Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 01, 2013

Erdogan Clashes With "His Own People"

It started on Monday as a small protest of a few dozen people against the removal of trees at one of the last public parks in the central Istanbul district Taksim. Using tear gas and pepper spray police removed the people and uprooted some trees.

The park is planned to be removed for a replica of Ottoman Artillery Barracks which would be turned into (another) shopping mall. The mayor of Istanbul, a member of Erdogan's AKP, is the owner of a retail chain as is likely to profit from the mall. Erdogan's son-in-law holds the contract for the renewal of the area. It is one of the AKP's mega projects in Istanbul which get implemented without asking for the consent of the people who are likely to get harmed by them.

Beaten back by the police the small Monday demonstration multiplied. The park was occupied with tents and a festive atmosphere only to be again brutally removed by the police. Protests again multiplied. Yesterday several thousand clashed with the police in Istanbul and smaller demonstration took place in other Turkish cities. Some 100 got injured. The people taking part are mostly, but not solely, secular liberals who dislike Erdogan's economic neoliberal, socially arch-conservatve and autocratic way to govern. Politicians from opposition parties jumped onto the bandwagon.

Turkish media hardly covered the protests. CNN Turk broadcasted a cooking show while CNN International reported of clashes in Istanbul. Some 70 journalists in Turkey are imprisoned for "supporting terrorism" and other vague "crimes". Media companies have been threatened by the government. They largely do not dare to report opposition views.

In a speech today Erdogan admitted that the police reaction was too harsh but did not respond to the demands of the protester. He claimed that "those on streets are linked with terror, have dark ties". His deputy suggested that foreign powers are involved.

The protests will continue. How long will depend on the police. If it continues to use too much force they could escalate again. Should somehow weapons become involved the protests could turn into outright riots. While Erdogan has a solid majority behind him many people dislike his way to govern. A large majority rejects his support for the insurgency in Syria.

Erdogan will likely prevail and will build another useless mall. But his powers will be diminish. In 2011 Erdogan said "Mubarak must listen to his people". He had the same advice for the Syrian president Assad. Not listening to "his own" "peaceful protesters" will further expose his hypocrisy. His personal project of changing the constitution to a presidential one to then be elected as a powerful president is now in serious danger.

Posted by b on June 1, 2013 at 10:56 UTC | Permalink

next page »

After supporting terrorists in Syria Erdogan now are left with his bad karma, lets see if erdogan listen to "his people" and how hypocrite Obama/EU will approach it.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 1 2013 11:03 utc | 1

More pics here..

Posted by: Zico | Jun 1 2013 11:35 utc | 2

From Hugh Pope who lives in central Istanbul: A ringside seat as Istanbul protests

Largely the same take I have.

Posted by: b | Jun 1 2013 11:52 utc | 3

There's a class element in this conflict in Turkey, quite similar to Egypt and Iran. Westernised Middle Class vs Islamist lower class. As in Iran, the government gets voted in by the more believing lower classes, who are the majority, but we only hear from the twittering westernised class, who are not the majority.

It is very striking that the trouble is taking place in Taksim, which is the most westernised part of Istanbul. It is very different from SultanAhmet (round the Blue Mosque), where the women with families out picnicking all wear headscarves.

I don't think the rioters can win against Erdogan, because he is supported by a wide swathe of the country, whereas the rioters are urban middle class.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 1 2013 12:02 utc | 4

alexno @ 4

I don't think the rioters can win against Erdogan, because he is supported by a wide swathe of the country, whereas the rioters are urban middle class.

You think????

Posted by: Zico | Jun 1 2013 12:09 utc | 5

You think????

Yeah, it depends how far discontent extends outside Taksim. b's link from Hugh Pope supports my point of view. The concerns expressed were all of middle class type, which wouldn't necessarily extend very far.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 1 2013 12:15 utc | 6

Gilbert Achcar takes time off from backing NATO-GCC salafists to write in LeModediplo in Egypt. What he has to say also applies to Turkey, in that conservative neo-islamism is rapidly losing its appeal to the poor. So all may not be lost in Turkey: riots have a way of attracting masses with grievances.

Here's a excerpt

"...These new loans will exacerbate Egypt’s already very onerous debt burden: one quarter of the country’s state budget expenditure, which exceeds receipts by 35%, currently goes to servicing its debt. The decision to borrow more, in compliance with neoliberal logic, means that the government will have no choice but to cut public sector salaries as well as the subsidies and pensions that go to the neediest. Morsi has, moreover, promised a delegation of businessmen on a September 2012 visit to Egypt organised by the US Chamber of Commerce that he will unhesitatingly carry out drastic structural reforms to put the country’s economy back on its feet (5). Given these economic orientations, the regime will inevitably have to prepare to repress social and working-class struggles. The new government’s effort to suppress labour union freedoms won as a result of the uprising, like the spiralling dismissals of labour union activists, are harbingers of things to come.

"Morsi, his government and, behind them, the Muslim Brothers, are leading Egypt down the road to economic and social catastrophe. Neoliberal prescriptions, applied in the country’s present socioeconomic environment, have already provided ample proof that they cannot help Egypt break out of the vicious circle of underdevelopment and dependency. Quite the contrary: they have plunged it even deeper into the quagmire. The profound political and social instability engendered by the uprising only make the prospect of growth led by private investment still more improbable. And one has to have a strong dose of faith to believe that Qatar will make up for the penury of public investment in Egypt, particularly in a climate of uncertainty about the country’s future.

"In Mubarak’s day, the only recourse the poor had was to charity, combined with “the opium of the people”. “Islam is the solution,” the Muslim Brothers have been promising them for decades, masking with this empty slogan their incapacity to draw up an economic programme fundamentally different from the government’s. The hour of truth has now come. As Khaled Hroub has stressed, “In the period just ahead of us, these two questions or logics — the slogan ‘Islam is the solution’ and the discourse in the name of religion — will, with their ideological burden, face the test of a public, mass experiment conducted in the laboratory of popular consciousness. The experiment may last a long time, devouring the lives of an entire generation. It seems, however, that the Arab peoples must inevitably traverse this historical period, so that their consciousness can make a gradual transition from an exaggerated obsession with their identity to an awareness of political, social, and economic reality” (6)."

Memo to Gilbert: "You really can think straight when you try."

Posted by: bevin | Jun 1 2013 13:50 utc | 7

Urban yes, secular yes, middle class - not so much (not in the European definition that distinguishes the working class)

Demographics of Turkey: Urban population 70 percent of total population

Erdogan has pisssed off a lot of people recently, if demonstrators can keep it up for a few weeks without losing support, Erdogan will have to go.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 1 2013 13:52 utc | 8

The cops of every country are so criminal. Small minds with medium paychecks doing big violence.

There ought to be a law.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 1 2013 14:03 utc | 9

The Turkish Doctors' Association said nearly 1,000 people had been injured in Istanbul on Friday, including six who lost eyes after being hit by gas canisters.

Source: The Guardian

I disagree with Zico and Alexno that Erdogan is safe because of his support from the religious rural areas. Also disagree in painting this as just a urban middle class riot.

Its true that the urban middle are on the streets but they are not the only ones against him. 10-15 Million Kurds live inside Turkey, another 15 million Shia, both groups are displeased with Erdogan's Syria policy. That's a significant minority before even factoring in the secularists on the street. Another thing to remember is the military, which sees itself as the defenders of the secular society of Kemal Ataturk and have more reasons that most to see Erdogan dethroned.

Erdogan's position may not be as solid as people think.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jun 1 2013 14:24 utc | 10

They need to get the story straight. The Istanbul mayor:

People’s sincere concerns are being “exploited by misinformation” regarding the Taksim Gezi Park demolition, causing “unpleasant reflections” in the city, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş said May 31.

Speaking at a press conference following a bloody police crackdown on protesters earlier in the day, Topbaş dismissed claims that the park was being demolished to build a mall in its place. “It is simply the mandatory removal and transfer of trees in the area in order to enlarge the pedestrian walk,” he claimed.

But that doesn't seem to be true.
The Taksim pedestrianization project was approved by the government in February 2012 and includes the construction of replicas of previously demolished buildings in the famous square. The historic Topçu Barracks was a 35,000-square-meter building that was demolished by İstanbul authorities in 1940. It is to be constructed in what is now Gezi Park, the site of the original Ottoman barracks. The ministry had previously announced that part of the garden in Gezi Park will be protected by the construction of the barracks because the structure will limit public access to it.

The project was rejected by the ministry's Protection Board in January 2013. However, the High Commission, whose decision is regarded as final, decided to go ahead with the project. Over the years Gezi Park has hosted many different kinds of events -- from protests to picnics and from exhibitions to concerts.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in April that new barracks to be rebuilt will become a shopping mall and a residential area.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 1 2013 14:37 utc | 11

Live stream:!/video/65035/live-direktebilder-fra-istanbul-live-video-from-istanbul

It appears that protesters finally took control of the taksim square.

Posted by: hikmet | Jun 1 2013 15:04 utc | 12

The police has been called back after president Gül, like Erdogan an AKP guy but a Erdogan rival, intervened and asked all sides to calm down.

With police out of it the clashes may sson end and calm may return. Unless of course someone wants to escalate again ...

Posted by: b | Jun 1 2013 15:21 utc | 13

re 10

Erdogan's position may not be as solid as people think.

I don't know of anybody who has suggested that Erdogan's position is solid. Indeed everybody seems rather to think he is about to be out. That is the standard position at the moment. What I was suggesting is that it might be more difficult to get him out that you might think.

By the way, there aren't 15 million Shi'a. They are Alevis, who are not the same as the Alawites of Syria (though there are some of those too in Antakya).

If anyone takes over from Erdogan, it'll be an army coup. It's the only way a minority group can get power.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 1 2013 16:03 utc | 14

Typicalm american cowardice.

Fight wars but only when no one could shoot back.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 1 2013 16:19 utc | 15

There is concern in Turkey regarding Erdogan's social conservatism. Here are some examples from one Istanbul journalist:

* Turkish government restricted alcohol sales this week.
* The Ministry of Interior has just announced plans to establish a new security force with their own uniforms who can be armed like police.
* The government announced that they would build a shopping mall at a park near Taksim Square, aka Istanbul's Tahrir, as well as a mosque.
* Erdogan declared war on some serials, because they were not portraying a pious lifestyle. He just couldn't comprehend that these serials are appealing to today's Arabs.
* After Ankara subway officials made an announcement asking passengers "to act in accordance with moral rules" following security cameras spotted a couple kissing, scores of people organized a "kiss protest" in the same station. Then, about 20 Islamists chanting "Allah Akhbar" attacked them with knives, stabbing one kisser.
* The AKP foreign policy is great on the PR front, but terrible on the ground. . . . it's full of inconsistencies.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 1 2013 16:42 utc | 16

And from another journalist in Antalya:

-. . .But there is a point where a strong leader can turn into an arrogant leader.
-People like to hear 'We're doing this for you.'
-And they'll often turn a blind eye to 'We're doing this for you (and putting our own people in place to run it).'
-'After all don't most politicians do that? The next one to come will replace them with his or her people anyway.' can often be heard.
-And they'll put up with, for a time, 'We're doing this for you (and putting our own people in place to run it, and we'll fiddle with it so that we or our clique will make a whole lot of money off of it).'
--Well, ... at least he or she is doing it for us.' will be grumbled.
-But when it gets to 'We're doing this for you (and putting our own people in place to run it, and we'll fiddle with it so that we or our clique will make a whole lot of money off of it, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT).'
- that's when the worm turns.
-And that is what is happening now.
-Will the Turkish government be able to turn things around and shed itself of the 'whether you like it our not' image it is saddled with?
-I don't know.
-Will the government continue with its current stance and behavior causing protests to grow so large that it is forced to call elections?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 1 2013 16:50 utc | 17

See this by a Turkish journalist, Report from Turkey: A Taste of Tahrir at Taksim By Sungur Savran


Posted by: William Bowles | Jun 1 2013 17:26 utc | 18

Is there any reason to believe that these protests would be a message from the United States and or Russia for Turkey to back off of Syria in the run up to Geneva II?

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 1 2013 17:53 utc | 19

@guest77 - no, seems to be genuine grievance of sole Turkish origin.

Now if Russia or Syria are smart they will try to somehow build on this. Just hand back what has been done to Syria. A few protesters shot by unknown people, a few policemen shot by unknown people ... soon you will have big clashes going on where every side accuses the other of using guns.


Some of Erdogan's people spoke of "marginal crowds" in the square. Here is a picture that a Turkish journalists say is genuine. Quite MARGINAL.

Posted by: b | Jun 1 2013 17:58 utc | 20

They are still fighting with police in #ankara .. there are protests in Adana, in a lot of cities. Erdogan will have to change his rhetoric a lot to survive this.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 1 2013 18:11 utc | 21

as Iranian I heard from some turks that Erdogan can win any election now ... so he have majority of turkey behind himself ....

but just like Iran , but some people from capital and big cities are against him while small cities are his supporters ....

Posted by: a person | Jun 1 2013 18:19 utc | 22

Syria has noted the unrest in Turkey and offers some advice.

"The demands of the Turkish people don't deserve all this violence," Syrian television quoted Information Minister Omran Zoabi as saying. "If Erdogan is unable to pursue non-violent means, he should resign. Erdogan's repression of peaceful protest ... shows how detached he is from reality."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 1 2013 18:49 utc | 23

Erdogan will have to change his rhetoric a lot to survive this.

More likely a

Posted by: alexno | Jun 1 2013 18:57 utc | 24

"having dark ties" as someone who likes bright colorful ties, the black tie brigade were always up to no good.

Posted by: heath | Jun 1 2013 19:02 utc | 25

Angry Arab suggested that there should now be a 'Friends Of Turkey,' hosted by Armenia.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 1 2013 19:02 utc | 26

To continue: More likely a bit. Turks still vote tribally, that is, by community. Erdogan can still rely on a vast well of Anatolian Muslims.

Evidently the demonstrations are more than just Taksim. But they are urban. Here we are in a similar situation to the Greens in Iran. The urban liberals can't outdo the rural conservatives.

It's a pity really, but this crisis is only likely to separate the westernised elite from the rest of Turkey.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 1 2013 19:09 utc | 27

22) AKP won decisively last time in 2011 - but AKP is not just Erdogan, it was founded by joining many groups of center-right wing parties in 2001.

It is not true that AKP is based mainly in rural areas,

AKP had pretty successful policies until the Syrian crisis and treaded very softly with an Islamism light.

Erdogan seems to have become tone deaf recently. Probably because of his attempt to present Turkey as a role model for the Middle East. This Today's Zaman article from last year is quite prophetic

AKP reverting back to Islamism?

Nevertheless, there are an increasing number of signs that the AKP is reverting back to Islamism and this is not a first in Turkish political history. After the closure of Necmettin Erbakan’s Welfare Party (RP), the Turkish Islamists established the Virtue Party (FP), which was a post-Islamist party. Yet, after the Constitutional Court also shut down this party, in addition to the non-Islamist AKP, another party was established by Erbakan, the Felicity Party (SP), which reverted back to Islamism and is still Islamist. The AKP has not of course declared it, but it seems to be gradually following Felicity’s path.

The likely end of the EU reform process, the increasing anti-Western rhetoric, the increasing intolerance and closure to dialogue, the signs of hostility towards criticism and plurality, increasing nationalism, insensitivity towards human rights (also Kurdish, Alevi and non-Muslim rights), the increasing state-centric approach and state-protective attitudes could all be signs of latent Islamism. Moreover, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s talk of “the state’s duty to raise religious generations” was an obvious Islamist reaction. His rejoinder of “one nation, one country, one state and one religion” may be read within a broader picture. The introduction of elective courses on the Quran and the Prophet’s life in secondary and high schools that I also applauded may be the part of the latent Islamist project, too. These are not enough to conclude that the AKP is now Islamist but are enough to raise the question. We need to closely scrutinize what will come next.

If the AKP continues in this direction, an increasingly plural and strong civil society will oppose it. It may then need to rely on only its grassroots with populist policies and establish a sort of coalition with the bureaucratic oligarchy and the Kemalist establishment.

People change their minds when they see police beating up people like you and me. There will have to be a solution - one way or the other. As the police clearly over reacted someone will have to be responsible. And as people are shouting "Erdogan go" that will have to be Erdogan, if, big if, protesters keep it up for a few weeks and disrupt daily life (and business).

AKP presumably will win again - without Erdogan.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 1 2013 19:12 utc | 28

Tourism is big in Turkey. Riots and protests, highly publicized, would keep tourists away.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 1 2013 19:18 utc | 29

@20 Incredible image if real. Certainly comparable in size to the crowds in Tahrir Square.

In the next link I made an image: just mashed together with two Google Maps at the same scale and two crowd shots. Taksim could be larger (assuming I got the edges of the crowds right within the red lines).

imgur DOT com/v4xrdLQ

Turkey has proved itself to be incredibly repressive state in the recent past - it will be interesting to see how (provided they continue for an extended period) these protests are dealt with.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 1 2013 19:19 utc | 30

re 28 AKP presumably will win again - without Erdogan.

I quite agree that might be a good solution, but have you examined how that might happen? Do any of us understand much about the internal workings of the AKP? If Erdogan is dominant, he may be able to avoid being ejected. I've always presumed that he will be able to stay in power.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 1 2013 19:26 utc | 31

Religious parties aren't so much supported by the peasants, as supported by the rural landlords, who tell the local religious officials to tell the peasants how to vote. We went through an analogous period in England, except that the peasants didn't have votes. Not even the Levellers wanted to give them votes, because they agreed that they would just vote the way their parish priests told them to. In those days, the secret ballot hadn't even been thought of (to be exact, Harrington was ridiculed for suggesting it). So the real blame in countries like Turkey attaches to the ignorant and dogmatic Yanks, who impose universal suffrage everywhere ('democracy') and then piously turn their eyes away while the CIA rushes in and recruits all the local tyrants money can buy.

What I would like to know is how seriously to take the theory that the police are controlled by Gulen operatives (Gulen definitely being a major CIA asset, as Sibel Edmonds has been telling us for years). The theory is that these people are even more right-wing than Erdogan and Davotoglu, and hence more likely to cook up phony terror plots and conceal real ones. So you have three major blocs: the Kemalists, who presumably still control the army; the Erdoganists, who are based on the rural landowners, like all religious parties everywhere; and the Gulenists, who are pure CIA.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jun 1 2013 19:30 utc | 32

32) The police is supposed to be Erdogan's, the intelligence service Gülen, the military something else - however this obviously will not necessarily apply to every member of these forces.

I do not see how Erdogan cannot take responsibility for stuff like this - much more will come up the next days.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 1 2013 19:47 utc | 33

re 33. I do not see how Erdogan cannot take responsibility for stuff like this - much more will come up the next days

Even if true, what is going to happen? There's a crisis in Turkey. They might succeed in getting rid of Erdogan, but nothing else will change. The AKP have had a good balance between the Islamism of the Anatolian peasants, and the Westernism of the Istanbul elite. It is important not to go too far in one direction or the other. Break that principle, and you're in for trouble.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 1 2013 20:10 utc | 34

ErDOGan has lost all legitmacy, he must go.

Posted by: Fernando | Jun 1 2013 20:39 utc | 35

@34 but will the army use this chance - if not to take power (that's presumably a bridge over the bosporus too far), then just to give Erdogan a big black eye?

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 1 2013 21:24 utc | 36

ErDOGan is slaughtering civilians can we please impose a no fly zone over Turkey?

Posted by: Fernando | Jun 1 2013 21:41 utc | 37

"those on streets are linked with terror, have dark ties".

Well then, it should be easy to tell who is responsible.

Posted by: Mooser | Jun 1 2013 23:58 utc | 38

How ironic that as the protests grow to the point where the police are too few to control them, the Army might be the only body that can.
Unfortunately for Erdogan, he's made an enemy of the armed forces, jailing hundreds of high ranking officers. The army's actually been seen siding with the demonstrators and distributing gas masks.
Schadenfreude running rampant in Syria!

Posted by: Sasha | Jun 2 2013 0:40 utc | 39

This story is getting big. Just heard that the police have been withdrawn and the central square is again filling with people. This is a major political rally. Very hard to predict where it will go next. I simply do not understand Turkish politics and am hesitant to offer any speculations. However ...

The Turkish military was heavily burned by Erdogan a few years back. It only stands to reason that they would seek alliance with any of the opposition forces.

There are the secular, "Westernized" urban folks. They might be a minority but they have influence in the economy and state bureaucracy. If they were willing to accept the military there could be an alliance here.

Turkey seems to have a militant labor movement. Again not that powerful by itself but it could add an important dimension in a larger movement -- a few critical strikes can create tremendous pressure especially if supported by significant sections of society.

Then there are the minority Kurds and Alevi but I have no idea how they will react or even if their support would be welcomed by a larger coalition of forces.

On top of these opposition groupings there is the clear indication that a big majority of the the Turkish people do not approve of the war against Syria that Erdogan has been pushing. This lack of support seems to extend to his own electoral base. Something like this might mean that needed support during a crisis might decide to stay home.

This could become very interesting very quickly.

Posted by: ToivoS | Jun 2 2013 0:48 utc | 40

why does it matter whether Erdogan is favored in an election or not? Mubarak "won elections" but was ousted. in the USA, the number of people who voted for BOTH flavors of (the same) figurehead are nothing - if the people who DIDN'T vote at all took to the streets, it would be OVER TODAY.

what strikes me about today's news is watching footage of Turkish police firing tear gas canisters into whatever people they feel like, in the dark, across busy streets, AT CHEST LEVEL, one after another... they are sick people!!!

Posted by: anon | Jun 2 2013 1:11 utc | 41

#39 Sasha I saw you made the same observation in the Guardian comments. That is so correct. Erdogan cannot count on the military to put down the demonstrations. If he was stupid enough to deploy them on the streets, his regime would be history in an instant. The question for him is if he has enough forces in the police and security agencies? I have no idea but we will soon find out.

Erdogan certainly understand what these protests mean, here he is quoted at BBC:

"If this is about staging a protest, about a social movement, I would … gather 200,000 where they gather 20, and where they gather 100,000, I would gather 1 million party supporters. Let's not go down that road."

The big question is: Can he still mobilize those forces? Or will they stay home, as I suggested above, if he calls them out? Stay tuned folks, this is just getting interesting.

Posted by: ToivoS | Jun 2 2013 1:40 utc | 42


Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 2 2013 1:51 utc | 43

@42 Toivos - Yes, here it's "preaching to the converted", there, less so! I don't think he'll dare call on the military - if they say "Fuck you", he's done. Already they've sided with the protestors. Better for him to make some concessions, leave the park alone etc. But it might be way too late, it's taken on a life of it's own. Not about a green space now. If he makes concessions it will be furious backpedaling indeed, and he'll look weak and vulnerable. If he stands his ground, I think we'll see a real revolution. Looks bad for him no matter what, and it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Posted by: Sasha | Jun 2 2013 2:15 utc | 44

'In a speech today Erdogan admitted that the police reaction was too harsh but did not respond to the demands of the protester. He claimed that "those on streets are linked with terror, have dark ties". His deputy suggested that foreign powers are involved.'

fancy that...foreign powers are involved in turkey uprising... anhything like the foreign powers involved in the 'syrian uprising'?

no nothing syria theres no 'uprising' but there is in turkey.

if this looks abit like syria 2011, its cause it is, only here a really brute regime cracks down on real peaceful protestors..all we saw in syria were protestors crackdown, till the snipersn began their work

Posted by: brian | Jun 2 2013 2:30 utc | 45

I guess it's more than the crackdown, it's the direction of the country.
The Atlantic
4 Jarring Signs of Turkey's Growing Islamization
Erdogan is set on making the formerly secular nation an Islamic country, and it's working [?]

Turkey's building boom includes 17,000 new mosques built by the government since 2002. The state is planning an enormous mosque, more than 150,000 square feet in size, to loom over Istanbul on a hill on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. Secularists are outraged, and an opposition leader, Republican People's Party (CHP) MP Mehmet Ali Ediboglu, calls this just another step in a process that, he claims, will end in an Islamic republic.

Whither Turkey? Erdogan's visit to Washington last week is a reminder of how important that question is. President Barack Obama has called Turkey a critical ally and has spoken of his friendship for the Turkish leader. Yet Erdogan is trying to change the Turkish constitution from a parliamentary to a presidential system -- with the hope, of course, that he will be the president. His opponent's charge that Erdogan's model is Russia's Putin, a virtual dictator by legal means.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 2 2013 2:40 utc | 46

'Erdogan is set on making the formerly secular nation an Islamic country, and it's working '

no wonder he hates Assad and syria, a secular country that resists islamisation.

Erdogans islam seems to ally atrocities with piety

here is Erdogan in pious mode:

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, lashed out at Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad for war crimes that were actually perpetrated by NATO’s international mercenary forces in Syria [10] :

“The scenes in [the Syrian town of] Baniyas are as tragic as those in Karbala [in AD 680] and the murderers are at least as despicable as Yazid [...] [who killed] our beloved Prophet’s beautiful grandchildren Hassan and Hussein [...]

the same Erdogan:
'CHP member of parliament Aytug Atici revealed that electricity was cut off just five minutes before the bombing attacks. [39] In fact, according to activist Hamide Yigit, cutting off the electricity was a strategy used by Turkey’s authorities in smuggling international mercenaries into Syria:

“Electricity is cut off along the [Harbiye-Yayladagi] itinerary; everywhere, including streets and roads, becomes totally dark. Meanwhile, vehicles carrying military ammunition and armed groups to the border pass by. Once their passage is over, the electricity resumes. The local residents, who are prevented from witnessing this transport, are feeling deeply restless about it.” [40]'

Posted by: brian | Jun 2 2013 2:57 utc | 47

A view of the protests from somebody on the Turkish left

Report from Turkey:
A Taste of Tahrir at Taksim


Information Minister: The Turkish People Don't Deserve Erdogan's Barbarity

"We wish the Turkish people stability and calm…We call upon Erdogan to show wisdom and not to deal with the Turkish people in the same way he did with Syria," said the Minister."

Turkeys regime is really doing what it claimed Syria was.

Posted by: brian | Jun 2 2013 3:37 utc | 48

Hurriyet has front-paged Chomsky, credit for that.
It wouldn't happen in the "leader of the free world."

Outspoken American linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky has condemned the brutal police crackdown on protesters denouncing the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park, saying it recalled "the most shameful moments of Turkish history."

"I would like to join Amnesty International and others who defend basic human rights in condemning the brutal measures of the state authorities in response to the peaceful protests in Taksim in Central Istanbul," Chomsky said in a written statement June 1.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 2 2013 3:52 utc | 49

The U.S. holds Turkey to a higher standard than what prevails in the U.S. (OWS, etc.)

State, May 31

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are concerned about the number of people who were injured when police dispersed protesters in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. We believe that Turkey’s long-term stability, security, and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and association, which is what it seems these individuals were doing. These freedoms are crucial to any healthy democracy. At this time, we have seen, of course, the reports of Amnesty. We’re still gathering our own information on the incident, so I don’t have any more conclusive detail for you at this time.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 2 2013 4:00 utc | 50

Those are observations. I have no objection to sticking it to Erdogan, based on his recent behavior regarding Syria.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 2 2013 4:03 utc | 51

34) A lot will have changed in the political calculus - Turkey is not an agrarian country with a majority of peasants - Erdogan has been trying an islamization against his people fuelled by Gulf investment. If you think Erdogan represents peasants you got it wrong - he represents a merchant, entrepreneur middle to upper class - much in the way German Christian conservatives in Bavaria used to. These people are absolutely modern in terms of business and their kids will have been to international elite universities. Not all business interest will be in the Gulf, not all will profit by Gulf investment (presumably it is also resented), and they sure will not wish to live in a Gulf society.

Basically the demonstrators are right - it is about police repression and fascism. Either the AKP learns fast that a majority in the ballot box does not give a free hand in everything - and as pointed out above when all the people who did not vote take the street they are the majority - or there will be a lot of trouble.

Erdogan cannot use the military, that is for sure.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 2 2013 4:10 utc | 52

If Turkey was attacked from the rear I wonder if Greece would help

Posted by: wes | Jun 2 2013 4:31 utc | 53

Wes - Ouch!

Posted by: Sasha | Jun 2 2013 5:21 utc | 54

recop tazyik gazdogan

Posted by: somebody | Jun 2 2013 6:51 utc | 55

cop = batons
tazyik = pressure

Posted by: somebody | Jun 2 2013 6:53 utc | 56

Posted by: Mooser | Jun 1, 2013 7:58:44 PM | 38

"Well then, it should be easy to tell who is responsible."

blaming the israelis again-you obviously spend too much time on mondopiss

Posted by: wes | Jun 2 2013 7:51 utc | 57

blaming the israelis again-you obviously spend too much time on mondopiss

Posted by: wes | Jun 2, 2013 3:51:30 AM | 57

then youd be surprised where the Chosen People(REGD TM) get to and what they get up to

Posted by: brian | Jun 2 2013 9:46 utc | 58

Seems like Turkey has been heading for this for quite a while ...

from October 2012

In recent days, two leaders fell even further apart.

Police used tear gas to disperse protesters defying a ban by Erdogan government to mark the Republic Day. A more violent clash was avoided after police removed a barricade near Ataturk's mausoleum in Ankara.

At first, everybody, including the main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, thought that Erdogan ordered the removal of the barricade.

But a few hours ago, it was revealed that the order to the police commissioner came directly from another superior that surprised many: Abdullah Gul. As the President, he was defined by the Constitution as the head of the executive branch, although he has been reserved while exerting this authority unilaterally in the past.

Consequently, Erdogan reacted again in a bitter tone: "The order was not mine. I don't know if it was from Mr. President. I don't believe that he did it. Because we didn't achieve what we achieved with a double-headed government. And we won't go anywhere beyond with a double-headed government."

These words mark the most dramatic disagremeent between Erdogan and Gul.

* * *

Erdogan is obviously worried, if not scared, after he dodged a Tahrir moment yesterday in Ankara, where anti-government protestors breached the police barricade. It is probably why the police was even more brutal today when they took on Kurdish protestors in Istanbul, resorting to excessive force again.

The Tahrir analogy is not mine. Ironically, pro-government commentators were the ones who used it first. They condemned the opposition for trying to create an Arab Spring kind of upheaval in Ankara, as if that Middle Eastern process is something completely bad.

Erdogan is worried, not only because the threat that is immediately posed by the current opposition, but also because of the way in which this process reveals the vulnerabilities of his policies.

By systematically violating his citizens' right of the freedom of speech and by suppressing democratic protests violently at home, Erdogan and his government are being perceived as an increasingly authoritarian administration. It is a dilemma, though, considering Ankara's keenness to promote democracy in the Middle East, even by force if necessary, as they defend in Syria.

Such double-standards edge Turkey towards similar cases like Qatar and Saudi Arabia/Bahrain in the neighborhood.

When Erdogan seems like a Middle Eastern monarch against an increasingly effective opposition at home, it is normal that the rival within would present himself as more pro-EU, more reconciliatory leader.

So, here is Abdullah Gul.


Now, we should wait and see how the influential members of the AKP will take sides. It will ultimately answer if we have a double-headed government or not. If yes, then some people may remind Erdogan and Gul that old proverb: "Two acrobats cannot dance on the same rope."

Posted by: somebody | Jun 2 2013 10:18 utc | 59

Craig Murry rightly reminds us that the alternative to the AKP in Turkey is a hardcore militaristic rightwing Kemalism. Those secular liberals are just a small minority. The big opposition to Erdogan is on the secular but nearly fascist nationalistic right.

Craig also points out that corruption in Turkey is the major grievance. Erdogan's big projects, including the park and square "renovation", are very openly feeding a certain group of his friends and family.

The alternative to the AKP under Erdogan may be the AKP under someone else. The current president Gül would of course be a candidate for that scenario. While he has mostly the same aims as Erdogan he is less in the extreme, uses much less harsh rhetoric and is more willing to compromise. He is in general more accepted than Erdogan who has become too much of a selfserving Pasha or Sultan.

Posted by: b | Jun 2 2013 11:17 utc | 60

Yes, b, to a certain extent, this was about the eradication of the last "green" space in Istanbul.

Now it's much more than that.

I wish more Americans gave a damn about their losses.

This country would be/could be, vastly different if people could awake from the Goebbels-inspired "American Dream"?

Posted by: Cynthia | Jun 2 2013 12:52 utc | 61

b. I think Craig Murray is very British nationalist in dislliking Kemal Ata Türk.
To call him more Fascist than Mussolini is completely unfair.

The CHP is not the Turkish right wing. That is the MHP.

Neither of the Turkish main Parties, AKP, CHP, MHP ... except maybe the Kurdish BDP has a concept of human rights for everyone.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 2 2013 12:54 utc | 62

Craig also points out that corruption in Turkey is the major grievance. Erdogan's big projects, including the park and square "renovation", are very openly feeding a certain group of his friends and family.

The alternative to the AKP under Erdogan may be the AKP under someone else. The current president Gül would of course be a candidate for that scenario. While he has mostly the same aims as Erdogan he is less in the extreme, uses much less harsh rhetoric and is more willing to compromise. He is in general more accepted than Erdogan who has become too much of a selfserving Pasha or Sultan.

Posted by: b | Jun 2, 2013 7:17:56 AM | 6

' are very openly feeding a certain group of his friends and family'

thats called 'cronyism' usually a basic sign of corruption. For this same fellow to talk about Allah and invoke the koran, as hes been doing re syria is a sign he needs to be removed

lack of choice is also to be seen in US...Obama or McCain?

Posted by: brian | Jun 2 2013 12:55 utc | 63

Posted by: brian | Jun 2, 2013 5:46:38 AM | 58

Nothing surprises me about the chosen people because I am one by choice

Posted by: wes | Jun 2 2013 13:11 utc | 64

While Turkey was/is good ally of Qatar and US, one would wonder if this is yet another Qatari/US lead operation or, more likely, Putin's financing of Russian-style "Arab Spring" and payback for Libya, Tunis, Egypt and others.

Russians have old-forgotten experience in such operations with Cuba, Afganistan, South Korea, Vietnam and others.

I am not sure I am giving too much credit to Putin, but for Russia winning/destabilizing Turkey would be a very big leap forward in protecting Syria and blooding the nose of the CIA.

Thus, I think it's quite possible that what we are witnessing here is Russian-organized payback for the Turkey's involvement in directly supporting Chechnya and now the attempt to overthrow Syria. I think Russia had enough of this rogue regime (from Russia's point of view) and are throwing sticks into Turkey's wheels, so to speak.

Posted by: Cynthia | Jun 2 2013 13:53 utc | 65


Russia would presumably still have strong ties to left wing Turkish groups, but I don't know how heavy their involvement was.

Erdogan has certainly stepped on everyone's toes he was supposedly "dancing" with - Syria, Russia, Greece, Iran, Israel, the United States, Saudi Arabia.

There is probably at least some degree of schadenfreude in every major world capitol over this turn of events.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 2 2013 14:19 utc | 66

65, it is a huge popular protest, Erdogan had it coming ..., no foreign country can do something like that

Posted by: somebody | Jun 2 2013 14:21 utc | 67


“The Foreign Ministry recommends Syrian citizens not travel to Turkey at this time for their safety and security given the deteriorating security situation in several Turkish cities in the past few days and the violence committed by the Erdogan government against peaceful protesters,” a statement from the Foreign Ministry source to the state-run agency said.

Posted by: b | Jun 2 2013 15:15 utc | 68

I doubt there is much shadenfreude in KSA or Qatar. Erdogan is their man and Turkey their stick with which to beat Syria. I don't think they will be happy to see him weaker or even gone, even if the AKP remains under Gul or someone else.

KSA especially is worried about protesters anywhere lest they put crazy ideas in people's heads, like maybe there should be protests in KSA. Al 'Arabia is putting the protesters in a negative light, emphasizing fires, stone throwing and injured police officers.

Posted by: Lysander | Jun 2 2013 15:17 utc | 69

@ 67. Foreign countries can and do do that all the time. In any country, there are people who hat the government and it is not that hard to send rabble rousers. Take a look at any of the numerous South American coups sponsored by the CIA and you will see substantial public protests played a role in most of them.

I'm not saying that is what is happening in Turkey, but I don't think we can just rule it out at this point. Of course Erdo, by being a two faced megalomaniac, would make the job easier.

Posted by: Lysander | Jun 2 2013 15:22 utc | 70

Huge popular protests are unpredictable, no one can engineer something like that, though I agree with you, there are people who keep trying.

They always needed the military and violent oppression for the coups in Latin America, remember?

I am very weary of politicians who declare their opposition works for the interest of foreign powers, especially when these politicians are faced with a mass protest.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 2 2013 16:04 utc | 71

From the way things are heading, it doesn't look like the protests will stop any time soon..It's no longer about some park now..The whole movement's taken a different turn and people are now demanding the resignation of the government..

Erodgan's problem is that, just because his government "improved" the economy, he had the power to do whatever he liked..But Turkey's economy is largely subsidized by Qatari/Saudi money - at least Erdogan's goons benefit immensely from their connection with the FAT Sheiks in the Persian Gulf..

The people, though, see a different picture..They see their country becoming nothing but subjects of a feudal, uneducated Arab puppet kings/princess who control their government as they please..The other thing to note here is that, Erdogan's government is not as strong Assad's Baath. The Baath system's being around for decades and thus have great experience in dealing with cataclysmic events and very much institutionalized in the Syrian psyche. When the Syrian crisis started, people often blamed the government for not doing enough to stem out the instability.

Erdogan, on the other hand, is hot-headed and inexperience..If Erdogan is powerful today, it's not because he smart or anything, he's simply been MADE by vested interest..There's only so much the Turkish people can take..

Posted by: Zico | Jun 2 2013 16:06 utc | 72

Another regime going "arab spring"? I love the irony of this one.

Posted by: Alexander | Jun 2 2013 16:11 utc | 73

72) He has been an effective populist politician for quite a while. He seems to have completely lost it now saying stuff like "one drink and you are alcoholic" and "social media is a plague", either he has lost it, or Turkey is not as secular as I suspect it to be.
Anybody depending on the tourist sector will try to get rid of him - fast.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 2 2013 16:30 utc | 74

knew it, there are Turkish conspiracy theorists ...

Aaron Stein ‏@aaronstein1 1h
Meli Gokcek is raising the foreign conspiracy and linking protests to Assad - the man is embarrassing himself, someone take his phone away

Melih Gökçek is the mayor of Ankara ... there are serious street fights there just now

Posted by: somebody | Jun 2 2013 18:01 utc | 75

re 72

But Turkey's economy is largely subsidized by Qatari/Saudi money

That is rubbish. You only have to go to Turkey to see that it is a native creation. There is a dynamic entrepreneurial atmosphere.

In any case, Qatari/Saudi money, if there were any, is highly unreliable. They pay, as long as a royal prince maintains a personal interest. If not, nothing happens, and the payments stop. Not a way to develop an economy as the Turks have.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 2 2013 18:08 utc | 76

"I doubt there is much shadenfreude in KSA or Qatar..."
I doubt it too. Neither of these countries is immune to popular uprising. Compared to either Turkey's government has legitimacy.
The truth is that there are going to be explosions in the Gulf and every big uprising such as Tahir or this one must make the gas and oil tyrants sweat and shiver.

Posted by: bevin | Jun 2 2013 18:08 utc | 77

@60 - Craig Murray worked for the UK as ambassador to UZBEKISTAN, and though he may have been repulsed by people getting boiled in oil, that kinda qualifies him more as a part of the machine than an expert on liberal masses or the middle east or the entire population of Turkey.
His argument sounds too much like "vote Obama because Romney is worse".

He is right that altruistic demonstrators don't become heads of state, or at least they don't remain altruistic if that's where they go, BUT it is also true that there are millions of altruistic demonstrators all over the planet (billions?) who have NO INTENTION of becoming politicians! that does NOT stop us from taking over public space or influencing politics! nor does a divide over religion/race or gay marriage or libertarians/greens keep us from feeding each other and supporting struggle against militarism and police brutality.

I think Murray's article is very arrogant and he should write about his own country.

Posted by: anon | Jun 2 2013 18:48 utc | 78

@alexno #27

Here is what I think:
Turks still vote tribally, that is, by community. Erdogan can still rely on a vast well of Anatolian Muslims.Evidently the demonstrations are more than just Taksim. But they are urban. Here we are in a similar situation to the Greens in Iran. The urban liberals can't outdo the rural conservatives.

It's a pity really, but this crisis is only likely to separate the westernised elite from the rest of Turkey.

It is a very interesting analogy that you make between the demonstrators in Turkey and the Greens in Iran. And I must say that I agree that there are significant parallels.
But I think there are also some important differences. For example the Greens in Iran were strongly pro-US/Israel, I don't think that the same applies to the Turkish demonstrators. Also US and Israel are behind the AKP, they were very much against the Iranian government and were supporting the greens. Also Turkish demonstrators -to varying degrees- lean towards the left, whereas the greens were neoliberal right-wingers.

Now you say something very interesting regarding "Turks voting tribally". In my opinion, there is an element of truth in that. I remember that when I was in Turkey, I would always feel very frustrated with the fact that Turks' support for political ideas were like the support of fans for a soccer team: support it no matter how it performs, and never switch to the opponent's camp. Even if there is a switching it is from one right wing party to another or even worse switch to some extreme right wing party.

I have a different view now. I don't deny that there is an element of "tribalism" in how Turks vote, but I don't think that Turks (or Iranians) are blindly following the "religion" no matter what. If the vast majority of Turks are confined within certain boundaries in their voting patterns, it is also to a great degree because of a lack of an alternative which would genuinely base its struggle on their grievances. Let me give you an example from my own country: In Iran Ahmadinejad's currents, can by no mean be described -in relative terms- as religious conservatives. Are they not devoutly religious? Yes they are, but the main "slogan" with which they tried to appeal to the public was not religious fervor, but rather a redistribution of the oil revenue. It could be debated how honest they were in their slogans compared to their general economic policies such as privatization but that is not relevant to my argument right now, what is relevant is that they based the slogan of their campaign on redistribution of wealth. And quite to the opposite of them were the principlists, who kept accusing them with "deviance" and even "heresy" (ie. Bahaism). What was the result? The result was that those "heretic deviants" managed to appeal to masses of rural populations vast enough to make the principlists bar them from participating in the elections!
Today, Turkey's economy is a slave to the multinational corporations. The global capital for the sake of its own accumulation demands a certain distribution of income which works to the benefit of a very few at the top and to the loss of the vast masses (eg. Iran's protein consumption is higher than Turkey's despite the fact that Turkey's GDP is roughly 1.5 times that of Iran). Turkish public is also very much anti-american and anti-Israeli. But have a look at the current alternatives. Which one proposes for Turkey to leave NATO, scrap their EU application and changing the Turkish economy radically and offer a fair distribution of income/wealth?
Believe me, if any of the parties supported by the vast mass of those demonstrating urbanites vigorously addressed the grievances of the poor, you would see that perhaps, those "Anatolian Muslims" are not so devout after all!

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jun 2 2013 21:58 utc | 79

Correction to my previous message:
"...give you an example from my own country: In Iran Ahmadinejad's currents, can by ..."

Should have been
"...give you an example from my own country: In Iran Ahmadinejad's group, can by ..."

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jun 2 2013 22:03 utc | 80

Here's a funny picture.

Fan group of beşiktaş, çarşı took control of a contruction machine and apperently chasing off police vehicles. Lol.

Posted by: hikmet | Jun 2 2013 23:06 utc | 81

I would have hoped that b would have found a more nuanced critic rather than a former British FCO officer. Kemal was the instigator who presided over the tear-up of the post WWI settlement imperialistic British tried to impose on Turkey, using hapless Greeks as a proxy. He defeated them in Gallipoli, and then stared them down in Chanak in 1922. He ensured Turkey was not reduced to a rump and destroyed. While he was repressive at times, he introduced equality of sexes, started a literacy drive, and triggered everything that makes Turkey different than most of the middle east. Yes he repressed Kurdish nationalism within Turkey [Kurdish uprisings were supported by Brits in 1926 and then 1932, the same Brits who gassed Kurds in N. Iraq in 1923-24, Churchill being the main instigator, and opposed a plebiscite on Musul-Kirkuk, whereby the mainly Sunni Kurds would have probably voted to join Turkey rather than stay with the British mandate of Iraq].

A little known aspect of this joint history with British is Irish support for Kemalists. They were, in alliance with the Soviet Union, the reason the middle east did not completely fall to western imperialists. And, post WWII greed by Stalin, asking for bases on the straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles, was a strong reason that pushed Turkey into the arms of NATO. While one can see his anger at Turkey's dynamic neutrality, playin both sides, first being close to Germany then to the Allies but refusing to enter the war, all he could come up with was irredentist claims to areas of Turkey temporarily occupied by Tsarist russia in late 1800's, plus the straits. Turkey wanted to renew the Soviet-Turkish frienship treaty negotiated by their respective revolutionary leaders, Lenin and Kemal, Stalin refused.

Posted by: kodlu | Jun 3 2013 0:11 utc | 82

@81 awesome! LOL. People power has its armored cars too.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 3 2013 0:24 utc | 83

Turkeys regime is doing what syrias govt never did: repress peacefuln protestors, while Erdogan quotes piously from the koran, he sneaks terrorists across the border to bomb syria and represses free wonder Fogh of NATO considers Erdogan an ally

Posted by: brian | Jun 3 2013 0:29 utc | 84

@alexno #27

Quite silly comment!

I, for one, do not vote. For people around me, and the election that I follow they all are voting "tribally". One doesn't have to be social-phsyologists to figure that out.

There is no difference between Anatolia, Schleswig-Holstein, Bavaria or valley of the river Po in Italy. Last three were cradles of Nazism and Fascism where hence movements spread to the rest of the both countries. So, it is not matter of urban vs. rural, which imply modern vs. primitive, it is how nation-states works. Majority vs. Minority and than Majority is class stratified within self.

The Turkish "The westernized elite" have already separated themselves by the moment when Kamal Dervis and neoliberals took power, which was somewhat before AKP if I am not mistaken. Like everywhere else they introduced class warfare.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jun 3 2013 2:58 utc | 85

Never seen such creativity in people, it is like they enjoying themselves.

Chemical Tayyip

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jun 3 2013 3:09 utc | 86

76) "that is rubbish. You only have to go to Turkey to see that it is a native creation. There is a dynamic entrepreneurial atmosphere.

In any case, Qatari/Saudi money, if there were any, is highly unreliable. They pay, as long as a royal prince maintains a personal interest. If not, nothing happens, and the payments stop. Not a way to develop an economy as the Turks have."

Turkey has a chronic trade deficit, no competitive industries to speak of (though of course industry exists), no natural resources to speak of, with rising high energy costs adding to the trade inbalance, so where does the money come from? Transmittance by Turkish workers from abroad are a fraction. Turkish tourist industry is solid but cannot account for that much. It is not the IMF, Turkey has paid that back.

There is however this

A Turkish law allowing foreigners to own land and real estate in the country has attracted over 5 billion dollars in investment from the Gulf, Turkish Consul General in Dubai Elif Omoglu Ulgen told news site Al-Hayat. Since the changing of the law nine months ago, Turkey has seen investment from Germany, Britain, Austria, the US, Russia, and Arab countries.

The Turkish president, Gül, has worked for 8 years for an investment bank in Jeddah.

There is also this from March 2013

He underlined that Saudi Arabia has been one of the most important trade partners for Turkey, adding that the trade volume between the two countries totaled $8.1 billion in 2012 and that it can be much higher in the future.

Of course, you are right, Gulf trade is a fraction of the Turkish economy, Gulf investment however is - presumably - a huge corruption factor and Turkish foreign real estate investment laws could be described as a national sell out - especially when the local population has no power to decide on building plans.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 3 2013 6:46 utc | 87

Comment 52 makes an interesting response to my comment 32 about the 'peasant' religious vote. I said: "Religious parties aren't so much supported by the peasants, as supported by the rural landlords, who tell the local religious officials to tell the peasants how to vote." Comment 52 said: "Turkey is not an agrarian country with a majority of peasants. If you think Erdogan represents peasants you got it wrong. He represents a merchant, entrepreneur middle to upper class, much in the way German Christian conservatives in Bavaria used to. These people are absolutely modern in terms of business and their kids will have been to international elite universities." Besides the rural proletariat, the farm workers, there are the recently urbanised proletarians, whose move to the city is organised by the landlords whom they worked for on the farms. These landlords either develop urban industries of their own, or make deals with urban employers to provide cheap labour en bloc. So the rural proletarians move to the city, but maintain the same client relationships they had in the countryside. This includes non-union employment, local mullahs in their new city environment, religious schools for their children, and organised resistance to any other political groups, especially left-wing ones, that might try to recruit at their workplaces. It's a very familiar phase in so-called 'development' sociology.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jun 3 2013 7:02 utc | 88

87) look it is so easy to look things up nowadays - why don't you do it before spreading stupid theories ...

Because no comprehensive cadastral surveys have been carried out, landownership data are still poor in the mid-1990s, but a general picture of ownership patterns emerges. According to the 1980 agricultural census, about 78 percent of the farms consisted of five hectares or less and together accounted for 60 percent of farmland. About 23 percent of the farms were between five and twenty hectares in size, accounting for another 18 percent of the land. Fewer than 4 percent of the farms covered more than twenty hectares, although these occupied more than 15 percent of the farmland. Few farms exceeded 100 hectares. Although experts believed that landownership was more concentrated than data on farm size implied, it was clear that Turkey had more equal distribution of land than did many other developing countries.

Some observers estimate that, despite widespread leasing and sharecropping, a majority of farms are owner operated. However, tenure patterns vary significantly among regions, reflecting different geographical conditions and historical developments. In general, Islamic inheritance practices, which establish set shares for each male and female child, cause fragmented holdings and make leasing and sharecropping extensive. Joint ownership of land is common, and even very small farms normally consist of several noncontiguous plots.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 3 2013 7:46 utc | 89

Turks Want Erdogan, His Ruling AK Party To Step Down

will he or does he want a Turkish spring to force him out?

Posted by: brian | Jun 3 2013 8:22 utc | 90

Erdogran has foolishly destroyed his career, for his own ammbitions and to serve FUKUSrael

Protests in cities across Turkey shook the Islamist government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday and over the weekend, amid rising discontent with his domestic policies and his support for the US-led proxy war in neighboring Syria.
The protests grew rapidly after police crackdowns on Friday morning at Istanbul’s Gezi Park and then on Taksim Square. The sit-in had begun Tuesday, as lawmakers and officials of the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), subsequently joined by the bourgeois opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), protested Erdogan’s plan to remodel Gezi Park, which is adjacent to Taksim Square. The sit-in initially gathered dozens and then hundreds of people.

Posted by: brian | Jun 3 2013 8:27 utc | 91

'Washington and its allies seized upon the repression of protests in Syria in the summer of 2011 to launch a proxy war for regime change in Syria, but they are now merely issuing mild, pro forma criticisms of Erdogan’s bloody crackdown in Istanbul. The US State Department expressed concern in its statement over the number of injuries, while the European Union (EU) said it would “condemn all excessive and disproportionate use of force.”'

Behind the flagrant contrast in the US and EU reaction stand the imperialist interests driving the policy of the major powers in Syria and Turkey. While the Syrian regime has emerged as an obstacle to the imperialist drive to restructure the Middle East, centered on US-led regime change in oil-rich Iran, Erdogan has functioned as a key US ally.

Posted by: brian | Jun 3 2013 8:36 utc | 92

'US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone told CNN Türk, “Of course, no one could be happy to see those saddening images. I am not happy either. I wish a speedy recovery to all those injured. But if you are asking me about US foreign policy, as you know, freedom of expression, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to have peaceful protests are fundamentals of a democracy. I am not going to say anything further.'

US is embarrassed by its servant..we know how US deals with protests...and US for all itgs talk of 'freedom'(REGD TM) always partners the most UNFree states

Posted by: brian | Jun 3 2013 8:39 utc | 93

Turkish Protester Hit By Police Panzer

Posted by: brian | Jun 3 2013 8:59 utc | 94

I think Erdogan can kiss his 2014 re-elections goodbye..Better still he may well be out before 2014 spenind the sunshine with his buddies in Dubai, Doha and Riyadh..

His main fear is the army stepping in to stage a coup against his regime..Yes, he's jailed many top generals but one has to understand that the Turkish army, like the Egyptian army is a rented army by the US and the US decides what they do..If things get really really bad, as it is now, the army will certainly step in and Erdogan will be toast!!! This is how the US forced Mubarak out and brought in the useless Mursi...

Posted by: Zico | Jun 3 2013 9:15 utc | 95

94) he will be out before, seems like the whole of Turkish society is uniting against him including his own party.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 3 2013 9:27 utc | 96

Sharmine Narwani ‏@snarwani 2h
In #Syria opposition fakes stuff to frame government; in #Turkey, government fakes stuff to frame protestors:

Sharmine Narwani ‏@snarwani 2h
Wow. RT@StrikeDebt: Turkish police vandalizing ATM machine so they can later blame protestors #Turkey

Sevinc Rende ‏@SevincRende 3h
Turkcell: We received political pressure to block communications in #Turkey #ireport #direngeziparki

Posted by: brian | Jun 3 2013 9:29 utc | 97

Posted by: Zico | Jun 3, 2013 5:15:40 AM | 94'

ah yes the 'arab spring' is as arab as Valentino!

Posted by: brian | Jun 3 2013 9:42 utc | 98

a report from Turkey

'To my friends who live outside of Turkey: I am writing to let you know what is going on in Istanbul for the last five days. I personally have to write this because most of the media sources are shut down by the government and the word of mouth and the internet are the only ways left for us to explain ourselves and call for help and support.'

Posted by: brian | Jun 3 2013 10:09 utc | 99

The following infographic gives a quick, shareable description of what has taken place in Turkey over the weekend.

Posted by: brian | Jun 3 2013 10:11 utc | 100

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