On Violent Extremism

Full text of my talk on the ‘violent extremism’ panel, The Wilberforce Society Annual Conference 2017: Global Disenchantment, St John’s College, Cambridge, 4 February.   The Wilberforce Society, my fellow panellists and to you the audience, many thanks indeed for the kind invitation and the opportunity to be with you here today. In the ten […]

Berlin, Ankara and Zurich…

In the space of a few short hours, three separate terrorist incidents shocked the world. It might be incumbent upon the thinking individual to suggest some sort of pattern here or to determine the links between these different events to put forward an overarching paradigm, but it would also be foolhardy and somewhat disingenuous. In […]

The Impact of the Islamic State and Turkey’s Civil Society

Full text of my presentation, ‘The Impact of the Islamic State and Turkey’s Civil Society’. Paper present to TASAM (Turkish-Asian Centre for Strategic Studies) Fourth International Middle East Congress, ‘Turkish-Arab Relations: Multi-Dimensional Security Building’, Hatay, 27-29 April. Thank you, madam chair. Hello, good morning and welcome. I would like to thank the conference organisers for the kind […]

Brussels Attacks: Not Islam but Politics

Across the world right now, minute by minute news alerts are fixated on the terror attacks in Brussels. At the time of writing, 28 people have tragically lost their lives with countless others seriously injured in hospital. The shock, horror and trauma this will cause Belgium, combined with a global cry against Islamic terrorism, will […]

No Freedom, No Speech

Yesterday afternoon, the AKP moved in on Turkey’s biggest selling daily newspaper group, Zaman and Today’s Zaman in English, calling in the administrators, placing the news outlet under the authority of the government. The silencing of so-called dissenting media voices has occurred systematically over the years, leading to charges of authoritarianism, the abuse of power […]

The Trauma of Suffering

As I write the final few thousand words for my next book, which is on the condition of Islam, politics and ethnicity in contemporary Turkey, and as I read countless pages of news, opinion and blog posts rarely read by others this morning, I feel a sense of foreboding concerning the state of the world. […]

Sowing the Seeds of ISIS 2.0?

It is a case of smoke and mirrors indeed in relation to the conflict in Syria. What is going on? And what is going to happen? The so-called rebels are the militarised Sunni groups who are supported and funded by the US and Saudi Arabia through Turkey. The Russians are on the side of Assad, […]

Follow the money to understand Daesh

I am trying to get my head around understanding the geopolitics of the current crisis in ‪Syria. As always, it is a good idea to follow the money. In this case, we are talking about gas pipelines from the east to the west. Who wants more control of them? The ‪EU, ‎US, Saudi Arabia and ‪Turkey, where the latter […]

The Paris Attacks Explained

There is considerable emotionality and concern over the tragic events in Paris, but how can we explain the issue? The events in Paris on the night of Friday 13 will go down in history as one of the most horrific acts of organised violence in the country. Eight terrorists in six separate attacks unleashed a wave of terror […]

Turkey Can No Longer Ignore the Kurds

The latest elections in Turkey resulted in a majority for the AKP, but what will happen to the “Kurdish issue”? It has been a deadly summer in Turkey. Three suicide bomb attacks in less than six months have killed over 130 people, wounding hundreds more. Many of the victims were Kurdish in origin. Ironically, specifically […]

Erdogan’s winning hand

No one in their right minds could have predicted the election outcome in Turkey on 1 November. The pollsters got it wrong again. There may or may not have been a kind of fraudulent victory, but Erdogan’s gamble worked. His party is back with an overall majority, and his own future as the president with […]

Top Ten in Turkey

There are many astonishing facets to life in Turkey. From its history to its culture, from its cuisine to the hospitality of its people. But there are all sorts of other dynamics of a vast society that can only be gleaned from living and working in the country. Having had a chance to reside in […]

A Question of Free Speech

The recent shootings in Texas raise to the fore the question of freedom of speech, the freedom to offend, the issues of tolerance and coexistence in society, and the need to find a balance between these competing interests. One of the problems of the debate is the polarity of opinion, as they emerge in light […]

Conflict and peace in the Middle East

Introduction The ideals of diversity, difference, the notion of a mosaic society, are all amiable, but in reality these terms mean nothing without equality, without which there is no peace. As soon as one tribe regards itself more prized than the other, it is the beginning of every conflict. This experience is as old as […]