Turkey: people power, the media and a change in tone

18.07.2016 - Tony Henderson

Turkey: people power, the media and a change in tone
Istanbul in a better moment facing unrest (Image by Anon)

Like most viewers, I watching the events in Turkey unfold on television from Friday July 15 and the snatches of scenes not really telling the full story but giving an idea of what was taking place, especially with the word military coup getting aired. Quite disturbing.

Not particularly aware of the detailed situation of Turkey though having noted there were sporadic attacks on its streets and two names always came up ISIS and the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, I could only watch, wondering – yet aware of the wholesale destruction of Kurdish towns by Turkey’s security forces, which had been given immunity!

When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the people onto the streets to defend democracy I was enthralled, a valid move indeed, so apt a way to save the day and as it turned out, also given that the media so threatened by the same president, showed its worth by relaying on that call.

This was just as well because social media and the Internet were closed off.

Then, it came to light, even the muezzin were calling the people onto the streets… wow, unusual! Is this what’s called political Islam?

It did not take too long to quell the uprising and, being limited to television images, the news of the ever rising deaths and injuries came as a surprise as little violence was seen on the channels. Amid the victorious chanting and red national flag waving blame began to be laid at the door of a fellow – Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen – I had not heard of at all who was residing in Pennsylvania – what’s that about I thought, a long shot surely.

I received some local to Ankara news from a fellow who made it clear that people were voicing out for democracy but with the proviso that what was extant in Turkey could not claim any purity in that regard as over the preceding years Erdogan had become increasingly authoritarian. There was a difference between protecting what was seen as Turkish democracy and an outright vindication of the rule of Erdogan and his ruling AKP, the Justice and Development Party.

Apparently, Turkey had shut down Incirlik Air Base – its commander detained for his alleged involvement in the uprising – then reopened it, which must have surprised the USA military that uses it to launch operations in their air campaign against Syria and Iraq. The base is home to the Turkish air force and the U.S. Air Force’s 39th Air Base Wing, which includes about 1,500 American personnel, according to the base website.

Will President Recep Tayyip Erdogan use the failed coup as an excuse to crush what little opposition to himself remains, also to break the hold of the military that has a mixed relationship with the government as source of more than one such attempt of the nation’s takeover in the not too distant past?

The main point is that a crackdown such as now being reported is not conducive to national inclusion. Whereas dissident factions need to be integrated into the entirety of society to make it whole, labelling rebels as non-Turks is not only hurtful but wrong. Jailing segments of the judiciary en-mass is not a way to built and establish a society based on law and order, ie., a democratic society.

The way forward is to re-open negotiations with the Kurds to give them the autonomy they seek; close the porous border with Syria and stop the transit and buying of ISIS commandeered oil; look after the Syrian refugees properly and prepare for their return home; forget about the EU and turn trade into the Middle East and beyond generally; open domestic media in a reward for their role in culling the coup; and thereby bring stability and security to the Turkish peoples of all strata and status.

Categories: Middle East, Opinions, Politics
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