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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 12-Jun-2013
12-Jun-13 World View -- Déjà vu in Turkey as riots threaten Erdogan regime

Web Log - June, 2013

12-Jun-13 World View -- Déjà vu in Turkey as riots threaten Erdogan regime

Greece faces new economic disaster, and shuts down state broadcasters

This morning's key headlines from

Déjà vu in Turkey as riots threaten Erdogan regime

Turkey's Erdogan addresses supporters and denounces demonstrators (Reuters)
Turkey's Erdogan addresses supporters and denounces demonstrators (Reuters)

What began as peaceful protests by a few dozen people in Gezi Park in Istanbul, Turkey, two weeks ago have now grown to anti-government protests by tens of thousands of people in Istanbul's Taksim Square, with additional protests in cities across Turkey. On Tuesday, Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan toughened his rhetoric, said he would show "no more tolerance" for the massive protests, and sent in the riot police, who used tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, and bulldozers to drive the protesters out. The situation is reminiscent of the small protests that began in Tunisia and Egypt and ended up as huge protests that overthrew the countries' leaders. In addition, Erdogan has to be careful not to allow too much violence, or he'll be unfavorably compared to his next-door neighbor, president Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Unlike the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Syria, Erdogan came to power in Turkey ten years ago by winning an election, and he's been reelected twice since them, making him a popular leader.

But Erdogan's leadership has opened up a major political fault line in Turkey, the Islamists versus the secularists. After the mighty Ottoman Empire was destroyed in 1922 in the aftermath of World War I, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, ended the Muslim Caliphate and declared Turkey to be a secular state. For example, since the 1920s it was actually illegal for women to wear headscarves in public buildings, until Erdogan reversed that rule in 2007. (See "More than a million of secularists rally in Turkey" from 2007.)

The area around what is now called Taksim Square was only partially inhabited, housing a military barracks and military training ground. It became Taksim Square in the early 1920s and is a symbol of Ataturk's secularist revolution. Now Erdogan wants to enlarge Taksim Square, to rebuild the old Ottoman era military barracks and a mosque on the grounds, and Turkey's secularists see that as just one more example of Erdogan's determination to destroy all symbols of Ataturk and secularism, and to turn back the clock to the days of the Ottoman Empire.

It's been only two weeks since the protests started. Perhaps Erdogan will be forced to step down, or maybe the army will become more violent, or maybe the political fault line will turn into a more violent fault line. Turkey is in a generational Crisis era, and so a replaying of the 1908 Young Turk's Revolution is in the air. It will be interesting to watch what happens next. AFP and CNN

Greece's disaster du jour: Privatization of natural gas firm collapses

Barely a day goes by when the news about Greece's economy doesn't worsen, and Tuesday was no exception. The plan was that Greece would privatize its government-owned natural gas firm DEPA, raising as much as 1 billion euros, to help offset the country's massive debt, and satify the terms of the bailout agreement with Greece's European creditors. However, Greece did not get a single bid for DEPA, and the failure became apparent on Monday when Russian energy giant Gazprom withdrew from the bidding. This throws Greece's entire privatization program into chaos. Now Greece will (theoretically) have to find another way to make up for the 1 billion euros, if it's to meet its bailout terms. Reuters

Greece's citizens shocked when state broadcaster is shut down

Greece's prime minister Antonis Samaras took a desperate decision on Tuesday when he announced that he would shut down the public broadcaster ERT and dismiss some 2,700 employees. The shutdown affects television stations, radio stations, and magazines. The shutdown takes place immediately at midnight on Tuesday. The decision was met with derision from opposition parties and TV and radio employees, and dismay from the European Broadcasting Union. Kathimerini and Kathimerini

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jun-13 World View -- Déjà vu in Turkey as riots threaten Erdogan regime thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jun-2013) Permanent Link
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