By June 4, 2013 Read More →
The Istanbul Gas Festival

The Istanbul Gas Festival

What to make of the recent escalation of protests in Turkey? Beginning as an attempt to prevent the bulldozing of a park (to make way for a shopping mall) in Istanbul’s central Taksim square, civil unrest has spread throughout the country; as Jay Cassano writes,

Solidarity protests have spread organically to other cities, mostly as an expression of anger at police brutality. Protesters have taken to the streets in the cities of Ankara, Izmir, Izmit, Eskişehir, Kayseri, Antalya, Kutahya, and no doubt others. Radikal reports that protesters were tear gassed in Izmit and Eskişehir and dozens were detained in other cities. At the time of writing, it appears that numbers are only going to continue to grow and demonstrations will continue to escalate.

So it would appear that police brutality and overreaction has been driving more and more people into the streets (sound familiar?). Where do we go from here? The question is whether disaffection with the Erdogan and his AKP is widespread enough for a serious popular challenge to be mounted against the regime – and this seems highly unlikely. As Issandr al-Amrani rightly points out,

Erdogan is no Mubarak or Ben Ali, he was legitimately elected after all and can credibly claim to have effectively tackled Turkey’s economic problems and countered Turkey’s once coup-happy generals. But it’s not all rosy, apart from his political longevity, there is a relatively poor human rights record (especially on the media and the Kurdish question), an economic growth story that is not without its cronyism, rising cost of living and economic inequality, and a cult of personality that is foundering on (among other things) a foreign policy humbled by the Syria question. The parallels to draw are not with the Arab uprisings, and not quite with recent European unrest such as Greece. This appears to be a very Turkish wave of discontent, perhaps the bursting of the much-inflated Erdogan bubble that thrived pretty much unchallenged for the last decade.

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(Wikimedia Commons image courtesy of Azirlazarus)

Posted in: Middle East, Turkey

About the Author:

William Oliver is Nabateans’ editor for international economics and Middle East current affairs. He obtained his degree in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. While his studies focused on the Middle East in the 18th and 19th centuries, William has a long-standing interest in international finance and the political economy of development. William’s work is aimed at understanding how the Middle East integrates with the global economy, and into the wider geopolitical landscape.

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