Turkey’s upheaval: Descent into confrontation

“THEY say the prime minister is harsh. If you call this harshness, I’m sorry—but this Tayyip Erdogan won’t change.” This assertion by Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to his ruling Justice and Development (AK) party on June 11th came just as riot police were clashing violently with protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. It left little doubt where the order to clear the square had come from.Turkey’s turmoil has been going on since May 31st, when the police brutally suppressed a peaceful protest by a group camped in Gezi Park on the edge of Taksim. Had Mr Erdogan backed away earlier from his controversial plan to build a shopping arcade and residential complex over the park, the protests might swiftly have died. Instead an obdurate prime minister has spewed out incendiary rhetoric that sparked anger among the tens of thousands of mostly young people taking to the streets across the country to show solidarity with Taksim. Only on June 12th did Mr Erdogan soften a bit, suggesting that his plan for Gezi Park might be put to a referendum in Istanbul.Critics are saying that Mr Erdogan has wrested power from Turkey’s once meddlesome army only to hand it to the…

The Economist: Europe

Filed Under: News


About the Author: