Ahval... A year of credibility  

We are celebrating the first anniversary of Ahval. Publishing in three languages: Turkish, English, and Arabic, Ahval is an attempt to establish a credible and reliable media organisation capable of telling the truth about events in Turkey, without any influence from either the government, or the opposition.

While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tightened his grip on public life, Ahval was launched to fill the gap after many independent media organisations were forced to close. Ahval sought to provide a Turkish audience with independent and credible news and analysis in their own language, serve the wider international readership in English.

It also seeks to provide an alternative source of news on Turkey to Arab readers from that offered by publications affiliated to Islamist groups and the Muslim Brotherhood. Previously, what Arab audiences knew about Turkey was only what Erdoğan wanted them to know. It was only what they learned from the media organisations funded and managed by the Muslim Brotherhood, a close ally of Turkey’s ruling party. Those sources depicted the Turkish state as a legitimate leader of the Muslim world seeking the restoration of the Islamic caliphate under Erdoğan’s leadership.

Arabic audiences concluded that the secular state was not the real target in Turkey. They understood that secularism was being targeted merely as a tactic by the ruling party to empower itself and to extend its influence through the support of political Islamist groups in the Arab countries, under the veil of moderation and democracy.

In a nutshell, those media organisations wanted to convince Arab audiences that Erdoğan was a deserved leader, not only a leader of Turkey, but of the entire Muslim world. Their aim was to convince Arab audiences that glory and progress could only be achieved if they followed the AKP model. Erdoğan and his party gained popularity in the Arab world with the help of these media organisations that turned a blind eye to the authoritarian policies of the president.

Amid all these major challenges, Ahval Arabic was launched as an attempt to raise the awareness of Arab audiences about what was really going on in Turkey. The truth is that Turkey is not what Erdoğan wants it to be, nor what it is depicted to be by the Muslim Brotherhood media.

Ahval provides Arab audiences with facts and information about Turkey’s domestic policies, the ruling party and the opposition, both the cons and pros. Ahval has never glorified any Turkish parties and has never depicted any party as the best model for the Arab and Muslim world. Ahval has criticised the ruling party and the opposition without prejudice or favouritism, and has always conformed to professional codes of media ethics.

Ahval has dealt with the crises that Erdoğan has created, and the differences he had with several Arab states, through providing the audiences with knowledge about the reality of what was happening on the ground, not what politicians wanted to convey.

Arab audiences have always been told that modern Turkey had achieved its economic renaissance thanks to the AKP’s wise leadership, this is the image that pro-AKP media organisations portrayed to the audiences, but they have ignored Turkey’s economic and financial crisis, which resulted from the policies of Erdoğan and his ruling party.

We may say it as been the first year for Arab audiences to get a full picture of Turkey, but we are confident it will not be the last. Ahval will continue to carry out balanced reporting, continue to interact with its audiences and provide answers.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.