Wednesday, 19 June 2013 09:17

Turkey Protests Rattle Washington

by Richard Weitz (vol. 6, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)

Since the dispersal of the first protest at Taksim’s Gezi Park towards the end of May 2013, numerous anti-government protests have erupted throughout Turkey, against what it is seen as the insensitive and authoritarian policies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Torn between competing goals, the Obama administration has reacted very cautiously to the protests. U.S. officials have criticized the Turkish police for overzealous use of force, but have not taken issue with Erdoğan personally. This approach has the advantage of not antagonizing the Erdoğan government, which is seen as a strong regional security ally in Washington, especially regarding Syria and Iran. But this familiar approach -  repeating the past pattern in bilateral relations, with the U.S. downplaying Turkish human rights and democracy concerns -- risks weakening the popular foundations of the alliance, which in turn constrain the partnership’s future potential.

Taksim square 1

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by Richard Weitz (vol. 6, no. 10 of the Turkey Analyst)

At their joint White House news conference, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Barack Obama stressed their common desire to avert the use of chemical weapons in Syria, end the fighting through a peaceful transition to a post-Assad government, and prevent Syria from becoming a terrorist haven or the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish or threat to Syria’s territorial integrity. Yet, neither Turkey nor the United States is prepared to make substantial exertions to achieve these objectives, making it more likely that the Syrian civil war will continue to threaten regional stability, their relationship, and their other interests. Although analogies are never perfect, the Syrian situation resembles several similarly bad situations of recent years, with extremely negative implications for Ankara and Washington. 

Erdogan Obama

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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.

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