On Tuesday, January 12 a big explosion took place in the heart of Istanbul’s tourist district of Sultanahmet. The explosion was caused by a suicide bomber who blew himself up next to a group of mainly German tourists, instantly killing ten and injuring 15 others. Soon, the bomber was identified as a Saudi born Syrian man who had recently entered Turkey as a refugee.
According to the Turkish authorities the man was linked to the so-called Islamic State (IS, or ISIS), making this the terrorist group’s fourth deadly suicide bombing in Turkey in one year. Previous attacks that have been ascribed to – but haven’t been claimed by – IS occurred in Diyarbakir in June, Suruç in July and Ankara in October, with a death toll totaling around 140. Continue reading →
Amid the backdrop of intensifying war in neighboring Syria and increasing political tensions internally, voters in Turkey devastated the hopes of moderate and progressive reformers—some of whom clashed with riot police on Sunday—as news spread the nation’s much-maligned rightwing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had reclaimed power as his Justice and Development Party (AKP) had received enough support to re-establish single-party control over the government.
Occupy World Writes Editorial Comment:
Since our inception, we have stood firmly in support of the Kurds and the struggle they face throughout the region. We continue our plea to the United States government to remove the PKK from their list of recognized terrorist groups. When one considers all the facts of the matter – to support Turkey’s actions against the Kurds while recognizing the Kurds as the only force capable and willing to repel ISIL – only contributes to instability and strengthens ISIL’s resolve. To continue this indecisive policy will result in the deaths of thousands of innocent people.
Turkey’s election result is a tribute to its vibrant democracy. But there are hard political and economic tests to come.
Written by Dimitar Bechev and Nathalie Tocci. Published 6-9-15 in OpenDemocracy.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, image via internet blogspot
At the peak of the protests of May-June 2013 in Turkey, spurred by plans to transform Gezi park in central Istanbul, the country’s then president, Abdullah Gül, made a statement that would go down in political folklore: “Democracy does not consist only of the ballot-box” (“Demokrasi sandıktan ibaret değildir“). He had a point: a democracy worthy of the name is also about other things – the rights of minorities, freedom of speech and association, the rule of law, transparency and accountability – all of them in scarce supply in Turkey, both historically and in more recent days.
Yet, the parliamentary polls on 7 June 2015 are also a strong reminder that the ballot-box can actually be the most robust safeguard of democratic governance. Free and fair elections alone may not suffice. But when a polity, which has experienced multi-party democracy for over half a century, casts its vote, it can help put back on track a process of political transformation gone astray.