PM Erdogan’s “asymmetrical” reaction was predictable: he sent out his cataphracts to bloodily beat the demonstrators into submission while all the while dousing them with vitriolic, divisive and extreme language, not to mention calling upon his Islamic supporters to teach the protesters a lesson in ways he did not specify (but which we can easily surmise).

Erdogan, who has been lauded by many hypocritical Western politicians as a “visionary” and a “moderate,” has a well-known streak of authoritarianism running through his “democratic values.” A good democracy, in the Turkish PM’s book, is the “democracy” of the dictatorship of the majority with strong Islamic hues, something that the West persists in voluntarily ignoring lest we “lose” precious Turkey like the US “lost” China back in the late 1940s.

The demonstrations have surprised the various EU potentates, who continue to wish that Turkey aligns with the EU since she is supposedly gaining in influence in the Middle East. The well-wishers conveniently forget Turkey’s “European” traditions, which include poorly educated and backward Islamic masses and such “values” as honor killings, endemic violence against women, and the widespread silencing of the press by way of freely imprisoning those who dare speak their minds -- and happen to disagree with Erdogan’s latte version of Islamism (preparing to graduate soon into the burka edition).

Although Erdogan seems to prevail over the demonstrators by sheer force of tear gas, water cannon, truncheon, and mass arrests, the demonstrations have brought to the surface the great fissures that exist within Turkish society. Turkey’s vibrant community of younger, educated, city dwelling professionals, intellectuals and others, who see Islamism as the rising, human-killing threat to their freedom and liberty, appears ready to continue what was started at Taksim Square. Such a prospect calls for a radical re-assessment of Turkey’s future, not to mention of the impact of a hardening Erdogan attitude against his opponents.

This attitude made a glorious appearance in the increasingly hostile and belligerent language used by Erdogan and members of his government blaming “terrorists, foreigners, Jews and news organizations for stoking unrest in the country” [emphasis added]. And the announcement that Germany has blocked the attempt to open a new chapter in Turkey’s EU membership talks, because of Erdogan’s tactics, has poured more oil on the fire, prompting Turkish officials to speak of an impending “strong reaction” from Ankara. What this “strong reaction” may be is still unclear, but the obvious suggestion that Erdogan won’t shy away from going toe-to-toe with the one power in Europe that can easily wreck Turkey’s whatever European ambitions she might still have paints, in stark colors, the pronounced macho frame of mind the Turkish PM always had. Indeed, the macho part has been transfused to lesser individuals in the Erdogan government, like EU minister Egemen Bagis, who rushed to tell reporters that "If Mrs Merkel looks into [the spat with Turkey] she will see that those who mess about with Turkey do not have an auspicious end” [emphasis added].

Breathe, Mr.Bagis, breathe!

In Greece, the anti-Erdogan protests have scarcely caused a ripple. The parochial Samaras administration, busy with saving Greece by wrecking what is left of her, has had little time to consider the implications of a possible sea change in Turkey’s domestic politics and the concomitant impact on her external strategies. This highly intelligent approach emerges from the established norm of Greek “assessment” of the situation in Greece’s most dangerous neighbor -- which involves much lukewarm “peace-making” language and posturing, and little, if any, serious strategic thinking.

Greek “peace lovers,” who have a long tradition of cowering in the face of a strutting Turkey, have hastened to suggest that, yes, thanks to Erdogan, there has been relative quiet in the Aegean (save frequent violations of Greek territorial waters by Turkish warships and the constant overflights of Greek islands by Turkish warplanes, not to mention the subversive activities of the Turkish consulate in Greek Thrace). It would be a mistake, these “peace lovers” stress, for the Greek government to express itself, even remotely, in favor of the protesters and a truly democratic change in Turkey.

Such knee-jerk reactions aren’t new in the Greek context. This tried and tested tradition of cowering before Turkey becomes even more pronounced now that Greece lies ruined and exhausted from the foreign-dictated austerity holocaust that will continue to command her fortunes for many years to come.

It would be a waste of time to engage in a “strategic” debate on how Greece may, or may not, react to a sudden change in Turkey produced by her internal strife and tensions, which could escalate eventually into a “quiet” civil war -- because there is simply no established process of producing such estimates beyond the usual nonsense spurted out by perennially lying and misinforming government spokesmen, not to mention their immediate superiors.

All this of course does not change the extreme importance of analyzing Turkish developments with a cool head and an eye for the unexpected. The only thing remaining is to find the analysts who will do the job.

We use cookies

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.