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Globalism Vs Nationalism In Turkey

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Yet another bomb was detonated in Turkey over the weekend, this time in the Central Anatolian city of Kayseri. A public bus was targeted by a car bomb, resulting in the death of 13 off-duty soldiers and 56 wounded. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the PKK, a Kurdish separatist group, for the bombings saying “The style and goals of the attacks clearly show the aim of the separatist terrorist organisation is to trip up Turkey, cut its strength and have it focus its energy and forces elsewhere. We know that these attacks we are being subjected to are not independent from the developments in our region, especially in Iraq and Syria”. Interestingly, the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) condemned the bombing in a statement that read, in part, “our call is towards ending the politics, tone and language that creates tension, polarization, hostility, chaos and conflict both in terms of internal and foreign affairs”.  Although the party has talked a good game, the fact that they are still close to the PKK has roiled many in Turkey; that they were swift to condemn the attack however suggests that they might realize that the recent shift in the PKK’s tactics will not be good for anyone.

 

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The HDP Talk a Good Game, But Can They Follow It Up With Concrete Actions? Image Courtesy Of: https://twitter.com/hdpdiplomacy/status/810059726667055104/photo/1

 

After the bus bombing protestors in Istanbul and Kayseri ransacked HDP offices in an alarming display of anger that—if left unchecked—could lead to the kind of violence motivated by ethnic difference that has been proven to lead to much worse.

 

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Ultra Nationalists Attack HDP Building in Kayseri. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.insanhaber.com/guncel/son-dakika-kayseri-de-hdp-binasina-saldiri-h81889.html

State media—which, as always, is suspect—reported a more refreshing story about nationwide anti-PKK protests, including many in mainly Kurdish areas such as Hakkari province and Diyarbakir province. The Anadolu Agency story reports that “Mehmet Akdeniz, the provincial head of Confederation of Public Servants Trade Unions (Memur-Sen) in Sirnak, said people from all walks of life including Turks, Kurds, and Arabs united for Turkey. ‘The PKK terrorist organization that wanted to smash this brotherhood attacked our people who were going to work and school, and the soldiers who were going on weekend leave’.” The Twitter feed for Kurds News posted pictures and videos of Kurds protesting the PKK, corroborating the Anadolu Agency story. If this is indeed true—that Turks, Kurds, and Arabs united for Turkey—then that is notable.

 

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Kurds Protest the PKK All Over Turkey. Images Courtesy Of: https://twitter.com/newskurds

 

As Mr. Erdogan pointed out, these attacks are not independent from what is happening in Syria, and one of the perpetrators of the 10 December 2016 Vodafone Arena bombing was revealed to have come from Syria.

The relationship between the violence in Syria and Turkey represents the tensions between nationalism and globalism that have ben revealed by both Brexit and Donald Trump’s election victory in the United States. The YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, have no ties to Turkey or Syria while the concurrent rise of ISIS/ISIL/DAESH in Syria and Iraq has shown the abject failure of Syrian and Iraqi nationalism, revealing the “imagined community” aspects of both countries’ nationalisms (which where only formed out of the remnants of French and British colonialism). Because the YPG similarly have no respect for national identity, they think nothing of committing brutal attacks on Turkish soil, attacks which only serve to alienate what little sympathy they may have at this point. The vast majority of Kurds and Turks have no qualms with one another on an interpersonal basis. However, if the PKK—perhaps in collusion with the YPG—continue their campaign of cowardly attacks on Turkish security forces and civilians alike, they will be further marginalized. The widespread support for security forces in the wake of the stadium bombing shows that the majority of Turks—regardless of ethnic background—are preferring unity to division. This is why the United States’—particularly during the Obama regime—continued support for the YPG in Syria has been such a bone of contention for Turkey. For all the talk of human rights that emanates from Washington, the bureaucrats and politicians seem blind to the fact that normal citizens—like myself—feel unsafe in the Istanbul subway because another bomb could go off at any moment. In Ankara, the climate is so tense that a “State of Emergency” has been declared at sporting events and fans will no longer be able to park their cars near stadiums or bring bags to games. Supporting groups who engage in this kind of violent terrorism that effects daily life should never be tolerated.

But the contradictions of “human rights” are evident for all to see, and the re-settlement of Syrian refugees is just one example of this. Current US President-elect Donald Trump has voiced his opposition to the further settlement of Syrian refugees in the past, saying  “We’ve admitted tens of thousands with no effective screening plan. We have no idea who we are letting in. You’ve seen what happened.” Many on the left in the United States dismiss Mr. Trump’s rhetoric as “Islamophobic” or “xenophobic”, but the problematic results of resettlement have been seen. After a 22-year-old Syrian refugee was arrested for groping a 13-year-old girl in Lowell, Massachusetts, “The city manager of Lowell told his local newspaper Tuesday [07/12/2016] that he was not even notified by the U.S. State Department or its resettlement contractor that Syrians were being delivered to his community.” This follows some of the secrecy surrounding Mr. Obama’s resettlement plan reported by WND:

 

The chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees are demanding the Obama administration provide details of a secret resettlement deal in which the U.S. has agreed to take up to 1,800 mostly Muslim asylum seekers who have been rejected by Australia as illegal aliens.

Congress only learned of the deal through media reports two weeks ago and, according to a letter sent to administration officials by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the deal is not only a matter of grave national security concern, but it could be illegal.

Notably, the only sites reporting on these kinds of things are Christian outlets like WND or Breitbart, which claims that the 110,000 migrants President Obama plans to bring to the United States will cost Americans 70.4 Billion USD over the next 75 years. State media—which is viewed as “legitimate” by many Americans—has remained conspicuously silent on these issues.

Perhaps that is because President Obama’s tenure has been—to put it nicely—characterized by many less than effective policies in the Middle East. Famous media personality Colonel Oliver North went so far as to call it “genocide”:

 

In the Middle East, the legacy of the Obama admin is genocide, a horrific refugee diaspora and a complete destabilization of the Middle East.

When Obama made his grand apology tour, utopian Arab spring speech in Cairo in June 2009, Syria had 23m people.

Today 12m people have been displaced; 400k+ Killed in Action; and 1.6m wounded.

Syrian civil war, Obama bug-out from Iraq, rise of ISIS, the IS invasion of Iraq, Al-Baghdadi’s “caliphate,” the overthrow of Gadhafi, global spread of radical Islam to 38 countries – all because of the Obama administrations weakness & failure to lead.

Even state media (The Washington Post) ran an editorial on 15 December 2016 critical of President Obama’s failures in the region:

The administration creatively pioneered a third option, which it pursued not only in Syria but also in Ukraine and elsewhere: Between action and inaction, it chose inconsequential action. There is the Obama doctrine! We backed moderate Syrian rebels, but not as seriously or as generously as the immoderate Syrian rebels were backed.

 

That state media in the United States should voice these kinds of opinions is notable, even if the editorial does not underline the fact that some of the Obama administrations actions did have consequences; opposition to President Assad would never have gotten this strong without American “action”. Now millions more have died in Syria than ever would have under a (relatively) stable Assad regime. But human rights told us that President Assad was a “bad man”, right? On the surface, yes. But beneath the surface there are real geopolitical ambitions that could only be achieved through a destabilization of the region and the regime.

The reason I bring this up is because, after being back in Istanbul for a week, I can feel a tension that didn’t exist in the past. A past before the Syrian war, a past before weekly bombings. And the fact that President Obama had a hand in creating this environment is something that—as both an American and a Turk—I find deeply disturbing. One way that the Syrian conflict has seeped into Turkish daily life is the presence of three million refugees. Mr. Trump thinks they would have a problem settling into American society; given that they have problems in Turkey—itself a Muslim country—adds some credence to his argument. Take this story from the Washington Post, about how Arabic signs are being taken down in Istanbul’s Fatih district which has become “Little Syria”.

 

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What Happened to Turkey’s Language Revolution? Arabic Dominates Storefronts in Istanbul. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/arabic-signs-face-removal-threat-in-istanbuls-little-syria/2016/11/25/ddc2cd10-b322-11e6-bc2d-19b3d759cfe7_story.html?utm_term=.5be3679a9154

 

While Turkey has opened its borders to Syrian refugees, allowing them access to education and even giving them business opportunities (much of the Arabic language signage mentioned in the story above is for restaurants), the hospitality seems to have been lost on some of the Syrian business owners. The Post reports that “Some Syrian residents are vowing to ignore the order, seeing it as an assault on their culture,” and a dual national Turkish-Syrian restauranteur predicts that attempts to remove the signage will be resisted by violence; Mehmet Basil Souccar said “You can be sure that if they enforce this order, there will be a very ugly picture in Aksaray”.

Mr. Souccar’s comments are—to me—disgustingly disrespectful. Turkey is not Syria. Refugees are guests, and as such they should do their best to adjust to their new surroundings. To threaten violence against the country that is hosting you is extremely disrespectful, to put it in as kind of terms as possible. If we want refugees to be tolerated in the era of globalism, we cannot afford to focus on ethnic difference to the extent that it renders assimilation impossible and creates an “us vs. them” mentality. But it is part of the struggle between globalism and nationalism that was unleashed in the post Cold War era and that is now coming to a head following the disastrous policies of the West in Syria.

The responses to this struggle are varied, but ignoring the enduring power of nationalism would be a mistake. The decision of the PKK to target the state in public settings—like a soccer stadium and public transportation—could prove to be a mistake. If Turks and Kurds can come together, recognizing their common destiny as citizens of one country and work together for a more equal society, then there may be a way out of the current vortex of violence that is hovering over the country. In order to do this, however, a less fascistic and more inclusive brand of civic—and not ethnic—conception of Turkish nationalism must be cultivated. The failures of globalism have shown that no government can force people to think in a certain way, that is up to the individual.

 

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Image Courtesy Of: https://mulpix.com/post/953431286256553315.html
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ENOUGH! A Discussion of the Bombing of Istanbul’s Istiklal Caddesi

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I hope that 19 March, 2016 goes down as the day Turkey says “enough”. As if it wasn’t clear enough already, enough is enough. When the street you have walked down for days (and nights) on end is targeted by a suicide bomber, it is time to say “enough”. When the central street of the city many of your friends live in is strewn with human body parts it is time to say “enough”. In a country where the central areas of the two biggest cities have been turned into bloodbaths three times in the last month despite heavy police presences, it is time to say “enough”. When representatives of that country’s government still spew hatred—ignoring the loss of innocent lives—it is time to say “enough”. When foreigners are deciding to leave that country out of fear for their lives it is time to say “enough”. When the government of that country tries to cynically sell its own dark plans for the future as a human-rights success it is time to say “enough”. When more and more rhetoric begins to appear comparing the state of affairs in reference to failed states like “Yugoslavia”, it is time to say “enough”. Unfortunately, my faith that people will be able to say “enough” is wavering more and more. With each passing day, with each unjustified arrest of journalists and academics, with each exploding bomb and rifle shot, with each drop of spilled innocent blood, I can’t help but feel my hopes and dreams slipping away as well…

On the morning of 19 March, 2016 a suicide bomber targeted Istanbul’s main shopping district, Beyoğlu’s Istiklal Caddesi, killing five and injuring thirty-nine.

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Image Courtesy Of: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3500017/Two-dead-seven-wounded-suicide-bomber-targets-tourist-shopping-area-Istanbul.html

This comes just five days after a car bombing killed thirty-seven and injured 125 in the Turkish capital of Ankara. That the tactics of Baghdad and Kabul have come to the very streets I have spent so much time on is upsetting, frustrating, and worrisome. To watch as a country slips through our hands like grains of sand on a beach is…unspeakably upsetting. And frustrating. And worrisome. In the wake of the Ankara bombings Turkish commentator Mehveş Evin said “I see where this is going, I’m scared, and I’m refusing to take sides”. She says “this is not going in the direction of 1990s Turkey, this is going in the direction of 1990s Yugoslavia”. Therefore, for her, it is wrong to take sides since that will only divide the country further—she cries for those killed in Ankara just as she cries for those killed in Turkey’s Kurdish cities which have recently suffered the full wrath of the Turkish Armed Forces.

The complicated part is that there are so many sides fighting this battle. Kurdish militants, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), claimed responsibility for the Ankara bombings, while so far no group has come forward regarding today’s Istanbul bombings. Many of the victims in Istanbul were foreign—Israelis, Irish, German, and Iranian— and TAK have threatened to target tourists, but that does not mean this was a TAK bombing. It could also be ISIS/ISIL given the tactics used and place targeted. A bombing of a transportation hub in the capital targets the state, a bombing in the main tourist hub—the equivalent of Times Square or Piccadilly Circus for instance—targets individuals and seems to be something more in line with international terrorism, such as ISIS/ISIL’s strike in Paris. One representative of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had no sympathy for the international victims; Irem Aktaş, the President of the Publicity and Media Unit of the AKP’s Women’s branch in Istanbul’s Eyüp district, Tweeted in response to a Haberturk story on the Israeli nationals wounded in the bombing: “May it be worse for Israeli citizens, If only they hadn’t been wounded but had all died”. One would think that a person working for the publicity and media branch of anything would have more tact! But no, Ms. Irem Aktaş did not. And she is representative of the kind of cold, calculated, classless, cruel, and brutally insensitive people that are dragging an entire country down a dark path. The fact that she has since been removed from the party cannot erase her rude insult not just to Israelis, but to humanity itself.

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Image Courtesy Of: http://www.diken.com.tr/israilliler-icin-keske-hepsi-olseydi-diyen-akpli-partiden-ihrac-ediliyor/

The context of the Istanbul bombing is important to keep in mind as well: This bombing comes on the eve of Turkey’s equivalent of the Super Bowl—the Fenerbahçe Galatasaray football derby in Istanbul—and comes a day after Turkey reached an agreement with the EU on Syrian migrants. No event happens in a vacuum and this one is no different. Hans Eskilsson, a former Swedish international footballer, witnessed the bombing when he was on Istiklal Caddesi on the way to buy tickets to the derby ). Like myself, Eskilsson travels the world attending derbys and there is no telling how many other foreigners are in the city for the same purpose. Safety concerns are another element to keep in mind ahead of tomorrow’s derby; Salah Abdeslam, who was caught on Friday in connection to the Paris attacks in November 2015, admitted that he had planned to detonate himself at the Stade de France. Stadiums, it seems, are becoming a new target of violence across the Middle East and Europe just as soccer fans have been targeted in Africa in the past.

This has affected Turkish football as well. After the Ankara bombings, where Galatasaray striker Umut Bulut’s father lost his life, Galatasaray’s star German striker Lukas Podolski has stated that he wants to leave the Turkish side at the end of his contract due to the violence and it will be important to keep an eye on how other foreign footballers react; the teams themselves have been quick to condemn the violence. Podolski’s country is similarly worried about the deteriorating security situation as the German Embassy in Ankara, Consulate in Istanbul, and schools were closed Friday due to threats; Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeir said “Yesterday [Thursday, 16 March] evening, some very concrete indications – to be taken very seriously – reached our security services, saying that terror attacks against German institutions within Turkey were being prepared”. Since the perpetrator of the Istanbul bombing was allegedly heading towards a different target when the device was detonated it is possible that the intended target was, indeed, a German interest; this leads me to believe that ISIS/ISIL had a hand in the bombing given that they killed 12 German tourists in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square on 12 January, 2016. This, of course, also begs the question: If the Germans knew, then why didn’t the Turks know? How could a bomber infiltrate an area so full of police as the heart of Istanbul has been since the Gezi Protests of 2013?

For an answer to why Germany (and Turkey) are being targeted it is worth looking at the second event that contextualizes the Istanbul bombings: The deal concerning Syrian migrants that Turkey made with the European Union on Friday, 18 March. Since Germany has been one of the main migrant destinations—as well as one of the leaders of the European union—they may have become an additional target for ISIS/ISIL.

The BBC lists the key points of the agreement below (Courtesy of: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35840272):

  • Returns: All “irregular migrants” crossing from Turkey into Greece from 20 March will be sent back. Each arrival will be individually assessed by the Greek authorities.
  • One-for-one: For each migrant returned to Turkey, a Syrian migrant will be resettled in the EU. Priority will be given to those who have not tried to illegally enter the EU and the number is capped at 72,000.
  • Visa restrictions: Turkish nationals should have access to the Schengen passport-free zone by June. This will not apply to non-Schengen countries like Britain.
  • Financial aid: The EU is to speed up the allocation of €3 bn ($3.3 bn; £2.3 bn) in aid to Turkey to help migrants.
  • Turkey EU membership: Both sides agreed to “re-energise” Turkey’s bid to join the European bloc, with talks due by July.

Of these “key points” there are two that are worth looking at in depth: the fact that “irregular migrants” will be returned to Turkey and that Turkish nationals will have visa-free access to the Schengen zone by June 2016. These two parts of the agreement criticized by many and brokered by the AKP government will allow for the AKP to do their own demographic re-arrangement of the Turkish polity.

Opponents of the AKP tend to be secular, generally come from the wealthier upper and middle classes, or are Kurdish; indeed according to Turkey’s 2013 ranking of provinces by socio-economic development no province won by the opposing CHP in the November 2015 elections was ranked lower than 30 out of the 81 provinces (3) Izmir; 7) Muğla; 15) Tekirdağ; 26) Edirne; 30) Kirklareli; Provinces with traditionally high CHP support–some that the party won in the June 2015 elections–also rank highly such as 4) Antalya, 9) Adana, and 21) Manisa). While the government may use military force to silence their Kurdish opponents in the east, a similar tactic is not viable in the urban areas of the west. The solution here, it seems, is to secure the visa-free travel agreement—which will mainly benefit wealthy, liberal, “Western” Turks—and simply get them out of the country. Perhaps the AKP believe that their opponents will take the opportunity to either migrate or just forget about the issues in their own country with the distraction of newfound freedom of movement.

The second component of this new policy—the return to Turkey of some migrants—is even more troubling. Where will Turkey settle all of these Syrian refugees? We have already seen a trend of Turkish men taking on Syrian wives—sometimes as their second and third wives—in the east of the country, which has had a devastating effect on marital and familial stability. Constanze Letsch noted in 2014 that:

Resentment is growing. Women in border towns and cities accuse Syrian women of luring away their husbands, saying their spouses routinely threaten them with taking a Syrian wife.

At the hairdressers in Reyhanli [a town on the Syrian/Turkish border], several local women express their anger. ‘Syrian women have broken up many families here,’ says Kadriye, 36, who owns a bridal wear business nearby. ‘Our husbands have become real beasts since the Syrians came. The men now make all kinds of excuses to bring in a second wife. They threaten us because of the smallest things: the food, the housekeeping, anything. Some take wives the age of their daughters.’

Along with this effect on Turkish families, however, there could be another—much darker—motive that will have a bigger effect on Turkish politics. An Istanbul MP from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Erdoğan Toprak, noted in a report that 500,000 Syrians who entered the country in 2011 will, now after five years of living in Turkey, become eligible for Turkish citizenship. By 2019, Toprak’s report argues there will be around three million Syrian refugees in Turkey. Toprak sees these newly minted citizens as an army of AKP votes since, after all, it was Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who so enthusiastically fought for the downfall of the Assad regime in Syria and opened his borders to migrants. Toprak further seizes on Erdoüan’s comment “Bir yılda güneydoğuyu yeniden inşa edeceğiz”—“We will re-build the southeast [of Turkey] in one year”. Toprak interprets this “re-building” as a demographic re-arrangement:

AKP hükümeti, mülteci yerleşim planıyla mültecileri bölge illerine dağıtarak, Kürt nüfusun yoğun olduğu yerlerde, demografik değişime gitmeyi düşünüyor olabilir ki bunun ipuçlarını da görmek mümkün.

The AKP government, by spreading refugees throughout provinces in the area through the refugee re-location plan, is thinking of moving towards a demographic change in places with high Kurdish populations. This is a possibility, and it is also possible to see hints of this.

If this is indeed the plan it is certainly a scary thought. By spreading Syrians with a right to vote in Kurdish areas it will 1) make the Kurds an even smaller minority and 2) drown out their voice at the ballot box. As we saw in the November 2015 elections the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was able to sweep Kurdish provinces and get into parliament; by manufacturing more AKP votes in the region through resettlement—gerrymandering through demographics—the Kurdish effect at the ballot will be tempered.

It is too early to tell what the government’s motive is regarding the refugee agreement; it may also be another show of force, one of those things Mr. Erdoğan has come to enjoy often to the detriment of his country. As Abukar Arman reminds us:

The situation in Turkey, Middle East and many other parts of the world beg for transformational leaders with vision, wisdom, and right temperament. It takes more than winning elections to cultivate harmonious society, optimally functioning state, and a nation that puts its national interests above personal, party, or movement. A divided nation is a weak nation, and leadership by wrath is a suicidal option.

In other words, in order to save Turkey, President Erdogan might have to clean up the political derbies and extend an olive branch to oppositions. Otherwise, ‘Lord, have mercy on Turkey’.

I am losing hope in President Erdoğan ever being able to extend such an “olive branch”, just as I am losing hope in people’s ability to finally say “enough”. And one comic that has been floating around Facebook sums up some of the pessimism. The female says “This time a bomb exploded in Taksim… [Referring to the main square of Istanbul, at the top of Istiklal Caddesi]. The male replies “But they made roads. What more do you want?”, referring to one of the AKP’s selling points, one which their supporters always bring up: that they improved Turkey’s highways. Perhaps they did make roads—in this case, its looking like a highway to hell.

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Courtesy: Facebook

Still, giving up hope is not an option in this case. In his ironic stab at the AKP government—who told people to “not worry about rumors” after the German government revealed the possibility of threats two days before the “rumors” were confirmed—Turkish columnist Yilmaz Özdil sends a good message: “Don’t believe the Rumors, Don’t Be Afraid be Brave!” He is mocking the government’s message but at the same time (in my most humble of opinions), he is sending the public a message: Don’t believe the rumors that the country is disintegrating, that it is on a downfall, that it is doomed—be brave and stand up for it. It’s a message I can live with despite the despair expressed by, for instance, novelist Elif Şafak. Perhaps Turkish literature is the place to turn to at this difficult time, when Istiklal Caddesi has been turned into an empty space compared to the bustling energetic hub it usually is.

Now (on the left); Previously (on the right). Images Courtesy of: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3500017/Two-dead-seven-wounded-suicide-bomber-targets-tourist-shopping-area-Istanbul.html

The poet Nazım Hikmet could not have said it better writing more than half a century ago:

24 Eylul 1945

En güzel deniz :

henüz gidilmemiş olanıdır…

En güzel çocuk :

henüz büyümedi.

En güzel günlerimiz :

henüz yaşamadıklarımız.

Ve sana söylemek istediğim en güzel söz :

henüz söylememiş olduğum sözdür…

——————————————–

The most beautiful sea:

hasn’t been crossed yet.

The most beautiful child:

hasn’t grown up yet.

Our most beautiful days:

we haven’t seen yet.

And the most beautiful words I wanted to tell you

I haven’t said yet…

-Nazim Hikmet

 

As the Beşiktaş fans (and perhaps the other fans of Istanbul United as well) themselves will tell you—again borrowing from Nazım Hikmet—“We will see good days my children, we will see sunny days….”

Güzel günler göreceğiz çocuklar, 


güneşli günler 
               

           göre- 
                     

                       -ceğiz…

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The Varying Roles of Turkish Airlines: From Football to Foreign Policy

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A few weeks ago I boarded an early summer Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Izmir and, like weary travellers all over the world, slumped into my seat. My first task was to explore the seat-back pocket in front of me. Not currently in need of any Davidoff or Hermes products I eschewed the in-flight shopping magazine and dug into the airline magazine Skylife instead. Alongside the usual articles about cities to visit (Mardin, Brugges, and Sochi, in this case) and interesting foods I stumbled upon one piece focusing on football. Curious, I dug in. It was an interview with Besiktas’s prolific Sengalese striker Demba Ba. The short interview had just twelve questions, mainly standard ones focusing on the player’s past exploits and favorite players—the (now) standard Messi or Ronaldo question, for instance. None of this was remotely surprising. What was surprising, however, was the focus on Islam and religiosity. A quarter of the interview—three questions—focused on the player’s religious views, two of which have no relation to football whatsoever. I have provided these three questions below for reference purposes courtesy of Skylife; the bold sections are the questions put forth by the interviewer:

Though you’re born in France, you’re deeply attached to the Senegalese culture and Islam. Did this play any part in your decision to come to Turkey?

I try to be a good Muslim; this definitely had an effect but it wasn’t the only reason. The fact that Turkey was mostly a Muslim country was very important and it enabled me to live easily.

Recently, you’ve made a donation for a mosque in Senegal, Koussanar, where your mother was born. What do you think about the mosques in Istanbul? Which one impresses you the most?

Istanbul is home to many beautiful mosques. My favorite is the Mimar Sinan Mosque in Ataşehir. It’s rather new but has a very impressive design. My favorite among the historical ones is the Blue Mosque.

What do you think about Islamophobia? It has been a fast-spreading phenomenon in recent years.

Islam is a 1,400-year-old religion and can’t be besmirched by foul mouthing. If there’s such a widespread feeling towards Islam, we should look ourselves in the mirror and try to find the reasons why. We have to try to promote Islam in a better way.

 

Obviously, these questions seemed out of place to me and stuck out due to the shear number of them. The interviewer goes from asking about penalty shots and how it felt to leave Chelsea to…discussing Islamophobia? It is a strange melding of sports and ideology. But, then again, not so strange given the fact that this is Turkish Airlines. In its quest to become a major global airline Turkish Airlines has paid great attention to the world’s game. They have become the official sponsors of, among others, FC Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, and the UEFA Champions League. They are also official shirt sponsors of French club Olympique Marseille and in the past they also sponsored Manchester United FC.

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Turkish Airlines also profit from Marseille’s celebrations. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.sportbuzzbusiness.fr/turkish-airlines-om-2014-2015-sponsoring-dos.html

Turkish Airlines planes often sport livery advertising the clubs they sponsor:

during the departer to the UEFA Champions League Final in London at airport Dortmund on May 24, 2013 in Dortmund, Germany.

during the departer to the UEFA Champions League Final in London at airport Dortmund on May 24, 2013 in Dortmund, Germany.

Borussia Dortmund. Image Courtesy Of: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/19/business/airlines-football-aeroflot-manchester-united/

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Manchester United FC. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=798106&page=2

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FC Barcelona. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.airliners.de/turkish-airlines-will-in-die-bundesliga/20751

In any given issue of Skylife it is also easy to find a picture of either (or if you’re lucky, both) Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu or President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the context of inaugurating new projects; in this case the new Ordu-Giresun Airport. The magazine’s online version of a similar story omitted their photos this month but a picture of the in-print version of the same article is provided below for comparison’s sake. In fact, Skylife sometimes reads like a piece of government propaganda—and this is the category that the aforementioned article falls under, at least for me. To explain we have to look deeper into what Turkish Airlines as a business entity means to Turkey.

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Online. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.skylife.com/en/2015-06/the-first-airport-on-land-fill-in-turkey-and-europe

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In Print. Author’s own Photo.

 

Two years ago Turkey analyst Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy mentioned Turkish airlines in an article he wrote about the contradictions inherent in Turkey’s economic growth and simultaneous rising political conservatism. He said that Turkish Airlines is:

“[A] publicly owned company whose ascent exemplifies the new and economically rising Turkey. The airline flies to more than 200 destinations from its hub in Istanbul, up from about 75 in 2002. It twice has been voted Europe’s best airline….Today, [their flights] are full of Europeans flying to Istanbul for connections across Turkey and Eurasia. But even as Turkey’s supercharged economy propels the airline forward, parochial conservatism is pulling it in another direction. The company recently announced that it will ban alcohol from most of its domestic flights. If Turkish Airlines aspires to be a global brand, it needs to stop acting like the Muslim airline for a Muslim country.”

That was in March of 2013. Since then the alcohol ban has been enforced, but that isn’t the only prohibition. The Airline made headlines again two months after that in May of 2013 when it banned flight attendants from wearing red lipstick. This was after the company had already banned flight attendants from sporting dyed red hairstyles, bleached platinum blonde hairstyles, and silver make-up. Later, in December 2014, a Turkish Airlines flight attendant was fired for “sexy” photos and videos that surfaced of her that were taken while she was off the job. The president of the airline’s labor union said that it was “totally down to Turkish Airlines management’s desire to shape the company to fit its own political and ideological stance” since Turkey was becoming “more conservative and more religious”. It is these motives also led to an attempt to change the cabin crew’s outfits earlier in 2013 which, thankfully, never came to fruition (I say that as someone with a modicum of fashion sense, and many designers agree. The outfits in question are below).

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1974. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/25/world/europe/new-uniforms-for-turkish-airlines-create-uproar.html?_r=0

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In 2013 it was back to the….(Ottoman) Past? Images Courtesy Of: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/25/world/europe/new-uniforms-for-turkish-airlines-create-uproar.html?_r=0 AND http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/new-turkish-airlines-uniforms-raise-eyebrows.aspx?pageID=238&nID=40810&NewsCatID=341

 

It is clear that Turkish Airlines, despite being partially privatized, still receives massive amounts of government support—a third airport is being built in Istanbul just so that the national carrier can continue its unprecedented growth as one of the world’s top airlines. What separates Turkish Airlines from the other airlines on the list, however, is the work it does for the government in the shadows.

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Turkish Airline’s Unprecedented Growth from 2003-2013. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.economist.com/news/business/21649509-advance-emirates-etihad-and-qatar-latterly-joined-turkish-airlines-looks-set

 

Back in November of 2011 the victims of a Mogadishu suicide bombing were flown from the Somali capital to Ankara on a Turkish Airlines plane in order to receive treatment. It was part of the beginning of what the BBC termed an “unlikely love affair” between the two countries. For Turkey’s ruling AKP party it seemed to have grabbed the low hanging fruit; reaching out to an impoverished Muslim country forgotten by the west allowed Turkey to step into an unoccupied vacuum and gain influence in the horn of Africa—a strategic geopolitical location.

The move hasn’t made Somalia a top tourist destination yet, however, and many Somalis used the opening Turkey provided to travel to Europe on fake passports, something that Turkish officials were either unaware of or turned a blind eye to. After all, before Turkish Airlines, no major airlines flew to Somalia; they had a monopoly.

In May of 2014 the problems with Turkey’s vision of Muslim solidarity hit hard when a Turkish Airlines security official was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Mogadishu. This followed a July 2013 attack by al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab militants on the Turkish embassy in Mogadishu that left several special-forces police injured. Pro-government writers in Turkey claimed that it was Western powers backing al-Shabaab out of jealousy for Turkey’s new role in Somalia that led to the attack. In January of 2015 Turkish nationals were again targeted in Mogadishu days before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was set to visit.

All the violence suggests that Turkey’s attempts to woo Somalia haven’t been accepted by all parts of Somalian society, despite the best of support from Turkey’s national airline. Still, four years on, this partnership is continuing in the name of “muslim solidarity”. Jason Mosely, from the think tank Chatham House, explains that “Turkey’s efforts in Somalia are much different than the Western approach in the country. It has much more legitimacy and popularity…Turkey has the support of the grassroots of Somalia. They have appreciation because Turkish involvement is only business, no counter-terrorism or anything else.”

Meanwhile just across the horn of Africa, in the sands of another impoverished and country forgotten by the West, Turkish Airlines is serving their country. The place this time? Yemen. On February 10 2013 Yemen and Turkey mutually lifted the entry visa requirement for their citizens travelling between the two countries. With the conflict in Syria raging, it was certainly interesting timing. Before that, in October of 2012, Turkish Airlines started flying four flights a week direct from Istanbul to the cities of Aden and Sana’a—hardly high volume international tourists destinations. Even without Business Insider explicitly stating the connection, it wasn’t hard to connect the dots. It seems that Turkey’s national flag carrier was transporting young Jihadis from Yemen to Turkey, where they made the trip overland to fight in Syria against the Assad regime that Turkey had—and still is—taking a hard line against. These flights were stopped in April 2015 following unrest in Yemen, but it all amounts to too little too late. The damage has already been done.

Turkey’s main geopolitical rival in the region, Iran, also focused on Turkish Airlines and through the Fars News Agency published stories claiming that weapons were being delivered to Yemen under the guise of humanitarian aid and that Taliban fighters were being transported from Pakistan to Turkey’s border with Syria. Although Fars News is known for its sensationalism, these stories did not come out of a vacuum. In February of 2015 some Arab commentators also noted that the reverse has started happening, with Turkey transporting Sunni fighters from Syria to Yemen in order to fight Iranian-backed Shiites:

“Media in Yemen recently reported that Turkey is using this process to repeat the scenario that played out in Syria, when it helped in bringing extremist Sunnis to fight Bashar al-Assad. Now Ankara is trying to do so under the pretext of trade and tourism exchanges in Yemen. Abdullah al-Shami, a senior politician in Yemen, said that Turkey is trying to take advantage of the current political vacuum in southern Yemen to help terrorist organizations operating in its territory.”

The veracity of such claims is, of course, debatable. In the world of Middle Eastern politics events are rarely clear, and the competing interests of those involved mean that reporting is often biased. What is clear—at least for me—is that Turkish Airlines is actively serving the interests of the Turkish government above and beyond its role as a partially privately owned business. Even in an airline magazine’s harmless interview with a football player the subtext is clear: The image of Turkey that is to be presented to the outside world is that of a conservative Muslim country that also likes its football. Unfortunately for the Turkish Airlines security official that lost his life in Somalia al-Shabaab’s terrorists did not accept that image…

May Day and Football’s Interaction with Political Developments in Turkey: Early May 2015

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NOTE: An Updated Version of This Post Can Be Found at Balkanist.net at http://balkanist.net/may-day-footballs-interaction-political-developments-turkey/

 

Another May Day came and went in Istanbul with much of the same old—police force used to suppress demonstrations on the “Worker’s Holiday”. This year, however, there was a little bit of an international feel to it all in the wake of the Baltimore riots back in the USA. The U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, John Bass, kicked it all off with a photoshopped picture of himself with blonde hair in response to comments made by Ankara’s AKP mayor Melih Gokcek who tweeted “Where are you stupid blonde, who accused Turkish police of using disproportionate force?” The uncouth comment was directed at U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, as Mr. Gokcek was—apparently—still seething over the fact that the U.S. had criticized Turkish police for using disproportionate force during the Gezi Protests two years ago.

Mr. Gokcek is indeed an interesting character, and football fans will know him better as the man who buried the famous football club Ankaragucu in debt after his son, Ahmet Gokcek, became chairman (with a little of his father’s help, naturally).

As for the May Day itself the football fans from Besiktas’s Çarşı group kept up their civic duty as they entered Besiktas’ square much to the delight of onlookers.

Before:

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After:

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Images Courtesy Of: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/as-it-happened-turkey-marks-tense-may-day-as-police-enforce-lockdown-in-central-istanbul.aspx?PageID=238&NID=81804&NewsCatID=339

And the international feel didn’t end there—A Çarşı banner was unfurled in Athens during May Day celebrations as well (http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/dunya/28893041.asp). I say celebrations because only in Istanbul does May 1 become a war zone…still, there was some time for football on Istanbul’s blockaded streets.

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Image Courtesy Of: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/dunya/28893041.asp

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Images Courtesy Of: http://www.hurhaber.com/sisli-de-1-mayis-sebebiyle-kapatilan-caddede-futbol-oynandi/haber-721781

A week after May Day’s violence President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scheduled an AKP rally on May 9 for a “general opening ceremony” (it is still unclear as to what was being unveiled) in the Izmir Ataturk Stadium, one of Turkey’s largest stadiums, in order to galvanize his support in a province that has never voted for him. The pictures tell the story; in some shots it seems as if there are more police than citizens and even the decision to move people from the stands onto the playing surface failed to produce the illusion of a large boisterous crowd. Before the rally, Mr. Erdogan said that AKP supporters wouldnt be able to fit in the stadium. But, of course, there is a reason: The AKP’s Izmir province president Bülent Delican said that the low turnout was the fault of Izmir’s governor and vowed that “The happiness of those who criticize us will be short lived. The AKP organizations will reckon with those who are now smiling on May 24 at Gundogdu [a main square in Izmir where the AKP is planning a major rally]. The AKP have 466 thousand members in Izmir. We can fill nine stadiums like that one”.

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Image Courtesy Of: http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/turkiye/274897/Erdogan_in_izmir_de_bos_tribunlere_yaptigi_mitingin_faturasi_valiye_cikti.html

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More Cops than Citizens? Perhaps.

 

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Her Trabzonspor iPhone cover isn’t fitting for someone from Izmir…Then again, the AKP is known for bussing in supporters from all over the country to attend their rallies.

Images Courtesy Of: http://www.rotahaber.com/siyaset/erdogan-in-izmir-mitingi-ilgi-gormedi-h529662.html

 

Maybe they can. But the issue at hand is not whether the AKP can fill stadiums with boisterous supporters; the issue is the rhetoric used by representatives of the AKP. The AKP member quoted above, Mr. Delican, makes no effort to mask the contempt he feels for his political opponents. Such vitriol has no place in a democratic society whose President is—ostensibly—expected to represent all members of a country, not just those that voted for him or her. Unfortunately the events of May 1, 2015 were not anomalies; they are just further indications that the AKP is looking to dig in their heels during the run up to elections in June, and that criticism—or even lack of support—will not be taken well.

Beylerbeyi 75. Yil, Beylerbeyi, Istanbul, Turkey — (Beylerbeyispor SK and Anadolu Üsküdarspor): Anadolu Üsküdarspor-Beylerbeyispor (0-1) Matchday

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Despite not being on the same level as Besiktas’s Inonu Stadium or Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage, the Beylerbeyi 75. Yil is still a beautifully situated stadium. Despite its current dilapidated state, it is clear that with a little bit of a make over the 75. Yil could become a fairly decent ground. The all-seater (which is missing more than a few seats) has a capacity of 5500. For anyone looking to get away from the urban sprawl in Istanbul for a few hours a trip to the Beylerbeyi 75. Yil to see a match, followed up by a fish meal on the Bosphorus, makes a good afternoon trip. The stadium is right off the Bosphorus bridge, following the “Welcome to Asia” sign. It is about a 15 minute walk from the Boğaziçi Köprüsü Metrobus stop, or a similar 15-20 minute ride via dolmuş from Üsküdar’s port–the stadium is a five minute walk inland from Beylerbeyi’s center. Here are a few more pictures from the derby between Anadolu Üsküdarspor and Beylerbeyispor.

 

Istanbul Excursions: A Visit to Beylerbeyi–November 9 2014

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The space between the Bosphorus Bridge and Beylerbeyi 75. Yil Stadium may be the only large green area left in Istanbul. I honestly do not think that it is an exaggeration as I take the narrow dilapidated staircase that leads from the highway down into the forest. The cracked concrete steps and leafy trees remind me of an Eastern European park and I feel free, released from Istanbul’s chaos. At the bottom of the staircase I’m greeted by a vacant lot with a run down gecekondu—shanty—and a restaurant parking lot full of Mercedes Benzes. The extremes of Istanbul’s inequality are everywhere.

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The walls are scrawled with Üsküdarspor graffiti and I follow the winding road, keeping the stadium in view to my left. Outside the stadium gates a few Anadolu Üsküdarspor fans are milling around, identifiable only by their green and white scarves. The cops on duty tell me that although Anadolu Üsküdarspor have been designated as the home team the situation is complicated, and I would be better off as a neutral supporter in the Beylerbeyi section. It is definitely complicated; it is, after all, a derby between two teams from two neighboring neighborhoods of the city that share the same stadium. But this is not the San Siro/Giuseppe Meazza for AC Milan-Inter Milan in the Serie A, this is the Beylerbeyi 75. Yil for Üsküdar Anadoluspor-Beylerbeyispor in the TFF 3rd Division. I head over to the Beylerbeyi entrance to find their fans hanging out in front of a kebab restaurant in green and red shirts and buy a ten Lira ticket.

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A wall opposite me says “Wake Up Muslims!! Wallahi Wake Up”. Üsküdar is one of Istanbul’s oldest and most pious neighborhoods, like Eyüp on the European side (which also lies outside the old city walls). For the population of 500,000 there are 180 mosques, and walking around one can feel the differences between Üsküdar and the European district of Beşiktaş that lies just across the Bosphorus. Unfortunately, Üsküdar was also a victim of the Istanbul riots of September 1955 and many Greek homes and businesses in the neighborhood were vandalized by looters. Much of the Greek presence can be traced back to the 7th century BC, when ancient Greek colonists settled in the area, then called Chrysopolis. But that is far away today—now it is a bustling Muslim neighborhood, the Green of the team’s jerseys serving as an interesting coincidence.

Üsküdar Anadoluspor was founded in 1908 by lawyer and journalist Burhan Felek (who helped Yusuf Ziya Öniş in founding the precursor to the Turkish Football Federation) and achieved some success as runners up in the Istanbul Football League in 1915 and 1917. But the story gets more complicated with this team, one of the first three clubs to be founded after the big three of Beşiktaş (1903), Galatasaray (1905), and Fenerbahçe (1907). Some of the founders left for Kadiköy and founded Fenerbahçe, others stayed in Üsküdar. After the 1980 military coup many of Üsküdar Anadoluspor’s grounds were confiscated by the junta and the few cups the team had won were stolen by looters—one of the few pieces of memorabilia left is this license from the club’s founding years:

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Image Courtesy Of: http://www.zaman.com.tr/cumaertesi_istanbulun-100-yillik-uc-buyuk-takimi-daha-var_774666.html

 

Author’s Note: This is where it gets weird—feel free to skip this paragraph and move on to the next if you’re not so into football:

After a confusing situation involving the formation—and name change—of a subsequent team, the team carrying the original name of Üsküdar Anadoluspor became Selimiyespor, now in the amateur leagues. The current Anadolu Üsküdarspor is what was once Üsküdar Öz Sahrayı Cedidspor, which changed its name to Anadolu Üsküdarspor in order to stay in the second division (If they kept the name of the original team they would have had to start from the third division) after Üsküdar Anadoluspor was relegated to the amateur leagues. If you are still with me the end result is that the current Anadolu Üsküdar team is not the same team that was founded in 1908. Thank you to Süleyman Bitmez and altligler.blogspot for this information, the two team’s almost identical badges are below:

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Images Courtesy Of: http://altligler.blogspot.com.tr/2012/07/anadolu-uskudar-mi-uskudar-anadolu-mu.html

The history of the team on the other side of the “derby”, Beylerbeyispor, is equally intriguing in a political sense. The team, like Anadolu Üsküdar (or Üsküdar Anadolu) is also one of Turkey’s oldest, formed in 1911. Unlike their counterparts from Üsküdar, however, Beylerbeyispor did not have much success in their early years (the club has never featured in Turkey’s top flight)—instead, their notoriety has come in the last decade. The team served as Galatasaray SK’s feeder team from 2003 to 2009 in order to give playing time to up-and-coming young players, similar to the minor league system in America’s Major League Baseball. I even have a Beylerbeyispor shirt from those years that has the same brand, sponsor, and even design (Adidas quartered pattern) as Galatasaray’s shirts from the period, the only difference is the color scheme.

The relationship between the two clubs was cut in 2009 after Galatasaray reportedly took issue with the way Beylerbeyispor was being run; during the six year relationship not a single player of significance rose from Beylerbeyispor to feature for Galatasaray and the adventure ended up costing the latter 6.5 million dollars. More recently other reports have come up concerning the team, including this one from an admittedly biased leftist news portal.

The news story in question was published immediately following the Gezi Park protests in June of 2013. While the content of the article may be debatable, the picture certainly is not: a large banner reading “Adam Gibi Adam” (A Man’s Man), featuring now president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s portrait, had been hung from the top of the Beylerbeyi 75. Yil Stadium’s main stand in true cult of personality fashion.

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Image Courtesy Of: http://haber.sol.org.tr/spor/pankartin-ardindan-tff-hesaplari-mi-cikiyor-haberi-76463

According to the story the president of Beylerbeyispor, Mustafa Yazici (himself from the same town as Mr. Erdoğan and a former Turkish Football Federation executive) admitted to hanging the portrait while the stadium manager claimed that it was fans who hung it. Regardless of the conflicting reports, what is clear is that the stadium became something of a political advertisement, no doubt due to its prominent location. (The stadium is clearly visible on the left to eastbound traffic exiting the Bosphorus Bridge).

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These, however, are mere details. What matters is that it is a balmy November day in Istanbul, one where I can sit in shirt-sleeves on the terraces basking in the sun with a beautiful view of green trees, the Bosphorus bridge, and football. It is almost San Francisco in the spring. Beylerbeyi even hit a free kick a quarter of an hour in, the keeper punching it into the roof of the net and making it 0-1 to the “visitors”. The fans are happy for a few moments…until the inevitable tensions come to the fore. Both teams are battling for promotion to the Turkish Second Division, with Beylerbeyi one point behind their rivals and one point out of the final playoff spot. The fans know this, and take offense at a hard foul by an Üsküdar player who, judging by the reactions, used to play for Beylerbeyi. No one likes Benedict Arnolds, especially not in football, and the fans rocking the fences below me show it. A lone plastic seat flies onto the pitch before the police push the fans back into their seats.

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I decide to keep watching from a safe distance, high in the stands, trying to focus on the sun that has cleared the clouds away instead of on the fans yelling obscenities at their counterparts across the protocol stands that serve as a buffer. I try to block it all out and just focus on the beautiful day. But it isn’t easy. At the half hour mark the fans inside the stadium start chanting together with fans outside the stadium standing on a hilltop overlooking the goal in front of me.

Beleştepe canlandı! Seksenlerin stadyum kültürüne geri döndük! (Freeloader hill has come alive! We’ve returned to the stadium culture of the eighties!),” quips one of the older men in front of me. It is humorous, I can’t lie.

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The halftime show is what really makes the stadium come alive however. The PA system chooses to play an odd Turkish rap song similar to this one—the lyrics “Yeşil-Beyaz Şampiyon Üsküdarspor (Green and White, Champions Üsküdarspor)” are what stick out to me…and to the other fans. Soon a crowd of men attempt to climb the fence separating the press box from the stands. As the crush ensues the police have to resort to their billy-clubs to keep the blood thirty group away. The PA announcer tries to explain that he was paid to play the song but—probably due to a request from the cops—he relents and decides on a more innocuous tune: Faydee—Can’t Let Go.

I decide to change my seat for a third time, the further you are from the crowds the less likely it is that you’ll get caught up in the nonsense, after all.

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The second half starts with a rowdier Beylerbeyi crowd. They’ve been worked into a frenzy and, with not much happening on the pitch, have focused their energy on the opposing fans. It is clear that the tensions will rise like the colors rising into the clear day from the fan’s smoke bombs. Why they chose turquoise and purple—when the team’s colors are red and green—is beyond me. I figure its all they could get their hands on and just laugh, moving for a fourth time so as to not suffocate from the chemicals.

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When extra riot control police are called in with ten minutes to go I see the writing on the wall and decide to head out with five minutes to go since neither team has shown the potential to change the score.

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I head down to the Bosphorus, a cobble-stoned waterfront promenade lined with Beylerbeyi’s famous fish restaurants, and grab a lunch of stuffed peppers and eggplant moussakka. The excitement and tension of the match day is all gone now, and it feels like another planet. Tourists visitng the Ottoman summer residence—Beylerbeyi Palace—are everywhere, ready to get on their boat for the next stop in a Bosphorus tour. Out on the water front it is calm as the sunset hour nears, young couples take selfies galore and I know that I should get going.

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As I near the main street I hear a familiar din, the sound of young voices singing in unison backed by drums. Indeed, Beylerbeyispor held on for the win. It is gridlock as the fans have blocked traffic to celebrate their derby victory. The tourists look on, mouths agape at the spectacle.

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I leave them to witness the odd scene and flag down a passing dolmus. Fifteen minutes to Üsküdar via minibus, and fifteen more to Beşiktaş via boat, just trying to outrun the setting sun for a little while longer.

Eyüp Stadium, Eyüp, Istanbul, Turkey — (Eyüpspor): Eyüpspor-Halide Edip Adivar Spor Külübü (4-0) Matchday

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A few pictures from the TFF Third Division match between Eyüpspor and Halide Edip Adivar Spor Külübü. The stadium currently has a capacity of 2,500–the away “stand” is merely a set of bleachers at the moment–but the municipality has plans for a new stadium with a capacity of 3,000 in addition to a basketball arena, swimming pool, and wrestling center. The project is due to start later this year and be completed in 2015 according to this announcement.

 

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