Roni Margulies

All change in Turkey

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Turkey's ruling Islamic AKP party has been committed to neoliberalism and expanding Turkey's regional influence. But, argues Roni Margulies, there has also been a major reshaping of the relationship between society, the state and the once all powerful Turkish military

Looking at Turkey from the outside can be a baffling exercise for anyone used to the usual political categories of the West. At first sight, everything seems to fit neatly into place. There is a sort of Islamic party in government. The governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) is a conservative neoliberal party.

Letter from Turkey

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It has been a hot summer in Turkey. For two months it hasn't dipped below 30°C even in the cooler parts of the country, but the political temperature has been even higher.

Two issues have dominated: the government's attempt to amend 26 articles of the constitution, and the hotting up of the Kurdish national struggle.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), conservative, neoliberal, and from an Islamic tradition, has continued its attempt to break the stranglehold of the rabidly nationalist, aggressively secularist bureaucracy on the country's political life. The military, the judiciary, much of the media, and parts of academia have been resisting.

The Blood-Soaked Flag

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Joe Cardwell and Mike Gonzalez are absolutely right to emphasise the links between sport and nationalism (July/August SR).

Cardwell quotes Orwell: 'Sport is war minus the shooting.' In Turkey it includes the shooting as well! Every time leading Istanbul team Galatasaray beats foreign opponents (alas, quite frequently in recent years), crowds take to the streets, shooting in the air in celebration.

Many have been killed by stray bullets, and many others in traffic accidents caused by drunken cavalcades of flag-waving supporters. These have been accidental deaths. The murders of two Leeds United supporters in Istanbul's central square were not.

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