Wednesday 25 October 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 25/10/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Lines in the sand: Palestinian artist Mohammad Toutah’s portrait of Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Hannah-Lucinda Smith

Taking sides

For the past decade, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, has made the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict a central part of his policy. He has fashioned himself as a leading critic of Israel, a stance that panders to conservative voters, and has hosted Hamas leaders in the country. More recently, however, he has sought to mend diplomatic ties with Israel and position Turkey as a mediator in other world conflicts, including those in Ukraine and Syria. Though Ankara has reportedly told Hamas figures in Turkey to leave with immediate effect, Erdogan has remained unusually moderate on the latest events in the Middle East, condemning the violence on both sides and offering to negotiate hostage releases.

That is almost certain to change this weekend when Erdogan addresses his first pro-Palestine rally since 7 October. Previous demonstrations have been organised by fringe Islamist movements but this one has been called by his own Justice and Development Party (AKP). The protest will be held in Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport, where he also spoke to crowds of supporters before May’s elections. A day later, on 29 October, Turkey will celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Republic, a staunchly secular holiday. While there will be official celebrations, they will probably be overshadowed – for Erdogan’s supporters at least – by the rally.

The spiralling death toll in Gaza and growing anger towards Israel among the president’s base both play into his long-term strategy. With local elections taking place in 2024, it is important to keep his supporters invigorated. Qatar, however, has taken the lead in Israel-Hamas hostage negotiations, leaving Erdogan with few other ways to frame the conflict. The president has been quick to accuse Israel of “unprecedented brutality” for the deadly hospital bombing in Gaza, a claim that Israel, intelligence services and international news organisations have heavily refuted. After three weeks of walking a tightrope, Erdogan appears to have decided on which side he will fall.

Hannah-Lucinda Smith is Monocle’s Istanbul correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Aviation / Australia

Room for improvement

All gradations of in-flight comfort are based on a single fundamental premise: every passenger wants to be as far away from everyone else as possible. For any economy-class traveller, the dream is finding a seat next to one that is unoccupied. Qantas is now trialling a scheme whereby passengers can pay to ensure that the seat next to them will remain free. The charges rise according to the length of the flight – from AU$45 (€27) for Australia to New Zealand to AU$225 (€134) for Australia to the US. The offer will only apply to flights that are not fully booked and can be rescinded (with money refunded) if the seat is sold. Most people reading this will be able to recall at least one bumpy flight where these would have seemed extremely reasonable prices.

Dead ringer for success: ‘The Undertaker’ is booming at the Thai box office

Image: 2566

Culture / Thailand

Bigger picture

There might be a new Martin Scorsese epic in cinemas but Thailand’s film fans have been snapping up tickets for an unexpected smash hit a little closer to home. Filmed in the country’s northeastern region of Isan, The Undertaker has overtaken big-budget American franchises to become the country’s highest-grossing film of the year.

Beating Hollywood at the box office is a rare feat for a Thai feature, let alone for a ghost story shot in the Isan dialect. Though the film’s humour might not travel as well outside Thailand, it is shining a spotlight on the region and energising the industry. Tomorrow, Not Friends, a coming-of-age drama submitted to this year’s Oscars, will be released in theatres. Critics will be watching closely to see whether The Undertaker can hold on to the top spot.

Image: Alamy

Fashion / Nigeria

Making the cut

The 12th iteration of Lagos Fashion Week kicks off today with a celebratory approach to indigenous craftsmanship from Nigeria and its diaspora. The four-day event brings together buyers, consumers and creatives in the country’s fashion capital and showcases some of the most exciting brands on the continent. Among these are womenswear label Aajiya; Assian, which specialises in luxury utilitarian menswear; and Larry Jay, whose unisex collections are inspired by Ghana’s natural environment. Together, they demonstrate the diversity and creativity of Nigeria’s fashion scene, as well as that of Africa in general.

One of the continent’s biggest fashion events, Lagos Fashion Week also seeks to foster dialogue between the industry and consumers about ensuring the longevity of clothes – an essential part of reducing fashion’s ecological impact. Though the event might not yet have the gravitas of some of its international equivalents, it reaffirms the continent’s ever-increasing fashion prowess.

Beyond the Headlines

The List / Election watch

Cast your vote

Argentina now has to wait until 19 November for a second round of the presidential election. The country’s economy minister, Sergio Massa, defied expectations by obtaining 36 per cent of the vote, triggering a run-off contest with far-right candidate Javier Milei. In the meantime, there are plenty of other elections around the world to keep your eye on:

1. Poland
The leaders of the opposition parties that collectively won the most votes in Poland’s recent elections have announced that Donald Tusk, the leader of the largest group, is their candidate to be prime minister. Despite looming political uncertainties, the formation of a new government is likely to restore Poland’s political relations with the EU.

2. India
India’s national elections are expected to be held around May 2024. There is, however, already trouble for prime minister Narendra Modi, with more than two dozen opposition parties set to jointly contest the leadership. The alliance will challenge Modi’s party on its economic record, rising unemployment and a host of other domestic problems, including an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment.

3. Venezuela
The Biden administration has eased sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector in response to a deal reached between the government and opposition parties for the 2024 election. On Sunday, Venezuela’s challengers held their first primary in 11 years to select a candidate to face president Nicolás Maduro. Despite being barred from holding public office, former lawmaker Maria Corina Machado has chosen to stay in the race.

For more insight and analysis on the forthcoming elections, tune in to ‘The Globalist’ at 07.00 London time, ‘The Briefing’ at 12.00 and ‘The Monocle Daily’ at 18.00 on Monocle Radio.

Image: Shutterstock

Monocle Radio / The Urbanist

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland

Paul Logothetis takes a ferry to Fogo Island to explore how a remote inn is attracting tourists and supporting the local economy.


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