Turkish citizenship is for sale, but will Arabs buy in?

 

Turkish citzenship sale

 

If you are rich and want to acquire Turkish citizenship, then congrats, your wish has come true. Turkey has significantly eased requirements for acquiring Turkish citizenship. The new regulations reduce the limits for fixed capital investments to acquire Turkish citizenship, reducing the investment from $2 million to $500,000. Additionally, foreigners who own real estate in Turkey worth a minimum of $250,000, instead of $1 million, can also acquire Turkish citizenship.

The aim of the amendment is to attract foreign investment after the collapse of the Turkish lira and the real-estate sector. House sales across Turkey have declined 12.5 percenton a yearly basis in August with a more than 67 percent yearly decrease in mortgage sales. Morover, the Turkish central bank’s total foreign currency reserves have fallensince April 2010.

Taking a look at the International Classification of Passports around the world, there is one clear conclusion: the new Turkish nationality law is not directed at the Western world. According to this classification, the Turkish passport is ranked 39th in the global passport index.

Within that rank, all Western passports are classified at much higher salaries than the Turkish passport. It is therefore natural that most Westerners will not be lured by an offer of Turkish citizenship.  Therefore, it seems that the goal of the new law is to attract businesspersons from Arab countries, Iran, and some Asian countries. The Turkish president’s goal appears to leverage Turkish nationality, particularly to his wealthy non-Turkish followers, to save the Turkish economy and to serve his political and social goals.

President Erdogan is now aiming to reduce any remaining economic influence left in the secular camp after having curbed the influence of his secular nemesis from Turkey’s political scene, and forcing a boarder exodusfrom the country’s secular population. Days ago, the Turkish presidenttargeted the main secular opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) over its shares in Turkish lender Isbank, demanding the transfer of its share to the Treasury. He also called for an investigation into bank members who belong to the opposition Republican People’s Party.

The Turksih president’s policies are reminiscent of silmilar ones taken by former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Despite the fundamental differences between the two leaders, they share a hatred for any secular aristocracy with their good life, affection for Westerners, and their control of the economy. While Nasser wanted anti-Western socialist totalitarianism, Erdogan aims to mold Turkey into some form of loyal, anti-Western, Islamist capitalism.

Looking back at 1950s Egypt, most pro-Western rich businessmen were forced to leave the country after Nasser tighten his grip on the economy. While the Treasury acquired their money and assets, this did not help Egypt, as Nasser later squandered the cash on his political and militarily adventures. Decades later, Egyptians now watch their old black-and-white movies, and miss a beautiful bygone era.

Arab history books explain how the Ottoman Sultans transferred the most skilled Arab artisans to Istanbul after conquests by their armies. Today, however, the neo-Ottoman president does not want skilled artisans, but instead rich businessmen. He does not care much about the source of money, nor does he care about the investor’s goal of obtaining a Turkish passport, as long as they strengthen his ailing economy.

But will the rich Middle Eastern and other business owners find Turkish citizenship attractive? Iranians may find this offer especially attractive, as the Iranian riyal has severely depreciated and U.S. sanctions are expected to go in effect next November. The acquisition of Turkish citizenship for some within Iran may be an easy way to avoid U.S. sanctions, by transferring their funds legitimately from inside Iran to Turkey. A Turkish passport also facilitates easier global travel.

For wealthy Arabs and business owners, however, especially from the Gulf states, a Turkish passport may not be as enticing. For example, a UAE passport is ranked much higher than its Turkish counterpart, so it is a safe bet to assume that Emirates businessmen will not find such offers attractive. This is similar for most other Gulf country citizens, mainly because of political differences between their leadership and that of Turkey. It is worth remembering that Turkey has sided with Qatar against the Saudi-led boucott imposed on Doha last year. Therefore, it would not be wise for a Gulf businessperson to risk creating conflict of interests by acquiring Turkish citizenship.

One group may find Turkish citizenship appealing; Arab Islamists. Such Islamists can be found among Qataris and other Islamist opponents of Arab regimes. Many Islamists who have repeatedly called for support of the Turkish lira may offer to buy Turkish nationality and invest in Turkey. Buying a beautiful villa on the Bosphorus when prices are low is nice, and now comes with the bonus of a Turkish passport. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that there will be a rush of Islamists seeking to acquire Turkish citizenship. While verbal support of Erdogan is easy, as is urging others to support the Turkish lira; when it comes to passport matters, wealthy Islamists still prefer Western passports and investing in countries with transparant rules and regulations that guarantee the interests of businesses, regardless of political and religious affiliation.

In short, the amended regulations for Turkish citizenship may lure some within Erdogan’s regional fan club to acquire a Turkish passport, but this citizenship sale will not do much to solve Turkey’s economic crisis. Turkey, like Egypt before, will learn that money alone does not build a stable flourishing economy.

 

An Arabic version of this piece is originally published in Al-Hurra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Twitter Thread: NYT David Kirkpatrick and Egypt’s Copts

Journalist and International correspondent for the New York Times has recently wrote an article in Church Times about Egypt’s Copts and their relationship with the Egyptian President Sisi. The article was full of disputed ideas that were promptly addressed by Samuel Tadros, Senior Fellow in Hoover Institute. I found Samuel’s Twitter thread enlightening and smart. Unfortunately, David declined to discuss the points raised publicly on Twitter. 

 

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This Week in Egypt: Week 28 ( Sept 17-23)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt court orders release of ex-president Mubarak’s sons
  • Egypt presents new plan to return control of Gaza to PA
  • Austria urges EU to launch migrant talks with Egypt
  • Trump to meet Israel, Egypt, Japan leaders during a gathering for U.N. General Assembly
  • Egypt releases 1978 Camp David Accords calling for Palestinian autonomy
  • An Egyptian court has sentenced 64 people to varying prison terms and one man to death over violence in 2013

 

Main Headlines

 Monday 

  • Egyptian Parliament’s majority coalition selects new leader
  • Province of Sinai claims responsibility for killing 3 civilians in Rafah
  • Germany-Egypt flights to increase 20% this year

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

  • An Egyptian court has sentenced 64 people to varying prison terms and one man to death over violence in 2013 over violence in 2013
  • Egypt presents a new planto return control of Gaza to PA
  • Cutting ties with Qatar will continue until 13 demands become fulfilled: Egypt’s FM Shoukry
  • India and Egypt may hold joint military drill
  • Statement Regarding FBI Director Christopher A. Wray’s visit to Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, and Lebanon
  • Saudi-Egyptian construction company to begin selling its administrative capital’s units early October

Reports

Good Read

From Twitter

 

Plus

  • Egypt’s ancient temples rescued from the Nile 50 years ago. Antoinette Chalaby-Moualla
  • Honoring Gamil Rateb: a giant actorbetween Egypt and France (1926-2018)
  • Egypt’s second El Gouna Film Festival opens on the Red Sea
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This Week in Egyp: Week 37 ( Sept-10-16)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt arrests ex-President Mubarak’s sons for embezzlement
  • Germany’s DW: Sex allegations against ex-staffer is credible
  • Egypt’s prosecutor-general: Death of two British tourists in Hurghada caused by E. coli Bacteria
  • France presses close ally Egypt to suspend mass death sentences 
  • Egypt to transfer seized Muslim Brotherhood funds to state treasury
  • The Egyptian stock market suffered severe losses on Sunday amid a crunch in liquidity

 Main Headlines

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday 

 Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good reports

Good Read

  • In the 1950s, a Jewish family fled Egypt. Their Brooklyn bakery offers a taste of that world. Matthew Sedacca

 From Twitter

 

 

Sports

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This Week in Egypt: Week 36 -2018 ( Sept 3-9)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt sentences hundreds over 2013 pro-Morsi protests, including 75 to death
  • An Egyptian Man was arrested after backpack ignites near U.S. embassy in Cairo
  • Egypt’s foreign debt rises to $92.64 bln at end-June
  • Egyptian church suspends one monk for a year and permanently expels another
  • Egyptian Armed Forces launch first Gowind-class Corvette made in Egypt
  • Egypt is fined $2 billion over natural gas dispute
  • Cairo court reduces sentence for Lebanese Mona Mazbouh to suspended jail term
  • Egypt nears completion of its $1billion transport link under the Suez Canal that will reduce travel time from several hours to four minutes

 Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

 Good Reports

Good Read

  • Imprisoned in Egypt for his writing, Ahmed Naji is finally free. Y Z Chin

From Twitter

https://twitter.com/mahmouedgamal44/status/1037313489201754112?s=21

Sports

  • Egypt’s Salah competes with Modric and Ronaldo for “FIFA Men’s Player” award
  • Egypt turned on the style in their first match under Javier Aguirre, recording a comprehensive 6-0 home win over Niger

Obituary

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This Week in Egypt: Week 35 (Aug 27-Sept 2)

Top Headlines

  • Ethiopian PM and Egyptian President Hold Talks In Beijing
  • Egypt’s Sisi appoints Major General Sherif Seif El-Din Hussein as new head of the country’s anti-corruption authority
  • Egypt‘s Sisi ratifies law to clamp down on social media
  • Manal Mikhail becomes Egypt’s first female Coptic governor 
  • Copts attacked in Egypt’s south over homes used as churches
  • New Egyptian draft law suggests five year sentence for “insulting historical figures”
  • Egypt’s Al-Azhar says sexual harassment is forbidden and cannot be justified 

 Main Headlines

 Monday

  • Italy is hopeful for breakthrough in investigation into student’s death
  • An Egyptian court has sentenced six people to death for their roles in a 2016 militant attack on a security checkpoint north of Cairo that killed a policeman
  • An Egyptian opposition coalition has urged authorities to release a former diplomat who called for a referendum on President Sisi’s government

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

Good Read

Timeline:

From Twitter

Plus

 

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Qatar’s Turkish Gamble

 

Qatar and Turkey

Early last July, as the Gulf crisis between Qatar and its neighbours entered its second year, the leadership in Doha projected a defiant and confident image. The presence of Turkish troops on its soil and the flood of Turkish goods to its market have helped Qatar’s confidence. However, Qatar did not expect that, only a few weeks down the line, its backer, Turkey, would be the vulnerable one in need of help.

A lot can change in the span of a few weeks. By the end of July, the Turkish lira had dropped more than 40% against the dollar. The lira crisis was compounded by the dispute between Turkey and the US over the imprisonment of the American pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey. Brunson is accused of being a spy who attempted to overthrow the government during a 2016 coup, but to the US, Brunson is an innocent man who is being wrongfully detained. The Trump Administration imposed financial sanctions on Turkey and threatened more actions unless the pastor is released.

After an initial silence, Qatar stepped up to help Turkey. Qatar’s emir pledged $15 billion for economic projects, investments, and deposits in support of Turkey. Qatar’s and Turkey’s central banks subsequently signed a currency swap agreement to provide liquidity and support for financial stability.

Some observers were surprised by the Qatari decision to stand by Turkey, viewing the Doha’s move as a stand against US President Trump in his political dispute with Turkey over the detention of the pastor, yet such support was actually expected. The Qatari regime is an integral part of the International Brotherhood movement, who bet on Erdogan’s Turkey as a model and a patron. Islamism is now so embedded within Doha’s corridors of power that it can force the emir to step in to support his Turkish friend, even if the dispute between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours had never happened.

Nonetheless, the Qatari decision to pump billions into Turkey is simply a gamble that may prove to be reckless and harmful for Qatari interests in the long term.

First, Qatar still needs the United States.:

Since the beginning of the Gulf crisis last year, the leadership in Doha has relied on the United States to be a patron and mediator to resolve the crisis. Doha has recruited dozens of writers to defend its regime in Washington and portray it as an obedient ally of the United States. The Turkish–American dispute broke this image of Qatar. By siding with Turkey, Qatar risks ruining its relations with the US administration. There are already signs that the Qatari move has not gone over well in DC. In an interview with Reuters a few days ago, US National Security Advisor John Boltonexpressed that the Qatari cash infusion would not help Ankara’s economy. “Well, I think what they pledged is utterly insufficient to have an impact on Turkey’s economy. It’s certainly not helpful but we’ll actually see what develops from their pledge,” he added. Moreover, Republican Senator Ted Buddvoiced his deep concerns about Qatari regional activities. He did not mention Turkey, but highlighted that Iranian banks are moving their foreign exchange operations to the Qatar National Bank. He also emphasized Qatar’s continued support of state-sponsored terrorism efforts.

The US administration may refrain from publically criticising Qatar, but the US can stifle Qatar—not only politically, but also economically—if it wants to. Qatari banks have been in a fragile position since the beginning of the Gulf crisis. Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has recently repatriated about $20 billionto help support the country’s banks that are already stretched thin after financing the demands of the $200 billion 2022 World Cup and the ongoing Saudi Arabian-led boycott.

Second, investing in Turkey is a risky gamble:

This is not the first time Turkey has faced a severe economic crisis. In 2001, the Turkish state faced a similar crisis, but it overcame it by adopting rational fiscal and economic measures. However, the current crisis is different. It has the deep marks of a toxic mix of populism and Islamism that rendered the Turkish economy out of sync with other open-market economies.

Like other populist regimes, Erdogan’s Turkey has been obsessed with the construction boom, which was financed through unwise borrowing and led to rising debt held by Turkish banks and companies of an estimated $350 billion. Furthermore, the Turkish president’s handling of the crisis reflects his destructive Islamist doctrine with its three-fold destructive pattern:

  1. Rejection of high interest rate: Islamists, in general, perceive high interest rates to be un-Islamic, but the Turkish president took his hatred of interest rates a step further. Last May, he described interest rates as the “mother and father of all evil”,triggering a slide in the Turkish lira long before the dispute with the American president.
  2. Cronyism: Like all cults, in Islamism, there is great emphasis on loyalty above experience. Erdogan’s Turkey is no exception. In a recent op-ed piece, Turkey’s former central bank governorDurmuş Yılmaz described how Turkey’s best minds have been forced out of positions of power and replaced with those loyal to President Erdogan; as a result, corruption and cronyism are eating away at the country like cancer.
  3. Political spinning: Rather than acknowledging the root causes behind the fall of the Turkish lira, President Erdogan resorted to spinning and framing the crisis as an economic war against his country. He went even further, asserting that attacks against the Turkish economy are no different than attacking the adhan, the Muslim call for prayer, as if there were no Muslim adhanexcept in Turkey and no Muslims except his followers.

By tying itself to such a dysfunctional economy, Qatar has done its people a total disservice. The current Turkish–American crisis poses completely different challenges for the leadership in Doha. Qatar’s billions, which usually help Doha solve any crisis it faces, are useless this time. It will neither save Turkey from its self-destructive path nor help strengthen its relations with the US leadership. Even if Qatar tried to mediate between Turkey and US, such mediation would be doomed to failure as the dispute runs much deeper than “ransom money”.

Qatar has entered the Islamist bunker without an exit strategy but with an Ottoman patron that has increasingly been a liability rather than an asset. From now on, it will be an ATM machine for a doomed project that has become increasingly disengaged from reality.

An Arabic version of this piece was published in Al-Hurra

 

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This Week in Egypt: Week 34 ( August 20-26)

Top Headlines 

  • 4 police officers and 4 militants were killed in an attack in North Sinai’s Al-Arish
  • ISIS claims responsibility for Sinai’s Al-Arish attack
  • Egypt’s FM and intelligence chief head to Ethiopia to discuss Renaissance Dam
  • Holidaymakers to be evacuated from hotel in Egypt following the death of a British couple

 Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

  • US Apache plans to invest $1 bln annually in Egypt
  • Egyptians celebrate Eid Al-Adha with prayers and sacrifices
  • 2,376 prisoners including hundreds of debt defaulters are released by presidential pardon on first day of Eid
  • Egypt’s Sisi performs Eid Al-Adha prayers in Alexandria

Wednesday

  • Egypt’s defence minister concludes two-day visit to Russia
  • Death toll among Egyptian pilgrims on hajj reaches 33
  • Egyptian exports climb $1.2 billion in only three months

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

  • Egypt officials say 4 police officers and 4 militants killed in North Sinai
  • Egypt’s hotel deaths: ‘No toxic gasin UK couple’s room’
  • A40-year-old man was killed during Eid celebrations after he confronted another man who was allegedly harassing his wife
  • Egypt parliament rights committee working to abolish prison terms for debt defaulters
  • Vietnamese President arrives in Luxor for tour; to meet with Sisi in Cairo on Monday

Sunday 

Good Reports

 Good read

From Twitter

 

Q&A: 

Plus

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How Did Iran Win in Syria?

 

Assad and Khameini

Photo via Reuters

 

It is over – the Syrian revolution has ended. Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad took full control of the province of Deraa, the birthplace of the 2011 protests. Now Assad has regained control of most of Syria and is preparing to take over Idlib, the last region still under opposition control.

The latest capture of Deraa illustrates what went wrong. In 2011, civilians were chanting peacefully against Assad in Deraa. In 2018, however, Assad regained the territories from a radical Islamist ISIS affiliate, Jaysh Khalid Ibn al-Waleed. What started as a peaceful revolt against a dictator has turned into an ugly civil war in which Islamismhas played a pivotal rule.

A few years ago, I attended a seminar on the Syrian conflict and listened to speakers debating when (not if) Assad would fall and predicted the potential shape of Syria following the end of his regime. I voiced my scepticism and highlighted how Assad stood a good chance of surviving. However, my views were not popular.

Now Assad has won. Pundits and observers are attributing his victory to Russia’s ruthless intervention and the United States’ regional policy blunder. Both reasons are valid; nonetheless, we must not underestimate the role of political Islam. Let’s be honest, the main factor behind Assad’s victory is the myopic and reckless Islamization of the opposition in contrast to a much more pragmatic approach by Assad and his Iranian allies.

The Tehran regime realised in the early days of the Syrian revolution that it stood no chance of victory in Syria without abandoning the rigid elements of its ideology. It then adopted a much more pragmatic approach in order to preserve Assad’s allegedly secular regime against an increasingly Islamist opposition. The Mullahs resorted to several tactics to portray themselves as the “tolerant side” against the increasingly radical Islamist opposition.

First, muting the Iranian version of Islamism:

Contrary to its rigid Islamist domestic laws, Iran was careful not to enforce the Khomeinist Shia fundamentalist rule in Syria. While Iranian authorities have gone out of their way to squash the female rebellion against the state-imposed use of the hijab inside Iran, it has never tried to impose such policies in Syria. Throughout the Syrian conflict, Iran has been careful to spread more of its political influence and less of its religious one. The goal was to establish a perception of the conflict as a war against extremism and convince other Syrian minorities and global observers that Syria was less radical under Iran’s influence.

During the seven years of conflict, Iran allowed Assad to maintain a façade of secularism. His glamorous wife never wore the black hijab; his TV demonstrated countless shows starring non-hijabi women in full makeup. Even his electronic army included many non-hijabi women pretending to be pro-freedom.

In contrast, Syria has provided glaring examples of the narrow-mindednessand sheer stupidity of Sunni Islamism. Despite harsh living conditions under siege and air bombardments from Assad and his allies, every Sunni militia has rushed to impose strict Sharia law on the inhabitants under its control. Women were the first victims of this oppression.

Second, a monopoly on Shia Jihad:

Researcher Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi wrotean article describing how Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have created a Local Defence Forces (LDF) project in Syria, which is on the registers of the Syrian army and armed forces while also maintaining affiliation with the IRGC. Al-Tamimi argues that the IRGC has integrated into the system of Assad’s Syria in such a way that it has become an indivisible part of that system.

While scores of radical militias with often-conflicting goals and tactics have plagued the Syrian opposition camp, Iran has imposed a strict monopoly on Shia Jihad, integrating its imported foreign Jihadis to work under the sole control of its revolutionary guards (IRGC), denying them any distinct autonomy. Such a policy has helped Iran to maintain discipline within its loyal Shia recruits, tone down its Islamist image, and create an effective workable strategy against diverse – and often delusional – opponents.

This pragmatism does not mean Iran has abandoned its ideology. On the contrary, Iran has just postponed implementing its Islamism to a later stage. Currently the Iranian regime is busy expanding its social influence in Syria.

Reports suggest that Tehran’s sway is expanding on a number of social fronts, including projects to build hospitals, schools, sporting events, and children’s camps. Slowly but surely, Iran will turn Syria into a loyal entity that serves its ideological and political projects in the region.

Syria has been the battlefield of two vicious types of Islamism, in which the Iranian side used a tactically smarter approach that enabled the Mullahs to ultimately prevail.

 

An Arabic version of that article was published in Al-Hurra

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This Week in Egypt: Week 33 ( August 13-19)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt’s Sisi ratifies law tightening control over websites
  • Egypt prosecution refers killers of Bishop Epiphanius to criminal court
  • Egyptian president Sisi meets Saudi King Salman in Neom City
  • Egypt’s central bank keeps interest rates unchanged
  • Israeli official confirms head of Egyptian intelligence met with Netanyahu
  • Abbas rejection of Israeli-Hamas truce creating tension with Egypt
  • Archaeologists excavating an ancient Egyptian tomb have found a 3,200 year-old piece of cheese

 

Main Headlines

 Monday

  • Six terrorists have been killed in a security raid in 6th of October city, Giza
  • Police arrest suicidal monk for involvement in Egyptian Bishop Epiphanius’s murder
  • Police arrest terrorist cell behind suicide bombing of Cairo church
  • Sisi inaugurates national projects in Upper Egypt including new Assiut barrage

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

And related to Egypt:

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From Twitter

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