Stories about turkey

Konya: The city of legacies, spirituality and Rumi

As we returned home from our trip to Uzbekistan last year, we kept aside four days in Istanbul to break the journey. Since we had already travelled to Istanbul previously, we decided to spend some time in Konya, which is the burial place of celebrated scholar and Sufi poet, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi. Situated in the heart of Turkey, Konya is very well connected to the world by road, high-speed rail, and air. We had made our reservations to reach Konya from Istanbul via Pegasus Airlines, one of the no-frills Turkish airlines where the return fare from Istanbul was $50 per person. The airline operates from ...

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The Syrian conflict approaches its seventh year, but the inhumanity is endless

“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded. Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed. Everybody knows that the war is over. Everybody knows that the good guys lost.” – Leonard Cohen, Everybody knows 1988 As Syria labels its latest escalation with Washington DC a ‘war crime’, an obscene irony in a civil war fast devolved into a brutal proxy war, on the threshold of its seven year anniversary, the world’s most violent proxy war is fast spinning out of orbit. The developments are dizzying. NATO’s two largest armies, in a tense face-off, now stand on opposite sides of the conflict. In the cross hairs aimed at one another, the Kurdish forces – the Pershmaga, astonishing ...

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Time-travelling through history and losing myself in the ruins of Ephesus, Turkey

I wanted to end 2017 by surprising my parents with a visit, all the way from California, US to Mansehra, Pakistan. Travelling for 28 hours straight and showing up at my ancestral home in Mansehra, it took my father around three minutes to recognise me as his eldest son. Those three minutes started to get awkward, as I began to wonder if he had excommunicated me from the family tree. Instead, it turned out that he was just channelling his surprise by confusing me for my brother’s friend. However, this little awkward reunion wasn’t the only part of my trip ...

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Of the great America and its need for coups around the world

In the past few months, there has been a successful coup in Zimbabwe, preceded by a failed attempt in Turkey. While local elements involved in such a takeover are in view of the public, the same cannot be said about foreign conspirators. Talk of foreign involvement is often shrugged off as a “conspiracy theory” by the global mainstream media, and evidence implicating outside actors is often ignored. However, a brief review of recent history (post World War II) unveils the role played by the strongest power in history – the United States (US) – in coups around the world. The history presented in this piece is not based on the opinions of people, but rather on official declassified documents released under ...

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Pakistan says the US is no longer an ally – and it’s a much bigger deal than you think

Donald Trump’s decision to ring in the new year by simultaneously demonising both Iran and Pakistan on Twitter has already backfired tremendously. Following threats that the US would withhold aid to Pakistan, the US confirmed it would withhold $255 million in aid (which has now become $900 million) and is now reportedly threatening a roughly $2 billion more as well. “We’re hoping that Pakistan will see this as an incentive, not a punishment,” a US State Department official told reporters. According to the Wall Street Journal, this recent animosity towards Pakistan has not gone over well. Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said in an interview that the US has failed to ...

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Iran-Turkey is not an alliance, but an incredibly realistic and meaningful partnership

The two greatest imperial foes of the Ottoman Empire were Russia and Iran (Persia). While the Russian empire collapsed in 1917, the Ottoman empire in 1922 and the Iranian in 1979, the modern successor states of the Russian Federation, Republic of Turkey and Islamic Republic of Iran continue to constitute towering Eurasian powers whose influence only continues to grow. This is not surprising in and of itself, but what is surprising is that these three great Eurasian powers continue to expand in terms of regional influence, but not at each other’s expense. Turkey’s rapprochement with Russia continues to dominate headlines, not ...

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer the main game in the Middle East; it is now merely an irritant in the Arab backyard

The recently announced deal between Hamas and Al Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions, is being lauded as a historic move for the future of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Through this political reconciliation, Hamas would cede control of Gaza’s borders and allow the rival Palestinian authority to take over the day-to-day running of the territory. A broad Arab coalition is backing the deal, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with Hamas expecting substantial help from the Emirati and the Saudis and also getting a green light from America. One positive aspect of the deal is that it will ease ...

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Pauline Hanson’s burqa ban proves she is an isolationist and the female version of Donald Trump – but only worse

The Australian senate witnessed unusual scenes yesterday when a woman walked in wearing a burqa for the first time in its history. The footage shows gasps of ‘what on earth!’ from senators as the woman revealed herself to be Pauline Hanson, a senator from Queensland and the head of the One Nation Party. Revelling in the attention, she bared her smug face to advocate a ban on burqas in Australia and its parliament. She called it oppressive, un-Australian and a threat to security and western society, and asked the leader in the senate, Attorney General George Brandis, whether he will work to ban ...

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Is Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s Justice March a tacit reminder and refractory reaction to last year’s attempted coup?

The streets of Ankara still reek of punctured patriotism and vehemence. Today, Turkey finds itself stumbling upon an all too vivid memory of the July 15th coup attempt that marks a momentous yet troubled first anniversary. Observing the aftermath of last year’s events, it is still not safe to say whether the new chapter opened up by the coup will be as promising as it was perceived to be from atop a vanquished military tank. And now, with wounds barely healed, Turkey finds itself hurled into yet another political endeavour. Thousands of restless citizens are taking to the streets behind the opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, to embark on a Justice March from Ankara to Istanbul. The dynamic opposition ...

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If no major non-Arab nation has supported the Saudi bloc, so why pressure Pakistan, Saudi Arabia?

As is often the case in regional conflicts, outside players may feel compelled to toe the line of one of the parties. Thus, in the latest conflict between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt (also known as the Saudi bloc), Pakistan finds itself walking a diplomatic and economic tightrope. That is, until the last few days, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told King Salman of Saudi Arabia that Pakistan will not be taking sides in the conflict. As this commentary will illustrate, I believe that this is the commendable choice as it is in Pakistan’s interest to remain neutral, if not lean, towards Qatar based ...

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