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.