Middle East Briefs

Parallel to the Center’s scholarly work, Middle East Briefs provides a brief analysis of a single issue at the top of the region’s political, social, or economic agenda. Targeted primarily at decision-makers and opinion leaders, the publication was launched in 2005.

Latest Brief

March 2022 – Criminalizing Environmental Activism in Turkey

Ekin Kurtiç

Middle East Brief 147 (Summary) — Why is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan so enthusiastic about planting trees? The answer is more complicated than authoritarian greenwashing. In our latest Middle East Brief, Ekin Kurtiç argues that the AKP government’s keen interest in greening Turkey is an attempt to monopolize the environmental agenda and turn legitimate environmental protest into a criminal activity. From anti-mining movements in the 1990s to the Gezi Park occupation in the 2010s and the wildfires of the 2020s, Kurtiç charts how community organizers, legal activists, and forestry experts have formed new fronts of opposition against environmental degradation. While state-led initiatives to plant trees throughout Turkey might appear benevolent, Kurtiç argues, in reality AKP environmentalism is rooted in coercion.

Read Middle East Brief 147 (PDF)

Ekin Kurtiç is the Neubauer Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center.