Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

January 3, 2014

Turmoil in Turkey

Turkey’s latest political crisis is one to which the overused adjective byzantine could fairly be applied. Prosecutors have brought graft charges against the sons of three cabinet ministers, the head of a state bank, a big developer and other figures close to the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mr. Erdogan has responded by firing the prosecutor heading up the case and scores of police officers and by alleging that he is the target of a foreign plot; pro-government media flatly blame Israel and the United States.

Behind the official announcements swirls an intricate and largely opaque power struggle between Mr. Erdogan’s Islamist political party and a formerly allied Islamist movement headed by a reclusive scholar, improbably based in Pennsylvania. Followers of Fethullah Gulen have long been reported to occupy key posts in the judiciary and police, from which they helped Mr. Erdogan break the power of Turkey’s once-overweening military. Now they appear to be targeting some of Mr. Erdogan’s closest associates.

The origins of the power struggle are the subject of endless speculation. Some say Mr. Gulen objected to Mr. Erdogan’s feuding with Israel and strong support for Syrian rebels. But for the United States and other Western governments, what matters is that Mr. Erdogan — once regarded as a model Islamist leader and treated as a close ally by President Obama — is responding to a political challenge with autocratic tactics and anti-Western diatribes. If those methods succeed, Turkey’s already-fragile democratic institutions will be further undermined.

Mr. Erdogan is a popular leader who has won three national elections, but in recent years he has become increasingly intolerant of critics, whether in the media or civil society. Last summer he sent riot police to attack protesters opposing the redevelopment of Istanbul’s Gezi Park, triggering still larger protests. Then, too, he claimed that the demonstrations were orchestrated from abroad. Now the prime minister is attempting to shut down corruption investigations by firing those conducting them; meanwhile, pro-government media have been campaigning against the U.S. ambassador, Francis J. Ricciardone, ludicrously claiming that he is somehow orchestrating the probes.

Text Only
Opinion
  • I signed what? When Dr. Sam said, "You've got the prostate of a 16-year-old," it was hard to keep from beaming. This must be how a woman feels when a complete stranger tells her she has a beautiful baby. Well, maybe not quite. Still, it was hard not to feel proud o

    April 19, 2014

  • Obamacare's winning numbers Obamacare's critics have had a bad week. On Thursday, President Obama announced that 8 million people have enrolled in new health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces, and a significant portion of them are young Americans. Y

    April 19, 2014

  • The rise of big data: A double-edged sword Debates are raging about whether big data still holds the promise that was expected or whether it was just a big bust. The failure of the much-hyped Google Flu Trends to accurately predict peak flu levels since August 2011 has heightened the concerns

    April 19, 2014

  • Only love can re-make your heart Was Jeb Bush right to insert love into a political debate? Such was the gist of a question I was asked on talk radio in response to the former Florida governor's assertion that some immigrants come into the United States illegally as an "act of love.

    April 18, 2014

  • Stop big tobacco from promoting e-cigarettes The tobacco industry is sharply raising spending on advertisements and other marketing for electronic cigarettes to try to make smoking glamorous again and hook a new generation of Americans on nicotine. We shouldn't let them get away with it. If adu

    April 18, 2014

  • A mental health checkup The country's inadequate mental health system gets the most attention after instances of mass violence of the sort that the nation has seen repeatedly over the past few months. Not all who commit these sorts of atrocities are mentally ill, but many h

    April 18, 2014

  • Your new password: sur**nder Have you changed your passwords since the security flaw known as Heartbleed emerged? Have you made sure they're all long, alphanumeric and randomized? Did you use a unique one for every site -- every bank account, every e- mail address, every music-s

    April 17, 2014

  • Hillary leans on Bill, Obama Recently Hillary Clinton gave what appeared at first to be a rambling and unfocused answer when asked to name the proudest achievement of her four years as Secretary of State. The short version is, she doesn't have one. But Clinton's words make a lot

    April 17, 2014

  • If GOP lost culture war, liberals did, too The "culture wars" have been a feature of American politics for almost a century, but recently a number of commentators have declared their end. Conservatives have lost, swept aside by a wave of enthusiasm for marriage equality and sexualized mass cu

    April 17, 2014

  • Cable guys too slow with Internet upgrade Remember the good-old 1990s, when you could make a pot of coffee while waiting for the screeching dial-up modem to connect to the Internet at a leisurely 9.6 kilobits per second? Two decades later, the average American household's connection is 1,000

    April 16, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks