Tuesday 29 November 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 29/11/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Hannah Lucinda Smith

On the offensive

Turkish tanks are lining up along Syria’s border and Recep Tayyip Erdogan is promising a new ground war – his fourth in six years in northern Syria. He is wagering that Russia and the US won’t stop him.

Turkey began artillery, drone and air strikes inside Kurdish-controlled Syria nine days ago in retaliation for a bombing in Istanbul that killed six people. Erdogan has blamed that attack on Kurdish militants and ordered the offensive on an area controlled by the YPG (a Syrian Kurdish faction that controls much of the border region). Kurdish activists say that dozens of civilians have already been killed and non-military targets, including energy infrastructure, hit. Erdogan has vowed that the operation “will not be limited to an air war”.

Two powers could stand in his way: Russia, which has controlled most of Syria’s airspace since 2015, and the US, which partnered with the YPG to fight Isis and still has troops in northeastern Syria. But both countries are distracted. The war in Ukraine has monopolised the Russian military’s capability and left Putin dependent on Turkey as an outlet for the Kremlin’s investments and energy exports. The US needs Turkey to approve Sweden and Finland’s accession to Nato.

Neither Russia nor the US can push back too hard. Russia has asked the YPG to withdraw from its military positions along the border and is offering Turkey a green light for a smaller-scale operation. The US has offered only weak condemnation of the violence.

Erdogan looks set to get his way but he is shredding his reputation with the West. With presidential elections in Turkey next year, it is a price that he seems willing to pay: a foreign military operation framed as a fight against terrorism could boost him at the polls. How his foreign relations might look in the future is a secondary concern.

Hannah Lucinda Smith is Monocle’s Istanbul correspondent.

Image: Getty Images

Society / China

Expect a response

China is on edge this week as the nation waits to see how police will respond to a growing wave of anti-government demonstrations. Protesters took to the streets in several major cities over the weekend after a deadly fire in Xinjiang was blamed on the province’s harsh coronavirus lockdown. Though protests have so far been small and sporadic, they have included calls for Xi Jinping to step down – a rare act of defiance in the authoritarian country. The unrest is also being watched by millions online. Censors are being swamped by videos from the weekend and outfoxed by creative posts that do not initially appear overly critical. Xi has surprised many by taking personal responsibility for China’s increasingly unpopular “dynamic zero-Covid” strategy. After backing himself into a corner, the country’s all-powerful president is likely to come out fighting.

Image: Getty Images

Art / Miami

A fair to remember

The 20th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach opens to VIP collectors today with its largest event yet. The fair will bring together 282 exhibiting galleries from Rio de Janeiro and Seoul to New York and Naples. The show also features a section known as “Meridians” that is dedicated to large-scale pieces, as well as a sector reserved for works made in the past three years.

Since its first edition in 2002 the fair has become a major draw for the US city; the organisers claim that the event generates up to $500m (€482m) in related economic impact. At a time when Miami is becoming a magnet for investment in the US, it is further proof that a focus on art can benefit a city’s international standing and business scene. “Our show is about coming together, hospitality and generosity,” CEO Noah Horowitz, who has just taken over from Art Basel’s longstanding global director Marc Spiegler, told Monocle On Culture. “The fair is more than a commercial vehicle – it’s really about community building. It’s something that would be tough to understate.”

To hear more about Art Basel Miami Beach’s plans for this landmark anniversary event, listen to the latest episode of ‘Monocle On Culture’.

Image: Shutterstock

Broadcasting / Global

Eyes on the prize

The Fifa World Cup in Qatar has received plenty of criticism for its host country’s human-rights record and treatment of migrant workers. Though there has been much talk of a boycott, viewership figures show that in many countries the event is drawing record broadcast audiences. In the US, last Friday’s game between the American national team and England became the most-watched men’s football match ever, with 15.3 million people tuning in. The rising popularity of the sport in the US might help explain the record audience but the viewing figures remain remarkably high even in countries where football is more established. France’s latest match drew 11.6 million viewers, while in Brazil, TV audiences are outperforming those of the last three World Cups. Some nations, however, are bucking the trend: Germany is reporting lower numbers compared to 2018, though that could also be due to its team’s underwhelming performance in the tournament so far. Despite the ethical challenges, it seems that spectators around the globe are still keen to tune in to the world’s biggest sporting event.

Image: Marie Kondo

Publishing / Japan

The book set to clean up

More than a decade after the publication of Marie Kondo’s blockbuster book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the pint-sized decluttering guru (pictured), now with two hit Netflix series under her belt, is back with a new title and a fresh Japanese term ready for export, Kurashi at Home: How to Organise Your Space and Achieve Your Ideal Life. Kurashi translates as “way of life” and Kondo’s principles are all about the comfort of simple daily routines and calm spaces.

Her original “KonMari” method was always about more than a cleaner home: devotees reported that what began as a wardrobe detox ended with a career change or a new relationship. This book takes that idea further and offers some life-coaching advice. Could kurashi become the new hygge?

Image: Laura Lajh Prijatelj

Monocle 24 / The Menu

René Redzepi and Noma 2.0

René Redzepi on how he reinvented Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant – and how he updated everything for Noma 2.0.

Monocle Films / Corsica

Keeping the faith

Nestled just in from the Corsica coast sits Le Couvent de Pozzo, a converted monastery that has been brought back to life as a tranquil guesthouse by owner Emmanuelle Picon. Monocle Films stopped by to enjoy breathtaking views over the Tyrrhenian Sea and tuck in to some of Picon’s delicious French cuisine.


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