Stories written by Jacques N. Couvas

Analysis: Turkey Now Preparing for the Playoffs

The results of the Turkish elections of Jun. 7 have put an end to the suspense that has dominated national politics in the past three months. For the first time in this Asian republic’s history, a Kurdish party has succeeded in being elected to the legislature, with an impressive 15 percent of the seats available.

Race for the Turkish Presidency Promises Suspense

The announcement this week of the personality chosen by Turkey’s opposition parties to run for the office of the President of the Republic has taken the majority of the Turks by surprise.

Turkey’s Kurdish Problem Likely to Worsen After ISIS Gains in Iraq

Eighteen months after a ceasefire between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Turkey’s security forces took effect, clouds of trouble are gathering in the country’s south-east.

Is Ankara Getting Deeper Into The Iraqi Quicksand?

The decision late Thursday by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to proceed with its first shipment of crude oil to Europe out of the port of Ceyhan in southern Turkey has received mixed reactions from all the parties concerned.

As Erdogan Remains Firm, No End in Sight for Turkey’s Protests

Now approaching its third week, the "Occupy Taksim" movement, a peaceful sit-in to save Istanbul's Gezi Park from redevelopment, has taken on a festival-like atmosphere, with protesters organising to stand guard around the clock, provide uninterrupted food and water supplies, and carry out a self-initiated cleaning of the grounds.

Q&A: Turkish Opposition Leader Expects Unrest to Continue

As protests in Turkey stretch into their second week, the precise terms and conditions that could bring the social unrest to an end are unclear, though many speculate about what would end the deadlock between the government and protesters.

Turkey’s Excessive Neo-liberalism Threatens ‘Peace at Home’

"Peace at home, peace in the world" is the official motto of the Turkish Republic. Coined in 1931 by the republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, it implies a causal relationship, but the events this week in Istanbul and dozens of other cities of Turkey suggest that causality can work in reverse order, too.

Despite Peaceful Withdrawal, PKK-Turkey Peace Remains Uncertain

The peaceful withdrawal from Turkey of combatants from the Kurdistan's Workers Party (PKK) began last Wednesday but is already at risk of being compromised following a twin car bomb explosion on Saturday afternoon. The terrorist attack in Rayhanli in the Syrian border province of Hatay caused 46 civilian deaths and at least 155 injuries.

Preparing to Fight Off Doomsday

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has adopted a new strategy to involve citizens and politicians more actively to push for a global ban on nuclear weapons.

Hunger Strike Is Over, but Kurdish Unrest Is Not

There was a sigh of relief in Ankara as Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), on Sunday put an end to the 68-day hunger strike of 682 Kurdish prisoners and nine members of the Turkish Parliament.

Growing Public Discontent with Turkish Syria Policy

Public approval of the Turkish government’s foreign policy has reached its lowest point - a mere 18 percent - in the past decade, according to a poll released here this week that showed only 18 percent of respondents said they favoured Ankara’s handling of the escalating sectarian violence in neighbouring Syria.

Northern Iraq Instead of Syria: Turkish Army’s New Target?

With attacks by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) multiplying and spreading to a larger number of Turkish provinces, Ankara is under increasing pressure by nationalistic parties to take tougher measures against Kurdish activism, including a full-blown land incursion by the Turkish armed forces into northern Iraq.

Cold Spring Forecast in Iran-Turkey Relations

Ties between Turkey and Iran appear to be headed downward in the wake of Tehran's statement earlier this week that it would prefer not to hold the negotiations with the P5+1 group on its nuclear programme in Istanbul, as had been announced last week by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton.

TURKEY: Filtering Out Internet Freedom

Fifteen respected academics from different Turkish universities signed a declaration in Ankara last week protesting recent state regulations restricting access to a variety of websites on ‘moral’ and ‘national integrity’ grounds.

Women wearing the traditional Hijab. Winners of the Tunisian elections assure women that they will be free not to wear the Muslim veil. Credit:  Bomoon Lee/IPS

TURKEY: A Rising Influence Among Arab Nations

Assurances to women by the winners of the Tunisian elections that they will be free not to wear the Muslim veil has come as music to the ears of Turkish secularists. It was another signpost confirming Turkey’s growing position and influence among Arab countries.

TURKEY: War of Words Lost in Translation

Bellicose dialectic between Turkey and Israel reached a new height last week and has precipitated the deteriorating relationship between the two former allies to new depth. But it is for the moment unclear whether Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's threats to cut the Israeli navy's perceived power and presence to size in Eastern Mediterranean represent a true tactical decision in Ankara's strategy to expand its influence in the Middle East, or a mere coup-de- theatre for domestic and Arab consumption.

LDC Meet Ends, Blame Game Begins

Mission not accomplished. This is in three words what more than 200 eminent speakers and panelists from over 70 participating countries in effect told their peers, the media and delegates who attended the U.N. Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Fourth Conference May 9-13 in Istanbul.

TURKEY-SYRIA: Why Erdogan Can’t Let Assad Down

A new week, a new campaign for Ankara's diplomacy. After a victorious arm-twisting on Saturday with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to divert the leadership of the aerial war against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi from France to NATO, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has turned his attention to trouble closer to home, Syria.

TURKEY: Old Colonial Rivalries Revive over Libya

Turkey's volte-face Thursday evening to make a sizeable military contribution to NATO's intervention in the Libyan crisis, after two weeks of fierce opposition to the Alliance's mingling with Arab affairs, has further blurred Ankara's position in the North African conflict.

Turkey Gets the Worst of Two Worlds

Turkey's foreign policy is undergoing an acid test as the political turmoil continues in the Arab World. The fragile situation in Tripoli, in particular, is giving the jitters to government and businesses alike, with billions of dollars of Turkish investment and trade at risk.

Regional Powers Step Into the Middle East Pot

The strained diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel since June have unveiled intensive jockeying between regional powers for influence in the Middle East peace process.

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