Posts Tagged ‘Erdogan’

What in the world is going on in Turkey?

June 24, 2013

Turkey demosFour weeks ago a small group of environmentally-minded Turks staged a demonstration, or an occupation, of tiny Gezi park in Istanbul, where the government had stated its intent to build a replica of an Ottoman-era barracks to house a shopping mall.

The government responded by attacking the protesters violently with water cannon and tear gas. The disproportionate attack on the peaceful protesters crystallized widespread hostility to the government of Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdoğan (pronounced ER-duh-wan). The protests grew and spread all over Turkey, and everywhere the protesters were met by violent police action. So far five have died, and the protests have died down.

Erdoğan blames the trouble on outsiders, including CNN and the “interest lobby,” and has called out his supporters into massive counter demonstrations.

Erdoğan was first elected to head the government in 2002, with 34% of the vote. He was reelected in 2007 with 46%, and again in 2011 with just under 50% of the votes cast. He is a practicing Muslim—rare for a Turkish leader—and has steadily moved to make Turkish society more congenial to pious Muslims. He wants to amend the Constitution to allow women to wear headscarves in public buildings (now forbidden), and has had laws passed that allow early religious instruction in elementary school, limit the sale of alcohol, and has proposed bans on abortion and even on kissing in public.

Some fear Erdoğan’s goal is to introduce Sharia law, a la Iran or Saudi Arabia, while others (including The Economist) call him a “moderate Islamist” and believe his intent is simply to (more…)

Good out of tragedy? Turkey and Israel after the earthquake

October 25, 2011

“Earthquake diplomacy” is a term coined after two huge earthquakes struck first Turkey, then Greece in 1999. Putting aside years of mutual distrust, the Greek government immediately offered aid to Turkey when a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck the major Turkish city of Izmit, with severe damage as far as Istanbul. Two weeks later a 5.9 earthquake struck in Athens, and the Turks quickly reciprocated. Ordinary Turks and Greeks rushed to donate blood and money to their stricken neighbors. Official relations between the two countries warmed considerably.

Now earthquake diplomacy may heal relations between former allies Turkey and Israel, seriously breached this May when Israeli forces attacked a Turkish ship attempting to run an Israeli blockade of Gaza, killing nine Turks in a botched attempt to take over the ship.

When a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey last week, killing hundreds and destroying thousands of homes, Israeli President Peres was the first to offer aid to his counterpart, Turkish President Gul. (more…)

An American Turkophile approves of the election results

June 12, 2011

Turks went to the polls today in numbers that should make Americans blush: 44 million of 50 million registered voters, or 88 per cent.

The results should get two cheers from American friends of Turkey. The victory of the Justice and Development (AK) party was a foregone conclusion. AK got 49.9% of the vote and 325 seats, losing eleven seats from the current level.

But the critical issue for Turkey is what happens to the Turkish constitution, which was written by the Army after the 1982 military coup. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is committed to writing a new constitution. He hoped to capture two-thirds, or 367, of the seats in parliament, which would have allowed his party to write the new constitution by itself. Failing that he hoped for three-fifths, or 330, of the seats, which would have allowed the same unilateral drafting of a new constitution but subject to a popular referendum (which he would have been heavily favored to win). But on Sunday AK fell a little short of even the 330 threshold.

This matters for two reasons. First, AK is an Islamist party, and while many (more…)

The Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara wasn’t Gaza-bound, and the Israelis knew it. Or did they? Needed: Israeli cooperation with an independent investigation

October 25, 2010

 


The Turkish newspaper
Hurriyet reports that the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship carrying supplies for blockaded Gaza, had altered their course to avert a diplomatic crisis.

“During our departure, we said we were going to Gaza, but the coordinates that we gave were to Egyptian territorial waters. Everyone was aware of our course to [the Egyptian port] El-Arish,” Bülent Yıldırım, the head of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or İHH, said today. “The situation required us to go there.” He added that the U.S. ambassador in Ankara was notified, and told Israeli authorities.

Hurriyet is a credible source, not a mouthpiece for the Turkish government—far from it: it has been so critical of the government and so set on exposing corruption that the Erdogan government, in its most anti-democratic action, is trying to put Hurriyet and its sister publications out of business.

In the same edition the paper reports that the Israeli military chief of staff testified before the Israeli commission investigating the incident that Israeli commandoes fired live ammunition only after the Turks fired first, an account in stark opposition to a recent U.N.-commissioned report into the raid, which said there was “no evidence to suggest that any of the passengers used firearms or that any firearms were taken on board the ship.” (more…)


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