The Journal for politics, economics, and culture of the Middle East published by the German Orient-Institute





Syria after IS

The so-called Islamic State in Syria (IS) appears in terminal decline, assaulted by the US sponsored Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on one side and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, backed by his allies Russia and Iran, on the other. What does IS’ decline mean for the Syria conflict? This article explores the conflicting goals and priorities of the two main Syrian forces and their antagonistic external backers, as well as the remnants of IS, arguing that though the ‘Caliphate’ may have been defeated, new conflicts and instability may yet emerge from the fallout.

Christopher Phillips is Reader in International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London and Associate Fellow at the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa programme. He recently co-curated an exhibition, ‘Syria: A Conflict Explored’ at London’s Imperial War Museum, and is author of The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East (London: Yale University Press, 2016).

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Turkey’s Constitutional Referendum and its Effects on Turkish Politics

This contribution analyses the presidential system of government and its impacts on Turkish politics. First of all, this work elaborates the reasons of those who support a change of the current political system, addressing the current parliamentary system’s crises from a historical perspective. Subsequently, it explains why the system change was possible during the AKP era, even though different political parties have made efforts regarding this issue in the past. In this section, it refers to those crises that emerged within the system particularly during the AKP era. Furthermore, it addresses the crises’ facilitating role with regard to the people’s acceptance of the system change. In the third section, reasons for the AKP-MHP agreement, which was reached subsequent to the 15 July coup attempt, are addressed. The fourth part focuses on the presidential system of the government’s constitutional framework. In the final part, the transition period to the new system of government and the system’s impacts on Turkish politics are elaborated.

Nebi Miş is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Sakarya University and the Director of Political Studies at the SETA Foundation. His areas of research interest include political systems, democratisation in Turkey, political parties, civil-military relations and security politics in Turkey.

Burhanettin Duran is Professor at Ibn Haldun University and General Coordinator of SETA Foundation. Prof Duran has been focusing on the transformation of Islamism, Turkish Political Thought, Turkish Domestic Politics, Turkish Foreign Policy and Middle Eastern Politics

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The so-called Islamic State and the (slow but steady) radicalisation of Turkey

Turkey’s journey towards one-man rule and a new political system without checks and balances turned a new corner with the disputed national referendum on 16 April 2017. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won new powers from voters, which confirmed his consistent efforts over years to transform Turkey from a secular western democratic country into a political Islamist and authoritarian police state. Erdogan once said that democracy, for him, is not the objective but rather a tool, comparing it to a bus within a journey. “Once I get to my stop, I will get off.” Apparently, after highly controversial elections, Erdogan has arrived at his stop, and he has gotten off the democracy bus. This article analyses how Turkey has come to this juncture, what this change means for Turkey’s domestic and international politics, and how it will influence Turkey’s foreign policy towards the west and the security of the region.

Ahmet S. Yayla, is Adjunct Professor of Criminology, law, and Society at George Mason University. He is also senior research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). He formerly served as a professor and the chair of the sociology department at Harran University in Turkey. He also served as chief of the counterterrorism and operations department of the Turkish National Police in Sanliurfa between 2010 and 2013. He is the co-author of the newly released book ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate

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Turkey’s domestic politics spill-over to Europe: old debates in new frames

Turkey has been experiencing an authoritarian shift, which has affected its relations with Europe in a negative way. The recent referendum on various constitutional amendments, which proposed changing Turkey’s parliamentarian system to a presidential one, caused significant domestic tensions. The fact that the Turkish diaspora also participated in this political change via extraterritorial voting also diffused the tensions to the transnational space. In this article, I discuss the consequences of contemporary Turkish politics for the Turkish diaspora in Germany and in Europe at large, and explain the reasons behind the Turkish diaspora’s so-called ‘undemocratic remittances’.

Bahar Baser is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Peace, Trust and Social Relations. She is also an associate research fellow at the Security Institute for Governance and leadership in Africa (SIGlA), Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Her book Diasporas and Homeland Conflicts: A Comparative Perspective was published by Routledge in 2015. She has two co-edited volumes forthcoming in 2017 from IB Tauris: Authoritarian Politics in Turkey (co-edited with Ahmet Erdi Ozturk) and Migration from Turkey to Sweden: Integration, Belonging and Transnational Community (co-edited with Paul levin).

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Iraq after IS: Reconstruction or deepening fragmentation?

Now that the so-called Islamic State (IS) has been dislodged from the city of Mosul, its most prestigious urban stronghold in Iraq, the remaining Iraqi enclaves under IS control will foreseeably all soon be conquered by forces belonging to the anti-IS coalition. While IS is being downgraded to a regular insurgent organisation without quasi-sovereign control over territory, the organisation will nevertheless remain a significant threat in Iraq, Syria, and the wider region. It would be grossly oversimplifying to reduce the Iraqi crisis to a kind of eternal clash of identities between the three main ethno-religious constituencies comprising Iraqi society. Rather than juxtaposing three unified political camps, the current situation is marked by the fragmentation of supposedly homogenous ethno-sectarian political blocs into competing factions among Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. In order to rebuild Iraq and to prevent the comeback of IS or the future rise of a similar group among the marginalised Sunni Arab population of Iraq, the destructive logic of the ‘war on terror’ must be transcended in order to address a host of structural problems haunting the post-Saddam Iraqi state, such as the lack of effective economic and political inclusion of the Sunni Arab population into the power sharing system, the simmering conflict between the central government and the Kurdish regional government, the economic crisis and the problem of bad governance, and last but not least the meddling of competing external powers in Iraqi affairs.

Achim Rohde is a Middle East historian and scientific coordinator of the research network Re-Configurations. History, Remembrance, and Transformation Processes in the Middle East and North Africa at the Center for Near and Middle East Studies, Philipps-Universität Marburg.

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Quo vadis Turkey-EU relations?

In this article Nilgün Arisan, after analysing the recent developments in Turkey–EU relations, question whether a total rupture is possible between the parties and answers her question by showing the low probability of such a nuclear option for both parties. Then, Arisan looks at the constituents of a transactional relationship and seeks to show that a transactional relationship totally based on realpolitik without any reference to universal values would be unethical and doomed to fail given the current circumstances.

Nilgün Arisan Eralp, after having worked in different government departments for 25 years on TurkeyEU relations, has started to work as the Director of the EU Center in the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey. During her time as a government official and then as a researcher she has been a part-time lecturer in various universities in Turkey. She has numerous publications on Turkey-EU relations

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Orient IV 2017

Achim Rohde
Iraq after IS: Reconstruction or deepening fragmentation?

Christopher Phillips
Syria after IS

Wolfgang Pusztai
Libya: A second home?

Rayan Haddad
Lebanon: A spillover to be?

Curtis R. Ryan
Jordan: Between IS and the Syrian Civil War

Fred H. Lawson
Gulf dynamics: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the emergence of regional multipolarity

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The deepening of the Kurdish question in Turkey

The Kurdish question in Turkey has taken an ominous turn in the last two years. The collapse of the peace negotiations in the summer of 2015 led to an intensified return of violence and destruction. The failed coup attempt of 15th July 2016 provided the pretext for a campaign of repression against Kurdish political activism. A highly controversial referendum in April 2017 endorsed a presidential system with little legislative and judicial oversight of executive power, further hampering Kurdish political representation and access. This essay provides an overview of these developments and argues that democratic struggles and the Kurdish question in Turkey are more intertwined than ever. A broad cross-ethnic coalition represents the only viable way out of the current predicament.

Güneş Murat Tezcür (Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2005) is the Jalal Talabani Chair of Kurdish Political Studies and the director of the Kurdish Political Studies Program, the first and only academic unit dedicated to the study of Kurdish issues in North America, at the University of Central Florida. His research on political violence, politics of identity, and democratisation has appeared in leading social science journals.

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Recent developments in the Turkish economy

During the past fifteen years of Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) rule Turkey has experienced important gains in income and living standards. Over the period 2002-2016, the real per capita income has increased by 78.5%, and the transformation into an industrial and service economy has been ongoing, with agriculture still accounting for 7.9% of GDP and 20.7% of total employment. However, Turkey’s catch-up with advanced economies has slowed since 2008, and progress has increasingly diverged from the historic record of the 2002-2007 period. Furthermore, political developments within Turkey and in the surrounding region started to have lasting influence on economic developments in Turkey.

Sübidey Togan is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for International Economics at Bilkent University in Ankara. He has published extensively on economic developments and liberalisation in Turkey.

Ömer Faruk Gençkaya is Professor for Political Science and Public Policy at Marmara University in Istanbul. His research interests include Public Administration, legislative Studies, women and Politics Research.

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Orient III 2017

Sübidey Togan and Ömer Faruk
Gençkaya Recent developments in the Turkish economy

Güneş Murat Tezcür
The deepening of the Kurdish question in Turkey

Nilgün Arısan Eralp
Quo vadis Turkey-EU relations?

Bahar Baser
Turkey’s domestic politics spill-over to Europe: old debates in new frames

Ahmet S. Yayla
The so-called Islamic State and the (slow but steady) radicalisation of Turkey

Nebi Miş and Burhanettin Duran
Turkey’s constitutional referendum and its effects on Turkish politics

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ORIENT II 2017: US policy in the Near and Middle East – Continuity and change

Andreas Krieg
Obama and the Middle East: No we can’t

Annika Elena Poppe
Recalibrating the interests-values-nexus US democracy promotion in the Middle East

Magdalena Kirchner
The Middle East apprentice

Marcus Müller
A stain on democracy? Guantanamo, drone strikes and US foreign policy after Obama

Niklas Schörnig
Just when you thought things would get better from Obama’s to Trump’s drone war

Michael Gunter
US Middle East policy and the Kurds

Hans Krech
US Foreign Policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Kadir Ustun and Kilic B. Kanat
The search for an American foreign policy and US-Turkey relations in the Trump era

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ORIENT I 2017: Climate change and water politics in the Near and Middle East

Mohammed Qader
Brief view on the water-energy nexus in the Near and Middle East

Nadim Farajalla
Sustainable water management in the Near and Middle East

Ayşegül Kibaroǧlu
Euphrates-Tigris river basin: Water management as conflict prevention

Myriam Saadé-Sbeih and Ronald Jaubert
Syria’s drylands environmental policy: From clientelism to international cooperation

Balgis Osman Elasha
North Africa in a changing climate

Quentin Wodon
Vulnerability to weather shocks, climate change, and migration in the Middle East and North Africa

Tobias von Lossow
The multiple crisis: Perspectives on water scarcity in the Euphrates and Tigris basin

Tobias Zumbrägel
The quest for green legitimation: Reconsidering the ‘environmental enthusiasm’ of the Arab Gulf monarchies

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