Andrew Finkel

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A protester is seen through a burning picture of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (L) and President Barack Obama during a protest against Saturday’s bombings in Ankara, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, October 12, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

The date 10/10 is now synonymous with Turkey’s most deadly terrorist attack in history — the day this month when two suicide bombers killed 97 people gathering outside the Ankara train station to attend a peace rally. The greater tragedy will be if the carnage fails to unite the country under a banner of grief, but only serves the bombers’ ends of driving a wedge still deeper into an already divided society.

The other mounting concern is that violence will further fuel a growing authoritarianism in Turkey. In recent months the country has witnessed events incompatible with a democratic market economy.…  Seguir leyendo »

The government begged the electorate not to vote for instability. Turkish voters shrugged their shoulders and did exactly that. The result is that a party with only 13 percent of the vote is being hailed the winner, while the incumbent party that won the most seats may well be written off as a waning force.

This topsy-turvy state of affairs is the result of a bold move by the People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Its charismatic leader, Selahattin Demirtas, led what was a Kurdish nationalist force, openly sympathetic to the armed struggles of the past, into becoming a mainstream party. Under Turkish electoral law, a party needs to clear 10 percent of the national vote to qualify for any parliamentary seats at all.…  Seguir leyendo »

Freedom House, the democracy watchdog, earlier this year downgraded the Turkish press from being “partly free” to “not free.” Now it may have to create a new category: “not free at all.”

On Sunday, Dec. 14, Turkish police raided the headquarters of Zaman, the country’s most widely circulated daily, and a major television station, taking into custody at least 24 people, including the paper’s editor-in-chief and the station’s director. (The editor has since been released.) They were detained on suspicions of “establishing a terrorist group.” But the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said the raids smacked “of political vengeance.”

A decade ago Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then Turkey’s prime minister, was the most likely candidate to lead the Islamic world.…  Seguir leyendo »

A wave of early morning police raids in Turkey on Dec. 17 gave the world a sudden glimpse into the murky inner workings of the country’s ruling elite, pulling back the curtain on astonishing scenes of bribery and graft.

The head of the state-controlled financial giant, Halkbank, had $4.5 million secreted in shoe boxes in his study. Istanbul’s best-known real-estate developer was interrogated over bribes to evade zoning restrictions. The interior minister’s son’s home had so many strongboxes filled with cash, he needed a counting machine to keep the accounts straight. His father has now been forced to resign as part of major cabinet reshuffle.…  Seguir leyendo »

Imagine if back in the days of Watergate, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had been put on trial for being part of the very conspiracy they were trying to uncover. Then suppose a large section of the Washington press corps proceeded to pat federal prosecutors on the back for a job well done.

Such is the life of a journalist in today’s Turkey — a world in which the justice system punishes the innocent while the Fourth Estate turns a blind eye. Turkey now holds the dubious record for being the country with the most imprisoned journalists — 57 according to a report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.…  Seguir leyendo »