Impunity for police abuses, even accusations of torture levelled at domestic security forces, is widespread. A stunning lack of accountability has been the legacy of the mass Gezi Park protests in 2013, with justice still lacking for the killing of a 14-year-old protestor and the severe assault of Hakan Yaman by Istanbul police officers.
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As the war in Syria continues and with no end to Kurdish unrest in sight, Turkey’s reputation as a haven of stability and security looks weaker than ever. While Ambassador Karlov’s assassination has captured international attention, to rid itself of the terrorist threat, Turkey has far greater problems to solve.
Since 2013, the Turkish miracle has been fading. The massive ‘Gezi Park’ protests in the summer of that year resulted in an authoritarian drift that also hurt the country’s economy. Turkey’s slowdown is partly attributable to international factors like weak growth in the eurozone, the readjustment of US monetary policy, the Russian recession and the wars in Iraq and Syria. Now, interest rates are spiking, the economy is slowing and dollar-denominated loans are becoming impossible to service. Moreover, housing prices keep rising despite an excess real estate stock, which looks like a bubble. That’s the real risk: if there’s a bubble, and it bursts, that could unleash a chain reaction, political and economic
“Human rights in Turkey are in peril,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia, only days after the failed coup on 15 July 2016. “The sheer number of arrests and suspensions is alarming. The coup attempt unleashed appalling violence, and those responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses must be brought to justice, but cracking down on dissent and threatening to bring back the death penalty are not justice.”
For Turkey, reconciliation with Israel comes not just as the region is unravelling, but also as Ankara’s ties with other allies have frayed. But above all, the reconciliation is likely to have positive economic implications for both countries, providing a non-controversial platform for further contact in the coming years.
The sluggish and lukewarm response from the international community to the attempted coup, and the salvo of criticism that followed the widespread crackdown, made the president and his followers deeply suspicious of a potential global conspiracy against his regime. As tens of thousands of people are fired from Turkey’s public institutions, the country seems more isolated than ever.
The Turkish government says that the country simply can’t deal with a new influx of refugees. Turkey already hosts a staggering 2.5 million Syrian refugees. Meanwhile, Turkey seems also to have a political reason for excluding the refugees who are now fleeing the Russian bombing in support of Assad’s troops around Aleppo.