The threat posed to Hatay by the PKK and its Syrian affiliates was highlighted again in January 2018, when the Turkish army and Turkish-backed forces attacked Afrin. Whether the threat was exaggerated to justify the Afrin operation is difficult to say, but once again Hatay has found itself, through no fault of its own, on the sidelines of war.
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Since the operation in Afrin began, Turkey has been quick to exploit the international concern about the Islamist group, asserting that it is fighting IS as well as the YPG in the area. Turkey’s state news agency reported that ‘the PYD/PKK terror group has released all Daesh [IS] prisoners under the condition that they will fight against the Turkish army and Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Syria’s Afrin region’.
Today, Shiites are divided into numerous sects, the largest being Twelver Shiism. Shiites make up the majority of the population in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and Azerbaijan; and they constitute significant minorities in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India, Nigeria and Tanzania.
The 21st-century Turkish media environment is steadily worsening. Moreover, during Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s tenure as prime minister (2003-2014) and now president – and particularly since the 2016 failed coup attempt and subsequent state of emergency – journalists have been subjected to increasing harassment, intimidation and arrest in a government bid to ensure a more compliant press.
Pumuk continues to write and publish actively. However, some members of a new generation of Turks believe that the old conflicts between Western modernity and Eastern tradition have been resolved decidedly in favour of Turkey’s Ottoman past. Thus it is difficult to see Pamuk’s writings carrying the same resonance in this new future as it had before. It may be that Orhan Pamuk’s era as the voice of modern Turkey is growing fainter.