 2014, 277 pages, £31.99, ISBN: 9780415603782.

Knowledge Production in the Arab World. The Impossible Promise
By Sari Hanafi and Rigas Arvanitis
New York: Routledge, 2016, 354 pages, £90, ISBN: 9781138948815.

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A Land of Aching Hearts: The Middle East in the Great War
LEILA TARAZI FAWAZ, Reviewed by Çağatay Özdemir, Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, p. 191

State, Faith, and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands
FREDERICK ANSCOMBE, Reviewed by Dunja Resanović, Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, p. 193

Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present
CHRISTIAN C. SAHNER, Reviewed by Jabir Lund, Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, p. 196

The Human Security Agenda: How Middle Power Leadership Defied U.S. Hegemony
RONALD M. BEHRINGER, Reviewed by Mustafa Cüneyt Özşahin, Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, p. 198

Perspectives on Turkey’s Multi-Regional Role in the 21st Century
MUJIB ALAM, Reviewed by Gulshan Dietl, Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, p. 200

Sarajevo, 1941-1945: Muslims, Christians and Jews in Hitler’s Europe
EMILY GREBLE, Reviewed by Elif Zaim, Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, p. 202

Freedom of Speech and Islam
ERICH KOLIG, Reviewed by Turgay Yerlikaya, Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, p. 205

Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue
SAM HARRIS and MAAJID NAWAZ, Reviewed by Nagothu Naresh Kumar, Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, p. 208

Development in an Era of Neoliberal Globalization
HENRY VELTMEYER, Reviewed by Gökhan Umut, Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, p. 210

Terrorism in Cyberspace: The Next Generation
GABRIEL WEIMANN, Reviewed by Hacı Mehmet Boyraz, Insight Turkey, Vol. 18 / No. 2 / 2016, p. 213