Turkey. The Turkish government had to deal with tensions and violence on two fronts – with the Kurdish PKK guerrilla and with neighboring Syria. The reconciliation process with PKK that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had begun to break down. The international think tank Crisis Group reported in September that over 700 people – government soldiers, rebels and civilians – had been killed since the summer of 2011 in fighting between the government side and the PKK, mainly in the country’s southeastern parts. Turkish fighter aircraft also carried out a number of attacks against PKK bases in the northern, Kurdish-controlled part of Iraq. Hundreds of people accused of conspiring with the PKK’s urban branch Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) were arrested during the year.
In October, the Committee to Protect Journalists organization reported that 61 journalists were arrested or imprisoned in Turkey, more than in any other country. The vast majority of them were Kurds. The crimes they were accused of had to do with their professional activities and were labeled eg. “Denial of Turkishness”. Two internationally renowned journalists, Ahmet Sik and Nedim Şener, were released in March after sitting arrested for a year accused of conspiring with the ultranationalist network Ergenekon. Other charges against both of them remained.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Provides most commonly used acronyms and abbreviations for Turkey. Also includes location map, major cities, and country overview.
The trials against people involved in Ergenekon and another similar network, Släggan, were complicated. They brought with them some democratically-minded activists and publicists, but at the same time the former military authorities were held accountable for the persecution of oppositionists. Two of the now-aged men behind the 1980 military coup, Kenan Evren, who then took over the presidency and Commander-in-Chief Tahsin Şahinkaya, were brought to trial in April after their indictment was revoked. An investigation was also underway about the bloody coup in 1997 when the military forced the Islamist government from power. A number of suspects, including military, were arrested.
The conflict with the former ally of Syria escalated in step with the fighting there. 120,000 refugees were reported to have crossed the border in November, and rebels were said to be able to operate relatively freely on Turkish soil near the border.
On June 22, Syria shot down a Turkish reconnaissance plan over the Mediterranean. According to Syria, it was in Syrian airspace, according to Turkey it had temporarily come off course but returned to international airspace when it was shot down. Two Syrians inside Turkey were killed in April by gunfire from Syria, and on September 3, two Turkish women and three girls of Syrian grenades were killed in a neighboring village in Turkey. Turkey responded with gunfire to targets inside Syria at the same time as Parliament gave the Turkish military clear sign to cross the border, a decision which, however, it was stressed, would be seen as “dissuasive”. Turkey accepted an apology from Syria, but in November Turkey forced a Syrian passenger plane on its way from Moscow to Damascus, citing suspicion that the plane was carrying weapons intended for the Syrian regime. According to Turkey, communication equipment was found on board, according to the Russian Federation it was not about weapons. The incident prompted Syria to ban all Turkish flights over its airspace, and Turkey responded with a corresponding ban on Syrian flights.
After an intense debate in March, Parliament voted in favor of a new law that extended compulsory schooling from eight to twelve years and lifted a previous ban on running Koran schools for children under 15.
Nearly 60 refugees were reported to have drowned on September 6 since the boat they were traveling in capsized off Izmir.
2015 Clerical Police State
After supporting Islamists in Syria for almost four years, they turned to Turkey in January. On January 6, 2015, the 18-year-old wife of a fallen IS partisan in Syria conducted a suicide attack against a police station in Istanbul. The Turkish intelligence subsequently estimated that IS had 3,000 Turkish members and listed these with military rank. In addition, another 700 who had already joined IS in Syria and Iraq. In the 1980s, the United States supported the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, creating al-Qaeda. From 2011, Turkey, the Gulf states and the West supported Islamists in Syria, thereby creating IS. The Turkish state reacted to the terrorist attack by making the intelligence system closer ties with IS in particular.
The Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet’s publication of most of the drawings in the French weekly Charlie Hebdo’s “Everything is forgiven” caused a Turkish court to issue bail to display the drawings on the internet. Cumhuriyet received death threats and police protection. In the days following the Paris attack on January 7, the Turkish people had been divided between those who supported the killers – because their religious considerations outweighed the right to scorn others – and those who paid greater attention to freedom of speech. During the AKP, the previous ones had undergone considerable tightening of freedom of expression in Turkey.
In a speech on January 16, 2015, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu accused Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu of terrorism and continued: “It is Israel’s provocation like the war against Gaza that contributes to radicalization in the Arab world. It will be impossible to make peace in the Middle East and exterminate the radical groups unless a Palestinian state is established. ” The day before, he compared Natanyahu to the two killers in Paris the week before he killed 12, declaring that both Netanyahu and the two killers had committed crimes against humanity.
The June parliamentary elections became a stinging defeat for the ruling Islamist AKP. It went back 9% to 40.9%, lost 58 MPs and had to settle for 253. It had lost the majority in parliament. The major victor of the election was the Kurdish-leftist HDP, which rose 7.45% to 13.1% with 80 members. It came in a shared third place with the right-wing nationalist MHP. The AKP’s goal was to get 330 MPs so that it could amend the constitution and send the amendments to a referendum, or even better 367 so that it could change the constitution without a referendum. To reach this high number, it had introduced a 10% barricade, so parties with less than 10% of the vote could be kept out of parliament. The barrier was set so high as to keep the Kurdish HDP and preferably also the MHP out of parliament, but the operation failed. Instead, the AKP created an unsustainable parliamentary situation. The parties outside the AKP were unable to form a government, and the AKP was not interested in forming a coalition government with other parties.
Up until the parliamentary elections, the AKP had sought to stave off the HDP’s election victory. A few days before the election, Turkey let IS detonate a suicide bomb at an HDP election meeting in Diyarbakir. 4 were killed and over 100 injured. But that was not enough to slow down HDP.
After the election, the AKP quickly decided that the way out of the defeat was new elections, but first the conditions had to be created to ground the opposition and give the AKP a majority. On July 20, the Turkish intelligence agency detonated a bomb in the city of Suruç, 10 km from the Syrian Kurdish capital Kobane. The goal was a Kurdish meeting at the Amara Cultural Center. 33 Kurds were killed and 104 injured. It was not a suicide attack and thus there was little likelihood of IS being involved. Four days later, Turkey broke the ceasefire with the PKK, which otherwise would have been the basis for peace talks between the two parties. The country’s Islamist government declared that it would wage war against both the PKK and IS, which it accused of launching the bomb, but apart from a single bombing targeting Kurds in northern Syria, Turkey concentrated the war on the PKK. The war had 3 purposes. First, reduce the pressure on IS. The Syrian Kurdish YPG/ YPJ militias, with the support of the PKK, had pushed IS so far back that they stood just 50 km from its main city of Raqqa. By launching a war against the PKK, the AKP government forced the PKK to withdraw its forces from Syria to defend itself in Turkey. Second, the AKP wanted to weaken the PKK. Third, it was about winning the subsequent election. Through war, state of emergency and terror against the Kurdish population, the AKP government was able to prevent elections in parts of Kurdistan at all and scare the population from supporting HDP so that it hopefully fell below the 10% threshold. In the days after July 24, 20-30 completed.
According to countryaah, the population of Turkey in 2012 was 78,529,298, ranking number 17 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.660% yearly, and the population density was 102.0353 people per km2.