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The ‘New Turkey’ and its Discontents

7th April 2017 - 12:00 PM

The 'New Turkey' and its Discontents
A conversation with Simon Waldman, Emre Caliskan, and Aykan Erdemir
moderated by John Hannah

Friday, April 7, 2017
12:00pm - 1:15pm

Registration and breakfast will begin at 11:45am

On April 16, Turkey will hold a historic referendum to determine the future of its democracy. After 14 years in power, Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hopes to cement his one-man rule and shield himself from political and legal challenges. But Erdogan’s hold on power is not a certainty. Following widespread domestic protests, embarrassing graft probes, and last summer’s failed coup attempt, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led government is now perceived by many to be increasingly corrupt and authoritarian.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies hosted a lunch conversation to mark the release of Simon Waldman and Emre Caliskan’s new book, The ‘New Turkey’ and its Discontents. They were joined in conversation by FDD Senior Fellow and former member of the Turkish Parliament Aykan Erdemir. The discussion was moderated by FDD Senior Counselor John Hannah. The lunch discussion took place on Friday, April 7 from 12:00pm to 1:30pm.

Emre Caliskan is Ph.D. candidate in International Relations at St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford.  His dissertation explores the role of Turkish Islamic non-state actors in Turkey’s foreign policy making in Sub-Saharan Africa. He is a project research collaborator at the University of Oxford’s Changing Structures of Islamic Authority (CSIA). His other interests include Turkey’s transnational Islam, Turkish foreign policy, and Islamic NGOs in International Relations. He is the co-author of The ‘New Turkey’ and its Discontents, which assesses social, religious and political polarization under Recep Erdoğan’s AKP and the likely consequences for Turkey’s evolution. A Turkish analyst and freelance journalist, Mr. Caliskan has worked for the BBC Turkish service, Cumhuriyet, Newsweek Turkey and the Turkish public broadcaster TRT, as a foreign correspondent based in Ankara, Damascus, Beijing and London. Mr. Caliskan is currently working on a co-authored paper for CSIA which focuses on contemporary debates within the Turkish Islamic sphere.

Dr. Aykan Erdemir is a former member of the Turkish Parliament (2011-2015) who served in the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, EU Harmonization Committee, and the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee on the IT Sector and the Internet. As an outspoken defender of pluralism, minority rights, and religious freedoms in the Middle East, Dr. Erdemir has been at the forefront of the struggle against religious persecution, hate crimes, and hate speech in Turkey. He is a founding member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and a drafter of and signatory to the Oslo Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief (2014) as well as a signatory legislator to the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism. In  2016, Dr. Erdemir was awarded the Stefanus Prize for Religious Freedom in recognition of his advocacy for minority rights and religious freedoms. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies focusing on Turkey. Dr. Erdemir is co-author of Antagonistic Tolerance: Competitive Sharing of Religious Sites and Spaces (Routeledge).

John Hannah is senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where he brings two decades of experience at the highest levels of U.S. foreign policy. During the first term of President George W. Bush, he was Vice President Dick Cheney’s deputy national security advisor for the Middle East, where he was intimately involved in U.S. policy toward Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, the peace process, and the global war on terrorism. In President Bush’s second term, Mr. Hannah was elevated to the role of the vice president's national security advisor. In his previous government service, Mr. Hannah worked as a senior advisor to Secretary of State Warren Christopher during the Bill Clinton administration and as a senior member of Secretary of State James Baker's Policy Planning Staff during the presidency of George H. W. Bush. Outside of government, Mr. Hannah has served as deputy director and senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He has also practiced law, specializing in international dispute resolution.

Simon Waldman is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at King’s College London. Mr. Waldman’s research focuses on international diplomacy towards the Middle East, state-building and leadership in the region, Turkish history and politics and the Arab-Israeli conflict from a historical perspective. He is the head of the Turkish Studies Research Group at King’s College London.  Mr. Waldman is the author of Anglo-American Diplomacy and the Palestinian Refugee Problem (Palgrave MacMillan), and the co-author of The ‘New Turkey’ and its Discontents. Mr. Waldman contributes to media outlets such as Haaretz, Al-Monitor, Open Democracy, City AM and the Hürriyet Daily News. In addition, he appears regularly on a wide variety of television and radio programs commenting on political developments in the Middle East, including Bloomberg, BBC World Service, Channel 4 News, and CNN.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a Washington, DC-based non-partisan policy institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. For more information, please visit

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* This event is open to government officials, Hill staff, foreign policy professionals, members of the diplomatic corps, the think tank and foreign policy communities, and press.

This event is made possible through a grant from The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.