False Spring in Turkey


Turkey Spring 2013

It is important to measure and investigate the multidimensional forces behind any historical event. It makes it possible to dissect the dynamics of the chain of events that led towards the making of the history. In the Arab world, a term has become very famous – the ‘Arab Spring’, mostly used to describe a series of anti-government protests in those countries run by monarchs and military dictators for decades.

In the Arab world, the masses agreed unprecedentedly to get rid of their governments. While exploring the historical events of the Arab Spring, it is imperative to know what the reasons were behind the ‘Arab Awakening’. The protests in the region started in Tunisia against the old authoritative rule of Zinelabedin Ben Ali, further spreading to Libya and the fire also engulfed Egypt, resulting in the dismissal of these most repressive regimes. These authoritative regimes could not stand against the fury of their people and were thrown out of power. Later on, the world also saw the brutal killing of Gaddafi and his family members by the rebel forces.

The people of the Arab world stood against their regimes because of lack of justice in the society, absence of good governance and the high level of corruption in their countries. Having said this, the primary reason behind these protests is the structural and social nature of the Arab societies.

Turkey, for the last ten years or so, under the administration of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, has stepped forward, also the democratic system in the country got strengthened. Before the Justice Party came in power, the economy of the country was crumbling. In addition, the country was literally ruled by the powerful military, despite having elected governments. There was lack of justice and complete absence of good governance, coupled with high levels of corruption that was present in the country. Likewise, Turkey was also fighting a war with the Kurdish rebels at home. Despite all the problems, after coming into power, the justice party stood against all the odds, bringing social reforms, smoothing civil-military relations, building economy, finishing long shadows of bad governance, negotiating with Kurdish rebels and put Turkey back on track, which is a success story and highly appreciable and admirable.

This June turned out to be a nightmare for Erdogan. Erdogan’s government planned to rebuild the former Ottoman army barracks at Ghazi Park in Central Istanbul. However, the people started protesting against the proposed structure. Initially, it was a peaceful sit-in, and the protesters were demanding to put an end to the project. Unluckily, the protesters were welcomed by the anti-riot police with the firing of gas shells and water cannons. Erdgon did not sense the gravity of the situation and continued to deal with the protesters with iron hands. The government continued to employ more police on the ground as the number of protesters grew in number. The straw that broke the camel’s back, the famous Taksim Square became the epicenter of anti-government protests. The protests turned out to be huge in size and spread across Turkey, as Misery loves Company.

While exploring the dynamics of the false spring in Turkey, one must envisage what the reasons behind all these events in Turkey are? Why Erdgon failed to contemplate his pro democratic policies in Turkey? Despite a resemblance with the Arab protests, why the protests did not turn out to be bloody, which we saw in the Arab world resulting in the removal of the Arab governments from office. These are some of the fundamental questions, which must be answered. One thing is crystal clear, that the protesters don’t want to topple the government, why I am saying this is, because it was clear from some of the accounts shared by the protesters that they have no idea about what is next after the protests. The protesters don’t share or have any such ideas as to dismiss Erdogan’s government, which is completely different from the Tunisian, Libyan, Egyptian and Syrian situation. The protests although seriously hurt the moral standing of Erdogan’s government in Turkey, however, the people of Turkey demonstrated their democratic right and they did not support and strengthen any undemocratic forces to throw Erdogan out of power. Today, Turkey is having a fully operational and democratically elected government, and there is no fear of any military interference. However, it must be understood that taking a rigid stance on your decision against the will of the people can seriously damage your democratic position. What if Erdogan did not authorize the use of force against peaceful protestors and the whole situation solved through peaceful means?

Forces outside Turkey were banking on the protesters to topple the government, and they were envisioning a spring in Turkey, but it turned out to be a storm in the cup of tea. Now, it is learned that people have left Ghazi Park and Erdogan’s government is planning to make a referendum, whether the Ottoman style barracks should be build or not. One thing should not be forgotten, that the dynamics of the Arab Spring were completely different from the Taksim Square protests, but it does show some resemblance with the protests held in the Arab World, which differentiate between the structural and social nature of the Arab world and Turkey.

studied from National Defence University and is a Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Islamabad. He tweets @ahmadkhan000

Discussion17 Comments

  1. Good job…
    Few things which i want to discuss. 1) its not turkey or arab spring.. It is somekind of international game to destabalize turkeys govt and its peace negotiations with kurd rebels “as they(kurd rebels) have open fire on primerz helicopter few days earlier”. And as all world is doing their best to throw out bashar ul asad from regime and make greater kurdistan plan sucessful which envolves alot of provices and area of different countries.. i want also to mention that greater kurdistan is Isreal’s plan..
    2) actually it was not arab spring in arab countries but it was west conspiracy, why that spring was not sucessful in behrain, bcz saudi arabia, american ally didnt want there such plan which will spread and will became dangrous for saudi.. It was all west and its media propagnda to call it arab spring..

    • Zaka the world is full of perceptions and people usually forego realities. Moreover, perceptions sometime look bigger than the perceptions and conspiracies.

  2. Ahmed khan,app ney bohat acha aur nice articale dondhaa hai,per main yeh point karna chahata hoon.kay in sab kay pichey isarel ka hath hai.aur un ka yeh mission hai,kar yaa maroo yaa maraao ek dosrey ko.aur specialy jo muslims main kamzooriyaan azaloon sey chalti ayi hai,un ko uthaa kar woh pori duniya main apna mukaam aur kadar banaana chahatey hai.un ka maksad muslim ko kahtam karna hai.jasey bhi hoo.muslim muslim kay zariyee larwaya jaa raha hai.aur un ko sab ko itna paisa diya jaa raha hai.kay apki soch nahin hai,aur har muslim goverment ko bari plannaing aur kofayaa rakh kar.yeh sari games kheli jaa rahi hai,woh world war 3 chahatey hai.per woh is war ko kabhi open kar key nahin batanaa chahatey.andher andher sey kholaa kar rahey hai,aur agar asha howa aur hona hai,tu phir in articles sey kuch fiyada nahin hona,ek bohat bara step lena parna hai.har muslim ko.ghar ghar sey nikaal kar muslim ko zaleel kaya jaye.aney walye kuch saloon main ek dafa wohi kayi saloon pahli wali cheesain dobara sey repeat honi hai.aur app yeh socho kay jis ney NAUZ BILLA NABI(PBUH)kay khailaaf movie banani thi.muslim presidents ney kaya kaya? kuch bhi tu nahin.so dear yeh tamshey asey hi chalney hai.jab tak muslim bohat bara step nahin letey khud ko theek karney kaa. and main chahata hoon kay har koi apni country kay sath wafdaar hoo.

  3. A well analyzed piece. The Arab Spring though, had two causes i.e. non-representative (or un-Islamic, depending on the perspective) rulers and that these rulers were perceived to be US touts. These were of course, controlled and directed, according to the desire of manipulators. The Turkish movement was distinct, as the article points out..

  4. No and it’s good that the PKKH doesn’t endorse the author’s view, because what he don’t know is, Erdogan is a double standard man calling protestors in his own countries for terrorist and foreigners, while on the other hand supporting the cannibalistic rebels in Syria. Time to focus on your own uprising, Mr. Erdogan.

  5. Nice article. But why is Erdogan adamant on building barracks if people r nt ready to even listen abt the plan. I think this is all b’coz of his long rule which made him authoritarian and rude. He also does’nt represent Islam as was expectd frm him. Next is ur country always failing when expectd to excel in muslim world.

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