Place: Turkey
Book Review

The End of Islamic Liberalism?


Cihan Tuğal, The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism (Verso, 2016).

In the short time since the 2016 publication of Cihan Tuğal’s The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism, Turkey has endured an attempted coup, nearly a year of rule under a state of emergency, the widespread repression of dissent through imprisonment and mass firings of teachers and civil servants, and a (likely fraudulent) referendum that has institutionalized the autocratic rule of President Tayyip Recep Erdoǧan. Yet, unbelievable as it may seem, these developments are part of a continuum rather than a rupture, and Tuğal’s book is essential—if not unproblematic—reading for understanding contemporary politics in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.

UAW backs Kurdish solidarity call


Unite has welcomed the backing from the 400,000 strong US union, the UAW, for the freedom of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdish Workers’ Party who remains imprisoned in Turkey.

Erdoğan’s Counter-Coup Coup


When I was writing the following lines two years ago, I was almost able to see the smirk on the face of some of my comrades who would subsequently read them:

The (Almost) Coup in Turkey


People in Turkey are no strangers to military coups. Following more than twenty-five years of single-party rule after the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, a coup in 1960 toppled the government of the Democratic Party. In 1971, 1980, and 1997 the military either overthrew or deposed sitting governments.

No To The Military Coup!

True democracy can arise only from the people’s own power!


On the night of July 15, the Turkish society watched a military coup attempt, live on TV. For some it was so difficult to make sense of it that they chose to interpret the whole event as “staged”, being a member of a society inclined towards conspiracy theories. How could one call this a real military coup?

Women of DIP (Turkey) Persecuted

ImageDear Comrades and Friends,

Six women members of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party (DIP) of Turkey are being persecuted for their activity around the International Working Women’s Day. They are now being tried in court for support to and propaganda of terrorism simply because they have expressed solidarity with Kurdish women brazenly repressed and humiliated by security forces.

Borders: Refugees and Responders



This talk was given at the Washington State Council of Fighters Educational Convention for 350 Delegates in Spokane, Washington, on April 20, 2016.

The Tightening Vise in Turkey


On March 11, 2016, a Turkish prosecutor dropped a complaint against officials for failing to take adequate security measures both before and after the bombing of a peace rally in Ankara that killed more than 100 on October 10, 2015. Two days later, suicide bombers struck in Turkey’s capital city for the third time in five months. A car bomb was exploded in the downtown neighborhood of Kızılay, killing 36 and injuring many more. As with other recent attacks, the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) quickly suggested the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was responsible for the attack.

The Kurds, Bookchin, and the Need to Reinvent Revolution

ImageToday, a year after the heroic resistance of Kobani made it to the world news, it is hardly necessary to give an introduction to the Kurdish struggle, which has now taken a central place in the imagination of the international left, both vanguardist and anti-authoritarian.

A Commune in Rojava?

ImageThe siege of Kobani by Islamic State (ISIS) brought worldwide attention to the Syrian Kurdish PYD (Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat, Democratic Union Party), the leading force in the Kurdish-majority areas in northern Syria. The PYD calls this region Rojava—literally meaning “land of the sunset” but also translated as “West Kurdistan.” 

Prospects for Turkey

A Historical Perspective

ImageIn a June 2015 election, the new People’s Democracy Party (HDP) of Turkey passed a highly undemocratic 10 percent threshold to enter the Turkish parliament.

Turkey’s Elections: Crisis Continues – And This is Not the Worst Outcome


The November 2015 snap elections in Turkey have given back to the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) the parliamentary majority that it lost just a few months ago, in the June 2015 elections. However, the election results can neither resolve the crisis of Turkey’s authoritarian and neoliberal order, which is being challenged by the spirit of Gezi Park and new developments in the Kurdish movement nor obscure its complexity.

ISIS in Syria: Stop the march to war – There are alternatives


Militant Islamic State fighters parade on military vehicles along the streets of Raqqa (Reuters)

In the wake of the murderous massacres in Paris, the demand for violent retaliation against Islamic State (IS) is gaining momentum. David Cameron now plans a renewed bid to secure parliamentary approval for UK air strikes against IS in Syria.

At one level, this is an understandable reaction to the fascist-like tyranny and brutality of IS. But understandable reactions and effective reactions are often two different things. The desire for retribution, no matter how seemingly justifiable in response to the slaughter of so many innocents, is not a sound basis on which to frame political and military policy.

“We lost a lot of good, beautiful people”: Demanding Justice in Turkey


The October 10 Labor, Peace, and Democracy Rally in Turkey’s capital of Ankara was called to demand an end to the violent policies of the Turkish state. Organized by trade union federations and progressive organizations, the demonstration was also supported by the People’s Democracy Party (HDP), a leftwing pro-Kurdish party consistently demonized in recent months by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Turkey Massacre: The Culprit is the AKP!


Strikes, boycotts, marches and demonstrations were held throughout Turkey on Oct. 12 in protest against the massacre at the Labor, Peace and Democracy Rally in Ankara on October 10 that killed at least 97 people, with funerals of the victims being held one after another, daily Hürriyet reported.

Turkey’s leading labor unions and professional organization–the Confederation of Public Sector Trades’ Unions (KESK), the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB)—called for a nationwide strike and boycott for Oct. 12 and 13 to protest the massacre. The Revolutionary Workers Party has issued this statement. –  Dan La Botz, Co-Editor

Turkey and its Kurds at War

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Personal Quest for Survival


The Kurdish town of Cizre, a settlement with a population of approximately 150 thousand souls in Southeastern Turkey, is now under siege by the Turkish armed forces and the so-called “special operation force” of the police for a second time, after a previous one-week long siege was lifted for an interlude of two days. Around-the-clock curfew is accompanied by power cuts and the interruption of all means of communication including mobile telephones and the Internet. The evidence that came out when the first round of siege was lifted attests to a terrible human drama. Over 30 civilians are dead, ranging from a 35-day old infant to a 75-year old man. 

The Suruç Massacre and the Reigniting of an Old Struggle


On July 20 at least thirty-two people were killed and at least 100 people were wounded by an ISIS suicide bomber. The attack took place in the Turkish town of Suruç, which stands only thirty miles away from the Syrian border. The victims, members of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF), were part of a 300-person contingent en route to Kobanî to assist in reconstruction efforts. The group consisted of a number of Turkish and Kurdish anarchist and socialist youth. As such, the solidaristic venture represented a major effort to create further bridges between the broader Turkish left and the Kurdish left.

The Meaning of the Election in Turkey


In the weeks leading up to the June 7 parliamentary election in Turkey communities across the country were gripped with a mixture of excitement, anxiety, and fear. Though President Tayyip Recep Erdoğan was supposed to be above the fray of party politics, the former two-term prime minister and co-founder of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) made no secret of his hopes for an AKP victory, as he rallied and spoke continuously in the weeks and months before the election. 367 seats in the 550-member parliament would make possible Erdoğan’s desire to change the Turkish government from a parliamentary to a presidential system, thereby enhancing executive, and Erdoğan’s, grip on political power.

The Coming Reckoning in Turkey


On December 24 a sixteen-year-old student named Mehmet Emin Altunses was arrested in the Turkish city of Konya. His crime? Apparently the youth insulted President Tayyip Recep Erdoğan, saying in a speech that the new president (who served two terms as prime minister between 2003 and 2014) was “the leader of corruption, bribery and theft,” as well as the owner of an “illegal palace.”

Özlem Ilyas Tolunay – Socialist, Feminist, Freedom Fighter -1975-2014

We at New Politics were saddened to learn and are very sorry to have to inform our readers that our good friend and writer Özlem Ilyas Tolunay, 39, died on Nov. 16 of a heart attack. We are heartsick that this young woman, a fighter for social justice in Turkey, wife and mother of a young child, is no longer with us. 

Kobanê, Turkey, and the Syrian Struggle

An extended interview with Joseph Daher, a member of the Revolutionary Left Current in Syria, living in Switzerland, will be published in the forthcoming Winter 2015 issue of New Politics. Here we just post the questions dealing with Kobanê and Turkey.