Author Archives: reubensilverman

Managing Crises in the Presidential Era, 2014-2021

As we have seen in previous parts of this essay, Turkey’s Central Bank has always been a politicized institution. Even so, the speed with which the bank has cycled through five presidents in six years remains unprecedented. Recent Presidents of Central Bank from left to right: Erdem Başçı (2011-2016), Murat Çetinkaya (2016-2019), Murat Uysal (2019-2020), […]

March 22

Halkbank and the Struggles of the 2010s

Halkbank, one of Turkey’s largest state-controlled financial institutions, gained notoriety during the 2010s as it was implicated in a scheme to evade Iranian sanctions. The bank, the scandal, and the US prosecution of a Halkbank manager illustrate how struggles between the AKP and the Gülen movement have reverberated–and often taken on a significance of their […]

February 23

Esbank and the Crises of the 1990s

Esbank was one of Turkey’s fastest growing financial institutions in the 1990s, until was revealed to be participating in a widespread manipulation of the banking system. Its rise and fall reveals many of the problems plaguing the banking industry at the end of the 20th century. Ad from The Financial Times, May 20, 1995 Turkey’s […]

The Central Bank of Turkey

İsmet İnönü and Celal Bayar(From Dünya, October 29, 2021) I)         Developing the Economy: 1930-1970 From its beginnings, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey was embroiled in personal rivalries. However, at the founding of the Republic, no such institution yet existed; instead, there was a financial system still dominated by European banks. The right to print […]

February 05

Times of Interest: The Central Bank of Turkey and the Presidential Era

From the time of its creation, Turkey’s Central Bank has been a focus of power struggles. Rival parties and rival factions within parties have sought to exercise control over it. Looking at how these struggles have played out, what it takes to win them, and the larger context in which they occur can give us […]

September 29

BOOK: Borderline Personalities: Lives at the Political, Social and Geographic Edges of Modern Turkey (2021)

Neither the Ottoman Empire nor the states like Turkey that succeeded it have interests or personalities of their own; they are collections of institutions forged by human beings. It is these human beings who have interests, ambitions, and dreams of what “the state” should look like. Their efforts to realize these visions are shaped by […]

June 08

“Public Women” and Public Officials

A scandal brings to light connections between the Turkish government and illicit activities . . .in the 1950s. Şaziye Topçu Zeren, popularly known as “Lüks Nermin,” operated one of Istanbul’s most famous brothels in the 1950s. One historian offers a luxurious description of the main room, decorated in red velvet and furnished with fine leather […]

May 05

Turkish Studies: Show (and Tell) Trials-Competing Narratives of Turkey’s Democrat Party Era (2021)

On May 28, 1960, a day after the Turkish armed forces had seized control of the state and arrested much of the ruling Democrat Party (DP), United States Ambassador Fletcher Warren visited the General Cemal Gürsel, the head of the newly-established ‘National Unity Committee.’ Warren, who was familiar with coups from his years serving in […]

February 03

Bleeding Heart Nationalist: Cegerxwîn and the Imagined Community (2021)

A group of students from the village madrassa were playing on a hilltop overlooking the Syrian border town of Qamishli. Overhead, Turkish bomber planes passed by, firing at the retreating supporters of Hajo Agha.[1] Hajo was the preeminent leader of the Hevêrkî, a Kurdish-speaking tribal confederation constituting some 150 villages around Tur Abdin in southeast Turkey. […]

June 11

Ahmet Kaya: Witness to the Age (Documentary)


January 28

Looking East From Istanbul: Memduh Sevket Esendal

Memduh Şevket Esendal was a revolutionary, a diplomat, and a political party grandee. During the interwar years, he was a Zelig-like figure, moving from Azerbaijan to Persia to Afghanistan, bearing witness as each underwent dramatic changes. Returning to Turkey in the 1940s, he became an active participant in political struggles. Yet, despite all these experiences, […]

June 08

The Middle East Journal: “Republican People’s Party People: Partisan Polarization in the Republic of Turkey, 1950–1953”

As a child the famous musician Ahmet Kaya spent his summers in the countryside. His father, a factory worker in the Eastern Anatolian city of Malatya, would send both Ahmet and his brother to stay with two uncles in their ancestral village. There Ahmet learned to play traditional bağlama music from one of these uncles, […]

April 08

The March 31 Events: Making Sense of the 2019 Elections

I avoided political rallies this year, but they were hard to ignore. On Sunday, March 24, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its coalition partner, the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), held a rally in Istanbul at the massive meeting grounds in Yenikapı. The grounds are perfectly positioned along the coast, beside one of […]

March 27

All Politics is Local: Turkey, 2019

  Turkey will hold its local elections on March 31. It has been five years since the last ones and, at that time, the story in foreign coverage was that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had its back to the wall, “struggling” following major protests and major corruption allegations.[1] With the exception of […]

January 10

South of the Border: The Turkish-Syrian Crisis of 1957 (Part 2)

The period 1957-1960 was decisive in the history of the Middle East—which is to say in the lives of millions of people. The regimes that emerged from the instability of these years would be more paranoid than ever, more committed to maintaining themselves in power and more focused on developing the sort of institutions that […]