After nearly a week of increasing public protests in Turkey, ostensibly over government plans to turn a last bit of green space in Istanbul into another shopping mall, matters became far more serious on Friday. Riot police descended on the protestors with various forms of tear gas (and possibly worse chemical and biological agents -- raw sewage?) and water cannon, blasting everyone and everything in sight including non-participants. When they caught protestors, they beat them violently and brutally, as can be seen in this video. Photographs show that police fired tear gas into crowded underground metro stations, leading to panic and worse. Istanbul looks like a war zone.
Today indications are that protests have only increased in number and fury in response to the violence with which they were met yesterday.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under increased criticism at home over his enthusiastic support for those fighting to overthrow the government in neighboring Syria. Turkish government support for the rebels came early and has included providing safe havens for the Islamist insurgents and safe passage into Syria from Libya, Yemen, and other countries of the insurgents' origin.
Erdogan's stated policy of "zero problems with neighbors" has been turned on its head by his support for the rebels fighting next door. Public dissatisfaction with the Turkish government's policy of encouraging an Islamist insurgency next door has steadily increased.
The insurgents fighting the Syrian government were still unsatisfied by the level of support they received from their Turkish hosts and they took to false flag attacks in places like Reyhanli and a planned false-flag sarin gas attack on southern Turkey in Adana in attempt to provoke a Turkish (and NATO) military response against Syria.
Suddenly the tables are turned at home.
Faced with a nascent but growing protest movement of his own, Erdogan expresses a very different view toward the people in the street. The Prime Minister strongly supported the "Arab Spring" overthrow in Egypt and supports the overthrow of Assad next door because he said the leaders of these countries did not listen to their people. Just last week he met with President Obama and agreed that "Assad must go." Now with protesters in Turkey chanting "Erdogan must go" he is singing a different tune. Now "the people" he claimed to speak for -- on the streets in Egypt and Syria, at least -- were, in Turkey, "with terror, have dark ties," in his words.
Suddenly "the people" are not so noble when they are calling for his ouster. With the tables turned on Erdogan, he can only demand order! "I call on the protesters to stop their demonstrations immediately," he thundered yesterday.
Erdogan caught the tiger by the tail and thought he would become a new Ottoman Sultan. Reality bites back hard on the streets of Istanbul and elsewhere. This is far from over.