Essay, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2016 Issue
Halil M. Karaveli, Erdogan's Journey
What happened to Recep Tayyip Erdogan? The Turkish president came to power in 2003 promising economic and political liberalization. But under his rule, Turkey has instead moved in a profoundly illiberal, authoritarian direction—although not toward repressive Islamism, which some feared was Erdogan’s true agenda, given his background in Islamist politics. Rather, Erdogan has become something more akin to a traditional Middle Eastern strongman: consolidating personal power, purging rivals, and suppressing dissent.
Over the summer, it briefly appeared as if Erdogan might have overreached, when a group of military officers attempted to topple him—at the direction, Erdogan has insisted, of his erstwhile ally turned bitter foe Fethullah Gulen, an influential Turkish cleric based in the United States. But when the plotters struck, Erdogan was able to quickly rally support inside the armed forces and among the broader public and managed to put down the coup attempt with surprising ease. A subsequent crackdown has been swift and merciless: the government has jailed tens of thousands of alleged Gulenists, conducted a sweeping purge of the army and the state bureaucracy, shut down media outlets, and suspended thousands of academics. Erdogan’s response to the coup attempt has demonstrated that the president’s grip on power remains stronger than even many of his fiercest critics had assumed.
No one could have foreseen the coup or its aftermath. But even long before those events, it should have come as no surprise that Erdogan had failed to live up to the expectations of many liberals in Turkey and elsewhere who had initially hailed his ascent as a sign of progress. Erdogan never really aimed to make Turkey an Islamic state, but he also never wanted to liberalize it. Read more
By Svante E. Cornell, Per Eklund, Mamuka Tsereteli
October 2016, pp. 21
Book, Routledge, 2011
Svante E. Cornell, Azerbaijan Since Independence
Azerbaijan Since Independence offers a comprehensive intro- duction to modern Azerbaijan, a post-Soviet republic located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea. This small country has outsized importance due to its strategic location at the cross- roads of Europe and Asia, its energy wealth, and its historical experience as an early modernizer in the Muslim world.
The book begins with six chapters on Azerbaijan’s history from pre-Soviet times to the present, with an emphasis on the past twenty years. The next four chapters are thematic, covering the con ict over Karabakh, the political system, the oil-dominated economy, and societal changes and trends including the role of Islam. The remainder of the book surveys Azerbaijan’s foreign relations, with an analysis of the foreign- policy-making context complemented by chapters on relations with Iran, Russia, Turkey, and the West. The book closes with a brief epilogue discussing the country’s future.
Svante E. Cornell is Director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Center affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP).
Book, University of Pittsburgh Press, June 2016
Based on a detailed examination of Kyrgyzstan, Johan Engvall goes well beyond the case of this single country to elaborate a broad theory of economic corruption in developing post-Soviet states regionally—as a rational form of investment market for political elites. He reveals how would-be officials invest in offices to obtain access to income streams associated with those offices. Drawing on extensive fieldwork over an eight-year period, Engvall details how these systems work and the major implications this holds for political and economic development in the region. Often identified and criticized simply as obstacles to development by scholars, Engvall instead argues that these systems must be reinterpreted in the context of a standardized and entrenched method of organizing the state. He also shows how private actors have been unsuccessful in buying preferential treatment directly from the state. Instead, public officials have become the predominant conduit to influencing policy process and monitoring the sale of protection, property rights, and other privatized “public” goods.
“A superb study that fundamentally challenges our perception of the post-Soviet Central Asian state. Engvall’s thesis is the most novel and convincing account of post-Soviet Kyrgyz state formation of the past decade.”—Eric McGlinchey, George Mason University
Johan Engvall is a research fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI) and a nonresident research fellow of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program, a joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, D.C. and the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP).
Op-Ed, The New York Times, August 1, 2016
Halil M. Karaveli, "Turkey's Fractured State"
GOTHENBURG, Sweden — The Turkish military is known to be a stronghold of Kemalism, the secularist and nationalist ideology of the founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. So when the Islamic conservative Justice and Development Party, known as the A.K.P., came to power in 2002, many then feared that the military would stage a coup in the name of Kemalism.
Yet when a coup in Turkey did finally materialize, on July 15, it wasn’t Kemalists who were blamed, but the Gulenists, members of an Islamic fraternity led by the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in exile in the United States since 1999. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, echoed by the Turkish military’s general staff, claimed that what they call the “Fethullah Gulen terrorist organization” was behind the failed ouster.