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Borzou Daragahi

İstanbul, Turkey
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About Borzou
Borzou Daragahi is a longtime foreign correspondent now working full-time for The Independent. He covers Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and the Arabian Peninsula as well as the Balkans and global issues such as public health, international crime and security matters. He is also a senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council.
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War Reporter Fact Checking

Putin’s Ukraine invasion has pushed Sweden and Finland to join Nato – but Turkey is blocking it

04 Apr 2024  |  ca.sports.yahoo.com
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has prompted Sweden and Finland to seek NATO membership, but Turkey, led by President Erdogan, opposes their accession. Erdogan, facing economic challenges and an upcoming election, is using cultural and religious issues, such as the Quran burning incident in Sweden, to rally support. Turkey accuses Sweden of supporting militants from the PKK, a designated terrorist organization. NATO's expansion has been delayed, possibly until after Turkey's elections or the resolution of a U.S. fighter jet sale. Turkish rhetoric has escalated, with officials criticizing Sweden and Finland's actions and NATO membership bids. The situation reflects longstanding tensions between Turkey and the West, with Erdogan leveraging Turkey's strategic position between Russia and Ukraine.

Turkey and Egypt bury the hatchet, marking an end to rising third axis in the Middle East

14 Feb 2024  |  PressNewsAgency
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Egypt on February 14, 2024, marked a significant diplomatic reconciliation between Turkey and Egypt, ending nearly a decade of political and ideological divergence. The meeting with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi symbolized the end of an emerging third axis in the Middle East, distinct from both the Saudi-led pro-Western camp and the Iranian-led 'Axis of Resistance.' The thaw in relations follows a period of tension and conflict, including opposing stances in regional conflicts such as the Libyan civil war. The rapprochement is driven by economic interests, regional diplomatic shifts, and changes in Erdogan's political ideology. Trade between the two nations has rebounded, and future relations are expected to focus on energy deals, tourism, and business expansion, with less emphasis on ideological disputes.

Should we be rooting for Morocco against France?

11 Oct 2023  |  The Independent
Morocco has reached the semi-finals of the World Cup, marking the farthest advancement for any Arab or African nation in the tournament's history. Led by Romain Saiss, the team will face France in Qatar. Morocco's victories, team spirit, and defensive play have garnered admiration, especially in the Arab world and the global south. The team has also gained attention for waving the Palestinian flag after each victory.

We must not let tech bros and tyrants hijack the race to the stars

05 Oct 2023  |  ca.news.yahoo.com
The article argues against the monopolization of space exploration by billionaires, autocratic governments, and military forces, advocating for a more inclusive and diverse approach. It highlights the current global space race involving the United States, China, Russia, and other nations, emphasizing the need for alternative perspectives in space discourse. The piece calls for the inclusion of marginalized communities and non-militaristic objectives in space exploration to avoid repeating Earth's destructive patterns in space.

We are under siege: The voters pushing to end Erdogan’s 20 years of power

05 Oct 2023  |  www.aol.co.uk
In Istanbul's Sultangazi, a historically Kurdish neighborhood, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) is opening a new campaign office ahead of crucial presidential and parliamentary elections. The CHP, led by Kemal Kilicdaroglu, is gaining significant support from Turkey's Kurdish population, who aim to end President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's two-decade rule. The CHP has worked to broaden its support base, including forming alliances with the pro-Kurdish HDP. Erdogan's shift in 2015 to partner with the ultra-nationalist MHP led to a crackdown on Kurdish political activities. Economic dissatisfaction is at an all-time high, with many voters struggling to afford basic necessities, further fueling the desire for political change.

Voices: We must not let tech bros and tyrants hijack the race to the stars

04 Oct 2023  |  www.aol.co.uk
The article discusses the current state of global space exploration, highlighting the dominance of billionaires, militaries, and autocratic governments. It emphasizes the need for diverse perspectives and non-militaristic approaches to space exploration, citing the efforts of scholars and organizations advocating for alternative narratives. The piece also covers the space ambitions of various countries, including the United States, China, Russia, and others, and warns against the potential for space to become another arena for geopolitical conflict.

Families left to suffer in uncertainty over Syria deaths, report says

01 Oct 2023  |  The Independent
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has published a report revealing that the deaths of hundreds of Syrians, previously abducted by the Syrian regime, have been registered without informing their families. The report highlights the systemic efforts to suppress information about the fate of approximately 112,000 disappeared individuals during the Syrian conflict. The SNHR has obtained 1,600 death certificates over the past five years, many of which were discovered by families during unrelated civil registry visits. The report underscores the regime's contempt for its citizens' lives and the psychological trauma inflicted on the families of the missing. The article details specific cases, including Ahmad Hassan al-Dghiem and the Hijazi family, whose members were confirmed dead years after their abductions.

A Higher Kalın: Turkey’s religion scholar turned spy chief

22 Aug 2023  |  www.turkeyrecap.com
İbrahim Kalın, a prolific scholar and longtime confidant of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been appointed as the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT). Known for his analytical abilities and academic background, Kalın has taken an unconventional path to his new role, having previously served as a presidential spokesperson and senior advisor. His appointment comes at a time when Turkey is seeking to redefine its global role. While Kalın's academic and diplomatic skills are seen as assets, there are concerns about his potential ambition and willingness to align with Erdoğan's authoritarian tendencies. Kalın's main duties will include countering Islamist and Kurdish militants, monitoring disruptions from Syria and Iraq, and managing relations with Russia and Iran. His role could also position him as a significant figure in Turkey's future political landscape.

A Taliban-Led Afghanistan Isn’t the Neighbor Iran Bargained For

15 Aug 2023  |  World Politics Review
Iran faces unique challenges from a Taliban-led Afghanistan, including violent disputes over cross-border water supplies and continued drug trafficking exacerbating Iran's opioid epidemic. Despite long demanding the U.S. withdrawal, Tehran now has less influence in Kabul and struggles to manage a resilient Taliban administration that holds more leverage over Iran.

Is the truth really out there? Why we need to talk about UFOs and the secrecy that surrounds them

01 Aug 2023  |  The Independent
US Navy pilot David Fravor's 2004 encounter with Tic Tac-shaped objects has reignited discussions on UFOs, now termed UAPs. A recent congressional hearing revealed claims of government possession and secrecy regarding UAPs, with testimonies from former military officials like David Grusch. Despite denials from NASA and the Department of Defence, the hearing highlighted bipartisan concern over the potential threats posed by these phenomena and the need for transparent reporting processes for pilots. The article criticizes the US government's excessive secrecy and calls for more openness in investigating these unexplained aerial phenomena.

We must not let tech bros and tyrants hijack the race to the stars

23 Jul 2023  |  The Independent
The Expanse, a sci-fi series now streaming on Amazon, is set in a future where humans have colonized the inner solar system. The narrative explores brewing conflicts between Earth and Mars, a rebellion in the asteroid belt, and the dangerous ambitions of an oligarch. The series highlights themes of power, exploitation, and the consequences of scientific discoveries.

‘I marvel at the stories I used to be able to write’: How frontline journalism became critically endangered

03 Jul 2023  |  The Independent
International journalism has become increasingly dangerous, posing a significant threat to credible, ground-level coverage of global events. The profession, once driven by the challenge and satisfaction of on-the-ground reporting, now faces a crisis amid overlapping global issues. The decline in safety for journalists is particularly concerning in regions like Moldova's Transnistria, northwest Syria, Iran, Ukraine, and Egypt.

EU nations turn to authoritarian states to solve migrant boat crisis

29 Jun 2023  |  independent.co.uk
EU leaders are planning to reinforce strategies to address the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis by financially incentivizing governments of countries like Tunisia and Turkey to prevent individuals, including those fleeing war and political repression, from embarking on dangerous Mediterranean crossings to reach Europe.

Putin’s failure should be a warning to ‘strongmen’ leaders around the world

26 Jun 2023  |  The Independent
The recent uprising led by Wagner group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin highlights the violent entanglements within Russia's elite, drawing parallels to other criminal organizations. The narrative of Prigozhin's insanity is seen as a distraction from deeper grievances with Russian defense officials over failures in Ukraine. This event serves as a cautionary tale for authoritarian leaders globally.

Putin won’t stop using spectre of nuclear disaster to terrorise Ukraine

22 Jun 2023  |  independent.co.uk
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned of a potential 'terrorist act' by Moscow to release radiation from the Zaporizhzhia power plant, amidst Russia's ongoing nuclear rhetoric. The Kremlin denies the accusations, but President Vladimir Putin has emphasized Russia's nuclear capabilities in a recent speech, which analysts like Hanna Liubakova interpret as an attempt to intimidate NATO and weaken Western support for Ukraine before the NATO summit in Lithuania.

Turkey’s election results prove it – we need to rethink political polls

05 Jun 2023  |  The Independent
Analysts, journalists, and politicians expected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to perform poorly in Turkey's presidential elections against Kemal Kilicdaroglu due to a failing economy, high inflation, and a flawed response to an earthquake disaster. This assumption was largely based on polls showing Kilicdaroglu ahead, with even Erdogan's camp appearing concerned by these figures.

Erdogan declared winner of Turkey presidential run-off – extending his 20 years in power

28 May 2023  |  ca.sports.yahoo.com
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won Turkey's presidential run-off with 52.14% of the votes, extending his rule for another five years. The election was historic as it was the first run-off in Turkey's history, and it coincided with the centennial of Turkey's founding. Erdogan's victory over Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the centre-left CHP, signifies a continuation of his Islamist-tinged nationalist governance. The election has implications for NATO, Turkey's role in the Russia-Ukraine war, and regional influence in the Middle East and North Africa. Despite economic challenges, Erdogan's campaign was more dominant in media coverage and faced allegations of election law favoritism. The opposition, led by Kilicdaroglu, may undergo significant changes after the loss.

Erdogan declared winner of Turkey presidential run-off – extending his 20 years in power

28 May 2023  |  ca.sports.yahoo.com
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won Turkey's presidential run-off with 52.14% of the votes, extending his rule for another five years. The election was historic as it was the first run-off in Turkey's history, coinciding with the centennial of its founding. Erdogan's victory over Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the centre-left People's Republican Party, carries significant implications for Turkey's political and cultural identity, NATO dynamics, and the Russia-Ukraine war. Despite economic challenges, Erdogan's campaign was successful, while the opposition faces introspection and potential changes. Reports of election irregularities and media bias were noted, with the economy being the top issue for voters.

Turkey election: Erdogan looks set to cement his hold on power – in an election where he’s made all the rules

25 May 2023  |  The Independent
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is poised to secure another five-year term as Turkey's president in the upcoming second round of elections against Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Despite facing criticism over the country's economic decline and the government's slow response to February's devastating earthquakes, Erdogan leveraged his control over state institutions and media to shape the election landscape, narrowly missing an outright victory in the first round. Western leaders are expected to reluctantly acknowledge the election's transparency.

As Turkey elects a new leader, the far right wins no matter the result

22 May 2023  |  The Independent
In the aftermath of Turkey's first round of presidential elections, both President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu have focused their rhetoric on the issue of Syrian refugees and other foreigners in Turkey. Despite initial messages of hope and inclusion, Kilicdaroglu has shifted to xenophobic accusations against Erdogan, blaming him for the influx of refugees and the country's problems, which are unrelated to the actual causes of Turkey's crises.

Turkey elections: Erdogan gains upper hand in scramble to keep power as vote to be decided by run-off

15 May 2023  |  The Independent
The Turkish presidential election will proceed to a run-off after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan narrowly missed the 50% threshold needed for an outright win. Erdogan secured 49.51% of the vote, while his main rival, Kemal Kılıcdaroglu, garnered 44.88%. The run-off is complicated by the 5.17% vote share of ultranationalist candidate Sinan Ogan, who could play a decisive role. Erdogan's party and its allies are close to a parliamentary majority, while Kılıcdaroglu's coalition faces challenges in the second round. The election is closely watched by international stakeholders, with significant implications for Turkey's domestic and foreign policies.

Turkey’s presidential election heading for run-off as Erdogan gains upper hand

15 May 2023  |  www.aol.co.uk
Turkey's presidential election is heading for a run-off with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holding a slight lead over opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Neither candidate has crossed the 50% threshold required for an outright win, with Erdogan at 49.4% and Kilicdaroglu at 44.96%. The run-off is scheduled for May 28. The election has seen high voter turnout and significant political tension, with accusations of interference and differing vote counts from pro-government and pro-opposition sources. The outcome is crucial for Turkey's future direction, with Erdogan's continued rule promising stability and nationalist policies, while Kilicdaroglu's potential victory could bring significant reforms and a return to parliamentary primacy. The election is being closely watched by international stakeholders, including Western nations, NATO, and Russia.

Erdogan risks losing power as Turkey’s high-stakes election reaches its climax

12 May 2023  |  The Independent
Tens of millions of Turks are set to vote in tightly contested presidential and parliamentary elections, with challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu posing a significant threat to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 20-year rule. Kilicdaroglu promises to reverse authoritarian trends and improve the economy, while Erdogan has announced populist measures to sway undecided voters. The election's outcome will have global implications, affecting Turkey's geopolitical stance and regional security. The race has seen intense campaigning, with concerns about potential election irregularities and violence. Analysts suggest Erdogan's response will depend on the margin of Kilicdaroglu's potential victory.

Putin is unprepared for the blowback his assault on Ukraine will bring Russia

08 May 2023  |  independent.co.uk
Drones bypassed security at the Kremlin, Russia's key political and religious site, and were shot down on May 3. The Kremlin accused Ukraine and the West of an assassination attempt against President Vladimir Putin, which is unlikely. This incident is seen as a sign that the repercussions of Putin's war in Ukraine are reaching the center of Russian power.

The voters pushing to end Erdogan’s 20 years of power

06 May 2023  |  The Independent
In Istanbul's Kurdish neighborhood of Sultangazi, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) is gaining support from Kurdish voters ahead of crucial elections, posing a threat to President Erdogan's two-decade rule. The CHP, historically nationalistic, has been realigning politically, with leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu broadening its appeal. The pro-Kurdish HDP, despite facing legal challenges, is endorsing Kilicdaroglu. Erdogan's partnership with the ultra-nationalist MHP and subsequent crackdown on Kurdish parties has alienated many Kurds. Economic dissatisfaction is high among Turkish and Kurdish voters due to soaring living costs, contributing to the desire for political change.

At a key moment, the West could have rescued Sudan. It didn’t

24 Apr 2023  |  independent.co.uk
Sudan is experiencing severe unrest with armed forces clashing in the capital, leading to civilian casualties and the evacuation of US embassy personnel. The country's potential for stability following the ousting of its long-time ruler four years ago has been undermined by renewed violence, lack of international engagement, self-interested military leaders, and weak civil institutions.

At a key moment, the West could have rescued Sudan. It didn’t

24 Apr 2023  |  The Independent
Sudan is experiencing severe turmoil as rival armed forces clash, with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence. The country's hopes for democracy, sparked by a 2018 uprising, have been dashed due to internal military power struggles and insufficient international support. The West, particularly the United States under Donald Trump, failed to provide the necessary aid and political backing, exacerbating Sudan's economic and political instability. The military leaders, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan, have seized power, undermining civilian rule and perpetuating corruption and mismanagement.

America’s latest intel leak is more Jim Carrey than James Bond

14 Apr 2023  |  The Independent
The recent US intelligence leak, involving 21-year-old Air National Guard IT specialist Jack Teixeira, exposes the absurdity and inefficiency of the US national security state. Teixeira leaked classified documents to impress his online friends, revealing the vulnerabilities within the intelligence community. The incident highlights the failure of security clearance processes and the broader issues within the US intelligence establishment. The leak has drawn criticism from US allies and has been exploited by disinformation operatives. The article also touches on Teixeira's right-wing political motives and the role of investigative journalists in uncovering the leak.

Why Macron and Von der Leyen face a tough trip to China – even if they are all smiles on the surface

05 Apr 2023  |  The Independent
France’s President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are visiting China to persuade President Xi Jinping to pressure Vladimir Putin to end or scale back the invasion of Ukraine. The visit aims to improve EU-China trade relations and discuss a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment. Macron seeks to leverage China's influence over Russia, while von der Leyen emphasizes a tougher stance on Beijing's human rights issues and assertive foreign policy. The trip also highlights the complex dynamics between the EU, US, and China, with potential implications for global diplomacy and trade.

Finland cleared for membership of Nato ‘in days’, says Jens Stoltenberg

31 Mar 2023  |  www.independent.ie
Finland is poised to join Nato within days following the Turkish parliament's unanimous vote to ratify its membership bid, which was submitted in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. This marks the final approval needed from Nato members after extensive negotiations between Ankara and Helsinki.

Finland to join Nato as hold-out Turkey approves membership bid

31 Mar 2023  |  The Independent
Finland is set to join Nato after Turkey's parliament ratified its membership bid, marking a significant moment given Finland's 830-mile border with Russia and its powerful military. Turkey was the last Nato member to approve the bid, following concerns over security issues related to Kurdish separatists. Finland's membership is seen as a strategic addition to Nato, enhancing its presence on Russia's borders. The move comes amid ongoing tensions from Russia's invasion of Ukraine and could bolster Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin's prospects ahead of national elections.

Macron has confirmed the French people’s worst fears about him

24 Mar 2023  |  The Independent
Emmanuel Macron was re-elected not for his social, economic, and political vision but largely to prevent Marine Le Pen, a far-right candidate with ties to the Kremlin, from winning. Macron acknowledged that many voters chose him to stop the far-right rather than support his ideas.

I was a journalist in Iraq – these are the lessons we can learn from the war’s failure

21 Mar 2023  |  The Independent
The initial optimism following the toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq quickly turned to despair as the reality of the situation set in. Despite initial hopes for stability and normalcy, the narrative shifted towards gloom, highlighting the failure of the US-led intervention and the subsequent instability in the region.

Red Wednesday: Anti-government protests erupt across Iran during celebration of fire festival

15 Mar 2023  |  independent.co.uk
During the Zoroastrian holiday of Red Wednesday, widespread anti-government protests broke out across Iran, with participants engaging in acts of defiance such as tossing fireworks at security forces, burning hijabs, and chanting against supreme leader Ali Khamenei. The protests are part of ongoing unrest following the death of Mahsa Amini in custody six months ago, which has resulted in over 400 deaths due to the crackdown. Despite calls for restraint from activist leaders, public anger over political repression and economic issues spurred the demonstrations. The judiciary chief announced that thousands arrested during the protests had been pardoned or had their sentences commuted by Khamenei.

China clearly has a plan to flex its diplomatic muscle around the world

15 Mar 2023  |  The Independent
China has been actively engaging in global diplomacy, recently brokering a preliminary deal to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. This move enhances China's reputation as a global mediator while allowing Saudi Arabia and Iran to focus on domestic issues. The deal could ease regional tensions, benefiting both countries economically and politically. Analysts suggest that Saudi Arabia is diversifying its strategic partnerships beyond the US, while Iran sees this as an opportunity to challenge Israel and the West. The agreement, facilitated by China's economic and diplomatic influence, complicates Israel's efforts to isolate Iran.

Dictators are manipulating Turkey’s elections – the West must step up

13 Mar 2023  |  www.independent.co.uk
Weeks before Turkey's elections on 14 May, President Erdogan received a boost as Saudi Arabia deposited $5bn in Turkey's Central Bank, coinciding with the opposition's announcement of Kemal Kilicdaroglu as their candidate. This move is seen as support for Erdogan, potentially influencing the election outcome and raising concerns over Saudi interference.

Iran announces arrests over schoolgirl poisonings – but provides few answers as mystery remains

07 Mar 2023  |  The Independent
Iranian authorities have arrested individuals allegedly behind the mysterious poisonings of thousands of schoolgirls across the country, attributing the attacks to anti-regime activists with foreign ties. Critics suggest religious extremists may be responsible, aiming to punish girls for participating in protests. The poisonings have led to widespread outrage and international calls for independent investigations. Iran's supreme leader has demanded severe punishment for the perpetrators, while the government has faced criticism for its delayed and contradictory responses.

Erdogan’s rush to rebuild in wake of Turkey’s earthquakes prompts fears of history repeating itself

01 Mar 2023  |  The Independent
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rapid reconstruction plans following devastating earthquakes have raised concerns among experts about potential future catastrophes due to substandard construction. Erdogan, facing re-election, has promised to rebuild hundreds of thousands of housing units quickly, despite ongoing aftershocks and the need for thorough geological surveys. Critics argue that the rush to rebuild is politically motivated, aiming to shore up support ahead of the elections. The response to the earthquakes has already drawn significant criticism, and there are fears that the reconstruction could erase historic and cultural areas, transforming them into characterless urban spaces.

Turkey’s Earthquake Has Also Shattered Erdogan’s Political Brand

21 Feb 2023  |  www.worldpoliticsreview.com
The February 6 earthquakes in southern Turkey have negatively impacted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's political image, challenging his reputation as a 'master builder' and competent leader, and undermining his belligerent nationalism. With elections approaching on May 14, Erdogan's handling of the earthquake's aftermath, which has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and a humanitarian crisis, could influence electoral outcomes.

For years they warned of the dangerous flaws in Turkey’s push to build. Then the earthquake struck

15 Feb 2023  |  The Independent
Turkey's recent devastating earthquakes have highlighted long-standing issues with lax building-code enforcement, haphazard urban planning, and shoddy construction standards. Despite reforms after the 1999 earthquake, a privileged class of developers has continued to prioritize profits over public safety, often with government complicity. The disaster has led to widespread grief and anger, with critics pointing to systemic failures and corruption as key factors. The article underscores the urgent need for better urban planning, stricter enforcement of building codes, and greater accountability to prevent future tragedies.

Iran regime uses robust networks to hound dissidents abroad

13 Feb 2023  |  independent.co.uk
Medis, a Europe-based Iranian doctor and activist, has been subjected to harassment by operatives of the Iranian regime, receiving threats of murder and rape. She has also been approached by strangers and her family in Iran has been warned to silence her. Despite her fears and the severity of the threats, the EU government where she resides has downplayed her concerns and has not offered her additional protection.

Where is the state? Erdogan faces anger of his people over Turkey earthquake relief

10 Feb 2023  |  The Independent
Anger is mounting in Turkey over President Erdogan's handling of earthquake relief efforts, with accusations of slow and uneven response, particularly in opposition-held regions. The disaster has left over 16,000 dead and millions affected. Erdogan's government faces criticism for centralizing aid through the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, potentially hampering quick relief. The political fallout is significant, with upcoming elections and Erdogan's image as a problem-solver tarnished. The earthquake exacerbates Turkey's existing economic crisis, and Erdogan's nationalist stance is challenged as international aid pours in.

Inaction over the treatment of Palestine impacts the entire world

08 Feb 2023  |  www.independent.co.uk
The Palestinian issue remains a significant global concern, as evidenced by Morocco's display of the Palestinian flag during their World Cup matches, symbolizing the enduring relevance and solidarity with the Palestinian cause. The conflict's historical and present-day consequences continue to be a focal point, with upcoming books further highlighting its importance.

Inaction over the treatment of Palestine impacts the entire world

08 Feb 2023  |  The Independent
The Palestinian issue remains highly relevant and potent, capturing global attention as demonstrated by the 2022 World Cup and recent events in Israel and historic Palestine. Morocco's World Cup celebrations included raising the Palestinian banner, highlighting the cause's enduring significance in the Arab world. Upcoming books further underscore the ongoing historical and present-day consequences of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Deadly earthquake leaves trail of destruction in Turkey and Syria

06 Feb 2023  |  The Independent
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Kahramanmaras province, Turkey, and felt across the region, including Syria, has resulted in over 3,400 deaths. The quake caused widespread destruction, with buildings collapsing and people trapped under rubble. Turkish President Erdogan has mobilized the government's full capacity to respond, and international aid is being offered. The disaster exacerbates the suffering in Syria, already affected by civil war and humanitarian crises. Relief efforts are challenged by winter weather, and the earthquake's timing raises concerns about building regulations and political implications ahead of Turkey's upcoming elections.

For Turkey’s Opposition, Defeating Erdogan Might Not Be Enough

01 Feb 2023  |  World Politics Review
As Turkey recovers from devastating earthquakes, political candidates are gearing up for a crucial election on May 14. The opposition, led by Kemal Kilicdaroglu and his six-party alliance, aims to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been in power for 20 years. Both sides present starkly different visions for Turkey's future, with the opposition's best chance in years to challenge Erdogan's rule.

Putin’s Ukraine invasion has pushed Sweden and Finland to join Nato – but Turkey is blocking it

26 Jan 2023  |  The Independent
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has prompted Sweden and Finland to seek Nato membership for security, but Turkey's opposition, driven by President Erdogan's political needs ahead of a tight election, threatens this expansion. Tensions have escalated following a Quran-burning protest in Sweden, which Erdogan has used to shift focus from Turkey's economic issues to cultural and nationalistic themes. Turkey's strained relations with Sweden, accusations against Kurdish militants, and Erdogan's strategic positioning between Moscow and Kyiv complicate the situation. Nato's enlargement faces delays, with potential resolutions likely postponed until after Turkey's May elections.

Iran Strategy Project

18 Jan 2023  |  atlanticcouncil.org
The Atlantic Council's Iran Strategy Project aims to consolidate policy and analytical efforts on Iran, addressing political, human rights, security, economic, nuclear, social, and natural resource issues. It provides a platform for experts to discuss Iran's future and offer strategic options for policymakers. Recent events such as women-led protests, the potential for a new Supreme Leader, Iran's regional role, and the likely end of the JCPOA have driven this initiative.

Locked up, stripped and tortured: Iran’s protesters reveal the price they pay for defiance

10 Jan 2023  |  The Independent
Protesters in Iran face severe repression, including detention, abuse, and torture, as they demand the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and its leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The death of Mahsa Amini in custody has sparked widespread protests, leading to tens of thousands of arrests and harsh sentences, including executions. Personal accounts reveal the brutal conditions in detention centers and the psychological and physical toll on detainees. Despite the risks, some activists continue to resist, while others, like Sara and her family, have fled the country to escape persecution.

Bulgaria proves that it takes a global village to fend off a bully

08 Jan 2023  |  The Independent
Bulgaria faced a severe crisis due to a Russian gas cutoff in retaliation for Sofia's compliance with Western sanctions. An extraordinary international effort, as reported by journalist Michael Martens, enabled Bulgaria to withstand the pressure, illustrating how global cooperation can counteract Russian aggression.

Iran releases film star Taraneh Alidoosti from prison on bail – 18 days after arrest

04 Jan 2023  |  ca.sports.yahoo.com
Iranian film star Taraneh Alidoosti has been released from Evin Prison on bail after being detained for 18 days due to her support for anti-government protests. Her arrest followed her public condemnation of the execution of protester Mohsen Shekari and her Instagram posts in support of the protests, which were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody. The Iranian government, under Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has been attempting to suppress prominent figures from expressing support for the protests. The length of Alidoosti's detention is seen as an attempt to deter others, as high-profile individuals are typically released quickly. Meanwhile, the regime continues to arrest protesters and has recently affirmed death sentences for two more.

Southern Syria beset by drug smuggling, Isis and crackdowns by Assad forces

02 Jan 2023  |  The Independent
Southern Syria is experiencing escalating violence, political repression, and drug smuggling, undermining a Russian-brokered settlement intended to end conflict between Assad's forces and rebels. Protests have resurfaced in Daraa province, with demonstrators facing violent crackdowns. The region's instability is exacerbated by the presence of Iranian-backed militias, narco-traffickers, and Isis remnants. The Assad regime, supported by Iran and Russia, is losing control, leading to increased lawlessness and economic hardship for civilians. The situation poses broader security risks for neighboring Israel and Jordan, and could destabilize northern Syria.

Iranian chess queens’ gambit: Playing without hijab at high-profile tournament

28 Dec 2022  |  The Independent
Iranian chess players Sara Khadem and Atousa Pourkashiyan participated in the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Kazakhstan without wearing the hijab, defying the Islamic dress code enforced by Iran's regime. This act of protest follows the death of Mahsa Amini in custody for allegedly violating the dress code. The unrest in Iran has led to demonstrations and over 500 deaths. Khadem and Pourkashiyan, both accomplished chess players, have not commented publicly on their decision. The incident has been reported by reformist media in Iran but ignored by hardline outlets.

A clampdown too far? ‘Bizarre’ prison sentence may give Erdogan’s rival a boost

15 Dec 2022  |  The Independent
The article discusses the political implications of Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu's prison sentence and political ban, highlighting potential bias in the judiciary and the desperation of President Erdogan ahead of upcoming elections. The prosecution of Imamoglu, seen as a formidable challenger, has been widely condemned and may galvanize opposition parties. The article also notes the historical context of Erdogan's own rise to prominence following imprisonment and the potential for this verdict to backfire on his administration.

Turkey: Erdogan’s most popular political rival sentenced to jail and banned from politics

14 Dec 2022  |  The Independent
A Turkish court sentenced Ekrem Imamoglu, Istanbul's mayor and a leading opposition figure, to 31 months in prison and banned him from politics for insulting election officials. The ruling, seen as politically motivated, could hinder Imamoglu's challenge to President Erdogan in the 2023 elections. Critics accuse Erdogan of manipulating the judiciary to target opponents. The opposition remains defiant, with leaders vowing to fight the ruling and unite against Erdogan's government.

Iran has crossed a line with the execution of a 23-year-old protester

12 Dec 2022  |  independent.co.uk
Mohsen Shekari, a 23-year-old who participated in Iran's nationwide uprising, was executed after being charged with 'waging war against God' following the death-in-custody of Mahsa Amini. Despite the Tehran regime's claim of a deliberative process, the article suggests that the execution did not meet international or national standards and implies that it was a hasty and unjust act.

Football-loving Iranians celebrate as ‘regime’ team goes out of World Cup

30 Nov 2022  |  Yahoo Entertainment
Iran's national football team lost to the United States in the World Cup, leading to celebrations among many Iranians who view the team as an instrument of the clerical regime. The defeat was seen as a victory for those protesting the regime since the death of Mahsa Amini. Celebrations erupted in cities like Saqqez and Tehran, while reports emerged of regime supporters attacking anti-regime fans in Doha. The ongoing protests have polarized Iranian society, with celebrities and footballers publicly supporting the opposition, while the national team has refrained from taking a stand, earning them the nickname 'Team Mullah'.

Turkey Has Made a Quagmire for Itself in Syria

13 Jul 2018  |  Foreign Policy
Turkey's military intervention in Afrin, Syria, has led to a complex and challenging situation. Despite efforts to establish security and governance, the region remains fraught with violence and instability. Turkish authorities and their Syrian allies face significant difficulties, including insurgent attacks and internal conflicts among local groups. The Free Syrian Army, supported by Turkey, has been accused of violent crimes and lawlessness. The situation is further complicated by the presence of various factions and the fragile understanding between Turkey, Russia, and Iran regarding control over different parts of Syria. The long-term prospects for stability in Afrin remain uncertain.

Erdogan Has Mastered Democracy

25 Jun 2018  |  Foreign Policy
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, depicted as a masterful politician, has secured another election victory in Turkey, solidifying his position as the country's longest-serving leader. Despite criticisms of undermining democratic institutions and jailing journalists, Erdogan's political acumen and populist strategies have maintained his popularity. His tenure has seen significant economic development and public service projects, though his approach has also deepened societal divisions through identity politics. Erdogan's alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party signals a further nationalist turn in Turkish politics.

Erdogan’s Flying Carpet

23 May 2018  |  Foreign Policy
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is spearheading numerous ambitious infrastructure projects, including the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant, a massive new airport, and various other public works. These projects, often criticized for their scale and potential inefficiency, are seen as efforts to modernize Turkey and solidify Erdogan's legacy. Critics argue that these initiatives serve more as political and symbolic gestures rather than practical solutions to Turkey's needs. The new airport, in particular, faces concerns over its location, environmental impact, and feasibility. Despite these criticisms, the government claims these projects will significantly boost the economy and create numerous jobs.

Welcome to Iraq’s First Post-Sectarian Election

10 May 2018  |  Foreign Policy
Iraq's upcoming general elections mark a significant shift towards post-sectarian politics, with cross-sectarian alliances forming in the wake of the Islamic State's defeat. Key figures like Haider al-Abadi are promoting inclusive rhetoric and grassroots campaigns, contrasting with the divisive tactics of predecessors like Nouri al-Maliki. The elections are seen as a critical moment for change, potentially solidifying Iraq's move away from sectarianism. However, the political landscape remains fragile, with alliances possibly dissolving post-election. Improved relations with regional and international powers also contribute to a hopeful yet cautious outlook for Iraq's political future.

Erdogan’s Motley Opponents Have United to Take Him Down

25 Apr 2018  |  Foreign Policy
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for early presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey, moving the date from November 2019 to June 24, 2018. This move has energized the opposition, which has formed an alliance centered on potential candidates Meral Aksener and Abdullah Gul. The opposition's strategy includes cooperation between the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Iyi Party, and Felicity Party. Economic troubles, including a falling lira and rising inflation, have pressured Erdogan, who faces significant challenges from a united opposition. The outcome of the elections could be influenced by the response of Turkey's Kurdish population and the potential impact of U.S. fines on Halkbank.

Iranian-Backed Militias Set Sights on U.S. Forces

16 Apr 2018  |  Foreign Policy
Iranian-backed militias in Syria are increasingly targeting U.S. forces as the conflict with the Islamic State winds down. Recent U.S.-led airstrikes on alleged chemical weapons sites have intensified anti-American sentiment among these groups. The Baqir Brigade has announced jihad against U.S. troops, and other militias have shown similar hostility. Experts warn that the U.S. military presence in Syria is vulnerable, and Iranian leadership is pushing for an expedited American withdrawal. The situation complicates political solutions and inflames international relations.

9/11 from Arab Shores

09 Sep 2011  |  Foreign Policy
The 9/11 attacks significantly altered the Middle East, fostering a conflict between Muslims and the West. Despite initial sympathy for the U.S., subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq led to widespread resentment and the rise of a global Muslim identity. The Arab revolutions have since shifted regional dynamics, though violent extremism persists. Analysts argue that the factors leading to 9/11, such as U.S. support for autocratic regimes, remain unresolved, contributing to ongoing instability and a sense of injustice in the Arab world.

Stock exchange one of Iraq's hottest little success stories

30 May 2005  |  South China Morning Post
Ahmad Walid al-Said, head broker at al-Fawz Company and chairman of the Iraqi Association of Securities, is a prominent figure on the Iraqi Stock Exchange, which has seen significant growth in trading volume since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The exchange, though small, is a rare success story in post-war Iraq, with plans to modernize and allow foreign investment. The market includes 87 companies, with financial services companies being particularly active. The exchange operates with a mix of modern and low-tech methods, and maintains a reputation for integrity.

ER trauma reflects progress in Iraq

03 Apr 2005  |  South China Morning Post
Iraq's hesitant progress post-war is evident in the emergency rooms of hospitals like Medical City, which has seen an increase in budget and access to better supplies. Despite improvements since Saddam Hussein's regime, the influx of trauma patients continues to challenge the medical staff. The hospital's general manager, Kamaledin Mostafa, notes the need for better equipment to save more lives, while emergency specialist Feras Kattan treats an average of five gunshot victims a day, with numbers rising during political unrest.

Democracy a bitter bill for sidelined Sunnis to swallow

14 Mar 2005  |  South China Morning Post
The article discusses the impact of the US-led invasion of Iraq on the Sunni Arab population, who feel marginalized and impoverished as the Shi'ite majority gains political power. Personal stories highlight the loss of jobs, social status, and the rise of sectarian tensions. The new political landscape is dominated by Shi'ites, leaving many Sunnis feeling disenfranchised and resentful. The narrative underscores the deep-seated sectarian divide and the challenges of establishing democracy in a fractured society.

Tehran's troops no match for threatened US might

01 Feb 2005  |  South China Morning Post
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated over Iran's nuclear ambitions, with the US not ruling out military action. Iran has been preparing for potential conflict by mobilizing militias and showcasing military hardware, though its conventional forces are considered outdated compared to US technology. Iran's strategic options include disrupting oil shipments, activating Hezbollah, and escalating conflict in Iraq. Analysts highlight Iran's potential to cause significant regional instability despite its military limitations.

Bitter Sunnis will vote with their feet

28 Jan 2005  |  South China Morning Post
Sunni Arabs in Iraq express deep bitterness and defiance towards the upcoming elections, with many feeling disenfranchised and skeptical about the legitimacy of the process. While Shi'ites and Kurds are generally optimistic, Sunni Arabs, who prospered under Saddam Hussein, fear a loss of power and prestige. Key Sunni political groups, including the Muslim Scholars Association and the Iraqi Islamic Party, have called for a boycott or withdrawn from the elections. Surveys indicate a significantly lower voter turnout among Sunni Arabs compared to Shi'ites and Kurds, reflecting widespread disillusionment and security concerns.

Foreign funding keeps parties afloat

19 Jan 2005  |  South China Morning Post
In Iraq's largely unregulated political funding system, many parties struggle to compete against those with access to significant funds, often from foreign sources. The upcoming parliamentary election is likely to favor well-funded entities led by former exiles. Despite legal requirements for transparency and equal media time, enforcement is weak, and many parties operate their own media outlets. Smaller parties and officials express concerns over the interim government's potential involvement in funding irregularities, as many officials are also candidates. The lack of public campaign financing and the challenges of monitoring foreign contributions further complicate the situation.

Chilling logic at work behind the savagery

10 Jan 2005  |  South China Morning Post
The article discusses the targeted assassination of Saleh, a leader in the Communist Party, by suspected members of Saddam Hussein's former Ba'ath Party. It highlights the ongoing violence in Iraq, particularly against Shi'ites, Kurds, and officials, as insurgents aim to destabilize the upcoming parliamentary elections. The insurgency comprises various groups, including Sunni Arab nationalists, foreign Islamic extremists, and criminals, all united in their opposition to the US occupation but divided on Iraq's future. The insurgents' brutal tactics are intended to undermine public confidence in the government and provoke violent responses, further fueling the conflict.

Iraq's descent into the abyss

22 Dec 2004  |  South China Morning Post
Throughout 2004, the US military faced significant challenges in Iraq, with the city of Fallujah exemplifying the dilemmas and failures encountered. Despite efforts such as the establishment of a transitional constitution, the handover of power, and the training of Iraqi security forces, Iraq continued its descent into chaos. The Abu Ghraib prison scandal further tarnished the US's image. The interim government, led by Iyad Alawi, took over sovereignty, but real control, especially over security, remained elusive. Insurgency and violence persisted, with figures like Moqtada al-Sadr and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi leading resistance efforts. The security situation worsened, with criminal gangs and insurgents increasing their activities. Despite these challenges, American commanders like General George Casey maintained a public stance of optimism regarding Iraq's future.

From parties to piety in Baghdad

08 Nov 2004  |  South China Morning Post
The article explores the shift in Baghdad from a once fun-loving and hedonistic society to one increasingly influenced by piety and strict interpretations of Islam, driven by the constant violence and the US military occupation. It highlights the impact on daily life, with liquor stores closing, amusement parks shutting early, and social activities becoming rare. The narrative includes personal stories of individuals adapting to the new reality, some turning to religion and others finding limited ways to enjoy themselves amidst the turmoil.

An explosive cocktail of religious extremism laced with nationalism

02 Nov 2004  |  South China Morning Post
Interviews with Iraqis reveal a nationalist resistance against the US-led occupation, contradicting American officials' depiction of the rebels as religious extremists and former regime loyalists. The resistance includes groups marginalized by the political process imposed by the US. As the US prepares for an assault on Fallujah, critics argue that the inability to distinguish between factions hinders peace efforts. Some US specialists acknowledge the insurgency stems from occupation frustrations, while others, like Brigadier-General John Defreitas, deny the nationalist nature of the resistance.

Cautious welcome for British regiment

01 Nov 2004  |  South China Morning Post
Residents of Hilla, a town south of Baghdad, express a cautious acceptance of the arrival of nearly 850 British troops, emphasizing their desire to avoid conflict and maintain safety. The Black Watch regiment's move from Basra aims to free up US soldiers for an impending assault on Fallujah and Ramadi. Hilla, a predominantly Shia town with a history of welcoming US forces, remains relatively peaceful compared to other regions. Despite past violence, including a car bomb attack, the city is described as safe and under control, with residents urging the British to explore local historical sites.

Residents bear brunt of standoff in Fallujah

26 Oct 2004  |  South China Morning Post
Fallujah city leaders have halted negotiations with the US, demanding a stop to air strikes, troop withdrawal, and compensation for damages. Sunni clerics threaten an election boycott if the US attacks. US officials claim success against Tawhid wal Jihad, but concerns rise over potential dispersal of fighters and increased anti-US sentiment. Fallujah's police chief warns of high casualties and further conflict. The city, already devastated by previous fighting, is now largely abandoned, with residents fearing both US forces and mujahedeen fighters. Despite ample supplies, the remaining population lives in fear, with some no longer fearing a US-led ground offensive.

Fear takes crushing toll in shell-shocked Iraq

11 Oct 2004  |  South China Morning Post
Iraq is engulfed in a new kind of fear post-Saddam Hussein's regime, characterized by growing insecurity, violence, and chaos that increasingly encroaches on personal lives. The capital Baghdad is plagued by violence and crime, turning daily activities into potential disasters. The 'fruits of liberation' are overshadowed by the harsh realities of post-war Iraq, with frequent car bombings and a pervasive sense of danger. Iraqis experience trauma, as seen in the Bab al Sharji 'thieves market' where videos of guerilla warfare sell briskly. The article reflects on the author's experiences and observations in Iraq, the changing attitudes over time, and the diminishing optimism for the country's future among US officials and Iraqi citizens alike.

No campaigns, no posters, no debates and no confidence

27 Sep 2004  |  South China Morning Post
With elections in Iraq approaching, there is a notable absence of campaign activities, leading to widespread cynicism among Iraqis. Concerns about violence and the consolidation of power by exile parties dominate discussions. The interim government, led by Iyad Alawi, is perceived as disconnected from the populace, especially following Alawi's interactions with American and Israeli officials. The political landscape remains fraught with divisions, with significant portions of the population feeling alienated or opposed to the current process.

Truckers risk death at every turn on highway of insurgency

27 Sep 2004  |  South China Morning Post
Truckers in Iraq face extreme dangers on the highways, with armed bandits frequently attempting to rob or kill them. Despite claims by Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Alawi that most provinces are safe, truckers report increasing lawlessness and collusion between criminals and police. The US-led coalition's efforts to improve safety are seen as ineffective, and many truckers are considering leaving the profession due to the high risks involved.

National Assembly fails to impress

23 Aug 2004  |  South China Morning Post
Iraq's new National Assembly, tasked with preparing for national elections, has quickly expanded its role to include various policy areas, sparking criticism for overstepping its mandate. Many Iraqis feel disconnected from the assembly, which includes former members of the unpopular governing council. Critics argue that the assembly is unrepresentative and ineffective, with some fearing it will follow the same path as its predecessor. The Iraqi press has largely ignored the assembly, and skepticism about its democratic legitimacy persists.

Soaps offer an escape from grim reality

24 Jul 2004  |  South China Morning Post
Al-Sharqiya, a new satellite television network in Iraq, is gaining popularity by focusing on entertainment amid the prevalent news channels broadcasting regional conflicts and political turmoil. With a budget of US$30 million, Al-Sharqiya offers soap operas, reality shows, and music videos, reflecting the realities of Iraqi life and utilizing local talent. The channel's programming includes 'The End', a soap opera produced at a low cost, and shows that support community activities like funding weddings for the poor. Despite the challenges faced by the Iraqi entertainment industry post-war, Al-Sharqiya is filling a gap for entertainment in the region.

Presidential views

08 Jul 2004  |  South China Morning Post
Interim President of Iraq, Ghazi al-Yawar, addressed several critical issues upon taking office. He emphasized the restoration of Iraq's sovereignty, set conditions for peace-keeping troops, acknowledged the legal process for Saddam Hussein's trial, highlighted the importance of supporting small businesses to combat unemployment, and discussed the handling of militant Shi'ite Moqtada al-Sadr, emphasizing the need for inclusivity and legal resolution.

Dignity, safety and pride - Iraqis see a nation reborn

30 Jun 2004  |  South China Morning Post
Iraqis expressed hope and optimism as sovereignty was restored to their nation, marking a new beginning after years of dictatorship and occupation. President Ghazi al-Yawar and citizens alike shared sentiments of freedom and pride, with the Iraqi flag flying over government buildings. Iraqi police were seen taking action in the streets, and cleric Sheikh Salman al-Musawi called for support of the new government. The handover from Americans to Iraqis occurred in a surprise ceremony, with US administrator Paul Bremer departing shortly after.

Our lives are worse than before

29 Jun 2004  |  South China Morning Post
As Iraq transitions from US-led occupation to self-governance, Baghdad's murder rate has soared, and the population suffers from poverty and a failing infrastructure amidst ongoing conflict. Despite the fall of Saddam Hussein, who was known for his brutal dictatorship, Iraqis face a new form of repression due to lawlessness and violence. The youth, despite newfound freedoms, are confined to their homes for safety. Security issues impede the country's progress, with sabotage against infrastructure and electricity shortages. Iraqis, including those in the new political class, lament the loss of simple freedoms and security once taken for granted.

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