Turkish Protests: A Backlash Against Interventionism?

by | Jun 12, 2013

Foreign Policy magazine’s website featured an interesting article yesterday on the ongoing protests in Turkey. The protests have been covered quite a bit in the media over the past couple of weeks, as they spread throughout the country, were met with violence by the authorities, and threatened the ten years of relative stability and economic progress under the government of Prime Minister Erdogan.

Though most press reports tie the beginning of the protests to a dispute over the Turkish government’s decision to turn an Istanbul city park into a shopping mall, Sophia Jones reports in the above Foreign Policy article that widespread protests actually began weeks earlier in Turkey and had nothing to do with the shopping mall.

Instead, mass protests first began after a bombing in the town of Reyhanli killed more than 50 Turks. The bombing was widely suspected in Turkey to have been the work of a faction of the Syrian rebels that Erdogan has strongly supported, in a ploy to get Turkey even more embroiled in the conflict next door.

According to a recent opinion poll conducted by a research firm in Ankara, more than 72 percent of Turks oppose Erdogan’s policy of intervening in the Syrian unrest. Like most Americans, Turkish citizens want no part of the war next door and they are furious at their prime minister for his support for the Syrian rebels.

It appears that Erdogan’s interventionist foreign policy even more than his decision to clear out a city park is what enraged the population and turned a good part of it against him. Perhaps both the Turkish government and the US government would be smart to listen to their citizens when they demand an end to intervention and meddling in the affairs of other countries.


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