Rose Asani

The geopolitics behind Joe Robinson’s dramatic escape from Turkey

Whenever someone mentions the words ‘escape’ and ‘Turkey’ in the same sentence, I immediate think of the classic film, Midnight Express. While the details of how a former British solider jailed in Turkey for fighting against ISIS managed to flee the country are scant, this definitely has the beginnings of a Hollywood plot. To sum

Turkey’s religious authorities tighten their grip

Turkey’s top religious body has issued a new fatwa, saying that ‘every pious Muslim must only use their right hand to eat and drink’ – because, apparently, only demons are left-handed. While it may seem like that line has been lifted directly from a medieval text, when southpaws were routinely accused of consorting with the

Will Turkey dare to vote ‘No’ in Erdogan’s referendum?

Istanbul The Istanbul skyline is famous for being punctuated by mosques. Great domes of worship, with minarets reaching towards the heavens. The most famous is the mesmerising Blue Mosque. Built under the reign of Sultan Ahmet I, it was used as a symbol to reassert Ottoman power. Most people gasp in awe at its ornate

How Erdogan used the Dutch as political pawns

Rotterdam What started as a minor disagreement between Turkey and the Netherlands has now expanded into an unprecedented diplomatic spat. Turkish attempts to hold rallies in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands have been blocked – and President Erdogan is now using this to his advantage. In April, Erdogan will hold a referendum on changes to constitutional powers in

President Erdogan’s media mouthpiece aims to woo the west

‘Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter,’ bellowed Turkey’s President Erdogan as he officially launched the country’s first and only global English language public broadcaster this week. Thousands gathered for the booze-free spectacular to welcome TRT World onto their screens. But elsewhere in Turkey, the media has been punished. In

Is Turkey turning its back on the US?

On a cool day in Istanbul the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge was opened to much fanfare. Hundreds, if not thousands, came to watch Turkey’s President Erdogan unveil a masterpiece in design and engineering. Named after the conquering Ottoman Sultan who expanded the Empire into the Middle East, it has been billed as a ‘bridge to

Is Putin and Erdogan’s bromance back on?

At a luncheon to mark a thawing of relations between Turkey and Russia this week, the diners were given a particular treat. I’m not talking about Beluga caviar, though it may have been on the menu, but rather the special crockery bearing the image of each country’s presidents set out at each placing. The idea

How President Erdogan hopes to erase Ataturk’s Turkey

‘One day my mortal body will turn to dust, but the Turkish Republic will stand forever,’ said Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern nation. As such he is rewarded a special place in Turkish history as the ‘father of the Turks’. Indeed this is what Ataturk, the surname he was given by the

Will the US cave into Erdogan’s extradition demand?

The three-month school summer recess began in Turkey just over four weeks ago. But for some teachers they may never see the inside of a school here again. As part of President Erdogan’s post-failed coup cleansing, 21,000 teachers have had their licenses revoked. I’ll say that again, 21,000 teachers have had their licenses revoked. Why? It’s simple,

President Erdogan’s postmodern coup

‘Big theatre,’ the man who runs the shop downstairs said to me as I tried to buy a tin of tuna. Normally our exchanges are limited to a simple polite ‘hello, how are you, see you soon’. But this time he wouldn’t let me leave. He had something to say and I was his audience.

Letter from Istanbul: how Turkey’s coup failed

‘A COUP! THERE’S A MILITARY COUP!’ That’s the first I heard last night about events in Istanbul. Since then, things unfolded at lighting speed. A curfew was put in operation, but many rallied against it and took to the streets – in defiance of the coup, it seems, rather than in support of it. I’m in

Istanbul’s European side is seeing its freedom eroded away

It was meant to be a relatively quiet event. A few fans gathering to take part in a global listening party in support of the new album by Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool. Instead what happened last Friday – and what followed over the weekend – has drawn attention to the changing nature of Istanbul. For centuries