Tag Archives: Turkey

A Corruption Scandal in Turkey: Tamer Söyler

Guest post by TAMER SӦYLER 

A corruption Scandal in Turkey first broke on December, 17th last year. Under instructions by the public prosecutor Celal Kara, the financial police took into custody several suspects comprising famous businessmen (Ali Agaoğlu and Reza Zarrab), family members of three ministers from the cabinet (sons of ministers Muammer Güler, Zafer Çaglayan and Erdoğan Bayraktar) and high level bureaucrats. Main suspects were immediately arrested by the court.
Prime Minister Erdoğan declared that this was a fabricated investigation to humiliate his government on the eve of coming elections. The Prime Minister accused Fethullah Gülen, the founder of the Gülen Movement, living in a self-imposed exile in the US for the last 15 years, for placing a plot to overthrow his government.

Continue reading A Corruption Scandal in Turkey: Tamer Söyler

The unbearable lightness of drowning in your own myth: Tamer Söyler

This guest post by TAMER SÖYLER is the third of a three-part series on Istanbul’s Taksim Square protests.

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This is the final segment of a three-part account of the unrest in Turkey. The first part of the commentary discussed the unrest from the perspective of the political life course of Erdoğan. According to the protestors it was the Prime Minister as the key political figure who set the cat among the pigeons. Neither the opponents and nor the supporters of Erdoğan can make sense of Erdoğan’s turn to authoritarianism on the eve of critical election season. There are two possibilities: First, Erdoğan could have lost his emotional equilibrium and started to react to the events carelessly. Since the Prime Minister surrounded himself with advisors and party members who cannot dare to challenge him, he lost his bearings. Second, as an experienced politician Erdoğan must have a political strategy. Even if he is emotional his emotions are closely related to the concrete problems he faces. Continue reading The unbearable lightness of drowning in your own myth: Tamer Söyler

For Erdoğan, you are with him or against him: Tamer Söyler

This guest post by TAMER SÖYLER is the second of a three-part series on Istanbul’s Taksim Square protests for Kafila.

“Kandils (Islamic holy nights) are the times for equality, unity and solidarity.” Anticapitalist Muslims   Note: “Kandil” refers to the celebration of one of the five Islamic holy nights. While Erdoğan was accusing the protestors to be drinking beer and having some kind of a youth festival, anticapitalist muslims who were against the Taksim project from the very early on, wanted to give their support to the protestors. It was an interesting thing to witness. Socialists and communists were creating space for the members of the Anticapitalist Muslims to perform a public prayer in the square. This is already evidence enough that this is not secularists vs. pious.
“Kandils are the times for equality, unity and solidarity – Anti-capitalist Muslims,” this banner reads.
Kandil refers to the celebration of one of the five Islamic holy nights. While Erdoğan was accusing the protestors to be drinking beer and having some kind of a youth festival, anti-capitalist Muslims who were against the Taksim project from the very early on, wanted to give their support to the protestors. It was an interesting thing to witness. Socialists and communists were creating space for the members of the Anti-capitalist Muslims to perform a public prayer in the square. Clearly,the Taksim protests were not about secular vs. religious.

The first part of this commentary argued that as a part of his political strategy early Erdoğan had embraced a kaleidoscopic approach in governance by including various perspectives coming from citizens situated in different milieus. Erdoğan had given the impression to the citizens that his government was willing to hear the views of the citizens situated in all kinds of milieus. A simple strategy of inclusion proved to be extremely efficient for Erdoğan. Citizens who were not ideologically close to Erdoğan were quick to feel flattered by the symbolic gesture and did not hesitate to support Erdoğan. Continue reading For Erdoğan, you are with him or against him: Tamer Söyler

Can late Erdoğan learn from early Erdoğan?: Tamer Söyler

This guest post by TAMER SÖYLER is the first of a three-part series on Istanbul’s Taksim Square protests for Kafila.

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Photographs by Tamer Söyler

The 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, is said to have remarked: being President is like running a cemetery; you have got a lot of people under you and nobody is listening. As is the case with any good politician, Clinton is known for his bamboo-like character. During his presidency whenever he looked the weakest, he proved to come stronger out of the chaos. Clinton’s remarkable flexibility provided him the ability to bend as much as he needed to achieve his goals without breaking. The Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, proved again that he does not have Clinton’s sense of humour, his presidency or his flexibility.

Turkey is a parliamentary representative democracy. Erdoğan has been expressing his intention to transform the country into a presidential system and become the first president of the country. The government plans to put the question of a constitutional referendum to a vote in the year 2014. The people of Turkey are suffering from a great anxiety related to a fear of finding themselves in an authoritarian, charismatic presidential system. Protestors worry that without adequate mechanisms to enforce the separation of powers in the constitution, Erdoğan can easily transform Turkey into an authoritarian regime.
Continue reading Can late Erdoğan learn from early Erdoğan?: Tamer Söyler

The Jamhuriyat Road to Taksim Square: Shilpi Suneja

Guest post by SHILPI SUNEJA

Istanbul, 4 June

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The evening of 3 June, 2013 was the first time I’d experienced the sting of pepper spray. I was walking on Cumhuriyet Caddesi near Taksim Square in central Istanbul, where, for the past five days, civilians and the Turkish police have been clashing over what the international media has called “a matter of a few trees”. Certainly, the spark of what is now a huge mass protest spanning multiple cities with over 1,000 injured, was the issue over Gezi Park, an area in central Istanbul where the Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan has proposed to build a shopping complex. The plan was to graze the green space and create a shopping complex. This in an area that already boasts of a Hyatt, a Hilton, a Swiss hotel and shopping centers with national and international brands. “There’s already so many shopping malls here,” said a Turkish friend speaking about the government’s decision. “Why build another?” The grazing of the park was supposed to start on Thursday, May 30th. By that time, hundreds of people gathered and occupied the park, bringing tents, books, and children. The police, in response, burned their tents and dispersed the protesters using pepper spray and tear gas. Continue reading The Jamhuriyat Road to Taksim Square: Shilpi Suneja

Why Pakistan Loves Turkey: Saim Saeed

Guest post by SAIM SAEED

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Reuters photo
Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Reuters photo

Everybody loves Turkey. It’s where Pakistani families go for holidays, where students now go for education, where laborers go for work, where clerics go for counsel, and where both civilian and military officials and dignitaries go to find inspiration. Due to Turkey’s momentous economic and political rise, especially in the last decade, it is being held up to the rest of the Muslim world as a country worth emulating, and experts from everywhere have been referring to the “Turkish model” – an Islamic democracy with a robust economy – as the blueprint for a strong and stable (and still Muslim) country. Continue reading Why Pakistan Loves Turkey: Saim Saeed