Weekly insights: Gender debates and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East

Spectrum first looks at the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and then examines gender dynamics in Turkey and around the world.
Weekly insights: Gender debates and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East

Hello everyone,

AK Party government plans to make a constitutional change, in order to underline that a family can only be consisted “by a male and a female”. This means a constitutional obstacle in front of homosexual marriage is being constructed. Today, İlkim tells about the equality of marriage.

Then, I tell about the increasing conflict in the Middle East. While Turkey is planning for a ground operation in Syria, the most far-right government in Israel’s history is coming to power. Moreover, the secular rebellion in Iran is still going on. The mullah regime’s disproportionate use of force risks the country’s territorial integrity and the region’s stability.

 We also summarized the recent opinion polls regarding to the current politics.

Hope to see you next week,

Bartu Özden


Days of conflict in the Middle East

Days of conflict in the Middle East

Following the terrorist attack in Taksim, Turkey launched a military campaign against the terrorist organisation PKK and its extension YPG in the northern regions of Iraq and Syria ‘to eliminate terrorist attacks, ensure border security, and eliminate terrorism at its source.’ Pençe-Kılıç (Claw-Sword) organised the air campaign. President Erdoğan said ‘It will not be limited to an air campaign’ and signaled that a ground campaign is on the way.

While the terrorist organisation threatened Turkey after the campaign, two people, including a child, were killed in rocket attacks in Gaziantep and Kilis. Many people were injured.

Impending dangers in Afghanistan and Israel

Clashes broke out on Sunday night in the border region between the Taliban, who took control of Afghanistan last year, and Pakistan, where Imran Khan's government was ousted in April. Although tensions have been reduced, it is obvious that the two administrations, which cannot agree on the control of the area called the Durand Line, will face each other again.

In Israel, former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to form the most nationalist government in the country's history with the support of the far right, who do not recognise Palestine's right to exist and think that Israel should annex all of Palestine.

The revolt continues in Iran

Although all this suggests that the Middle East is rapidly moving towards a conflictual process, the real storm is brewing in Iran, where anti-regime protests have spread throughout the country.

The anti-regime protests, which started more than two months ago after the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, who was detained by the morality police for not wearing her headscarf ‘properly’, continue. Political scientist Arif Keskin argues that ‘the loss of hope for reform in the country has given all protests an anti-regime character.’

In the country where student boycotts in high schools and universities and shopkeepers' strikes in the cities, security forces have been trying to suppress the revolt with increasingly harsh methods in recent days.

Activists confirm that the number of people killed in the demonstrations has exceeded 400, including at least 47 children. In the country, where the funerals of the killed citizens also turned into anti-regime demonstrations, it is seen that the religious leader Ali Khamenei, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by the US, or other symbols of the regime were destroyed and police stations were burnt. The turbans of the mullahs continue to be the target of the demonstrators. It is stated that more than 15 thousand arrests have been made so far, and six demonstrators have been sentenced to death.

There were clashes in some regions, and security forces were killed. The funerals of the killed security forces are also turned into pro-state demonstrations by the mullah regime. The regime continues to see the protests as ‘provocation of the West and acts of terrorism.’

While there are resignations in Iranian state media, national team athletes support the protests by not singing the national anthem in competitions, and artists make anti-regime statements. The Iranian anti-regime diaspora scattered around the world continues to spread the protests around the world.

The uprising, which has made history with the slogans of ‘women, life, freedom’ and ‘death to the dictator,’ is for now melting ethnic and ideological differences and uniting the society in secularism against the mullah regime. On the other hand, in regions where Azeri Turks and Kurds are the majority, the uprisings have the potential to take on a separatist character.

Iran-Azerbaijan tension

Iran had adopted a position supporting Armenia in Azerbaijan's war to liberate Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian occupation. In addition to the impact of the planned opening of the Zangezur corridor on Iran's trade, Tehran was reportedly concerned about Turkey's growing influence in the region, the rapprochement between Azerbaijan and Israel, and the development of relations between Azeri Turks in Iran and Azerbaijan. 

Earlier this month, an ‘illegal armed group’ established by Iranian intelligence in Azerbaijan was deciphered, and Azerbaijan decided to open an embassy in Israel. Today, in the city of Tabriz, where Azerbaijani Turks live in large numbers, the slogans ‘Azerbaijani nation, it cannot bear this weakness’ and ‘freedom, justice, the national government’ are becoming increasingly audible.

While the northwest of Iran is called ‘South Azerbaijan’, the number of Azeri Turks living in the country is estimated to be 25 million. The total population of Azerbaijan is just over 10 million.

Iran's attack on Northern Iraq

In Iran's Kurdistan province, violent protests and separatist slogans have been heard since Amini was killed. The fact that Amini was a young woman of Kurdish origin increases the anger in the region even more. Especially in the city of Mahabad, it is stated that the intervention of the regime forces in the demonstrations has reached the level of ‘massacre’.

In addition, Iran has announced that it targets the headquarters of the armed Iranian Kurdistan Democratic Party (IKDP) and the Komele Labourers' Party in the northern Iraqi cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah with missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles ‘to ensure border security’, which it claims are fuelling protests in the country. On 28 September, 14 November, and 20 November, some people lost their lives in the attacks. While Iran is demanding the Iraqi government disarm these groups, it is stated that the clashes may escalate if the Peshmerga forces respond.

Although it is stated that PJAK, the Kurdish separatist PKK-linked terrorist organisation in Iran, supports the anti-regime demonstrations, it is commented that ‘the recently increasing Iran-PKK rapprochement has enabled the terrorist organisation PKK to gain a blackmail trump card over Iran through PJAK.’ Iran, in turn, sends its message to the separatist Kurdish movement by attacking the IKDP, which ‘competes with PJAK in its claim to represent, lead and protect the Kurdish community.’

With its disproportionate use of force against the democratic reaction of the people, the mullah regime in Iran jeopardises not only its territorial integrity but also the stability of the entire Middle East.

Hikâyeyi paylaşmak için:

Opinion Polls

Turkey Report's survey showed that 60% of the respondents think that CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu's proposal to legalize the headscarf is "not sincere". The rate of those who think the initiative is "appropriate and necessary" is 31%, while 64% see it as "an effort to win votes". The rate of those who think that "CHP is trying to make peace with its past with this initiative" was 41%.

"CHP would not ban the headscarf": In the Metropoll Research survey, 35% of respondents answered "yes" to the question "Do you think the CHP would ban headscarves in universities and state offices if it comes to power?", while 60% said "no".

Distribution by the parties' voters: It was observed that the majority of AK Party and MHP voters believe that the CHP will ban headscarves.

"AK Party would not impose dress restrictions": In the same survey, 24% answered "yes" and 73% answered "no" to the question "If the AK Party wins the next elections, will it impose restrictions on women's clothing?".

Distribution by the parties' voters: It was observed that the majority of CHP supporters believed that the AK Party would impose dress restrictions.

Editor's comment: The widespread belief among citizens that dress codes will be introduced depending on the election results shows the extent of political polarization. Moreover, initiatives such as the CHP's effort are not seen as sincere, perhaps fueling these concerns in vain. Rather than politicians or parties trying to provide guarantees on their own, the only way to alleviate these concerns seems to be for the political institution to come together and for political polarization to decrease.

In the survey conducted by Metropoll Research, 23% of the respondents answered "yes" and 60% answered "no" to the question "Do you think the HDP leadership left Selahattin Demirtaş alone?". The rate of those who did not express an opinion was 17%.

Distribution according by the parties' voters: The highest percentage of CHP, HDP, and DEVA Party voters thought that HDP left Demirtaş alone.

Editor's comment: As Demirtaş, the imprisoned former HDP Co-Chairman, diverges from the HDP, the imprisoned terrorist leader Abdullah Öcalan and the terrorist organization PKK with his statements, it is quite likely that the number of people who answered "yes" to this question will increase.

In the Metropoll Research survey, 54% of the respondents answered "yes" and 38% answered "no" to the question "Do you think it would be in Turkey's interest to establish good relations with Russia?".

"Good for Erdogan": In the same survey, 48.6% said "yes" and 45% said "no" to the question "Do you think that good relation with Russia will help President Erdoğan win the elections?".


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