Thursday, June 9, 2011

Arab Spring and Turkish Politics

Broder between Turkey and Syria
This morning Deborah Amos reported for National Public Radio from Gaziantep, Turkey that Syrians were beginning to trickle over the nearby boarder as violence in Syria increases.  We had originally planned to go to Syria, but switched to Turkey when the Arab Spring erupted.  Since we had visas, we continued to consider going to Allepo, Syria, but could not get reliable information on demonstrations there.  News does not flow freely in this part of the world and our Turkish host told us that the Turkish government does not allow outside news on the Arab Spring into Turkey. 

Campaign Flags
Interesting observation since Turkey’s political elections are June 12 and Prime Minister Erdogan is stumping the country for a coveted two thirds votes.  He has clamped down on the press and Turkey now has more journalists in prison than China.  If he wins it will give him the power he wants to rewrite Turkey’s constitution and weaken Turkey’s democracy.
Mud Brick House on Syrian Border

Hasan Pasa Hani, Diyarbakir...with Che in Attendance
We chose to visit the Kurdish region, as it is the least  accommodated by the Erdogan government.  Erdogan has made some overtures to Turkey’s 12 million Kurds to stop the violence that continued in the region through 2004.  His goal is to be admitted to the European Union.  However, Erdogan’s overtures toward the Kurds have been meager and there were demonstrations in Diyarbiker, the unofficial Kurdish capital, while we were there.

Looking over Mesopotamian Plain into Syria
Will the Arab Spring spill over into Turkey?  I would rather not see violence, but young informed people are spreading the word across the middle east that life is better elsewhere and they want a piece of it.

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