The characters in Orhan Pamuk's novels are complex, hybrid identities. They are neither purely Islamic traditionalists nor secular fundamentalists, but, as Turkey's most celebrated writer and Nobel laureate has put it, of "two souls." "To have two souls," Pamuk once told me, "is a good thing. That is the way people really are. We have to understand that, just like a person, a country can have two souls." Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's military-allied, authoritarian and Western-oriented modernization from above bolstered one aspect of that soul in the last century. Over the last 13 years, current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Islamic-based AKP has bolstered the other aspect through democratic modernization from below. In the process, political space has opened up not only to the influence of conservative rural Anatolia but also for other plural constituencies from Kurds to the gay community. By trying to close that plural space now through increasingly autocratic tendencies -- in the midst of the Syrian civil war spilling over its borders -- Erdoğan has polarized the "two souls" of Turkey. For Pamuk, "to have democracy is precisely to have a dialogue between these two souls." "I am worried," he says, "because I know that in the end Erdoğan wants to govern alone at all costs. He does not want to share power." (continued)
The sudden launch of Russia's military operations in Syria late last month caught the United States and regional players by surprise.
From Syria to Ukraine, a pesky and newly reinvigorated Vladimir Putin is testing the west. In this new geopolitical face-off, Poland has assumed key strategic importance and will no doubt play a hugely significant diplomatic and even military role.
The fact is, part of the job of president is working and playing well with others be they conservative Democrats, country club Republicans, Tea Party wing nuts, progressives or global leaders like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.
Putin has done something close to impossible by "taming" the Chechen nation, and keeping them peaceful for more than a decade. Perhaps it makes sense to listen to his position on Syria.
In Ukraine as in Syria, Putin is winging it. With Ukraine, however, the expedition is across the border and the lay of the land somewhat more familiar. In Syria, despite surveillance drones and guided missile technology, Putin is literally flying blind.
On November 8, the Nobel Prize for literature was bestowed on the Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich, aged 67. It was among the few instances in which the work of the laureate was focused outside the traditional areas of poetry, fiction, and drama.
Political pundits in the U.S. are working overtime trying to get in to the mind of Vladimir Putin and explain to the world why Mr. Putin has decided to jump into the fray in Syria.
Vladimir Putin is only nine years older than Barack Obama, yet they somehow are of a different generation. How could this be?
MOSCOW -- Alexievich, who writes primarily in Russian, is very much a part of this "Russian world" -- that is, in the cultural and civilizational sense, and not in the political or military sense that gained currency during events in Ukraine. This "Russian world," this "Russian civilization" now stands at possibly the most critical juncture of its existence. And it is very timely that a Russian-language Slavic author who writes that this "Russian world" is standing at the threshold of the deepest crisis of its long history has received this award now.
The United States now finds itself in a difficult position in Syria. American supported rebels are coming under direct attack by Russian military forces. If the U.S. challenges Russian planes it risks a potential escalation and a military incident between American and Russian forces.
BEIRUT -- All the hoo-ha over Russia's Syrian military intervention probably stems from the sense that this initiative could mark the birth of something serious -- a non-Western coalition whose objective is precisely to preempt NATO-style regime change projects.
Carnegie Corporation of New York asked a number of leading Russia experts to weigh in on this urgent debate. Do Russia and the United States have a shared objective concerning Syria?
ISTANBUL -- To grasp Erdoğan's seemingly contradictory stance towards Putin requires some knowledge of the system of crony capitalism which has sprung up and flourished -- particularly in the energy and construction sectors -- in both Turkey and Russia. Aware that Turkey will emerge the loser in any confrontation with Russia, Erdoğan and the AKP have pragmatically accepted Russia's geopolitical superiority, while seeking to reap the maximum financial gain in the process.
Western diplomats are fond of legally and neatly putting things in boxes. Kremlin tactics are quite the opposite. Russian military thinking doesn't see a clean breakdown between what are weapons of war and what are civilian tools, or what are propaganda forums and what are channels for frank talks. The diplomats and talks are part of the offensive.
The fact that Russia is making the same mistake as Bush and Blair did, 14 years later - down to using the same words - is proof of how dangerous it is to frame the fight in a Muslim country in religious terms.