April 16, 2019 Volume 14, Issue 2
NEWS REPORT Dış Politika ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Topluluğu
Foreign Policy and International Relations Club
OPINION PIECES FROM OUR WRITERS AND OUR GUEST ACADEMICIAN OF THE MONTH: BURAK COP
"British government, has three scenarios are on table: A “Soft Brexit” in which the UK may remain within the single market,... a “Hard Brexit” which will only keep some of the existing bonds between the parties... a “NoDeal Brexit” meaning that the UK will leave by cutting the connection immediately and trade with the EU members according to the WTO rules henceforth."
"Polarization created an atmosphere in the 31 March elections in which all sides wanted to be stronger and firmer, wishing that their voices were heard more. This desire, combined with the opposition’s thirst for political victory that had not been satisfied for far too long, made the opposition voters stand united."
Writers of the Month: Editor: Ecem Ersözlü, Co-Editor: Talha İdiz, Burak Cop, Berfin Karadağ, Duygu Çınar, Hüseyin Serhat Arıkan, Umut Emre Aydın, Halil Burak İri, Işılay Güzbey, Ece Nil Feyzioğlu, Tayanç Güngör, Nazım Çınar Duvaryapar, Batur Özbilgiç, Ali Berk İdil, Kağan Dağdeviren
TABLE OF CONTENTS
• EDITORIAL Editor: Ecem Ersözlü, Co-Editor: Talha İdiz
• ASIA-PACIFIC Umut Emre Aydın: "Christchurch Shootings: The New Road to Auschwitz?"
Talha İdiz: "The changing face of Japan: labour force shortage opens door to immigrant workers"
• AFRICA Duygu Çınar: "Is Africa becoming China’s “China”?"
Hüseyin Serhat Arıkan: "Damocles’ Sword of South African Politics: The Question of Land Reform"
• EUROPE Halil Burak İri: "Another One Bites the Chinese Apple"
Burak Cop: "Britain at a crossroads: How to deal with the Brexit?"
• INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS Işılay Güzbey: "ASEAN: One Vision, One Identity, One Community"
Ece Nil Feyzioğlu: "The Uncertain Future of NATO"
• MIDDLE EAST Tayanç Güngör: "Expansion with Defence: Golan Heights and Sovereignty Issues"
Nazım Çınar Duvaryapar: "A Crack in the Wall: What did Lavrov discuss in Egypt and Jordan?"
• NORTH AMERICA Ecem Ersözlü: "The New Americans"
Batur Özbilgiç: "Why the Mueller Report Has Been A Huge Win For Trump?" 15
• LATIN AMERICA Berfin Karadağ: "The Migrant Crisis Between Colombia and Venezuela"
• TURKEY Ali Berk İdil: "Polarization’s Brand New Product: Consolidation"
Kağan Dağdeviren: "The War is Over, Yet No One Wins"
• BIBLIOGRAPHY References
EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE
DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
News Report is a monthly political review, written and edited by Middle East Technical University students in affiliation with the Foreign Policy and International Relations Club. Each writer brings their own unique perspective to News Report, in their opinion pieces on the events that have occupied the global political agenda in the past month. Our March-April issue dives into the following international developments. AFRICA: In her opinion piece, Duygu Çınar questions the reasons behind the commercial assistance of China to Africa and presents her views on what effects Africa will have in the future. In addition to this, Hüseyin Serhat Arıkan evaluates the situation that the president of the South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa’s effort to change the constitution and examines the implications for changing the constitution to the South Africa economy. ASIA-PACIFIC: In his article, Umut Emre Aydın explained how the mosque attack in New Zealand raised Islamophobia due to the fact that the capitalist Western world is trying to establish pressure on the East. He also collaborates on how the New Right’s populism is introduced in order to hide the deep crisis of capitalism. Meanwhile, Talha İdiz tries to reveal the reasons behind Japan's latest policy change on immigrant workers and how it will or it does effect Japan's shortage on labour force. EUROPE: In his article "Britain at a crossroads: How to deal with the Brexit?" a valuable scholar Associate Professor Burak Cop clarifies the unstable political process of Britain after the decision of Brexit which created a conflict in the european parliamant and how the parliament wanders around two different decisions as Soft and Hard Brexit. On the other hand, in his article, Halil Burak Iri points out the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) made by China and Italy, which mainly focuses on infrastructure investments as well as projects that promote regional cooperation and development and how BRI plays an important role for both countries and the region.
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: In her article Işılay Merve Güzbey, first explains the role of ASEAN and then show the importance of such an organisation and its encouraging effect of European politics both today and future. On the other hand, our writer Ece Nil Feyzioğlu, exemplify the Turkey-NATO case in order to show that varying individual interests of the member states which curtail the alliance’s cohesion, hence creating a threat within NATO for the survival of the alliance. MIDDLE EAST: In his article, Tayanç Güngör explained that Trump’s statement about the recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights and this situation’s huge impact in world politics and its violation of international law. On the other hand, Nazım Çınar Duvaryapar, in his article tried to reveal the secrets behind Russian minister Lavrov's Middle East visits. NORTH AMERICA: In his article, Batur Özbilgiç described the current effects of the Mueller Report and its impact on American politics and especially on Trump and also he interpreted that how this gives an advantage to Trump. Ecem is on the other hand evaluating the recent situation of American politics from the Green New Deal perspective. LATIN AMERICA: In her article, Berfin Karadağ explaines the immigrancy problem in Colombia caused by Maduro’s Venezuela facing huge inflation rates and economic depression. She also shows that this migration reveals a strong bridge between the two countries within historical reasons. TURKEY: In his article, Ali Berk İdil indicated that Turkey’s local elections showed a selection chart, using the concepts "Polarization" and "Solidarity". In the second opinion piece, we see Kağan Dağdeviren putting his thoughts into words on the recent local elections from a different perspective. He eloborates on the contradiction between the policies of People's Allience and the Nation's allience and the ambiguity in the results of Istanbul votes. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the editors or the Foreign Policy and International Relations Club. 3
ASIA-PACIFIC Department of Political Science and Public Administration
4 Christchurch Shootings: The New Road to Auschwitz?
The post-recession period we are living in shows the regression of humanity acquisitions as compared to post-World War II. Today, we are living in one of the deepest crises of capitalism. With that crisis, there is an ideological and economic gap all over the world. In other words, it would not be an exaggeration to say that where the world is going is unknown. During the Cold War, the world was bipolar - which arguably had some benefits for humanity. For example, international organizations which aim at protecting humanity were relatively more effective compared to today's world. However, such international institutions are being pushed aside. It is hard to argue that the world has international institutions protecting fundamental human rights without regarding the interest of developed countries. Such a gap is usually trying to be filled with some abstract notions. Today we see the resurgence of some notions that were inherited from fascist regimes. There are a number of concepts which evoke the archaic culture of capitalism such as Islamophobia, neoracism. The Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand are mostly explained by the concept of Islamophobia. Well, what is islamophobia and how is it constructed? Let’s look at this term in the framework of recent history. Islamophobia is - in the narrow sense the fear and hatred of, or prejudice against the Islamic religion or Muslims generally being seen as a geopolitical force or the source of terrorism. It is no doubt that the term Islamophobia is the invention of the West. The uniqueness of the West is being explained in a way that the West is culturally different from the East. The basis of this approach can be based on the work of Max Weber, especially “The Spirit of Capitalism and Protestant Ethics”. From this point of view, the West identifies itself as culturally different from the East. The East here is not a geographical location; quite simply, anything that is different from the West belongs to the East. In this differentiation there is a cultural hierarchy.
UMUT EMRE AYDIN firstname.lastname@example.org
At this point, the West creates an illusion that the source of its wealth is due to its unique cultural differences. However, it is well documented that the wealth of the West does not come from cultural differences. Such an artificial cultural hierarchy between the East and the West is getting stronger with the USA’s policies on the Middle East after the crisis of 2008. Terrorist groups in the Middle East which are used with imperialist interests cause Islamophobia to spread all around the world. For that reason, the attack on mosques in New Zealand is neither local nor spontaneous. Although this crime seems to have been committed by an ordinary man, it is the outcome of systematic violence which has not yet found an institutional identity. Another example of this violence is the rising anti-immigrant movements. There is an “idealized” concept of an immigrant that is pure evil. Again, via the discourse of culture, it is said that they are culturally harmful to the Western societies. The Western people who think this way forget that these people do not come from their homeland to western countries for touristic visits. Finally, there is a concept that explains such an ideological gap in today’s world. The populism of New Right tries to fill this gap. The New Right’s populism is introduced in order to hide the deep crisis of capitalism. Such concept emerges under different names from one country to anotherislamophobia, anti-Syrians, anti-Mexicans. It can be said that postmodernism, which is the idea of defining all existing injustice as the effect of discrimination, is in a harmony with the New Right’s populism. All existing injustice in the world being described by postmodernism prepares the ground for building the aforementioned cultural hierarchy. The global crises which cause serious violence will hide as long as identity politics is being discussed rather than class relations.
ASIA-PACIFIC Department of Foreign Language Education TALHA İDİZ email@example.com
The changing face of Japan: labour force shortage opens door to immigrant workers Japan is beginning to change its longstanding opposition to large-scale immigration because of the worrying labour shortage As a result of businesses battling the labour shortage, Japan’s government has finally taken responsibility to loosen its strict immigration policy. Recently, administration of prime minister Shinzo Abe passed a legislation that will open the doors of Japanese labour force to approximately half a million foreign workers by 2025. Japan, has long resisted immigrant workers, with exceptions for those such as teachers, medics, engineers and the lawyers. Now these exceptions will be widening with the new bill that has been approved as a result of the labour shortage that the country has been facing. However, the critics say that the employers might abuse this change for cheap labour. There were 1.28 million foreign workers among Japan’s workforce of 66 million in 2017 – double the number in 2012. But many are university students or technical interns. Unemployment dropped to 2.3% in September and there are 163 job vacancies for every 100 job seekers – the highest job availability for more than 40 years. Under the new legislation, foreign workers will be divided into two categories. Those with skills useful for those experiencing labour shortages will be allowed to work for up to five years without bringing their family. Those with more advanced skills will be able to bring their family and may eventually apply for permanent residency. However, members of both groups are responsible to pass a Japanese-language exam. “We are not pursuing a conventional immigration policy,” Abe told to his MPs, adding that most immigrant workers would stay in Japan for limited periods and
that the policy would be reviewed in the easing of labour shortages in particular sectors. “It would be wrong to force our values on foreigners. Instead, it’s important to create an environment in which people can happily coexist.” The prospect of a significant rise in the number of immigrant workers normally prompted a critisize from opposition parties. The rightwing Japan First party mentioned that an influx of foreign workers would put pressure on welfare services and may lead to higher crime rates. Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the centrist Democratic Party for the People, voiced concern over pressure on wages and social services. But he became the first party leader to support a European-style immigration policy that, he said, should ensure equal pay for equal work and allow foreign workers to bring their families to Japan. The public appears more tolerant, however. A survey by the TV Tokyo and the Nikkei business newspaper showed 54% of Japanese voters favored allowing in more unskilled foreign workers, with 36% against. Support for the move was particularly high among younger people. The liberal Asahi newspaper said Abe had failed to address “a slew of concerns about its hasty initiative to drastically increase the number of foreign workers”. “Whether they are called immigrants or not, the government has a responsibility to lay out a viable and convincing vision of the future of Japanese society where foreign workers and Japanese citizens can live together in harmony and feel secure,” the newspaper said, adding that the change was “bound to have a far-reaching effect on Japanese society”. We will see the updates to come on the issue, however this may be an irreversible change for Japan on the immigrancy policies.
AFRICA Department of International Relations
6 Is Africa Becoming China's "China"? In 2015 during the opening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, President Xi Jinping announced that China is going to provide the continent with 60 billion dollars in financial assistance. This may come as a surprise to a casual onlooker however, China has been the biggest trading partner of Africa for the past decade, having surpassed the US in 2009. Any individual who is even remotely familiar with international relations could guess that these investments are no charity on China’s behalf and the country has clear political and economic interests in the continent. USA’s sphere of influence on Africa was still prevalent in 1971, when the decision upon People’s Republic of China’s admission was voted in the General Assembly. People’s Republic of China would ultimately be admitted over the Republic of China (more commonly known as Taiwan today) even though USA was a major actor opposing it. Along with the USA, most of the African countries either voted against or abstained. However, the tiles would shift in a few decades, when the General Assembly would discuss passing a resolution that condemns the human rights violations in North Korea: 43 African countries voted in line with China, who is a notable ally of North Korea. The Chinese investments in the African continent mostly include transportation,infrastructure and energy. Normally, banks would be hesitant to give such loans to risky projects with a high chance of default. However, the Export-Import Bank of China provided funds to multiple projects: the 3.2 billion dollar railway in Kenya that connects its capital Nairobi and its 2 nd largest city and main port Mombasa; the 526 million dollar dam project in Guinea which transformed the country from having constant power shortages to producing a significant surplus of energy that they could export it to its neighboring countries; and the 475 million dollar light rail system in Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa, which is the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa and fixed the crippling traffic problem of the capital. These investments are mostly considered a type of “foreign aid” as the loans are given with little to no interest rates and China doesn’t necessarily expect to get all of its money back. Some criticize China for essentially creating a “debt trap” for African countries by giving them loans that could not realistically pay back,
DUYGU ÇINAR firstname.lastname@example.org
which ultimately means China having leverage over the countries and enable it to exercise further political influence. International Monetary Fund and the World Bank also give loans to developing countries with little to no interest rate. What makes the Chinese situation unique is that unlike these two organizations, China doesn’t hold policies such as respect to human rights or holding democratic elections as a prerequisite to attain such loans. This “no strings attached” policy on loans makes the African inclination on China more prominent compared to other “Western” organizations that put conditions on such loans. There are hundreds of Chinese infrastructure projects in the continent that transforms the African countries economies. So what does China gain from these investments which are not done out of kindness orhumanitarian motives? A major factor is the emerging limits to the Chinese growth potential as it is transitioning from an “industrializing” country to an “industrialized” one. Its booming economy enabled a large portion of its citizens to become a port of the middle class which consequently increasing the cost of labor. China’s low-skilled labor force is no longer competitive and many private Chinese firms are outsourcing their labor to Africa to replicate the profits they enjoyed during the initial period of China’s transition. Furthermore, the Chinese investments in mining, farming and the energy sector provide the industries in China with the natural resources it needs. The Chinese interests in Africa are not going to fade away any time soon and the probability of establishing further ties is high. Although, this does not stop some from questioning China’s motives, the chain of events’ similarity to the colonialism trends of the past and whether it would undermine the sovereignty of the African countries in the future. The economic aspect of the partnership has been mutually beneficial thus far as Africa is tackling its infrastructure deficit while China is fueling its own economic growth. Whether the political aspect will be mutually beneficial however, is something time will tell.
AFRICA Department of Political Science and Public Administration HÜSEYİN SERHAT ARIKAN email@example.com
Damocles' Sword of South African Politics: The Question of Land Reform In the South African Parliament, President Cyril Ramaphosa was explaining the necessity of the constitutional changes he was pushing for in order to revise the land reform policies, when his voice was nearly suppressed by the exclamations of the opposition party. The opposition was pointing out the lands owned by the state and arguing that a constitutional change was not the right step to take. The situation is yet another example of the predicament that South Africa has been experiencing since 1994, when a democratic constitution was finally written and the decadesold Apartheid system had ended. Apartheid was a system of ruling which relied on segregationist policies that discriminated communities on the basis of their races. Indeed, the roots of the segregationist policies of Apartheid went beyond its existence and for centuries, Natives, Indians, and Asians were treated as inferiors by the Afrikaners who descend from the Dutch and English settlers who had colonized the area. The implementation of the Natives Land Act of 1913 before and during the Apartheid regime, along with the Group Areas Act and the following amendments to this legislation, had ended up giving more than 80% of the lands in South Africa to Afrikaners who constituted a minority in the demographics of the society. Primarily, the natives were confined to small areas while the Apartheid Acts strictly regulated their rights to work and own immovable property. Over time, the inequalities became institutionalized and the privileges of Afrikaners got consolidated. After the end of the Apartheid regime and the success of the African National Congress led by Nelson Mandela in the general elections, it was hoped that the legacy of Apartheid would be eliminated and the redistribution of resources would give everyone equal opportunities. However, with Mandela dead and the land having become a symbol of economic disenfranchisement and a central element in the national politics of South Africa, it is evident that the issue of land is far from being settled. As a matter of fact, it is asserted that the land policy of the government;
“echoes the Apartheid practises and represents the ‘colonial present’ ”. The existing strategies of the government are heavily criticized. The Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy, which created a voluntary system and relied on a supply side approach, is reported to have fallen far from its initial objectives despite being re-structured in 2010. There are further sub-programmes which are also criticized on the basis that they favour certain groups. Nonetheless, the precedent reforms have not created change in the agrarian structure of the country. What’s worse, the government has not been consistent in terms of its position on the matter, although ‘a radical transformation’ was promised. Now, the government is pushing for a constitutional change that would expropriate lands without compensation. This idea, fervently voiced by the President, has made many interest groups concerned. There are some which assert that the recent land reform efforts are populist in essence. When one considers the outcome of the 2016 local government elections, it is obvious that ANC is in need of garnering support. The recent decline in the South African economy poses further obstacles. As the time passes, the proposal of Ramaphosa to let the government expropriate without compensation makes businesses concerned, particularly the big landowners who happen to be mining groups which have been one of the prominent drivers of South African economy. While trying to deal with the legacy of Apartheid, hampering the reliability of South African markets is too big a risk to take. Economic growth and employment creation should be taken into account before carrying out a new reform. Although the failure of the previous attempts and the increasing number of South Africans who apply illegal methods to get lands are worrisome, the next step to take should at least not exacerbate the existing conditions. Ramaphosa should address the debate in a careful manner and despite the predictions that ANC will leave the political arena due to corruption allegations and the declining support of the party, any success in terms of reconciling South Africa with its colonial and Apartheid past would be in the public interest.
EUROPE 8 Another One Bites the Chinese Apple The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the signature project of China’s President Xi Jinping aiming to expand China’s geopolitical reach, and the embodiment of its economic and industrial might. Italy has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China after Xi’s visit to Italy at the end of March. This made Italy the first G7 country to do so amid warnings from both the EU and the US. Although it is a rather dangerous move, it can bear very positive results for Italy and its staggering economy. BRI mainly focuses on infrastructure investments as well as projects that promote regional cooperation and development. Italy signing the MoU shows its desire to join the BRI. Although it is a non-binding agreement, it’s a clear message to whom it may concern. According to MoU, the two parties will cooperate in a variety of fields in terms of well-accepted international standards such as transparency and reciprocity. There were also 29 separate deals signed worth $2.8 billion, which could rise to $22.5 billion. They also agreed to invest in port infrastructure in Trieste, Genoa, Palermo. Trieste is important because it’s connected to the landlocked countries of central Europe and the Balkans. Palermo is another significant port because it’s used by the US Navy and is only 100 kilometres away from NATO’s largest air base in the Mediterranean (Sala 2019) Italy has entered its third recession in the last decade. By these deals, they hope to get the foreign investment that they need desperately as well as the funds to update their infrastructure. By increasing their exports to China, they want to fix the trade imbalances between the two countries and boost the struggling Italian economy. Italy has suffered terribly from the 2008 global crisis. Its recovery had been made more difficult by the stringent fiscal discipline imposed by Germany (Nayar 2019) . Upon all this, the refugee crisis in Libya and Syria caused problems for Italy. With a fair amount of justification, they feel abandoned by the EU to deal with migrants. This is also important for China. Italy’s involvement, a G7 country, gives legitimacy to China’s project. It’s also important to President Xi’s image. By getting Italy on his side, the two edges of the historical Silk Road met again in his project. This reminded the Chinese people their history and put their current leader on par with the emperors of Han and Tang.
Department of History HALİL BURAK İRİ firstname.lastname@example.org
As Xi emphasized in his letter to the Italian people, it’s also an opportunity for Italians to remember their glorious past in this time of distress in their country. The man behind these agreements is Michele Geraci. He was sent to China by PM Conte to strike a deal. Regarding the risks of Italy falling into a debt trap, he said that they aren’t Greece and that they are well aware of the dangers. The US should look at its own debt to China before intervening in sovereign countries’ deals with the Chinese. He also said that other countries are jealous because Italy is the first to take a chance in the world’s biggest mega-project. He believes that Italy’s involvement will pave the way for other countries to join it. (Zheng and Zhen 2019) . The US is clearly upset with Italy’s move. Pompeo voiced his disapproval after the signing. Before the signing, the EU had announced it was preparing its own coordinated strategy against China and called China a systemic rival. The EU deprives its members of an independent foreign policy but fails to deliver a common foreign policy at the same time. Oettinger has said that the EU should have the right to veto Chinese infrastructure investments in its members if they don’t serve the Union’s common interests. Germany and France both have much bigger trade relations with China than Italy. Their criticisms are seen as hypocrisy by Italy. This also shows the fractures in the EU. They can’t even guarantee free trade between member states, let alone take a stand against China. Xi also struck a deal with France later worth $64 billion - showing they don’t have any problems with increasing their share in China and their criticisms regarding Italy’s agreement is insincere. They also won’t listen to the USA’s warning just like when they joined China’s AIIB. In conclusion, Italy’s decision to join the BRI is significant, and benefits the country in many areas such as infrastructure and trade. They are neither the first nor will they be the last European economy that will go rogue and follow its national interests with regards to China.
EUROPE Associate Professor, Istanbul Kültür University, Dept. of IR Associate Prof. Dr. BURAK COP
Britain at crossroads: How to deal with the Brexit? The then British PM David Cameron’s decision to bring UK’s EU membership to public vote in 2015 and the British electorate’s decision to leave the Union at the referendum on 23 June 2016 triggered a turmoil which could not be resolved yet by April 2019. The results of the referendum proved unexpected for Cameron–– who would resign from the office as a result––and for most of the political observers. Persuaded by the “post-truth” propaganda of the leave campaigners, 51.9% of the electorate voted to leave the EU. The divide was between the cosmopolitan/pro-globalization segments of the society and the members of the traditional/ unskilled working class, in other words between the white and the blue collars. The high level of remain votes in the global and cosmopolitan city of London reaching almost 60% in contrast to the leave votes that were close to 60% in the post-industrial areas of Midlands was a clear manifestation of that. The generational gap was even more obvious. The majority of the voters between the ages of 18 and 49 voted to remain whereas more than 60% of those above 49 preferred to leave. Britain’s exit process was initiated by Theresa May, who took up as PM following Cameron’s resignation, on 29 March 2017. Based on the provisions of the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty giving the parties two years to agree the terms of the breakup, the UK would be due to leave the Union on 29 March 2019. Retaining some sort of economic integration between the EU and UK was possible (and desirable too for most of the British politicians), but the likelihood and the extent of this would be determined by the bargaining process between the two sides. Hoping to strengthen her electoral support prior to the beginning of the negotiations, May called for early elections. The 8 June 2017 general election would prove to be highly disappointing for the Conservatives, though. The Conservative Party lost its parliamentarymajority whereas Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour enjoyed a significant surge in its votes. The long negotiation process between the EU and the May government finally resulted in a deal which satisfied neither the opposition MPs nor a sufficient number of the Conservative MPs. May lost the vote on the divorce plan in the parliament three times.
As long as the Article 50 is not revoked, i.e. the Brexit is not cancelled by British government, three scenarios are on table: A “Soft Brexit” in which the UK may remain within the single market and/or the customs union along with retaining rights such as free movement for EU and UK citizens, a “Hard Brexit” which will only keep some of the existing bonds between the parties, and a “No-Deal Brexit” meaning that the UK will leave by cutting the connection immediately and trade with the EU members according to the WTO rules henceforth. Apart from them, a major renegotiation, another referendum, a snap election, another noconfidence vote against the government––May survived a vote of no-confidence on 16 January–– and No Brexit as a result of unilateral revocation of the Article 50 by the government are probable. Under current circumstances, the two most likely paths for the UK seem to be a Brexit with a deal on 22 May or a further extension that will allow UK to take part in the European Parliament elections in May (The initial deadline for leaving the EU was 29 March, but due to the uncertainty caused by the rejection of May’s deal by the parliament, the Brexit has been delayed beyond that date). The Conservative Party today is largely pro-Brexit and the proponents of Hard Brexit have a considerable weight over the party’s leadership. Parties having an official anti-Brexit stance have limited electoral support, and the Labour is no longer a pro-remain party and has already accepted the result of the referendum. Known as a leftwing Euro-sceptic, Corbyn regards the neoliberal EU regulations as an obstacle for his prospective socialist economic policies. He prefers to negotiate a permanent customs union with the EU but opposes to stay as a member of the European single market. However May opposes to Corbyn’s position given that customs union or single market membership are against the Conservative 2017 election manifesto. The long negotiation process between the EU and the May government finally resulted in a deal which satisfied neither the opposition MPs nor a sufficient number of the Conservative MPs. May lost the vote on the divorce plan in the parliament three times.
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS 10
Department of International Relations IŞILAY GÜZBEY
ASEAN: One Vision, One Identity, One Community
ASEAN, with its ten member states, tries to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region. Economic cooperation is the core aim of this association. To promote regional peace and stability, the association has collaborated with existing international and regional organisations with similar goals and purposes. Moreover, ASEAN had worked to settle the border disputes between the young countries which were divided after the Cold War. ASEAN has also improved external relations with a lot of countries and organisations such as Turkey. Turkey has been seen as a sector dialogue partner since 1999, cooperating with the association both economically and politically. The association also tries to improve their technologies and develop their states. For example, at the 32nd ASEAN Summit, the ASEAN Leaders established the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN). The ASCN is a collaborative platform where cities from the ten ASEAN Member States (AMS) work for the common aim of smart and sustainable urban development. In light of the opportunities and challenges posed by rapid urbanisation and digitalisation, the primary purpose of the ASCN is to improve the lives of ASEAN citizens, using technology as an enabler. The ASEAN Summits are held two times in a year, in April and November. The 33 rd and latest ASEAN summit was held on November 2018 in Singapore, and the next summit is being planned. They have decided the process of the economic integration of member states and have also discussed their PoliticalSecurity Community and Socio-Cultural Community. They aim to be one voice and one identity. Furthermore, ASEAN has organised a lot of conferences and meetings for integration and its external relations. For example, the association held the 23rd ASEAN Finance Ministers Meeting and the 5th ASEAN Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting (AFMGM) in Thailand on 5 April 2019.
The 8th Protocol to Implement Financial Services Liberalisation under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services, was signed by the ASEAN Finance Ministers at the sidelines of their meeting. They also discussed the progress of the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 and ASEAN financial cooperation, including crucial initiatives on cooperating in customs to increase trade and connectivity, further integrating the region’s digital payment systems, promoting disaster resilience, and paying more attention to the sustainability of financing in the capital markets. ASEAN has accelerated its developments and started to become visible in world politics. When its achievements are analysed, it can be seen that ASEAN is becoming a powerful actor in the international arena. Its meetings and decisions are encouraging for international politics since the cooperation between member states are friendlier than some organisations. A powerful association in Asia, perhaps as a counterpart to the EU in the West, may be seen as a threat for other states; however, ASEAN balances its policies and maintains good external relations with both Western countries and other Asian countries. Moreover, this association has followed a comprehensive development process like the European Union. The aims at its core are financial cooperation and economic integration. Another purpose of the association is a political and security partnership. They claim that they “leave no one behind”. Its last main aim is creating a social and cultural identity. When we analyse its developments and aims, the similarities between the EU and ASEAN are easy to see. It would be beneficial to follow its upcoming policies; furthermore, we might just witness its power in world politics in the future.
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS Department of Political Science and Public Administration ECE NİL FEYZİOĞLU email@example.com
The Uncertain Future of NATO
On the 70 th anniversary of NATO, civilian and military staff representing all NATO member states gathered in the central Agora at NATO Headquarters in Belgium. Particular emphasis was placed on member countries being a family of common values with their unity and strength, but how much do these ambitious and heartwarming words represent reality?
Samuel Huntington’s concept of ‘clash of civilizations’ can offer a useful perspective on the dubious fate of NATO. In his article, he gives priority to the significance of norms and values, arguing that the very existence of culture creates a divide between ‘us’ and ‘them’ in the first place. What creates the vagueness in the nature of NATO is this multiculturalism and varying interests. The conditions that gave birth to NATO at the beginning stemming from the bipolarity of the Cold War era are not valid anymore. NATO is not face to face with a concrete enemy like the Soviet Union that can pose a threat to Western norms and values such as liberalism, capitalism etc. Under these circumstances, determining policies based on a shared threat evaluation is not as easy as it used to be. For instance, while U.S approaches China as a threat, Italy is negotiating with China for the New Silk Road project. How can one expect all member states to reach a consensus in the same moral and cultural space while even the two main parties, the U.S and Europe, are moving away from each other? All of the arguments above are also valid in terms of NATO-Turkey relations. NATO's 70 th anniversary was marked by a disagreement between Turkey and America, over Turkey’s decision under President Erdoğan to order the S-400 missile-defense system from Russia. Even though Turkey was once a strategic NATO member for the U.S, acting as a shield against the spread of communism during the Soviet era because of its geopolitical location, currently the bilateral relationship is plagued by suspicions from both sides.
Trump’s alliance with Israel, his support for Juan Guaidó in Venezuela, and his support for Kurdish armed groups in the war in Syria generate discontent in the Erdoğan administration. Moreover, the currency crisis that erupted last year in Turkey had started with Trump’s pressure for the release of an American pastor; eventually leading to the Erdoğan administration’s loss of Ankara and Istanbul in the recent municipal elections. While America’s actions are met with dissatisfaction on the Turkish side, Turkey’s moves are interpreted by U.S and NATO as the country distancing itself from the Westernpromoted values and tipping towards Russia and Iran. U.S Vice President Mike Pence recently stated that Turkey must make a choice between ‘remaining a critical partner of NATO, or continuing its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.’ Therefore, Turkey is criticized for dealing with Russia in the era of Trump.
However, this deviating from so-called common values is not a phenomenon unique to Turkey. It has more to do with the varying individual interests of the member states which curtail the alliance’s cohesion, hence creating a threat within NATO for the survival of the alliance. Even the United States itself under the Trump administration demonstrates departures from common values by tending to the Russian President Vladimir Putin occasionally. The answer to the discussions of whether the alliance would militarily defend one of its own member states is very much clear in this multipolar world. The broad umbrella of ‘Western civilization’ and the emphasis on shared values to keep the alliance united are not working anymore, because there are just too many diverging geostrategic interests in the alliance. With even the U.S and European aspirations estranging, it is not realistic toexpect the concept of a ‘transatlantic community of shared values’ to be sustained.
MIDDLE EAST 12 Expansion with Defence: Golan Heights and Sovereignty Issues “You said it; you did it” stated Prime Minister Netanyahu to President Trump when the leaders of the two “allied” countries gathered to proclaim that Golan Heights belongs to Israel on 25 th of March 2019. It was signalled on 21 st of March when President Trump, once again, used his twitter to announce that “it’s time to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights for regional stability”. This was done for the sake of regional stability for Trump, but it may bring more instability when we look at the reactions to this decision. From the closest allies of USA - the United Kingdom and France to the EU and Russia, the international community immediately stated that the decision is against international law and therefore, it’s null and void. President Trump explains this decision through strategy and security reasons, clearly targeting Iran and Syria; but the decision is also significant in term of Israeli expansion within the region. Israel is already implementing its full authority within Golan Heights but formal recognition, especially from the United States, will provide Israel with an important card to play in critical circumstances. While the US targets Iran with this decision, Israel is striking the Iranian targets within Syria, which is weakened due to the civil war. One thing is certain: Israel is happy with that decision. Seeing that their unbreakable bond with the United States has become stronger under the Trump administration, they find confidence to maintain their rule within the region which holds utmost importance for the defence of Israel. But Israel is facing internal problems that might lead to the downfall of Netanyahu and his party, Likud. The attorney general has charged the PM with serious allegations such as bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Although the attorney general’s timing is found suspicious due to its closeness to the elections of Israel, many still believe that the PM is in serious trouble. On the other hand, the alternative candidate is a former chief of the armed forces, Benny Gantz, who leads the new centrist Blue and White party. With his promise of good and clean governance, he is taking the lead in polls. But it is still a close race and Netanyahu holds “the friendship of USA” card at his hand. Nevertheless, all of the candidates are in favour of Israel’s current policies. In addition to that, Netanyahu is using a nationalistic tone by stating that
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“Israel belongs to only Jewish people” and has promised to continue Israeli expansion which includes West Bank territory. But this expansion promise comes with a condition: Netanyahu winning the election. While 1/5 of the population that are Israeli Arabs are not happy with the Prime Minister’s remarks, his decision about the West Bank has created a rage in the international community. While 1/5 of the population that are Israeli Arabs are not happy with the Prime Minister’s remarks, his decision about the West Bank has created a rage in the international community. Although Netanyahu has not stated when this action will happen, with the power and confidence he took from the recognition of Golan Heights and US relations with Israel, it may become a reality if he wins the election and becomes the longest-serving Prime Minister of Israel since its foundation. There are also other arguments stating that his plans for the West Bank are just a promise in order to raise his popularity with the Israeli people, especially right-wing supporters, to win the elections. Within all this chaos; elections, Golan Heights, charges against Netanyahu, peaceful solution of the issue of Palestine is not on the agenda. Although, it was not recognized by international community, Israel holds its influence within the region and implement full authority within Golan Heights. Also it appears that, international community may not that strongly against the decisions of the United States. On 24 th of March 2019, Romania announces that they will move their embassy to Jerusalem, which claimed as the capital of Israel by Israel and recognized by United States under Trump administration. Jerusalem and Golan Heights may become important signs that US support to Israeli actions is the most important thing for Israel’s foreign policy. All events lead two important conclusions; Israel will continue to exercise its authority within regions that they hold and continue to expand its sphere of influence while keeping their alliance with United States unbreakable and greater than ever.
MIDDLE EAST Department of Political Science and Public Administration NAZIM ÇINAR DUVARYAPAR firstname.lastname@example.org
A Crack in the Wall: What did Lavrov discuss in Egypt and Jordan? The Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has completed his Middle East tour with last visits to Cairo and Amman. This diplomatic tour has started an exceptional month for Moscow’s ambitious relations with the Arab world with the items on the agenda ranging from politics to economics. The level of the meetings varied; involving government ministers, business people and public organisations. However, the main agenda of this tour was entirely different. The timing of Lavrov’s trip followed the summit of the Arab League, which failed to accomplish the goal of restoring Syrian membership to the League, despite Russia’s efforts. The desire of Russia to increase the prestige and recognition of Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian regime in the international arena is not new. According to Al-Monitor, Moscow blames this on Washington; it is believed that the Trump administration exerted pressure on some Arab states to leave the subject off the agenda. We can say that this move is against US interests in the Middle East because the main policy of Donald Trump is isolating Iran and restraining its influence in the region; and according to the widely accepted approach, Syria’s return to the Arab League would likely increase Arab and reduce Iranian influence in Syria. However, there is still another challenge to the alliance between the US and Gulf countries. However, there is still another challenge to the alliance between the US and Gulf countries. Jordan and Egypt seem willing to pierce this block. Both Amman and Cairo have signalled their consent to Syria’s reinstatement to the Arab League. However, they expect to find common ground and to see decisive steps from Damascus. But Al Assad’s arrogance is blocking the normalisation process and Syria rejects any contacts with the Arab League’s representatives.
On the other side, Jordan has repeatedly complained about the detention of its citizens in Syria. Resettlement of Syrian refugees in Jordan is another burning issue. Jordan is overwhelmed by the social and economic costs of Syrian refugees, and it wants to send these people back. King Abdullah of Jordan took the necessary steps to normalise bilateral relations, so the customs in the border was reopened for human and goods exchange. The US is strongly opposed to the normalisation process here, because the US legitimising its military existence in the al-Tanf base in southern Syria relies upon the Syrian refugees in Jordan. Nevertheless, Sergei Lavrov has stated that more than 30,000 houses are ready with water, electricity and basic social services in place, “So we fully support Jordan’s desire to see these people return to their homes as soon as possible.” The foreign minister also said that refugee camps in southern Syria and Jordan, in essence, provide a reason for the United States" to maintain its illegal presence in the south” of Syria. Lavrov also focused on greater Russia-Arab economic cooperation. Bilateral trade between Russia and Jordan increased dramatically, from $157 million in 2017 to $602.6 million in 2018. These numbers are rocketing when it comes to trade with Egypt, Moscow’s leading trade and economic partner in the Arab world and Africa. In 2018, Russian exports to Egypt grew from $6.2 billion to $7.1 billion. In addition, Egypt is ranked 18th in Russia’s total exports and sixth in Russia’s commodities exports. In conclusion, Syria is in need of the support and cooperation of its neighbours in the post-war period. Russia won the war and strengthened its power in Syria. Now Russians are conducting a diplomatic campaign in the neighbour countries to consolidate their military victories. Additionally, they do not neglect to increase their market share in the region. It is expected to lead a doping effect for the weak Russian economy. Will these two countries serve as a springboard for Russia for their goals? The Middle East is too unstable for concrete predictions; we will have to wait and see.
NORTH AMERICA 14
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The New Americans Winds of change are hard to forecast and often misidentified; however, it is hard to ignore the outcries for progress in the United States. Whether it be the new faces in the Congress, unrelenting debates surrounding diversity and the MeToo movement, the heating up 2020 presidential race or even the polarization leftover from the 2016 elections; the face of American politics has taken a new form in the past years. Democrats and Republicans keep bickering with each other on just about any issue – up to and including basic human rights that other countries just take at face value – but the main problem is revealed when we look at the tensions inside the parties. The established faces and methods on both sides are challenged, and the people want a more realistic representation of themselves in the Congress. Almost all countries’ political parties have clashes between hard-liners and soft-liners; it is the two-party system that makes the U.S. a unique case. To get the theoretical spiel out of the way: Parties want to win elections. Bipartisanship gives voters limited choices. Both parties invest in candidates that appeal to as broad of a voter base as possible. Everyone does center politics. People with “extreme” views feel dissatisfied. Dissatisfaction breeds populism. Chaos ensues. Now, it is painfully obvious that there is a problem of representation in the Congress. The election of President Trump, instead of Hillary Clinton as an epitome of “the establishment”, both revealed and exacerbated this problem; and we can observe the cracks. The Democratic Party has been fragmented since the 2016 presidential race. Bernie Sanders’ exponential rise was no fluke, it seems. The 2018 mid-term elections saw a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives, and we are seeing many new faces whose voter bases are similar to that of Sanders; young, relatively educated, impoverished masses who are either minorities or are sympathetic to their struggles. These so-called “millenials” want change, and their candidates reflect this. One major litmus test for the DNC has been the debate around climate action. You’d think that tackling the slow death of the Earth is an easy consensus; however, lowering carbon emissions and environmental harm (as well as funding all of this) directly threatens
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the oil-rich mega-corporations that fund most of the American political machine. The New Republic has called climate change “this generation’s Vietnam War” since “It's an existential threat to millennials - and older Americans are standing in the way of action.” Superstar-slashRepresentative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has spearheaded the infamous Green New Deal – the name itself evokes an environmentalist spin to Roosevelt’s social welfare-based New Deal. The Green New Deal has garnered immense support from the younger and more left-leaning Democrats, as well as being slammed as a socialist dystopian nightmare by Fox News. The bill’s younger proponents hit a wall with the Democratic top brass, however. Speaker Nancy Pelosi consistently refused to bring the bill to the House floor, or even call it “Green New Deal” for that matter. Senator Dianne Feinstein openly made fun of the children who were asking her about the deal, and the rest of the “establishment” Democrats seem just as dismissive. The same picture arose when Ocasio-Cortez proposed a 70% marginal tax rate for the mega-rich Americans who make over $10 million a year, and it will surely keep rising as long as DNC keeps being funded by billionaires. The Republicans are also divided amongst themselves; however, their grand test seems to be President Trump himself. They are also advantaged in that U.S. politics have been shifting to the right altogether. The disenfranchised and anti-politically correct far-right Republicans stand against the cadre who seems to find Trump’s style “tasteless”. The current state of the 2020 presidential race is also a testament to the begrudging unison of the GOP behind Trump, while Democrats are once again divided between too many candidates (ranging from the democratic socialist Sanders to ambivalent newbies like Beto O’Rourke who seems to be running on sheer charisma). Both of the parties have a choice between evolving towards more radical politics and trying to contain insurgent movements. While it is farfetched to assume that either the DNC or the GOP cadres would reform themselves overnight, evolution is the only way to avoid revolution.
NORTH AMERICA Department of Political Science and Public Administration BATUR ÖZBİLGİÇ firstname.lastname@example.org
Why the Mueller Report Has Been A Huge Win For Trump?
“The Mueller Report” refers to the findings of the Special Counsel Investigation, which was authorized to investigate possible interference of the Russian Government to the 2016 US Presidential Elections. The investigation was headed by former FBI Chief Robert Mueller, responsible to the Department of Justice. After two years, Mueller has finally concluded the investigation and sent the report to the Attorney General William Barr. Since then, Barr has sent a letter to the Congress, as a summary of the report which was ambiguous at best and failed to satisfy anyone for several reasons. Firstly, under the Special Counsel Statute, the report is supposed to be ‘confidential’, so Barr has no legal responsibility to make the report public; however, he has stated that he will make a redactedversion public. The reason for the unease of the Democrats to see the report is that Barr’s summary concludes that the investigation has not established evidence of any collusion or coordination between Trump and the Russian government, ‘beyond the reasonable doubt’. According to legal commentators, this statement could mean that the investigation has found no evidence or it could mean a lot of evidence has been found but they do not meet the high standards of legal practice. This situation was further complicated by Barr; since in the summary, he also suggests that while the investigation has not established collusion, at the same time, it did not exonerate Trump. That is why now the Democrats are pushing to see the full report since they do not trust the summary of Barr. There are other problems like the Special Counsel not asking to interview Trump, chosing to be satisfied with written answers from him instead. A crucial point of the investigation was Trump’s possible ‘obstruction of justice’, which sparked controversy after Trump fired the FBI Chief James Comey - who in his testament to the Congress, stated that the President had asked him not to investigate the possible wrongdoings of Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. On top of that, after a meeting with the Russian Ambassador, upon a question about the firing of Comey, Trump stated: “I said to myself, I said, "You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story." This further raised suspicion whether the firing of
Comey was related to a possible investigation against Trump. Finally, in his report, Mueller, states that the investigation failed to establish that there was collusion between Trump and Russia; however, on the Obstruction issue, Mueller has refused to take any stance as the conclusion of the findings. So far, the conclusion of the investigation has been a huge win for Trump. After Barr issued his summary, he has taken a victory lap and even suggested that he would not be bothered at all if the full report were made public. Several commentators from the left suggested that the focus of the investigation was faulty in the first place, that it was very much possible that there was no coordination between Trump and Russia during the campaign. Instead, the focus of the investigation should have been Trump’s shady business ties and his collaboration with Russian oligarchs, committing financial crimes and the effects of such actions on the current US foreign policy concerning Russia. It is often claimed that the scope of the investigation was too narrow in the first place, only concerning the Russian interference with the elections. The reason for such focus is thought to be the obsession of the Democrats about their loss in the elections and how they want to establish that the failure of Hillary Clinton was not their fault. Critics of the so called ‘Foreign Policy Establishment’ and the ‘Military Industry Complex’ in the US suggest that the narrow focus of the investigation was an outcome of the establishment’s efforts to keep the Cold War going; trying to present Russia as a ‘rogue state’ to keep the flow of military activities and expenditures and the foreign policy initiatives to isolate Russia in the Eastern Europe to continue. Even though some members of the Mueller team have stated that evidence on collusion is stronger than what Barr portrays, it is highly unlikely that we will see the Mueller Report suggesting any further prosecution on either the collusion or the obstruction of justice allegations. It is near impossible that we see any indictment towards Trump as a result of the investigation. With only a year and a half remaining in his term, Trump has not only secured himself a huge win but also established further deterrence to any future investigations on himself.
LATIN AMERICA 16
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The Migrant Crisis Between Colombia and Venezuela More than a million Venezuelans have moved to Colombia in recent years: in the era of record-setting migration, when borders seem to be getting thicker and harder to cross. The collapse of Venezuela hadn’t happened because of a civil war or a natural disaster, but rather the colossal economic mismanagement by the country’s leader, Nicolas Maduro. In just a few years, Maduro grabbed control of most of the government and then drove the country into an economic disaster worse than the Great Depression and the fall of the Soviet Union. Therefore, amongst the two million people who left Venezuela in the midst of this crisis, about one million have come to Colombia, easily outnumbering the arrivals in any other country. Colombia embraces the migrants, and although their economic situation is not thriving and it already has millions of its own people in need of humanitarian assistance, there are a lot of job opportunities for the incoming Venezuelans. Most of the Venezuelans are granted citizenship status, can study for two years and benefit from all kinds of health facilities. Even the Colombian president Ivan Duque is fully behind this supportive stance and adds that “I have decided that we are not going to close the border. We have to give them support.” It is not just the Colombian government opening its doors. In a neighbourhood by the border, people are starting to take migrants into their homes, indefinitely and for free. And to understand why these people are opening up their doors to Venezuelans, you have to understand their past. When we look back upon history, there is a reason why the Colombians are being such good hosts to the Venezuelans. In the 1800s, Colombia and Venezuela were actually part of the same country called Gran Colombia. This country broke up into the modern states we know today. Decades later, in the ’80s and ’90s, Colombia was experiencing some of its worst violence in its decades-long war with a rebel group called the FARC. This war displaced more than seven million people; therefore thousands of people fled to Venezuela where the economy was thriving, and Venezuelans took them in.
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In other words, this may be considered as a way of Colombians paying back the Venezuelans’ favour. In my opinion, this show of solidarity between countries is quite important. Even though Colombian economists may find this sentiment alarming for the country and immediate economic future, it seems that this cooperation can solve this problem by creating different alternatives, even if it is not entirely beneficial at first. In recent years, along the two countries’ border, an extensive smuggling network began to grow. For example, buying groceries on the Venezuelan side and selling them in Colombia was a way to make a lot of easy money. Both Venezuelans and Colombians living in border towns have profited. I have some predictions that this situation will cause harm in the long run for the Colombian economy. Additionally, no one knows precisely how many of the Venezuelans plan to stay. Some say that about a hundred thousand Venezuelans pour into Colombia every month, which could mean over a million by the end of the year. This would mean not only instability for the unprepared Colombian economy, but also the threat of a major humanitarian crisis. Therefore, if the political chaos of the Venezuelan government and its people do not come to an end soon, Colombia may not be such a charming host in the near future - and this might hinder neighbourly relations, trade balances and diplomacy between the two countries. Nevertheless, my heart will continue to favour the aversion of these negative economic scenarios.
TURKEY Department of Political Science and Public Administration ALİ BERK İDİL
Polarization’s Brand New Product: Consolidation Repetition is a curious thing. Some concepts, especially concepts of social sciences, are so frequently used that they are either stripped of their original meaning or they slowly become words of great rhetorical use with nothing particular to denote. Words like “hegemony”, “conjuncture”, or phrases like “the whole picture” are used to the point of obsession - a standard student of social sciences like myself could really have a hard time trying to make sense of these terms. Another previously confusing word with which I had been struggling, but now makes perfect sense is the term “consolidation”. The reason for this epiphany was the mayoral elections held here in Turkey on the last day of March. I think it is rightful on my behalf to assume that my surprise about the election results, especially in İstanbul, is shared by many others. The joyous and festive atmosphere of the opposition aside, supporters from every party and view may be confused or even perplexed about the results of the election. A question arises: in the mayoral elections of 2014, the ruling party got only a few more votes than it got in the 2019 elections. Due to different vote rates for municipal assembly elections, mayoral elections and elections for metropolitan municipality, I avoid giving the definite numbers. The obvious thing to observe, however, is that the ruling party did not lose a great amount of voters; nevertheless, it lost 4 out of the 5 largest metropolitan municipalities. What caused this? That I can tell you in one word: Consolidation. Voters all around the country went to the polls in an almost unprecedented atmosphere: economic and financial concerns of the average citizen were - by the way still are - at an alarming level; elections were depicted as a matter of life and death for the whole nation which in turn created very tense political discourse, and most importantly polarization had reached its peak. Polarization created an atmosphere in which all sides wanted to be stronger,firmer and wished that their voices were heard more.
This desire, combined with the opposition’s thirst for political victory that had not been satisfied for far too long, made the opposition voters stand united. This unification, growing exponentially, created a snowball effect which handed many major financial and industrial centers of Turkey to the opposition. Giving an answer to the question of how the opposition managed to consolidate so meticulously and persistently surpasses my capability of analysis, but I know for sure that the organized behaviour of the opposition won the elections.
The existence of alliances in mayoral elections for the first time ever is proof for what I have just stated. Polarization and the consequent consolidation have been forcing almost every political party to join, support or at least sympathize with either of the alliances. Although at times, some groups supported different alliances in different electoral areas or some parties did not join any alliances in certain races, the main spirit in which the alliances competed remained and tension never deescalated. Now, the best we can do is to wait and hope that the newly elected mayors of provinces, cities and towns will try to reduce the tension which is an unpleasant byproduct of the electoral process. People of my age are not used to such a colorful election result map of Turkey like the one seen on the evening of the election day. Thus, this has been quite an experience for young voters like me, for Turkish democracy in general and its electoral tradition. I hope only good things for the whole country comes out of it, which will not only unite the opposition and the ruling parties within themselves, but will unite citizens of all views.
Department of Political Science and Public Administration KAĞAN DAĞDEVİREN
The War is Over, Yet No One Wins Turkey has gone through many elections for the last couple of years, but this one was a bit different from the rest because during this election, Turkey had been in an economic crisis that the government hadn't been able to handle for the past year. This situation forced the ruling party to polarize the political arena to keep its voter base, which they had done very successfully. However, this situation gave the opposition a hope to win the election. It seems that they did win the election, but unfortunately, in reality, this is not the case. First of all, despite their losses in Ankara and Istanbul, People’s Alliance had %51,64 of the votes while Nations’ Alliance and HDP got %41.81 of the votes: it is clear that People’s Alliance has gained the majority again. People's Alliance is continuing to keep its ideological hegemony over the society and has protected its voting base except for the "pragmatic voters" who live in the metropolitan cities of Turkey and look out for their economic interests; so the economic problems did not affect the voters much except for a small proportion. These results are similar to those of the Turkish Constitutional Referendum in 2017. The opposition had thought that President Erdoğan had lost because in this elections too, Erdoğan lost major cities such as Ankara and Istanbul. However, neither of the elections carry any real defeat for Erdoğan; because he is able to win elections and protect his voter base, except for the pragmatic voters, by polarizing the political area deeply. I believe that this polarization is crucial for him to stay in power, because it is the only way he can influence votes. In the last two elections, it has been apparent to me that AKP and Erdoğan have nothing to offer to the public; so their only alternative is to present themselves as the only option. This is the way that they have kept their 52-48 majority for the last couple of elections. This polarization is the most important problem for the opposition because it keeps them from gaining the trust of the people who vote for AKP or MHP, even if these people do not think much of these parties. Secondly, HDP played an important role in the failure of People’s Alliance, in my opinion. HDP helped Nation’s Alliance - especially CHP - in cities like Istanbul, Mersin and Adana by not nominating any candidates.
By doing that, HDP did not divide Kurdish votes from the opposition in these critical major cities. However, the cooperation of Nation’s Alliance and HDP is not sustainable due to IYI Party’s presence and its position against HDP. This situation relieves People’s Alliance since if the opposition can’t find common ground amongst themselves, there is no losing scenario under any circumstances for People’s Alliance. In this election, it was seen that Erdoğan and rent-seeking groups in AKP are not ready to lose. When I think of what they did through Anadolu Agency to manipulate the results in Istanbul and Bursa during the election night, them not accepting the victories of Imamoglu and Yavas yet, and the recount of the votes in Ankara and Istanbul; it seems that AKP and Erdoğan won’t accept any losses in general elections. I think that this is terrible for the opposition, and for the sake of Turkish democracy. What will happen if the current government loses the elections in the future is not clear; and this is the main question that remains from this election. In general, I believe that in this election, there were no victories. People’s Alliance has lost major cities that are the rent sources of some AKP proponents. Nation’s Alliance, on the other hand, was unable to minimize the effects of polarization - so People’s Alliance could continue its ideological hegemony over the people. Thus, people have no problem with the ideology of People’s Alliance. Because of that, I do not think that the collapse of AKP has started as many think; but it is clear that their future is not too bright. However, the takeaway from the election is none of these things. We should ask ourselves: if they are trying to contest the results of Istanbul and Ankara, how can we know if they would accept the results of a general election they may lose? If they do not accept a loss, what is going to happen then?
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(2019). The Mistrust Between the U.S. and Turkey Is Mutual. [online] Bloomberg. Available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-02/the-mistrust-between-the-u-s-and-turkey-is-mutual [Accessed 7 Apr. 2019]. 3-) van Ham, Peter (2001), ‘Security and Culture, or, Why NATO Won’t Last’, Security Dialogue, 32, 4, pp. 393-406. MIDDLE EAST / Tayanç Güngör: 1-) Giordano, Chiara. "Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Vows to Annex West Bank Territory If He Wins Election." The Independent. April 06, 2019. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.independent.co.uk/ news/world/middle-east/israel-prime-minister-electionannex-west-bank-benjamin-netanyahu-a8858411.html. 2-) "Golan Heights: Trump Signs Order Recognising Occupied Area as Israeli." BBC News. March 25, 2019. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-47697717. 3-) Knell, Yolande. "Netanyahu Charges: Is Israel PM in More Trouble Now than Ever Before" BBC News. March 01, 2019. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/worldmiddle-east-47415550. Nazım Çınar Duvaryapar: 1-) Belenkaya, M. (2019, April 11). What did Lavrov discuss in Egypt and Jordan? Retrieved April 12, 2019, from https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/04/russia-lavrov-egypt-jordan.html NORTH AMERICA / Batur Özbilgiç: 1-) Cillizza, Chris. “5 Key Questions about What the Mueller Report Actually Says.” CNN, Cable News Network, 4 Apr. 2019, edition.cnn.com/2019/04/04/politics/mueller-report-donald-trump-billbarr/index.html. 2-) Mariotti, Renato. “Why the Mueller Report Might Disappoint Almost Everybody.” Time, Time, 1 Mar. 2019, time.com/5540879/trump-mueller-report-investigation-collusion/. 3-) Wagner, John, and Felicia Sonmez. “Mueller Report Fallout: Trump, Russia, Others React to Barr Summary.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 25 Mar. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mueller-report-fallout-trump-russia-others-react-to-barrsummary/2019/03/25/5dabf46a-4ee5-11e9-88a1-ed346f0ec94f_story.html?utm_term=.821e784d45ab. Ecem Ersözlü: 1-) Ford, Matt. "Climate Change Is This Generation’S Vietnam War". The New Republic. March 14, 2019. https://newrepublic.com/article/153312/climate-change-generations-vietnam-war. 2-) Savage, Luke. "Baby Steps Are Not Enough". Jacobin Magazine, November 2018. Last modified 2019. https://www. jacobinmag.com/2018/11/midterms-2018-trump-republicans-blue-wave. LATIN AMERICA / Berfin Karadağ: 1-) Baddour, Dylan. "Colombia's Radical Plan to Welcome Millions of Venezuelan Migrants." The Atlantic. January 30, 2019. Accessed April 13, 2019. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/01/ colombia-welcomes-millions-venezuelans-maduro-guaido/581647/. 2-) "Colombia Pres: Venezuela Crisis Is 'terrifying' - CNN Video." CNN. October 03, 2018. Accessed April 13, 2019. https:// edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2018/10/03/intv-amanpour-ivan-duque-colombia.cnn. 3-) Ellis, Evan, and Anthony Valenti. "The Impact of Venezuela's Collapse on Colombia." Global Americans. April 24, 2017. Accessed April 13, 2019. https://theglobalamericans.org/2017/04/impact-collapse-venezuela-colombia/.
MIDDLE EAST TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY
ORTA DOĞU TEKNİK ÜNİVERSİTESİ MIDDLE EAST TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY
DIŞ POLİTİKA VE ULUSLARARASI İLİŞKİLER TOPLULUĞU FOREIGN POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS CLUB
Political opinion pieces from METU undergraduate students. Topical review on Asia&Pacific, Asia, Europe, International Organizations, North...
Published on Apr 16, 2019
Political opinion pieces from METU undergraduate students. Topical review on Asia&Pacific, Asia, Europe, International Organizations, North...