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

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01/07/19

Orient III 2019

Salim Çevik
Municipal elections and its long-term impact

Charlotte Joppien
Turkey’s 2019 municipal elections

Sübidey Togan
Structural reforms in Turkey

Kerem Öktem
Politics after Turkey’s exit from democracy

Funda Tekin
Turkey and the EU: From accession to estrangement?

Özlem Tür
Turkish foreign policy and the Syrian crisis: Challenges, opportunities and shifting alliances

Ergin Günes
Refugees as an instrument of Turkish power politics

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01/07/19

Municipal elections and its long-term impacts

Despite being merely a municipal election, the 31 March 2019 elections in Turkey were a watershed event in the Turkish political history. This article depicts two crucial features of Turkish politics; competitive authoritarian nature of the political regime and the dominance of identity politics and cleavages in the political life. These two features weighed heavily in this election as well, but the article also demonstrates through the electoral process, that both features are also slowly changing. As such the long-term implications of this election would go far beyond the limits of a local election.

Salim Çevik is a visiting researcher at SwP-Berlin. Prior to joining to SwP, he held research or teaching positions at lund University (Sweden), Ipek University (Turkey), Bilgi University (Turkey) and Columbia University (USA). His main areas of research are religion in politics, democratisation, nationalism and nation building and his most recent publication is Erdogan’s Comprehensive Religious Policy: Management of the Religious Realm in Turkey, (SwP Comments, 2019).

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01/07/19

Refugees as an instrument of Turkish power politics

Through its refugee policy, Turkey gained great influence on both Sunni migrants from and Sunni fighters in Syria. It uses this influence in many ways to ensure its security vis-à-vis the Kurds and to extend its power in Syria. It also uses it in its relations with Russia and the US to obtain their support for its policy of interest. At the same time, through its migration policy, it puts pressure on the EU to obtain financial support.

Ergin Günes is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Munzur in Tunceli. He has published several articles on Middle East policy and Turkey.

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01/07/19

Key factors of instability in Libya

Libya is a failed state. The different factors of instability can be grouped into the six areas of governance, international relations, demography, economy, social standards, and security, which are all interrelated. Altogether, the situation in Libya is very complex. It must not be simplified by reducing the conflict on a fight for or against General Heftar or the Islamists. For now, a major improvement is not in sight.

Wolfgang Pusztai is a freelance security and policy analyst with a special focus on North Africa. He was the Austrian Defense Attaché to Italy, Greece, Libya and Tunisia from 2007 to 2012. He has a Master’s Degree from the University of Vienna (Political Science) and from the National Defense University/National War College in Washington D.C. (National Security Strategy; distinguished graduate). He is Director of the California-based advisory company Perim Associates. Since 2016 he is the Chairman of the Advisory Board of the National Council on US-Libya Relations.

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01/07/19

Turkish foreign policy and the Syrian crisis: Challenges, opportunities and shifting alliances

This article aims to analyse Ankara’s policy towards the Syrian crisis and argues that this policy has become a game-changer in Turkish foreign policy, deeply affecting its relations with regional and international actors. The Turkish government took a stance against the al-Assad regime as the crisis began and became a part of the civil war in Syria. However, as the resilience of the regime became evident, Turkey felt isolated and began to focus more actively to the threat emanating from Northern Syria mostly due to the PYD/YPG, and led two military operations in this country. In the meanwhile, strong US support for the PYD/YPG pushed Ankara closer to Moscow and Turkey tried to become an active player in the future of Syria by developing closer links to Russia and Iran. This move on the one hand gave an opportunity to Ankara to break out of its isolation and on the other hand led to a questioning of the future of the traditional pro-western stance in Turkey’s foreign policy.

Özlem Tür is Professor of International Relations at Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. Her main expertise include Turkey’s relations with the Middle East (especially Syria, Israel and lebanon) and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Her publications include Turkey-Syria Relations – Between Enmity and Amity (london: Ashgate, 2013, co-edited with Raymond Hinnebusch); Turkey and Israel in the 2000s (Israel Studies, 2012); Political Economy of Turkey’s Relations with the Middle East (Turkish Studies, 2011).

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01/07/19

Turkey and the EU: From accession to estrangement?

Turkey’s relations with Europe are as long as they are contested. Basically, they represent a moving target with sharp u-turns involved that challenge the relationship. Turkey-EU relations are hence on a rollercoaster ride between accession and estrangement that has been lately on a full downswing with conflicts minimising chances for a closer relationship. However, so far, the so-called ‘train crash’ has been avoided. One relevant question that shall guide this article therefore is, what keeps the rollercoaster on track and what can slow the ride down to a convenient speed. The question of the appropriate framework for such a relationship will guide the concluding outlook on the analysis of what holds the two sides together and what drives them apart.

Funda Tekin is director of the Institute for European Politics in Berlin. Previously, she was vice director of the Centre for Turkey and European Union Studies at the University of Cologne where she directed the H2020 project FEUTURE – the Future of EU-Turkey Relations and the Jean Monnet Network Enhancing Visibility of the Academic Dialogue on EU-Turkey Cooperation. In addition to EU-Turkey relations she has published on flexible integration, BREXIT, and on various aspects of the decision-making procedures in the EU.

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01/07/19

The state of dis-Union: The EU and Europe in the MENA region since 2011

In the past decade, several countries in the Middle East and North Africa have undergone dramatic changes, and with one exception – Tunisia – turmoil has resulted in civil wars, mass population displacements, unprecedented destruction, new forms of creeping authoritarianism, and increasing violent penetration from regional and extra-regional powers. With the exception of Iran, where Europe has displayed a consistently transformative approach, oriented not just to the suspension of Iranian uranium enrichment, but also to the normalisation of the country’s diplomatic relations both in the region and on the global scale, in key other regional instances Europe has been either a passive bystander when political space has been closed (Morocco, and even more so, post-2013 Egypt), thereby reinforcing ongoing trends favouring authoritarian reconfigurations, or has contributed to destabilising countries (the intervention in Libya in 2011 and the intra-EU split since then). The ‘principled pragmatist’ rhetoric has concealed a laissez-faire attitude which has emboldened new manifestations of foreign policy assertiveness and aggressiveness by both regional (Saudi Arabia, the Emirati, Turkey) and extra-regional players (mostly Russia) which are re-shaping regional power hierarchies, to the detriment of Europe and the US.

Ruth Hanau Santini is Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations at Università L’Orientale in Naples. She has previously worked at The Brookings Institution in Washington, served as foreign policy consultant to the Italian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister in 2012-2013 and has coordinated two international research projects on Citizenship after the Arab Uprisings (EUSPRING) and on Grassroots’ mobilisation in the Arab World since 2011 (STREETPOL). Her research focuses on European foreign policy, popular protests in the Arab world and geopolitics of the MENA region. On a more theoretical level she is interested in issues pertaining to regional orders, hierarchy and status-seeking behaviour.

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01/04/19

Macro analysis of gendered discourse in conflict resolution in MENA

The article explores conspicuous and controversial facets of the gendered discourse of conflict resolution in MENA. It (re)problematizes issues of inclusivity and effectiveness of conflict resolution processes while adopting a critical macro-analytical perspective to unpack the relationship between gender and armed conflict, focusing on ways women are affected by conflict and can influence its resolution; as well as how conflict and its management in the MENA region has impacts on Europe.

Sneha Roy is a second year doctorate student at University of Wales Trinity Saint David. She is an anthropologist by her academic training; a former Commonwealth scholar, a fellow of KAICIID International Dialogue Centre, a fellow of Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute, and a youth advocate with UNESCO.

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01/04/19

Mitigating MENA communitarian conflicts through power-sharing options

The erosion of Arab nation states is attributed to an embedded legitimacy deficit and the deconstruction of geographic barriers. The latest proliferation of cross-national communal conflicts along sectarian, ethnic, and tribal lines expresses the clear intentions of communities to reconstruct the state and renegotiate new terms of the social contract. The politics of communitarian existentialism and collective mobilisations characterise contemporary contention, which calls for communitarian solutions to intercommunitarian problems. A communitocracy is proposed as a viable conflict-mitigating arrangement that assures communitarian powersharing based on the politics of consensus.

Imad Salamey is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the Lebanese American University. His books The Decline of Nation-States after the Arab Spring: the Rise of Communitocracy (Routledge, 2017) and Post-Conflict PowerSharing Agreements: Options for Syria (Palgrave, 2018) survey the root causes of rising ethnic and sectarian polarisation and post-conflict peace building options in the MENA countries. Salamey serves as a policy consultant and advisor for various international and regional organisations.

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01/04/19

Conflict resolution in Libya: What works?

Various conflict resolution efforts unfortunately did not lead to a stabilisation of Libya. Actually, the situation is getting increasingly dangerous. A new strategy must be developed. It needs to include all four instruments of power in a coordinated way. A complimentary contribution of the various conflict resolution mechanisms and efforts is paramount. As a leading EU member and currently with a seat in the UNSC, Germany is in a unique position to shape and coordinate such a strategy.

Wolfgang Pusztai is a freelance Security & Policy Analyst with a special focus on North Africa. He was the Austrian Defense Attache to Italy, Greece, Libya and Tunisia from 2007 to 2012. He has Master’s Degree from the University of vienna (Political Science) and from the National Defense University/National War College in Washington D.C. (National Security Strategy; distinguished graduate). He is a Director of the California-based advisory company Perim Associates. Since 2016 he is the Chairman of the Advisory Board of the National Council on U.S.-Libya Relations.

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01/04/19

Yemen’s nested conflict(s): Layers, geographies and feuds

Due to the 2015 civil war, Yemen’s national order has vanished. Whatever viable attempt of conflict resolution must take into account a variety of existing micro-orders on a local basis. Deconstructing Yemen’s layers of conflict, this essay traces post-2015 internal transformations of power, arguing that Yemen has started a process of gradual feudalisation, based on militias and warlords, thus shifting from a multiple geographies scheme to an archipelagolike system of connected but rival feuds.

Eleonora Ardemagni is an expert of Yemen, Gulf monarchies and Arab military forces, and Associate Research Fellow at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), teaching assistant at the Catholic University of Milan and Gulf analyst for the NATO Defense College Foundation.

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01/04/19

The recent Kurdish struggle

The Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, the two Gulf wars against Saddam Hussein in 1991 and 2003, and the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, are the main reasons the long-lasting Kurdish struggle recently has come to play such an increasingly important role in Middle Eastern and even international affairs. In addition, the resulting rise of both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq and also another, albeit less established Kurdish government in northeastern Syria, called Rojava (now broadened into the Federation of Northern Syria to include the many other ethnic and sectarian groups that live there), has given the Kurds additional de facto institutional existence and even recognition.

Furthermore, the continuing insurgency of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, its spillover into neighbouring Iraq and Syria, its peace talks with Ankara from 2009 to 2015 and its de facto alliance with the United States to defeat the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria have given the PKK an importance inconceivable a mere decade ago. For example, the PKK played an important role on the ground in Sinjar, Iraq to help rescue the embattled Yezidis from the genocidal IS Jihadis in 2014. Even more, the PKK, through its Syrian affiliate, the Syrian Democratic Forces/Democratic Union Party/Peoples Defense Units (SDF/PYD/YPG), proved the indispensable boots on the ground that defeated IS in such dramatic battles as Kobane (2014-2015) and Raqqa (2017), among others. US air and advisory support, of course, were existential in these battles, which also brought Turkey, Iran, Russia, Iraq and Syria, among others, into the equation. The purpose of this article is to analyse the recent Kurdish struggle regarding the failed independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, the US-Turkish confrontation in Syria, and their continuing profound effects upon Middle Eastern and international politics.

Michael M. Gunter is a Professor of Political Science at Tennessee Technological University. He has published 15 books and over 100 articles on the Kurdish problem. Currently, he is the Secretary-General of the EU Turkey Civic Commission in Brussels and a member of the advisory board of the Turkish Heritage Organization in Washington, DC.

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