By Svante E. Cornell (vol. 6, no. 18 of the Turkey Analyst)
Following the Taksim square protests, Prime Minister Erdogan has instigated a witch hunt targeting the country’s largest industrial conglomerate, the Koç Group. Since the Koç Group-owned Divan hotel allowed a crowd fleeing tear gas fired by the police to take refuge in the hotel, the conglomerate has seen an unprecedented army of financial inspectors descend on its companies in the energy sector, saw the cancellation of a tender to construct warships for the Turkish navy, and had a lawsuit filed against for abetting the military intervention in 1997. This attack on a group responsible for a tenth of Turkey’s GDP is not only further evidence of Erdogan’s authoritarianism, but also dangerous for Turkey’s economic development. Coming at a time of uncertainty over the economic prospects of large emerging markets like Turkey, punitive action against the Koç Group would be taken very seriously by international markets.
By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 6, no. 18 of the Turkey Analyst)
On September 30, 2013, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced what he termed a “democratization package” of proposed legislative amendments. Yet not only does the package fail to address the key components of Turkey’s growing democratic deficit but it has reinforced concerns about Erdoğan’s increasingly autocratic authoritarianism.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 6, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
On September 9, 2013, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) announced that it had halted the phased withdrawal of its militants from Turkey but would continue with its temporary ceasefire in order to give the Turkish government a last opportunity to meets its demands for greater rights for the country’s Kurdish minority.
by Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 6, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s resurrection of the ideological militancy of a bygone era is not a recipe for political success. The class dynamics that once brought about the moderation of the Turkish Islamic movement are even stronger today. Differences of culture and life style still separate the two middle classes of Turkey, the religiously conservative Anatolian bourgeoisie and the secular bourgeoisie. Yet, Turkey’s political future will likely be shaped by their synergy, indeed alliance. It is reasonable to expect that the material interests of the combined bourgeoisie will revive political moderation.
The Taksim/Gezi Park protests, and their violent dispersal by the police in May-June, continue to cast a deep shadow over the political life in Turkey, and the political commentaries reflect this fact. Notably, the protests and their handling by the AKP government has provided new ammunition in the ongoing power struggle between the ruling AKP and the movement of the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, deepening their mutual distrust. Mehmet Baransu in the daily Taraf reports that many in the leadership of the AKP think that the Gülen movement was behind the Gezi protests. Meanwhile, it is noted that the conservative business community in Anatolia, which has been instrumental in bringing the AKP to power, is concerned that the confrontational policies of the government – at home and abroad -- are going to harm the stability and economic development of Turkey. Commenting the verdicts in the Ergenekon trial, Murat Belge, a leading liberal intellectual, expresses doubts that the trial has touched anything but the “tip of the iceberg”, while Fuat Keyman, another liberal commentator, speculates that Prime Minister Erdoğan must in fact be deeply troubled by the verdicts that contribute to the perception abroad that democracy in Turkey is in retreat.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.