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Andrey Areshev

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A Possible Change in Turkey's Syria Policies?


Although the main spot in the world news is still occupied by Egypt, which has come to the brink of civil war, the tensions in Turkey are constantly making themselves felt. While Egypt, according to the popular blog Haberturk, is already “going the way of Libya,” the civil disturbances in Turkey are clearly of a protracted nature. In the last several days the activity on the streets of Istanbul and other Turkish cities has died down somewhat, but has not faded away entirely. The police is still using tear gas and water cannon. Last weekend another wave of demonstrations rolled over Istanbul, demanding the resignation of Recep Erdoğan's government. The demonstrators attempted to penetrate the territory of Gezi Park, which was cordoned off by the police, but they were dispersed, and the police stated that it intends to continue suppressing attempts to conduct unsanctioned demonstrations.

The reasons for the protests in Turkey are complex, and vary from region to region; this compels the authorities not to act by force alone. For example, in Istanbul the reconstruction of Gezi Park and the adjacent Taksim Square was halted by a local court decision. However, while in the country's largest city the formal reason for the demonstrations was an attempt to destroy one of the few “green zones” in the city, in Hatay or Gaziantep, for example, the public displeasure (which appeared, by the way, much earlier) had completely different causes which were directly linked to the policy of the Turkish authorities on the “Syrian issue”.
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Turkey: Another Egypt?

Turkey Istambul
photo: Anneke van Beek

On many occasions the “Turkish-style” political system has been viewed as an example for Egypt to follow after the “Jasmine Revolution”. Visiting Cairo in 2011, Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdoğan, who is also the chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), tried to appear as someone who has won victories without actually going to war and a leader who has succeeded in getting back the lands lost by the Ottoman empire, the process revived under the new historic conditions. He strongly praised the performance of his country, which has really reached telling economic and foreign policy achievements in the 2000s.
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