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  • Author: Laura R. Olson
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: THE UNITED STATES supposedly is premised on “separation of church and state,” which means the American government should be neutral regarding religion. But is that really true? The author, a law professor and committed secularist, has strong opinions on this matter. Particularly since the 2004 presidential election that returned George W. Bush to the U.S. presidency for a second term, Ledewitz has been concerned that American secularism—both as an individual choice and a stance on the part of government—is under threat. Although the proportion of secular Americans has been growing rapidly in the twenty-first century, the successful marriage of religion and conservative politics in the U.S. might be inhibiting secularism from full acceptance as a valid alternative to religious commitment. After completing two earlier books on secularism in the U.S., Ledewitz reached the rather specific conclusion “that American constitutional law stood in the way of any serious engagement of secularism with religion” (p. xiii, emphasis mine). Thus, he sets forth in Church, State, and the Crisis in American Secularism to accomplish two tasks. First, he aims to detail how and why he feels current interpretation of “church-state separation” by the U.S. Supreme Court is problematic. Second, he endeavors to construct an alternative legal approach that would put religious people on common ground with secularists before the eyes of American law.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: 2011 brought an opportunity for Israel and Turkey to mend their bilateral relations. The re-election of Erdoğan in June 2011, coupled with the dramatic events of the Arab Spring, provided a new political and regional context in which the relations could be reevaluated. This context enabled Turkey and Israel, with US mediation, to make progress towards drafting an agreement between them – an agreement intended to enable the two countries to restore normal working relations following the 2010 flotilla incident. However, the draft agreement was eventually rejected by the Israeli government in August 2011, leading to a new cycle of escalating tensions between the two countries. This article analyzes the Israeli decision-making process and discourse regarding the crisis with Turkey, and examines the changing circumstances of 2011, including the impact of the Arab Spring and the contrasting Israeli and Turkish reactions to it; the dynamics leading to the Israeli decision to reject the draft agreement; and the possible next phases in Israel-Turkey relations, including the conditions that can provide a new opportunity for the two former allies to become less alienated.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Israel
  • Author: Bill Park
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: In a remarkable turnaround, Turkey and the Kurdish Regional Government have recently emerged as close partners in a region increasingly characterized by uncertainty. They share a discomfort with the centralizing inclinations of Baghdad's current government, a stake in seeing an end to the PKK's campaign of violence, and a preference for greater unity between the various forces opposing the Assad regime in Syria. Their economies are increasingly interlocked, and the KRG's emergence as a significant producer of energy is of benefit to both parties. Furthermore, the Ankara-Erbil relationship is one that serves Washington's regional interests and perspectives well. However, serious differences remain. Iraqi Kurds still aspire to incorporate Kirkuk, and support greater autonomy for the Kurds of Turkey and Syria too. Turkey's support for Erbil could unintentionally help produce greater Kurdish autonomy throughout the region. This article explores some of the possible ramifications of the burgeoning Ankara-Erbil relationship.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey
  • Author: Burak Bilgehan Özpek
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Kurdish politicians were involved in Baghdad governments, and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) became a federal unit with increased autonomy. Nevertheless, the KRG's quest for keeping its autonomy was challenged after the withdrawal of US forces at the end of 2011. When US forces left Iraq, the Baghdad government, headed by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, the leader of the Shiite State of Law Coalition, tried to centralize power. Unsurprisingly, Maliki's centralization efforts have generated criticism and secessionist repercussions among Kurdish political circles. Furthermore, the Maliki government has violated the basic principles of power sharing, which is sine qua non to strengthen the confidence building processes in divided societies. Increasingly, the Kurds' willingness to remain as part of Iraq considerably decreases as the Baghdad government consolidates its power and excludes the ethnic and religious groups from the political system.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Ufuk Ulutaş
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Since the early 2000s, Turkish foreign policy has experienced a fundamental transformation. Turkey's regional and global position, its relations with the countries in surrounding regions, and its long-lasting disputes with its neighbors were reshaped through the adoption of the "zero-problem with-neighbors" policy. In line with this policy, Turkey has taken a pro-active stance and followed a multi-dimensional foreign policy approach to establish itself, first, as a conciliatory partner for peace with its neighbors, and second, as an agent of mediation between its clashing neighboring countries. 2009 was a year of foreign policy initiatives towards Syria, Armenia, and Iraq, including the Kurdish Regional Government. And it marked the beginning of more positive and constructive relations between Turkey and the United States. Turkey gained substantial ground in becoming a regional hub for energy by undersigning two critical energy deals. Yet, two major issues remain as challenges for Turkish foreign policy: a) the EU accession process, and b) the Cyprus dispute.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Syria
  • Author: William Hale
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Barack Obama's inauguration as America's new president has been welcomed as opening a 'new era' in Turkey's relations with the United States. May 2009 also saw the appointment of a new foreign minister in Ankara, in the person of Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu. This article examines how these new directions are playing out in the Middle East, one of the world's most turbulent regions which also has crucial economic and strategic importance for Turkey. It focuses on Turkey's relations with four regional states – Iraq, Israel/ Palestine, Syria and Iran. The article closes by assessing whether Turkey has been able to achieve the government's ambition of 'zero problems' with its neighbors, and the degree to which it has been able to develop a new role as conciliator and go-between in addressing the region's bitter conflicts.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Turkey, Middle East