Editorial: smoke on the Bosphorus

Tim Haïdar


It seems the unrest that has rocked the Middle East has spread to Asia Minor as clashes across Turkey rage into a fifth day.

The descent into discord has swiftly intensified from protests over construction of a shopping centre in one of Ankara’s few remaining green spaces, to a stand-off between opposing camps in polarised Turkish society. Since the conception of the Republic of Turkey in the mind of Atatýrk, the forces of secularism and religiosityhave beenpulling in opposite directions across eight decades punctuated by attempted military coups and, more recently, creeping fundamentalism.

Further political deterioration could spell bad news for more than its 76 million inhabitants. Located at the junction between hydrocarbon-rich former Soviet countries, the Middle East, demand centres in Europe and housing one of the world's busiest chokepoints, further escalation could cripple transcontinental energy transit. And all this on a few days after Turkey agreed to be the conduit for natural gas coming from the world's second largest deposit in Galkynysh, Turkmenistan.

October 29th 2013 will be the Republic of Turkey’s 80th birthday. Let us hope that the event is marked with fireworks and not firearms.


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