Ephesus

Ephesus, Turkey, 2005: On my second visit to Turkey in late 2005, I visited the ancient ruins & tourist mecca of Ephesus.  I was in the area staying in nearby Selçuk so it was rude not to check out this historically important 3000 year old city- despite the tourist hoards. Ephesus was an ancient Greek city near the coast of […]

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Livissi

Kayaköy, Turkey, April 2003:  My first visit to the abandoned Greek village of Livissi in South-West Turkey. A previous post on this location can be found here.  Livissi/Kayaköy, is a village 8 km south of Fethiye in southwestern Turkey. In ancient times it was a city of Lycia. Later, Anatolian Greeks lived here until approximately 1922. The ghost […]

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The Lost City: part II

Olympos, Turkey, Friday Oct 28th 2005:  Two years after first visiting Olympos (in South-West Turkey) I returned. I was part way through an Athens to Cairo overland trip that would take me to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and eventually Egypt. As it turned out I stayed a lot longer than planned… I ran into “Smiley”soon after […]

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Border Country

Turkey/Syria, Nov 2005: Hatay– Turkey’s southernmost province- has changed dramatically since my visit to the area in late 2005. Near the border town of Reyhanli there is a huge refugee camp for the thousands of Syrian’s who have managed to escape over the nearby border to safety- and other camps scattered throughout the province. Locals complain of unemployment as refugees, most of whom live outside official camps, accept lower wages. They say house prices are rocketing and fear worsening violence.

There is no sign of any let-up in the Syrian war, now in its fourth year, in which at least 140,000 people have been killed and millions made refugees. Fighting is especially intense in and around the city of Aleppo, just 45 km (28 miles) from the Turkish border. In May, twin car bombs killed 43 people and wounded more than 100 in a shopping district in Reyhanli. The government said it suspected Syrian involvement. The open border provides a lifeline for rebel-held areas which has allowed humanitarian aid in and refugees out. But it has also drawn accusations of allowing radical fighters to cross the border unchecked and of burdening a fragile economy with an influx of the displaced.

Hatay, sandwiched between Syria and the Mediterranean Sea- is also demographically unique, containing the country’s largest proportion of Arabs- nearly a third of the province’s population of 1.5 million. As the only province to join Turkey after its establishment in 1923, Hatay is politically unique as well. Hatay is also the only province that mirrors Syria’s key ethnic divides. In addition to ethnic Turks, it is home to Alawite Arabs (co-religionists of the Assad regime), Sunni Arabs, Kurds, Circassians, Armenians, and Arab Christians. Moreover, Hatay’s Alawite and Sunni Arabs are connected to Syrian Alawites and Sunnis through familial and tribal links.

Given its history and demography, Hatay is exposed more directly to developments in Syria than Turkey’s other provinces. If the war across the border becomes explicitly Sunni versus Alawite, their sectarian brethren in Hatay could be pitted against each other, whether in terms of upping the current political tension, sparking violence within Turkey, or joining the fight in Syria.

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The Lost City

Olympos, Turkey, April 2003: While the US and allies were invading Iraq in April 2003, I was making my own sort of invasion route to neighbouring Turkey for the first time. It was a rather circuitous route, island hopping from Athens down to Crete- a long and very rough boat ride east to Rhodes- and […]

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Ghost Town

Kayaköy, Turkey, Oct 2005:  This was my second visit to Kayaköy, the ghost town near Fetiye in South Western Turkey.  Kayaköy is built on the ancient Greek village of Carmylessus and existed up until the population exchanges of 1922/3. Anatolian Greeks had lived here since antiquity… After the invading Greek’s defeat to Turkey in the […]

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