Subscribe to FDD

Analysis & Commentary - Aykan Erdemir

Aykan Erdemir's Latest Articles

21st April 2018 – War on the Rocks

Turkey’s Snap Elections: Erdogan’s Improvised Gambit

Aykan Erdemir

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called snap elections on Wednesday, bringing forward parliamentary and presidential elections to June 24, almost 17 months earlier than scheduled. Erdogan was once a sworn enemy of early elections, referring to them previously as “a sign of underdevelopment” and “treason.” While his supporters now defend the surprise as the work of a master strategist, the Turkish president’s sudden change of heart and rush to call elections in 67 days reflects his insecurity. more...

15th April 2018 – The Washington Post

Turkey’s president is holding Americans hostage. Why aren’t we doing anything about it?

Aykan Erdemir, Eric S. Edelman

On April 16, an American pastor unjustly detained in a Turkish prison for 18 months will finally get to defend himself in court. Andrew Brunson, a Presbyterian minister from North Carolina, faces up to seven years of pretrial detention under Turkey’s draconian state of emergency. more...

14th March 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Turkey Abused Western Dual-Use Technology to Inject Spyware

Aykan Erdemir, Trevor Logan

Turkey’s leading internet service provider, Turk Telekom, in which the Turkish government owns a minority golden share, has been reportedly using web-filtering technology to install spyware on customers’ computers – an allegation the company denies. The Citizen Lab, an award-winning digital freedom watchdog at the University of Toronto, announced on March 9 that Turkish internet users who sought to download popular programs, including Skype and Avast Antivirus, were being redirected surreptitiously to versions of those applications bundled with spyware. more...

13th March 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Turkish Prosecutor Seeks Life Sentence for U.S. Pastor

Aykan Erdemir

A Turkish prosecutor today demanded a life sentence for U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson on charges of “leading a terrorist organization.” The North Carolina pastor, who is a member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, served a small Protestant congregation without incident for over two decades in Izmir, a city on Turkey’s Aegean coast. Turkish authorities detained Brunson in October 2016, and have since held him in pretrial detention without an indictment. more...

9th March 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Catholic Church in Turkey Attacked – Again

Aykan Erdemir

A lone gunman fired a shot Tuesday evening through the window of the Saint Maria Catholic Church in Trabzon, a city on Turkey’s Black Sea coast. This is the fifth confirmed attack against the church since the assassination of its priest Andrea Santoro in 2006. more...

14th February 2018 – The Hill

Handling Turkey’s Erdogan: What Washington can learn from Russia

Aykan Erdemir, Merve Tahiroglu

Russian President Vladimir Putin knows to handle his fellow authoritarian leaders; he relentlessly applies leverage to extract concessions. This is a lesson that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson should bear in mind when he meets his Turkish counterpart this week. more...

13th February 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Tillerson Goes to Turkey amid Sanctions Talk in Washington

Aykan Erdemir, Merve Tahiroglu

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is scheduled to visit Turkey on Thursday amidst a breakdown of trust between the U.S. and its longtime NATO ally. Analysts are warning about “a real danger of a clash between U.S. and Turkish forces” in northern Syria. In Washington, lawmakers are calling for sanctions on Turkey with an ever-louder voice. more...

1st February 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Turkish Civil Society Also a Casualty of Erdogan’s Afrin Campaign

Aykan Erdemir

On January 20, the Turkish government launched a ground offensive into northwestern Syria, codenamed “Operation Olive Branch.” Ankara’s ongoing intervention in Syria’s Afrin region aims to clear the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurdish force, away from Turkey’s southern border. Meanwhile, in northeastern Syria, other YPG units continue to serve as the most effective ground force within the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition. With the offensive, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not only aiming to eliminate the YPG presence in Afrin, but also dissidents at home. more...

25th January 2018 – The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies

The Limits of Erdoğan’s “Nation”

Aykan Erdemir

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent strategy of allying with the far right and his turn to nationalism are limited by the Sunni sectarian nature of his politics. A closer examination of the failure of his Alevi reform initiative of 2009-2010 reveals the structural obstacles Turkish Islamists encounter in their attempts to reach beyond the Sunni community to coopt Turkey’s Alevi electorate. In a similar manner, Erdoğan’s nationalist policies will continue to exclude Alevis, entrench sectarianism further, and expose the limits of belonging to his Sunni “nation.” more...

3rd January 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Landmark NY Trial Proves Turkish Government Complicity in Iran’s Sanctions-Busting

Aykan Erdemir, Merve Tahiroglu

Today, a federal jury in the Southern District of New York returned a guilty verdict in a landmark case focused on Turkish efforts to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions. The jury found Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla guilty on five of six counts, including sanctions evasion, bank fraud, and obstructing the actions of the U.S. Treasury. In November, gold trader Reza Zarrab, the ringleader of the Turkish scheme, pled guilty to similar charges and chose to cooperate with prosecutors. more...

9th November 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

Turkey’s Premier Visits Washington

Aykan Erdemir, Merve Tahiroglu

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is in Washington this week in a bid to mend his country’s flailing ties with the U.S. His trip follows the worst crisis in Turkish-American relations in decades, whereby both sides suspended visa services for each other’s citizens. It also comes three weeks before the start of a high-profile trial in New York of a Turkish-Iranian gold trader and four Turkish officials, who stand accused of evading U.S. sanctions against Tehran. more...

31st October 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

Erdogan’s Power Grab Continues with Municipalities

Aykan Erdemir

The mayor of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest metropolis with almost 15 million inhabitants, stepped down from office last month. Since then, five other mayors from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) followed suit, responding to their party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s command to resign, nearly a year and a half before their mandates were to end. more...

29th September 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

Referendum Triggers Turkish Vitriol against Kurds – and Jews

Aykan Erdemir

Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly on Monday in favor of a referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and neighboring disputed territories. The Turkish government, in close coordination with Iran and Iraq, has been a vocal opponent of Kurdish independence. more...

21st September 2017 – The Washington Post

Why is Turkey so disjointed over the Iraqi Kurds?

Aykan Erdemir, Merve Tahiroglu

Iraq’s Kurds are preparing to hold their referendum on independence on Sept. 25, and in Turkey anxieties are high. Ankara, headed by the iron-fisted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, officially opposes the plebiscite. The Turkish government has long feared Kurdish independence outside its borders lest it provoke similar aspirations within them. more...

15th September 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

Turkish Officials Charged in Iran Sanctions-Busting Case

Aykan Erdemir

U.S. authorities last week charged Turkey’s former economy minister with conspiring to evade sanctions against Iran. The fourth superseding indictment in a case that initially involved Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab and two Iranian accomplices has brought the total number of defendants to nine. more...

1st September 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

Turkish Public Lender Joins Erdogan’s Washington Lobbying Spree

Aykan Erdemir, Merve Tahiroglu

Turkey’s second-largest public lender Halkbank has reportedly signed a $1.5-million deal with Ballard Partners, a U.S. lobbying firm that already represents the Turkish government. more...

25th August 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

Turkey Trumps Up the Charges against the Imprisoned U.S. Pastor

Aykan Erdemir

Yesterday, Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued an emergency decree giving himself the authority to trade foreign citizens held in Turkish prisons for individuals incarcerated abroad. This unusual decree follows Turkish prosecutors’ filing of additional charges against American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been imprisoned for the last ten months on trumped up charges of “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” more...

17th August 2017 – War on the Rocks

Turkey’s Drift From The West: From Transactionalism To Hostility

Aykan Erdemir, Merve Tahiroglu

Turkey’s relations with its Western allies, in a downward spiral since 2013, are at a breaking point. Ankara not only accuses Washington of plotting last year’s abortive coup, but also blames it for arming and supporting Kurdish rebels that it sees as an existential threat. Bitter diplomatic spats unfold with one European country after another. more...

13th August 2017 – Politico Europe

Turkey’s economy: The next casualty of Erdoğan’s state of emergency

Aykan Erdemir

For the past year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has exploited his country’s state of emergency to rule by decree, purging government ranks, imprisoning political dissenters and crushing independent media. But for all the attention paid to Turkey’s slippage in democratic norms, critics have largely ignored the heavy toll his brand of authoritarianism has taken on the country’s economy. The effects could be disastrous for Turkey’s future. more...

21st July 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

Istanbul’s Iconic Synagogue Besieged by Islamist Nationalists

Aykan Erdemir

An ultranationalist-cum-Islamist group attacked Istanbul’s Neve Shalom Synagogue with stones and kicked its gates Thursday night. Attackers carried signs threatening to “besiege temples without warning one night” and vowed to “prevent worship” at the synagogue. more...