Op 10 augustus vonden in Turkije presidentiële verkiezingen plaats. Deze leverden echter weinig verrassends op. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, de premier die zijn derde termijn had uitgediend, zag zijn positie als machtigste politicus van het land bevestigd door reeds in de eerste ronde gekozen te worden tot president. PvdA-Buitenlandreporter Minke van der Sar spreekt met Turkije-expert Sinan Ülgen over deze verkiezingen.
Western countries have increasingly pinned high hopes on the Peshmerga, Iraq’s Kurdish militia, to fight against the Islamic State (IS) and prevent it from taking control of more territory. In order to counter their lack of equipment, they have decided to ship Kurds modern weaponry. This decision could have great implications on the military balance of the Middle East, especially for their neighbouring country Turkey, which has been in an armed conflict for thirty years with various Kurdish insurgent groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
After 11 years as Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected on August 10th President of the Republic of Turkey. 53 million Turkish voters were eligible to cast their ballots in this first ever direct universal suffrage elections of the country’s history, which led to a rare first round victory of Erdogan. He received 51.95% of the votes, despite growing opposition to his authoritarian style and allegations of corruption in the government. Despite a low turnout, his coming presidency is likely to transform the country’s balance of powers in favour of the executive.
Turkey’s relations with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) entered a new phase on 15 July when Turkish President Abdullah Gül approved a law aiming at accelerate the peace process with the organisation. The PKK is still labelled as a terrorist one by Ankara, the European Union and the United States. The decision may have large electoral benefits for the incumbent President less than a month before the presidential election.
The rapid conquest of large parts of Iraq by the radical Sunny Islamist al-Qaeda splinter group, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has a destabilizing effect on the entire region. ISIL fighters aim to establish a Sunny caliphate along the Iraqi-Syrian frontier, mirroring the eight century Abbasid caliphate. ISIL fighters pride themselves on their brutality and have massacred hundreds of Shiite troops, who they consider heretics. The emphasis on the Sunny – Shiite divide spikes fears for sectarian violence that could spread across the entire region
In the last couple of days anti-government protesters, who are angered by the deaths of at least 283 workers in Turkey's worst mining disaster, have clashed with police across the country. In the western city of Izmir, which is about 100km from Soma where the mine explosion occurred on 13 May, police fired tear gas and water cannon at around 20,000 protesters on 15 May. Anger at the disaster has swept across Turkey, where mine explosions and cave-ins are a frequent occurrence. In Ankara, police fired tear gas and water cannons at around 200 protesters. The demonstrators accuse the government and the mining industry of negligence.
Today, the Turkish Constitutional Court partly overturned a controversial judicial bill. It thereby also demands a redefinition of the justice minister’s increased competences. The bill on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) was drafted by the government as a response to fraud and corruption allegations. It sparked weeks of debate over concerns on the independence of the judiciary.
Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development party (AK-party) gained a substantial victory in the Turkish nationwide local elections on Sunday 30 March. Embattled Premier Erdogan has been accused of authoritarianism and corruption after a string of scandals. The local elections have become an unofficial referendum on Erdogan’s government.
In Turkey, tensions soared on 11 and 12 March when tens of thousands of people took to the streets and gathered to mourn the death of Berkin Elvan. He died after being in a coma for nine months. Last June he was hit on the head by a tear-gas canister while going to buy bread during the protests against the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He was a symbol for the police brutality that, among others, caused the Gezi-protests of last year to escalate. These protests started as a relatively small environmentalist movement to save Istanbul's central Gezi Park but evolved into a nationwide wave of protests against Erdoğan, who is seen as increasingly authoritarian.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has given a warning that his government will block social media networks YouTube and Facebook, which feature in the growing corruption scandal. “If necessary” he would ban them, suggesting that “he would not sacrifice the Turkish people” to the two websites. Both platforms were used to spread the leaks of alleged phone calls between Erdoğan and his son in which they discuss how to hide vast sums of money. The Prime Minister dismisses those phone calls as being a fake montage by his rivals, which he deems ‘vile’ and ‘immoral’. After the local elections on 30th of March, he warned, new steps will therefore be taken to tighten the government’s grip over the internet.