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Dr Jonathan Spyer on Syria

Dr Jonathan Spyer of the Middle East Centre for Reporting and Analysis appeared on ABC News24 with Bev O'Connor on June 19 to discuss the complex situation in Syria as the civil war draws to an end.

The 14-Year Revolution

Speaking from the depths of the 1,150-room palace he inhabits, Recep Tayyip Erdogan soothed a Turkish TV interviewer that he had no intentions of becoming an Ottoman-style sultan. "I want to be like Queen Elizabeth," he said.

That was in 2015. Now, following a referendum fraught with national, religious, regional, and global implications, his wish has been more than fulfilled - providing the Queen Elizabeth he was referring to was the 16th century Tudor monarch Elizabeth I...

The aftermath of Turkey’s failed coup

This Update deals with analysis of what happens now with Turkey - both domestically and in terms of its foreign relations - in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt on Friday. (A good general summary and backgrounder on the coup and its aftermath comes from American scholar Michael Rubin.)

Turkey’s Islamists take a bath

Claiming victory for his Justice and Development party (AKP) in last week's historic national election, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was defiant. "This election has shown that the backbone of Turkey is the AKP," he told supporters at party headquarters in Ankara. "The AKP is the only party that is in all of the regions, all provinces, and embraces all of the citizens." An analyst with Al Jazeera television, a sometimes boosterish outlet for the AKP's Islamist agenda, offered a rougher assessment: "It was an image of confidence on a very bad night."

Is Turkey flipping Democracy the bird?

While many in the international media have recently "coronated" Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as "King" of Israel following his formation of a national unity government, surely the use of the term, with its non-democratic connotations, would be more apropos when referring to Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.

Erdogan truly has been consolidating his power in non-democratic ways, silencing his critics, and taking steps that are moving his country further and further away from democracy.

Turkey admits to massacre, world yawns

A news story which received little coverage in Australian media surrounds the tragic news that Turkey committed a massacre that killed 35 civilians in an air strike into Iraq near a Kurdish village along the Turkish border on 28 December 2011.

Turkey has admitted that the attack was an error. Turkey claimed that it intended to target suspected Kurdish militants, but that the victims turned out to be civilians not terrorists. The victims of the attack are believed to have been villagers involved in smuggling cigarettes into Turkey from Iraq.

The attack was one of the deadliest attacks since the PKK took up arms in 1984 in a conflict in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.

Turkish democracy hanging by a thread?

While democratic reform seems to have been sweeping the Middle East, the strongest Muslim democracy in the region may have been quietly moving in the opposite direction. This morning's Jerusalem Post editorial took a rather down-beat tone concerning the retirement Friday of several of Turkey's top military officials - the latest episode in the ongoing struggle between the military, the traditional defender of Turkey's secularity, and the soft Islamism of the ruling AKP.

Ominous changes are afoot in the old seat of the Ottoman Empire. In a stunning and unprecedented turn of events, Turkey's entire military brass - including chief-of-staff General Isik Kosaner and the commanders of the army, air force, and navy - resigned en masse Friday. The immediate cause was a crackdown waged by the judiciary on the army's top ranks, which put...

Interpreting the Mass Military Resignations in Turkey

As readers are probably aware, all of the top leadership of the Turkish military resigned over the weekend - including the Chief of Staff, and the heads of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

What is the signficance of this - in a country where the armed forces have long played a strongly activist role in national politics?