From the Guardian: “The Syrian Refugee Crisis in Numbers”

The Syrian Refugee Crisis in Numbers

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What’s Eating Turkey?

To Kalnoky we owe a curious fact. The present crisis in Turkey really began a month ago, when the main square of a town called Reyhanli, on the Syrian border, was badly bombed — 50 killed. No one took responsibility. The Turkish government at once blamed the Syrian one, and arrested some dozen people without obvious evidence. It then laid down a ban on reporting, and to this day what happened is not clear. It is not obviously in the Syrian government’s interest to provoke further trouble with Turkey; on the other hand, it is indeed in the rebels’ interest, since they are now losing. As it happens, a left-wing organisation called Redhack was able to read the Turkish police records, and found that Turkish intelligence knew in advance of the bomb plot and warned the local authorities, to no effect. Everyone assumes that the Erdogan government banned news reports because it wanted to conceal this. Its involvement in the Syrian civil war is very widely condemned — I have not met a single defender of it — and it has obviously gone off the tracks. What is very odd about the present demonstrations in central Istanbul is that the names of the 50 dead at Reyhanli were pinned to separate trees in the little park where the demonstrations started. Erdogan gets the blame for that bombing because of his failed Syria policy.

The full article is here.

Just how ripe for revolution is Turkey?

Turkey’s diversified, innovative base of industry, construction, and services serves it well in a world in which market opportunities are shifting from the United States and Western Europe to Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Turkey has been deft in seizing these new opportunities, with exports increasingly headed south and east to the emerging economies, rather than west to high-income markets. This trend will continue, as Africa and Asia become robust markets for Turkey’s construction firms, information technology, and green innovations.

So, how did Turkey do it? Most important, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his economics team, led by Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, have stuck to basics and looked to the long term. Erdoğan came to power in 2003, after years of short-term instability and banking crises. The International Monetary Fund had been called in for an emergency rescue. Step by step, the Erdoğan-Babacan strategy was to rebuild the banking sector, get the budget under control, and invest heavily and consistently where it counts: infrastructure, education, health, and technology.

Smart diplomacy has also helped. Turkey has remained a staunchly moderate voice in a region of extremes. It has kept an open door and balanced diplomacy (to the extent possible) with the major powers in its neighborhood. This has helped Turkey not only to maintain its own internal balance, but also to win markets and keep friends without the heavy baggage and risks of divisive geopolitics.

The full article is here.

This fits with what I saw in Turkey when I travelled through the country a couple of years ago, and with pretty much everything else I’ve heard and read about the place over the last decade. Then again, people were saying similar things about the miraculous Irish and Spanish economic models a few years ago, and most of that turned out to be very wrong indeed.

Pawel Morski: “Turkey: Some Stuff Isn’t Very Similar to Other Stuff”

For Once, really It’s Not That Simple. Trying to ram Turkish turbulence into the Arab Spring paradigm, or the “It’s All Kicking Off” paradigm, or Orange Revolution, or Sweden obscures more than it reveals. Even “more Moscow than Cairo” which makes a certain amount of sense to me needs to be qualified by the fact that I know sod all about what’s really motivating people in Istanbul and Ankara. As ever, people struggling for greater democracy would be wise not to rely on too much help from markets.

The full article is here.