TIME portfolio

Discover the Cultural Treasure Turkey Threatens to Flood

Construction of the hydroelectric Ilisu Dam threatens the ancient village of Hasankeyf

“Absurd.” That’s how documentary photographer Mathias Depardon describes the surreal scene of a mosque’s minaret jutting out from the water as a boat passes by in Savaçan.

The tiny community along the Euphrates River in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern region was flooded by the filling of the Birecik Dam’s reservoir about 15 years ago, pushing its residents and others nearby into a new settlement erected by the country’s housing authority.

Activists worry Hasankeyf is next. The small village with ancient roots on the edge of the Tigris River is upstream from the hydroelectric Ilisu Dam, the last major dam to be built within the decades-long Southeastern Anatolia Project, Turkey’s largest hydropower project that is comprised of 22 dams and 19 power stations. Once construction on Ilisu is done—Turkey was forced to secure alternative funds after European backers pulled out, putting it behind schedule as environmental campaigns steadily lobbied against it—the filling of an 11 billion cubic-meter reservoir will inundate some 74,000 acres, including Hasankeyf.

Ankara has long-positioned the dam as a provider of irrigation and jobs to an impoverished corner of Turkey, and considers it part of the solution to the country’s dependence on foreign energy imports amid increasing domestic demand, as the dam is expected to generate some 2% of Turkey’s current electricity supply. The tradeoff, aside from the further of squeezing crucial supplies downstream in Syria and Iraq, exacerbating already strained tensions from decades of cross-border water disputes, is that part of Hasankeyf—along with its found and still hidden archaeological treasures—and other nearby sites will morph from open air exhibits on ancient Mesopotamia to underwater treasure chests. (Hasankeyf was placed on the World Monuments Fund’s 2008 Watch List.)

Turkey says archaeologists are working to excavate, record and preserve “as much as possible.” And, like others impacted by dams, residents due to be displaced by water can move into a new settlement built across the river.

Depardon, who is half-French and half-Belgian, heard about the project after he moved to Turkey a few years ago. For the 34-year-old photographer, who estimates that he shoots 30 to 50 assignments in a given year, the disappearing village became part of his personal project: an environmental portrait of a land steeped in history before it’s drowned.

A lot of people have assumptions about what Hasankeyf will be like, he says, especially in light to what happened to Savaçan: “People don’t go [to Savaçan] with the nostalgia of the place. Obviously, they didn’t know the place before that, they’d never been there. But they go there and they visit as they would an entertainment park.” Still, he adds, not everyone in the area is against the dam.

Hasankeyf is the iconic at-risk community, Depardon says, but his project is more of a visual look at overall Turkish dam policy that’s driven, he says, by anti-environmental policymakers in Ankara. That’s part of why he named the project Gold Rivers. The expected completion of the dam this year, and the energy that it will help generate, will help pad state coffers while impacting local tourism industries: “The water is now money.”

Mathias Depardon is a documentary photographer based in Istanbul, Turkey. Follow him on Instagram @mathiasdepardon.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

Andrew Katz is a News Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @katz.

TIME energy

Europe Turns To Turkey As Alternative To Russian Energy

Fuel Prices At Russian Gas Stations As Oil Price Drops
Bloomberg—Getty Images An OAO Rosneft gas station near the Ostankino TV tower displaying the colors of the Russian national flag in Moscow, Russia, on Dec. 2, 2014.

Despite its wealth of oil and gas, Russia isn’t the only source capable of meeting Europe’s needs

The European Commission (EC) plans to tighten its relations with several nations, including Turkey, as a part of the Continent’s effort to lessen its dependence on Russian for its energy security.

In a statement on March 11, the EC said it “intends to strengthen EU-Turkey energy relations by establishing a strategic energy partnership” because “[a] stronger and more united EU can engage more constructively with its partners, to their mutual benefit.”

Two weeks earlier at EC headquarters in Brussels, the commission unveiled its Energy Union Package seeking greater coordination among the European Union’s member states to permit a free exchange of energy from one to another to ensure a secure supply for all citizens of the EU.

Read more: Azerbaijan Eyeing Gas Opportunity In Europe

At that time, the EC specifically spoke of its goal to reduce its reliance on energy from Russia, which has been hit by EU and US sanctions for annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and supporting separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. EU customers get about one-third of their gas supplies from Russia, and half of that flows through pipelines in Ukraine.

“As part of a revitalized European energy and climate diplomacy,” the March 11 statement said, “the EU will use all its foreign policy instruments to establish strategic energy partnerships with increasingly important producing and transit countries or regions such as Algeria and Turkey, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, the Middle East, Africa and other potential suppliers.”

Turkey is the key, however, according to Marco Giuli, who studies energy issues at the European Policy Center, a Brussels think tank. “European policymakers have been trying to find a more diverse gas supplier since the ’90s,” he told the International Business Times, “but right now there is more intense momentum for that to happen. To Eastern Europe especially, it’s absolutely critical.”

Read more: This Is Why The EU Energy Union Will Fail

In fact, despite its wealth of oil and gas, Russia isn’t the only source capable of meeting Europe’s needs. There are generous deposits of the two fuels northeast of Turkey in the Caspian Sea basin and beyond. And coincidentally they provide a kind of balance between supply and demand.

These regions hold about 65 percent of the world’s total known oil and gas reserves, and countries west of Turkey consume 65 percent of the world’s oil and gas. Turkey’s geographical position, combined with its political and military ties to the West, makes it the obvious choice for a stable energy channel.

If the EC’s plans bear fruit, Turkey would become a major transit country for energy because it already is about to begin building the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline, which is part of the region’s Southern Gas Corridor. That pathway would carry gas from Azerbaijan in the east to Greece in the west, and eventually to Albania and Italy.

Read more: Europe Overtakes Asia As LNG’s Hottest Market

This role may lead Turkey to formally join the Energy Community, which was created in 2005 to extend the EU’s energy market to countries in Southeastern Europe and beyond that aren’t EU members. Turkey has limited its association with the community to observer status because of its concerns about the group’s policies on regulations, competition and trade.

The membership in the Energy Community now includes Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine. Like Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and Norway are observers.

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

More from Oilprice.com:

TIME Behind the Photos

The Photo That Made Me: Mary Ellen Mark, Trabzon, Turkey, 1965

Mary Ellen Mark presents the first photograph she took that went beyond the usual clichés

TIME LightBox talks to Mary Ellen Mark as part of our series “The Photo That Made Me”, in which photographers tell us about the one photograph they made that they believe jump-started their career, garnered them international attention, or simply reflected their early interest in photography.

In 1965, I was in Trabzon in eastern Turkey on a Fulbright scholarship. I would get up every morning and walk around the streets and look for photographs. One day, I came across this beautiful young girl, Emine. She was wearing a very babyish dress and a bow in her hair. I photographed her, and she invited me to come to her home.

At her home, her mother gave me some tea and we went to the back area of her house where I took this picture. She just posed for me like that, I didn’t tell her what to do.

I don’t like to photograph children as children. I like to see them as adults, as who they really are. I’m always looking for the side of who they might become. Emine was being very seductive in her own nine-year-old way. It’s interesting to me that she would show me that side of herself.

When I came back from Turkey and developed the film, I saw this picture and knew it was something special. I had been photographing for a couple of years before this, and I felt that sometimes you are looking and looking, and you are not sure what you are looking for. Often you look for the cliché and what you think makes a picture. This was the first time I felt I went beyond that. I thought this photograph transcended the image and had an edge.

A few years ago, I went back to Istanbul for the first time since my Fulbright. I was thinking I would love to find Emine. A local newspaper in Istanbul published the picture, and we found her through her daughter. It turns out that Emine ran off a few years after I took this photograph – at age 16 – with her boyfriend and got married. She now lives in a town not far from Istanbul with her husband, the same person.

I’m currently working on a book for Aperture on Tiny, a girl from my previous book, and my husband Martin Bell’s film Streetwise. Tiny is a young prostitute from Seattle whom I’ve photographed and Martin has filmed for more than 30 years. At the same time, Martin is making a film about her and her ten children. Going back is something that’s always fascinating to me. I would have liked to photograph Emine again.

Mary Ellen Mark is a photographer based in New York. She is best known for her in-depth documentary projects done around the world and has been published and exhibited widely. LightBox has previously featured Mark’s work Man and Beast on the relationships between human and animals.

As told to Ye Ming, a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

TIME Iraq

Turkey PM Warns That Assault on ISIS in Tikrit Could Ignite Sectarian Tensions

Shi’ite fighters launch a rocket towards ISIS militants during heavy fighting in Salahuddin province, Iraq, March 4, 2015.
Mahmoud Raouf—Reuters Shi’ite fighters launch a rocket towards ISIS militants during heavy fighting in Salahuddin province, Iraq, March 4, 2015.

Warnings that a defeat for ISIS could lead to bloody Sunni-Shi'ite warfare in Iraq

By sending Shi’ite militias and Iranian forces to battle ISIS in Tikrit, Iraq risks stoking the sectarian divide that nourishes the extremist group. So warns Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

“If Daesh is a big threat in Iraq, another threat is Shi’ite militias,” Davutoglu told TIME in a Wednesday interview, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria by its Arabic initials. “This is very important. If Daesh evacuates Tikrit or Mosul and if Shi’ite militias come in, then there will be sectarian war. Therefore all these cities, Sunni populated areas, should be liberated by the inhabitants of those cities.”

Davutoglu’s warning raises the question of whether Iraq’s leadership has changed as much as U.S. officials hope. ISIS swept up the city of Fallujah last spring, and Mosul, Tikrit and other Sunni regions in June, in part by offering itself as protector of a minority Sunni population that had been excluded and even persecuted by the central government in Baghdad, which is dominated by autocrats who have overtly favored the country’s Shi’ite majority. Iraq’s corrupt and poorly led military, also dominated by Shi’ites, fled the battlefield en masse as ISIS advanced last summer, while many Sunni tribes essentially welcomed ISIS. The first major stand government troops made was at Samarra, home of a major religious shrine revered by Shi’ites.

The offensive on Tikrit, which began just days ago, is the first major counterattack aimed at ISIS, and observers are concerned that two-thirds of the force of 30,000 attackers are Shi’ite militia. They are backed by Iranian warplanes, artillery, rockets and advisors, including Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani, who was photographed near the front line on Wednesday, drinking tea with beaming members of the Badr Brigades—a militia trained and equipped by Iran. “This is the most overt conduct of Iranian support, in the form of artillery and other things,” Joint Chiefs of Staff chair General Dempsey, told a Senate committee on Tuesday, noting that U.S. warplanes are playing no role in the Tikrit assault. “Frankly, it will only be a problem if it results in sectarianism.”

It’s a big if. Turkey’s Davutoglu notes there is scant evidence of the local Sunnis who are supposedly being trained for a later assault on Mosul, the Iraqi government having promoted legislation that allows Sunnis to form “national guard” units that amount to militias of their own. “[The Sunni guards] should have a role,” the Turkish premier said. “In Iraq the government passed a new law forming national guards. But unfortunately now Shiite militias form national guards, while Sunnis in Anbar or in Tikrit and in Mosul, they were not allowed to. For us, Sunnis and Shiites are our brothers, we don’t make any difference. But we don’t want to see another wave of sectarian war.”

Davutoglu said he voiced the warning to Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi in a conversation 10 days earlier. Al-Abadi has cast himself as a more moderate and inclusive Shi’ite leader than the highly sectarian premier he replaced, Nour al-Maliki. But the country remains sharply divided on ethnic and sectarian lines: Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the west, and Shi’ites everywhere else. The danger is of a wholesale sectarian blood-letting like the civil war that left tens of thousands dead in 2006 and 2007, when U.S. troops were still in the country. ISIS, with its extremist Sunni orientation, is both a product and an agent of the strife, having slaughtered thousands of Shi’ites during its summer blitzkrieg, including more than 1,000 recruits at a military base outside Tikrit in June. The men were lined up, made to lie in freshly dug trenches, and executed on camera.

Human rights group warn that Shi’ite militias are already exacting revenge, burning down buildings and carrying out extrajudicial killings in Sunni areas taken back from ISIS. “The day of judgment is coming,” Badr Brigades commander Hadi al-Ameri (who was transport minister under al-Maliki) warned residents of the Diyala Province town of Muqdadiyaa on Dec. 29. “We will attack the area until nothing is left. Is my message clear?” Clear enough. The question is whether anyone beyond Iraq was listening.

 

TIME Photojournalism Links

The 10 Best Photo Essays of the Month

A compilation of the 10 most interesting photo essays published online in February, as curated by Mikko Takkunen

This month’s Photojournalism Links collection highlights 10 excellent photo essays from across the world, including Stephanie Sinclair‘s work on child and underage brides in Guatemala in the latest installment of her decade-long project spanning 10 countries to document the issue of child marriage around the world. In Guatemala, over half of all girls are married before 18, and over 10% under 15. Many girls marry men far older than themselves, end up withdrawing from school and become mothers long before they are physically and emotionally ready. Sinclair’s powerful pictures and accompanying video capture Guatemalan girls trying to come to terms with the harsh realities of early motherhood, especially for those who have been abandoned by their husbands.

Stephanie Sinclair: Child, Bride, Mother (The New York Times) See also the Too Young To Wed website.

Sebastian Liste: The Media Doesn’t Care What Happens Here (The New York Times Magazine) These photographs capture a group of amateur journalists trying to cover the violence in one of the largest urban slums in Brazil, Complexo do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro.

Ross McDonnell: Inside the Frozen Trenches of Eastern Ukraine (TIME LightBox) The Irish photographer documented the Ukrainian soldiers in the week preceding the most recent, fragile cease-fire.

Sergey Ponomarev: Pro-Russian fighters in the ruins of Donetsk airport (The Globe and Mail) Haunting scenes of the Pro-Russian held remains of Donetsk airport.

Alex Majoli: Athens (National Geographic) The Magnum photographer captures the people of Greece’s struggling capital for the magazine’s Two Cities, Two Europes feature on Athens and Berlin.

Gerd Ludwig: Berlin (National Geographic) Ludwig documents Germany’s booming capital for the magazine’s Two Cities, Two Europes feature on Athens and Berlin.

John Stanmeyer: Fleeing Terror, Finding Refuge (National Geographic) These photographs show the desperate conditions facing Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Edmund Clark: The Mountains Of Majeed (Wired RawFile) The British photographer’s latest book is the Bagram Airfield U.S. Military base in Afghanistan, which one held the infamous detention facility. Also published on TIME LightBox.

Sarker Protick: What Remains (The New Yorker Photo Booth) This moving, beautiful series documents the photographer’s grandparents. The work was recently awarded 2nd Prize in the Daily Life stories category in the World Press Photo 2015 contest.

Muhammed Muheisen: Leading a Double Life in Pakistan (The Washington Post In Sight) The Associated Press photographer captures a group of cross-dressers and transgender Pakistani men to offer a glimpse of a rarely seen side of the conservative country.

TIME Turkey

Missing Teen Girls Suspected of Traveling to Syria Were Spotted in Turkey

BRITAIN-IRAQ-SYRIA-CONFLICT-POLICE-CHILDREN-FILES
AFP/Getty Images A combination of handout CCTV pictures received from the Metropolitan Police Service on Feb. 23, 2015, shows British teenagers Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum passing through security barriers at Gatwick Airport, London, on Feb. 17, 2015

The three British girls are believed to have left the U.K. to join ISIS

Three British teenagers who are suspected of traveling to Syria to join Islamist militants were spotted on camera in Turkey not long after they boarded a flight from London to Istanbul last month.

The missing girls, who are classmates, were seen on closed-circuit cameras at an Istanbul bus station on Feb. 18, CNN reported Sunday. Police said the girls got off the bus before it reached the final destination.

London’s Metropolitan Police said last week that they believe the girls — Shamima Begum, 15; Kadiza Sultana, 16; and Amira Abase, 15 — have already entered Syria. Before, their parents had publicly pleaded for them to come home, while British officials had encouraged Turkish media to urge them to return to the U.K.

Their disappearance has sparked tensions between the U.K. and Turkey, whose Deputy Prime Minister said last week it was “condemnable and shameful” that British authorities had allowed the girls to travel to Istanbul.

[CNN]

TIME Turkey

Families of ISIS Fighters Speak Out

Turkish relatives TIME about their loved ones who have gone to fight in Syria

Kurds in Turkey have been a leading force in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in recent months. While Kurds have shown robust resistance to the brutal tactics of ISIS, some youths within the Kurdish population have joined the ranks of the the militant group and of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra front.

“I tried to convince him not to go,” said Hamza Beluk, the brother of an Al-Nusra fighter. “But he didn’t want to change his mind. He wasn’t a bad person.”

Family members that have seen their sons and brothers head off to Syria shy away from discussing their relatives’ departures, which runs counter to Kurdish efforts in the region. Though fearing reprisals from organizations like the PKK (Kurdistan’s Workers Party), a Kurdish separatist terrorist organization, some families have nevertheless spoken out decrying their relatives’ decision.

MORE: Inside ISIS, a TIME Special Report

Filit Tok, a Kurd from Bingol, Turkey, and the father of an al-Nusra fighter who died while with the militant group, said that he blames al-Qaeda for his son’s death. “They took him away from me,” Tok said. “They knew that if they took him there he would die. They didn’t care.”

Kurdish fighters have not been the only ones joining the ranks of ISIS. In the past years, fighters from around the globe have traveled to Iraq and Syria into the thousands to fuel the ranks of the Islamist group. But the presence of Kurdish fighters in the extremist militant group increasingly divides the Kurdish population.

With no end in sight to the conflict with ISIS, Kurds in the border region of southern Anatolia are increasingly worried about the appeal of ISIS on some of their youths.

 

 

 

TIME Turkey

Turkish Police Arrest Suspected Suicide Bomber Outside U.S. Consulate

Turkish forensic officers prepare to remove a vehicle front of the US consulate in Istanbul on Feb. 27, 2015.
Ozan Kose—AFP/Getty Images Turkish forensic officers prepare to remove a vehicle front of the US consulate in Istanbul on Feb. 27, 2015.

Istanbul has been on high alert since a suicide bomber blew herself up at a police station in January, killing one police officer

ISTANBUL — A Turkish news agency says police have detained man who claimed to have explosives attached on his body, outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul. The man was described as “mentally unstable”

The Dogan news agency says police arrested the man who stood outside the consulate building on Friday, his hand placed inside his coat.

It was not immediately known whether the man, who was not identified, was carrying explosives.

Police in Istanbul would not immediately comment.

TIME Behind the Photos

Go Inside an ISIS Gift Shop

Last summer, British photographer Guy Martin stumbled upon an unexpected gift shop in the suburbs of Istanbul, Turkey. It sold memorabilia associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Martin speaks to TIME LightBox.

In Istanbul during the sweltering summer of 2014, I heard about a back street gift shop in the Istanbul district of Bagcilar.

In the Turkish city, gift shops are plentiful, offering a wide selection of plates, table coasters, badges, key rings and iPhone covers featuring the city’s Blue Mosque, Galatta tower, as well as photos of prime minister Tayip Erdogan and the young and iconic founder of modern Turkey, Ataturk.

I, however, was not on the hunt for the latest in Turkish gift shop trinkets. The gift shop that I wanted to find had a rather macabre, bizarre and terrifying premise: it sold memorabilia associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The shape of Istanbul changes dramatically after you exit the city’s center with its towering mosques and century-old buildings. The hustle of the city gives way to grey, nondescript apartments, highways, overpasses and shopping malls.

Bagcilar looks like any of the city’s other outskirts with its kebab restaurants, mobile phone shops, and low-rise apartment blocks.

Walking to the end of a busy street, past a row of men’s clothing stores, which sold black skinny jeans, hoodies and knock off sneakers, and an upmarket Turkish restaurant serving fresh salads, mezze and barbecued meat dishes, I found it. The now infamous black flag, embellished with the seal of prophet Muhammad hung outside. In the shop windows: black t-shirts, key rings, cups and more flags.

My palms began to sweat as I approached the shop; images from gory and grainy YouTube videos fill my thoughts. But the shop was closed, and local residents didn’t seem to know who owned it.

I left that day, but for the next three weeks I returned to it again and again, hoping that it would be open. On my final visit, the shop was open. Sitting at the desk, were two women, their bare legs showing underneath a rolled up black Abaya, and their face veils thrown over their heads. They wore brand new, bright pink Nike trainers. They smoked and checked their Facebook accounts.

It took them a moment to realize they had a customer. When they saw me, they quickly covered their faces, stubbed out their cigarettes and walked towards me.

I was not allowed to photograph them or the inside of the shop, they said, but I could take pictures of various objects on a long white table.

I was aware of how rare an opportunity I had been afforded, but I also knew that I never wanted to return to this place again. It had been just a few days since James Foley’s brutal murder, and I could not help associating these items with the group’s vile acts.

Before we left, the two women denied any knowledge or association with terrorism, or that the products they were selling were funding terror groups.

I sat on these images for the rest of the year and with each week that passed, the brutality of ISIS’s acts just seemed to grow. I didn’t want to look them. I felt terrible for taking them. I felt, in some strange way, associated with these objects.

But as time passed and our understanding of ISIS grew, I needed to know more about those inanimate objects. What was striking about the objects I photographed was the variety of the symbols and iconography they featured. From the ‘Seal of the Prophet’ on a white flag – often used by Al Shabaab militants in Somalia and the Arabian Peninsula – to the green, white and red flags used by militant groups in the Caucasus. These logos and brands, as Arthur Beifuss and Francesco Trivini Bellini explain in Branding Terror – the Logotypes and Iconography of Insurgent Groups and Terrorist Organizations, are now an integral part of this global conflict. And, as I looked at the photographs I took that day, I was reminded not only of how global this conflict is but also what an integral role that marketing now plays to terrorist groups currently glamouring for attention in the “global war on terror”.

Guy Martin is a British photographer represented by Panos Pictures.

TIME Behind the Photos

A Turkish Flag Draws Parallels to Iconic Iwo Jima Photo

Turkish soldiers put a wire fence around area after Turkish flag is raised on Feb. 22, 2015 in the Esme region of Aleppo where the Tomb of Suleyman Shah will be placed.
Firat Yurdakul—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Turkish soldiers put a wire fence around area after Turkish flag is raised on Feb. 22, 2015 in the Esme region of Aleppo where the Tomb of Suleyman Shah will be placed.

Photographer Firat Yurdakul captured a scene reminiscent of Joe Rosenthal's WWII image

Seventy years ago, Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the historic photograph of five U.S. Marines and a Navy officer raising the American flag on Iwo Jima. The photograph marked a decisive, but not ultimate, victory for the U.S. during World War II, and was printed across the front pages of hundreds of newspapers in America.

On Feb. 22, 2015—just before the iconic photograph’s anniversary—a group of Turkish soldiers were portrayed in a similar ceremonial setup, this time in Syria.

Earlier that day, the Turkish army had launched a military operation 20 miles into its neighboring country to the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the Ottoman Empire’s founder, Osman I. The area around the tomb has been controlled by the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and soldiers tasked with guarding it have been trapped there for months. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a televised news conference that the mission aimed to evacuate the soldiers and relocate the remains; the tomb was then destroyed.

With the new tomb situated in Turkish-controlled territory just 600 ft. inside Syria, journalists and photographers were invited to document the historic groundbreaking. “It was an embedded operation,” says Firat Yurdakul of the Anadolu photo agency. “On the day, we had no idea where we were going. As we were waiting at the border, Turkish soldiers, tanks and armored vehicles entered Syria.”

Once the area was secured, bulldozers started working on the new tomb. They were followed by a group of soldiers carrying a flagpole, which they quickly raised on the new historic site in front of Yurdakul’s camera. “I [don’t] think the soldiers were posing for a photo,” he tells TIME. “The Turkish flag has an important meaning in [our] society, thus they were trying to do that ritual as honorably as they [could].”

U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on Feb. 23, 1945. Strategically located only 660 miles from Tokyo, the Pacific island became the site of one of the bloodiest, most famous battles of World War II against Japan.
Joe Rosenthal—APU.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on Feb. 23, 1945.

Naturally, Yurdakul admits that his photo resembles Rosenthal’s icon. “Without any doubt, young photojournalists like [myself] have common references—Joe Rosenthal is one of them. I thought about Rosenthal’s picture as I was taking [this] photo,” but, he assures, it was “completely spontaneous.”

With additional reporting by Mikko Takkunen

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