The Mediterranean Eye



The three-hour Turkish putsch ​

After a very particular evening following the news, let’s also post here the considerations I wrote in Italian on my other website on Turkey’s hectic night. My plan was to start posting again on here as well, the events forced me to do that tonight. Good, I needed someone/something pushing me.

In analytical terms, what I have seen is:

  • This is only a part, not even particularly significant either in terms of numbers or rank, of the military.
  • The Police, Secret Services, the Navy, and other institutions were against the coup.
  • The people, following Erdoğan’s call, took up the streets and reacted. In similar occasions, the military has never fired against the population in the streets. There were reports of the army shooting against the police, and it was already a very unusual and worrisome development. That said, they could also fire against people on this occasion, particularly if this group represents a bunch of lower-rank officials who perceive this as an opportunity for “internal mobility.” But, what would be the price to pay, regarding their reputation, if they do so?
  • Many Europeans may not like it, but Erdoğan enjoys real support in Turkey. This is a reality that many observers continue to deny. Like it or not; this is the reality.
  • From the videos appearing on Twitter, the army’s control of certain critical areas was not so “significant” as it was announced in the very beginning
  • Political parties are all against the coup: the AKP (clearly), the HDP (of course, they hate Erdoğan, but hate the military more), but also the CHP and the MHP. Historically, these two parties are closer to the military. But, likely, not to this part of the military.
  • The mosques around Turkey are organising the resistance against the coup. They are well-organised, with real popular support and have the capacity to mobilise people street by street.
  • With the current regional situation, I don’t think that external powers dealing with the Syrian quagmire and the refugees’ issue would be happy to see Erdogan stepping down after a military putsch.
  • Also in the case that the coup is successful, Erdoğan (or his substitute, if he is not allowed to run) will win 60% of the vote after something like this. After that, the fear of a real “autocratic majoritarian democracy” will become a solid reality. The time of the military guardians of the six Kemalist pillars has gone. It’s not 1980 anymore, but not even 1997. Do you remember 2007 and the failure of the e-memorandum? The military does not enjoy anymore the socio-political support it enjoyed in the past, and the group who carried out this putsch seems to represent only a minority within the army.

If you are looking for historical comparisons, this is Tejero in 1981 or the failed coup against Gorbachev in 1991. Forget Kenan Evren; those times have gone.

Gezi, l’AKP e la natura delle proteste a Istanbul

Negli ultimi sei mesi ho avuto la fortuna di vivere, studiare e lavorare in Turchia. Vivere a Istanbul è un’esperienza che tutti dovrebbero fare almeno una volta nella vita e mi ritengo fortunato nell’ aver scelto di vivere nel lato asiatico, nella vivace e bella Kadıköy, dove c’è anche uno dei migliori ristoranti della città, Ciya (e per me che ho lavorato in passato come cuoco queste cose hanno sempre un peso notevole). Già conoscevo questo paese ma chiaramente viverci aiuta a capire meglio alcune dinamiche, anche se devo dire che le idee di fondo che mi ero fatto non le ho cambiate tanto (anche se uno non vive normalmente in un posto, leggere buoni libri sulla storia, cultura e politica di quel paese aiuta in genere).

Ad ogni modo, le proteste delle ultime due settimane hanno riattizzato ferocemente l’attenzione dei media globali su un paese di cui si parla tanto ma di cui si capisce sempre troppo poco. Su Limes Online ho provato, ad inizio settimana, a raccontare la mia percezione analitica di quello che è successo. Essa è tendenzialmente diversa da molte idee apparse in giro, in particolare sulla stampa italiana dove si è fatta passare l’idea che questo fosse un paese sull’orlo della rivoluzione (non vi dico le telefonate allarmate dalla famiglia). Come ha detto bene una mia amica americana che vive in Italia: “puoi dirmi cosa ne pensi? i media americani ne parlano poco ma qui sembra che la Turchia stia per implodere”. No, la Turchia non sta per implodere. Ha solo qualche difficoltà – che è strutturale, cioè di lungo periodo- nel gestire, veicolare e assorbire il dissenso.  Ma direi che i sensazionalismi e le letture “orientaliste” (e ve lo dice uno che non è un grandissimo fan di Said) basate su uno scontro titanico islamisti vs secolaristi nuociono alla comprensione: di questo paese in genere e dei fatti di Gezi nello specifico.

Per l’articolo completo su Limes, clicca qui

North African Jihadism and the Post-Mali Conflict Environment

I actually don’t have time to focus on my blog (people who know me have a clue why). However, two weeks ago I published another piece with the Jamestown Foundation on the directions in North African Jihadism in the post-Mali conflict environment:

The French-led intervention in Mali changed the strategic environment of the region. For AQIM and other jihadist groups operating in the area, the intervention had several consequences: they had to move elsewhere, reducing their presence in northern Mali, redefine smuggling routes and re-acquire the mobility they partially lost when they started controlling northern Mali. This makes the regional threat more mobile, liquid and fragmented while reducing its actual political impact… (to continue reading click here)

The EU and the Mediterranean: Between ambitions and shortcomings

Next week (Tuesday 28 May), I will be talking at  İstanbul 29 Mayis Üniversitesi in Uskudar (about 20 minutes walking distance from the Metrobus stop “Altunizade”) about EU foreign policy in the Mediterranean. All welcome!

EU Mediterranean

L’Egitto e i suoi Fratelli

Da questo mese, Limes diventa mensile e inaugura la serie dei numeri mensili con un volume dedicato all’Egitto e alla Fratellanza musulmanaLimes - Egitto e i suoi fratelli

Su questo numero ci sono due articoli miei: uno sul Sinai e la problematica proiezione di sovranità del Cairo su questo spazio “chiave” ma storicamente riluttante al controllo degli “Africani della Valle del Nilo” e un altro scritto con la collega della LUISS Meryem Akabouch sui percorsi politici della Fratellanza Musulmana in Algeria e Marocco: alg mar

Se avete commenti o critiche potere come al solito scrivermi a mediterraneaneye [at] gmail [dot] com

Mali, Foreign Intervention, Algeria

My latest article for the Jamestown Foundation:

The attack on the gas facility at In Amenas highlighted two major problems that will rise to the top of the Algerian government’s policy agenda over the next few weeks:

  • Although Algeria is the strongest of the states of the Maghreb/Sahel region, the length of its borders and the turbulence of its neighbors (Libya and Tunisia in the east, Mali to the south) make it difficult to fully control all of its frontiers.
  • The attack at In Aménas will represent a psychological deterrent to some foreign oil companies to upgrade facilities or invest in Algeria for some time. Therefore, the need to strengthen domestic security and border controls will become a security priority, making a direct military engagement in Mali more difficult and problematic. 

As long as AQIM and its affiliates were operating “horizontally” in the Sahelian strip, with their bases in northern Mali, that situation remained acceptable to Algiers because it was not perceived as a structural threat to the state. However, the In Aménas attack will likely push Algeria to focus even more on the security of its borders and its domestic environment. Although the military involvement of Algeria in the Malian conflict cannot be completely ruled out, above all if the French intervention should prove to be less effective than thought, direct engagement still remains extremely improbable.

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