While the revolt against autocratic Arab regimes has mostly seen the imposition of ever more Islamic governments throughout North Africa the Levant, the unrest in Turkey over the last two days has actually been of a different flavor.
The Erdogan government has pushed back against a 70 year history of secularism in Turkey, leading to what liberal critics of the regime call creeping sharia. And while the Erdogan government was popularly elected, it seems a good portion of that support is more wide than deep.
[UPDATE- The above pic is bogus- taken from a marathon a while back. The rest of the original post is below]
A small protest against turning a park into a shopping development was harshly suppressed. In response, huge numbers of Turks have taken to the streets to condemn Erdogan and his government. For many, the conversion of the parkland to a shopping center smacked of the very crony capitalism that lead many people to support electing Erdogan in the first place.
We’ve been concerned for years about the Islamisation of Turkey. And we’re generally in support of any shift back to a more secular, democratic government in Turkey.
But we’re also cognizant that instability breeds instability. Turkey already has a next door neighbor that is in the throes of a bloody civil war. On the other side, they’re dealing with a Eurozone economy that stifles Turkey’s (non-Euro) economy. I’m not sure Erdogan is in a position to weather the current storm.
Will he continue to try to repress the protestors, or will he moderate and play for time to stabilize the situation? Which course would likely work best (from his point of view, anyway)? Or will events plot a course of their own?
What, if any, response should the US have?