Why Turkey changed its name: populism, polls and a bird

“The main reason Turkey is changing its name is to remove the association with the bird,” said Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Istanbul-based EDAM think tank. “But also the term is used colloquially to mean failure.”

International organizations are now required to use the new name, but it won’t happen overnight to the general public, Ulgen told CNN. “It will probably take many years for the wider international community to switch from Turkey to Turkey.”

According to him, this is not the first attempt by the country to change its name. According to him, a similar attempt was made in the mid-1980s under Prime Minister Turgut Özal, but it never received as much response.

There may be political motivations behind the move as the Turks return for elections next June amid severe economic crisis.
It is “another strategy launched by the Turkish government to appeal to nationalist voters in a crucial year for Turkish politics,” he said. Francesco SiccardiSenior Program Manager, Carnegie Europe think tank.

The timing of the name change is critical for next year’s elections, he said. “The decision to change the name was announced last December, when President Erdogan was trailing in all opinion polls and the country was going through one of the worst economic crises in 20 years.”

Erdogan’s position in opinion polls has declined significantly in recent years. Polls conducted at the end of last year show support for the ruling AKP party at around 31-33%. to Reuterscompared to 42.6% during 2018 parliamentary elections.

However, Ulgen said the name change was more of a rebranding strategy to boost the country’s international profile than an election stunt.

Turkish foreign trade deficit up 98.5% year on year to $6.11 billion in April, Reuters reported, citing the Turkish Statistical Institute. annual inflation jumped to 73.5% last month, a 22-year high.
Analysts say that during a crisis, the president tends to resort to populist actions to divert attention from domestic problems. The economic shocks that have already brought people to the streetswas a headache for the government.

“The new name will simultaneously distract the domestic audience from more specific, pressing issues and offer President Erdogan another argument in favor of a stronger and more traditional Turkey,” Siccardi said.

In Turkey, Erdogan ordered the transformation of the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.

In another populist move, Erdogan issued a decree in 2020 to convert Istanbul’s historic Byzantine Hagia Sophia Museum into a mosque.

“In the absence of a concrete policy to address the country’s economic and political problems, Erdogan seeks salvation in populist identity politics,” political scientist Seren Korkmaz wrote of the move at the time. “He promotes Turkish nationalism and Islamism and targets members of the opposition.”

The new name also has a symbolic meaning as it was adopted in 1923, after the new nation withdrew from ashes of World War I. Its global adoption will “strengthen Erdogan’s place in Turkish history alongside the republic’s founding father.” Mustafa Kemal Ataturk“, Siccardi said.

Digest

White House says Biden’s view of Saudi Arabia as ‘rogue’ has not changed ahead of possible trip

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday that US President Joe Biden’s stance on Saudi Arabia “still stands,” answering a reporter’s question about whether the president sees the kingdom as a “rogue state” because of its alleged complicity in the murder. or Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

  • Background: As a presidential candidate, Biden promised to turn the kingdom into a “rogue” and make it “pay the price” for killing Khashoggi. Upon taking office, he refrained from direct contact with the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), preferring instead to communicate with his father, King Salman.
  • Why is it important: The repetition of Biden’s position comes amid reports that the president is planning a trip to the kingdom. MBS, which handles the day-to-day affairs of the kingdom, has rejected US calls to increase oil production to curb inflation. Jean-Pierre said she doesn’t have presidential preview trips. But on Thursday, the White House took the rare step of acknowledging MBS’s role in extending the ceasefire in Yemen.

Lebanese intelligence chief plans to visit Syria over missing American journalist

Lebanese intelligence chief Major General Abbas Ibrahim said he would visit Syria to resume negotiations on the release of American journalist Austin Tice, who disappeared ten years ago. Negotiations began after a request from US officials.

  • Background: Austin Theis was a freelance journalist and former US Marine. He disappeared while reporting in Syria in 2012. Ibrahim said that in past talks with Damascus over the Tisza, Syria has made demands related to the withdrawal of US troops, the resumption of diplomatic relations and the lifting of some US sanctions. Negotiations stalled at the end of former President Donald Trump’s term.
  • Why is it important: Washington said last year it would not normalize or improve relations with Syria because of what it describes as atrocities it has inflicted on its people. Biden, who met with Tice’s parents last month, needs a foreign policy win, especially after his failed withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden’s overall approval rating was 41% last month, according to a CNN poll.

Israel tells UN it will take action against Iran if diplomacy fails

Israel will take action to block Iran’s nuclear program if diplomacy fails, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi on Friday. Prime Minister Bennett has made clear that while Israel prefers diplomacy to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, it reserves the right to self-defense and act against Iran to block its nuclear program if the international community is not successful. appropriate timeframes,” Bennett’s office said in a statement.

  • Background: According to two IAEA reports on May 30 obtained by CNN, Iran has increased its stockpile of enriched uranium and has yet to answer a question about unexplained nuclear activity at three undeclared sites. The only additional explanation offered by Iran regarding one of the alleged nuclear sites was “the possibility of an act of sabotage by a third party in order to contaminate the territory. However, Iran has not provided any evidence to support this explanation,” the report says.
  • Why is it important: Grossi’s surprise visit to Tel Aviv comes ahead of a meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors in Vienna on Monday, where the US, UK, France and Germany are set to find a resolution addressing the need for Iran’s full cooperation with the UN nuclear organization. . The draft resolution will be prepared in response to two reports received by CNN and relayed to IAEA member states on May 30, saying that Iran has yet to respond to unexplained nuclear activities at three undeclared sites.

By region

When Iranian actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi fled her country in 2006 due to a leaked recording, she thought her career was over. But on Saturday, she became the first Iranian to win Best Actress at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

Ebrahimi rose to fame in her native Iran, but the high point of her Cannes career came while she was in exile, thanks to a film that was filmed in Jordan.

Directed by Iranian-born Ali Abbasi, The Holy Spider is based on the true story of a serial killer in the holy city of Mashad, Iran. It tells the story of Rahimi, a journalist who covers the hunt for a construction worker suspected of killing 16 sex workers.

Receiving the award “was just a dream come true,” she told CNN’s Becky Anderson on Thursday.

The film touches on the theme of patriarchy, which Rahimi hopes will send “a message of courage, a message of hope, not only to women, but to men and women all over the world.”

This victory brought her back into the spotlight in Iran and caused a backlash. The actress told CNN that she received about 200 threats. “The problem is that they haven’t even watched this film, and they only judge it by the trailer,” she said, explaining the reaction by the lack of freedom of speech in Iran.

Ebrahimi fled Iran for France in 2006 after her “private video” was leaked, she said, fearing arrest and attacks from judicial authorities. She had to start her career over again “in a country where I didn’t know anyone.”

“I had to flee my country, my home. I left my friends and family,” she told CNN. But she did not let the scandal overshadow her career. “Exactly from the day that scandal happened to me, I only talked about cinema, I just thought that I was alive and I needed to work. And you know, I will be alive because I have a movie, because I love my job. because I love life.”

Ebrahimi said her next film will be filmed in Australia. She has no plans to return to her homeland.

Mohammed Abdelbari

What’s in trend

Kuwait: #American_Embassy

A Pride Month tweet from the US embassy in Kuwait caused a social media storm, prompting the Gulf state to call in a US diplomat.

“All people should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, whoever they are and whoever they love,” the embassy tweeted in English and Arabic on Thursday, featuring a pride flag. “@POTUS is a #LGBTQI human rights activist. #Pride2022 #YouAreIncluded,” the post reads, referring to the President of the United States.

Similar tweets were published by the US embassies in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Kuwait’s embassy called the U.S. chargé d’affaires ai at the back of the embassy late Thursday in support of gay rights, Kuwait’s state-run news agency reported. He urged the embassy to “respect the laws and regulations of the country in force in the State of Kuwait and the obligation not to publish such tweets.”

Homosexuality is illegal in Kuwait, and same-sex sexual activity is criminalized under the country’s penal code.

Kuwaiti MP Abdul Aziz Al Sakobi accused the embassy of “trying to impose an agenda that is contrary to common sense and values” of the country.

Human rights activist Anwar Al Rashid said he was shocked not by the embassy’s tweet but by the outcry from the government of Kuwait, which he said “believes it is defending virtue in the name of God.”

“It’s as if our country isn’t full of morality and financial corruption…and our society is angelic, whose innocence the government seeks to protect,” he told his more than 112,000 followers.