Protests in Turkey, the military & the elite: How it compares to Thailand – Pt 2
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Protests in Turkey, the military & the elite: How it compares to Thailand – Pt 2

Part 1 looked at the history of Turkey, the the Turkish government is, and what have been its policies.

Fourth, the leader’s personal appeal/popularity.

The Guardian:

We are witnessing the creation of a cult of personality,” said Milliyet columnist and media activist Kadri Gürsel. “Erdogan is becoming an elected sultan. The party congress was a one-man show … He thinks he is the only person who can design Turkey’s destiny. He suffers from a hubris syndrome.”

Not so, said Nursuna Memecan, an AKP MP and Erdogan friend. “Erdogan is not authoritarian. He is detail-oriented, a micro-manager ... In our part of the world, you can’t rely on delegating. So he delegates, then he oversees,” she said. “In a period of reform, you have to take the lead. He makes decisions – and he get things done.”

Like him or loathe him, both supporters and detractors agree Erdogan dominates Turkey’s political scene. To his fans, he is a dynamic, modernising force. To opponents, he is divisive, even threatening. “The AKP is not a party any more. It is Erdogan’s apparatus. There is huge polarisation in this country,” said journalist and writer Cengiz Aktar.

BP: You could almost replace Erdogan and AKP with Thaksin and the pro-Thaksin party and you could find the some article in a Thai newspaper.

Duncan McCargo and Ayse Zarakol in their article “Turkey and Thailand: Unlikely Twins” which was published in Journal of Democracy (v. 23 no. 3, pp. 71- 79). A full copy of the article is available from here. Below are some excerpts (pages 77-78):

The increasingly authoritarian tendencies evident in Erdogan’s governing style, meanwhile, have evoked comparisons with Vladimir Putin. Thaksin and Erdogan have practiced a highly personalized form of rule, characterized by a kind of “sultanism” that emulates and sometimes outdoes that of the militaries with which they have clashed. So though there is no going back, the road ahead does not necessarily promise to lead to the gradual consolidation of liberal-democratic norms, and the possibility of detours into populist authoritarianism looms.

Foreign Affairs:

This is because, consistent with Erdogan’s record as mayor of Istanbul, he has done many things as prime minister to make the lives of Turks appreciably better. Advances in transportation, health care, and economic opportunity are profoundly important to a growing middle class who returns the favor in the form of votes.

Still, Turkey is decidedly split. Erdogan governs one half the country — his supporters — and intimidates the other. His political lineage and personal background have instilled within him a certain amount of paranoia.

BP: So we have a PM, who is popularly elected, dominates the political scene, is popular because of his policies including on health care and the economy like him, but around the times of the massive protests became increasingly authoritarian? Thaksin’s paranoia proved correct (as demonstrated by the coup), but it impacted his leadership style. A more conciliatory approach may have helped.

Fifth, who are the protesters and what are they protesting about? Emphasis is on the secularist aspect of the protesters, depending on which source you believe:


Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul on Monday appealed for calm from all sides on the fourth day of anti-government protests but defended citizens’ rights to hold demonstrations to air grievances, in contrast to the belligerent stance of the prime minister.

Turkey has been hit my demonstrations since Friday that grew out of anger over excessive police force against protesters holding a sit-in to prevent the uprooting of trees at Istanbul’s main Taksim Square.

The demonstrations spiraled into Turkey’s biggest anti-government disturbances in years, challenging Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power. The protests were seen as a display of frustration against Erdogan, who has appeared to be increasingly authoritarian and is accused of meddling in all aspects of live.

The demonstrators, mostly secular-minded Turks, took to the street airing frustrations at Erdogan’s abrasive and non-compromising style as well as the heavy-handed police response to protests. Some of the protesters clashed with police, but most of the protesters demonstrated peacefully, chanting calls for Erdogan to resign. Those who did not take to the streets banged on pots and pans from windows and balconies.

The Economist:

The wave of unrest was completely unexpected. The protestors cut across ideological, religious and class lines. Many are strikingly young. But there are plenty of older Turks, many of them secular-minded, some overtly pious. There are gays, Armenians, anarchists and atheists. There are also members of Turkey’s Alevi Muslim minority. What joins them is the common sentiment that an increasingly autocratic Mr Erdogan is determined to impose his worldview. The secularists point to a raft of restrictions on booze; liberals to the number of journalists in jail … Then there are those incensed by mega urban-development projects, including a third bridge over the Bosphorus, which will entail felling thousands of trees. … “This is not about secularists versus Islamists—it’s about pluralism versus authoritarianism,” commented a foreign diplomat

Yet Mr Erdogan was elected in free and fair elections and remains the most popular leader in modern Turkish history.For all its recent setbacks, the AK party would probably win again if elections were held today.

BBC analysis on the make-up of the protesters:

The main meme – as with the flags – is “we are sons of Ataturk”. That is, we are a secular republic and we are worried about the autocratic use of power by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, combined with a creeping Islamisation.

“We don’t want to become Iran,” one man said.

Protesters dig up cobblestones to build barricades Protesters dug up cobblestones and piled them high to create barricades

The secondary meme tends to contradict this.

“We’re all here,” one masked woman told me. “Communists, anarchists, democrats. It’s not an Ataturkist movement.”

Reactions to my reports on Twitter tend to echo this division too.

New York Times:

In full public view, a long struggle over urban spaces is erupting as a broader fight over Turkish identity, where difficult issues of religion, social class and politics intersect. And while most here acknowledge that every Turkish ruling class has sought to put its stamp on Istanbul, there is a growing sense that none has done so as insistently as the current government, led by Mr. Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party, despite growing resistance.

Mr. Erdogan’s decade-long rule has dramatically reshaped Turkey’s culture by establishing civilian control of the military. It has broken down rules of the old secular order that now permit the wide public expression of religion, seen in the proliferation of women wearing head scarves, by the conservative masses who make up the prime minister’s constituency. His rule has also nurtured a pious capitalist class, whose members have moved in large numbers from rural Anatolia to cities like Istanbul, deepening class divisions.

The old secular elite, who consider themselves the inheritors of the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, modern Turkey’s secular founder, have chafed under these transformations. So, too, have liberals, who do not label themselves Kemalists and are tolerant of public displays of religion. But they object to Mr. Erdogan’s leadership style, which they describe as dictatorial, and are put off by many of the development projects on the grounds of bad taste, a view imbued with a sense of social elitism.

“I was born and raised here, and there is nothing from my youth that I can connect to anymore in this city,” said Ersin Kalaycioglu, a professor of international relations at Sabanci University. “Istanbul is seen as a place where you earn a living, where you get rich. It is a gold rush.”

Reflecting a sense of elitism that is widely shared by secular Turks in Istanbul, he complained that the city had “been invaded by Anatolian peasants” who were “uncultured.”

BP: Wonder if the peasants are “uneducated”?


The demonstrations had gone on all night, with thousands of people in many, principally secular districts in Istanbul banging pots and pans and calling on Mr Erdogan to resign as late as four in the morning.

More conservative parts of Istanbul appeared to be relatively quiet, a sign that protest was stronger among the country’s more secular-minded minority.

New York Times:

Though the demonstrations in Istanbul began in reaction to the plan to demolish the park, they soon grew into a broad reproach of Mr. Erdogan’s decade-long rule, which many Turks say has produced an overbearing government that dismisses the concerns of secular citizens. The protests followed the passing in Parliament of a controversial law restricting the sale and consumption of alcohol; on Saturday night, after reoccupying Taksim Square, many protesters broke out bottles of beer and chanted slogans calling for Mr. Erdogan to resign.

Last week the government quickly passed legislation curbing the sale and advertising of alcoholic drinks, which analysts say alarmed secularists.


Late at night, in a wealthy neighbourhood of Istanbul, women lean out of their apartment windows to clang their pots and pans as loudly as they can.

A few blocks away, demonstrators wander past the wreckage of trucks and cars. Several roads are blocked by makeshift barricades. Some protesters pose in front of a burnt-out police van.

They even take turns to sit in the driver’s seat and pretend to change gears. One man raises a glass of beer in defiance of the government’s new restrictions on the sale of alcohol.

I’m here because of [Prime Minister] Erdogan – we are against him,” says Yasemin Cakici, a teacher.

BP: So in Turkey, for the secularists, and aside from the park, you have dissatisfaction over what they see as increasing Islamization. The primary example is the restrictions on alcohol sales and advertising. New York Times:

My colleague Andrew Finkel, a veteran observer of Turkish life, has suggested that alcohol consumption is scarcely a pressing issue in a country where less than one in five of the population drinks.

Is the new regulation of sales of alcoholic drinks really about banning alcohol in Turkey for religious reasons?” she asked in an article for Al Arabiya, “Or is this just another excuse for the opposition to steal the public eye, and attack Erdogan?

She said the measures were far from being an outright ban and were less strict than restrictions on alcohol consumption, not only in the Muslim world, but also in parts of Europe and the United States.


The restrictions in this law – no television advertising, no alcohol sales within about 100 yards of a school or place of worship – are the kind of limits already in place in some Western democracies. Furthermore, establishments with tourism licenses are exempt from the law’s ban on sales after 10 p.m.


But that exemption doesn’t apply to the numerous small convenience stores, called “tekels,” that dot Turkish streets. In Beyoglu, arguably istanbul’s most Westernized district, one tekel owner would give only his first name, Ramazan. He says the new rules are an economic nightmare for him, unless his customers radically adjust their schedules.

The Guardian:

“They use public health concerns as a thinly veiled excuse to impose their own lifestyle on everyone in Turkey,” said one 45-year-old cornershop owner, who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions. “If things continue like this, they will soon pass laws that regulate how people should dress.”

Others are worried about mounting authoritarianism in Turkey.

“Our government interferes in everything. They tell us how many children to have, how much salt we should put in our food, what kind of bread to eat and what to drink,” Acehan said.

Many European countries might have similar alcohol restrictions, but they have full democratic rights. They discuss laws before they are passed. I wish we would have this kind of mutual understanding in Turkey.”

BP: If the issue is with process or consultation then BP can see the point, but the reaction to restrictions that the government is taking away all your freedom seems a little excessive given other restrictions elsewhere in the world. Different societies place different restrictions on alcohol sales. Having said that 10pm seems a little early – it is 12pm for shops in Thailand.

Having said that, these are not the only alcohol restrictions. The Atlantic has an article by a Turkish writer:

The AKP’s crusade against alcohol over the years has included a set of restrictions passed in 2011, an official crackdown during Ramadan banning outside seating at cafes and bars, an abrupt last-minute cancellation of alcohol licenses for a music festival in 2012, not to mention years of exorbitant taxes on alcohol that have succeeded in turning off many from drinking. But the AKP took its latest great leap towards a less “Islamically embarrassing” society just two weeks ago, with parliament passing yet another comprehensive set of restrictions on drinking. The 17-hour marathon session featured harsh insults, parliamentarian-on-parliamentarian kicking and a walk out in protest by almost every non-AKP deputy — a level of tension and tantrum that captures the determination of the religious and the anxiety of the secularists.

The AKP’s harshest critics, from the opposition parties to secular journalists to the involuntarily sober, all note how it is engineering a conservative Islamic society.

BP: The alcohol restrictions also provide an interesting contrast with the banning of headscarves in public places which the current government has sought to lift. Wikipedia

With a constitutional principle of official secularism, the Turkish government has traditionally banned women who wear headscarves from working in the public sector. The ban applies to teachers, lawyers, parliamentarians and others working on state premises. The ban on headscarves in the civil service and educational and political institutions was expanded to cover non-state institutions. Female lawyers and journalists who refused to comply with the ban were expelled from public buildings such as courtrooms and universities.[4]

Another Wikipedia article:

According to Country Reports 2007, women who wore headscarves and their supporters “were disciplined or lost their jobs in the public sector” (US 11 March 2008, Sec. 2.c). Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that in late 2005, the Administrative Supreme Court ruled that a teacher was not eligible for a promotion in her school because she wore a headscarf outside of work (Jan. 2007).

Then this interesting Speigel article on the government plans to amend the law “Angering the Secular Elite: Turkey to Lift University Head Scarf Ban”

A lift on the ban would anger Turkey’s secular elite, who view the wearing of head scarves as a political statement aimed at undermining the nation’s secular principles.

The logic is one of fear: if you give (people) one thing, they will ask and eventually get more … if you allow the head scarf in universities today, they will declare a sharia state in 10 years, wrote Ibrahim Kalin,” director of a Turkish think tank called SETA, in the Turkish daily newspaper Zaman.

However, opinion polls show strong support for a lift on the ban among the Turkish public. A monied and pious middle class is growing in Turkey, and they are demanding that Turks be allowed to practice Islam more freely. Leaders of the nation’s conservative middle class say the secularists use Islam as an excuse to keep key state institutions under their control. Many devout Muslim women currently opt not to study at universities because they are not allowed to wear head scarves.

“Our country does not deserve this … all female students may eventually be forced to wear head scarves,” said Isa Esme, deputy head of the powerful Higher Education Board (YOK). “Turkey is turning to sharia law, not to the EU but to the Middle East.”

A Wikipedia article shows the amendment was rejected by the court.

On 5 June 2008, Turkey’s Constitutional Court annulled the parliament’s proposed amendment intended to lift the headscarf ban, ruling that removing the ban would run counter to official secularism. While the highest court’s decision to uphold the headscarf ban cannot be appealed (AP 7 June 2008), the government has nevertheless indicated that it is considering adopting measures to weaken the court’s authority.

BP: Although, now the restrictions have been lifted at universities and there are other changes a foot for public workers. You also have to remember that more than 90% of those in Turkey are Muslims…

Secularists anger about alcohol restrictions is because of Islamists imposing their will on others, but then again those who want to wear a headscarf are unable to do so in many places including work, which is essentially secularists imposing their will on others. One could at least say there are public health reasons for some alcohol restrictions.

There is certainly a clash of values and there are other increasing restrictions like a ban on smoking in public places or people facing problems for kissing in public, but if this was another religion as imposed to Islam, would it have been such a big deal? BP mentions this as reading about Turkey you can see some paranoia about Islam – just google “Turkey’s Islamization” – because many of those alcohol restrictions that have been imposed exist in Thailand (just visit a university campus and go to 7/11 and try to find alcohol).* There is a difference between alcohol restrictions roughly similar to many other countries and stoning people to death.

When comparing with Thailand, the increasing Islamization is hard to compare, but the conflict between the traditional establishment that includes the army vs the popularly-elected government is something that also exists in Thailand (see more below).

The Daily Beast:

Politics in Turkey has always been a struggle between the barracks and the mosque,” says Altan. “Because we never had a proper capitalist class, the Army represented the bourgeoisie, and the mosque represented the underprivileged. With AKP, we thought a democracy would emerge out of the mosque. But instead what we got was simply the revenge of the mosque

BP: That is a great quote…

Juan Cole:

Turkey’s society is deeply divided between urban middle and upper middle class youth who differ little from their European peers in their interests and activities, and more conservative small-town populations or rural labor migrants into the big cities, whose mores are more like those of people elsewhere in the Middle East. Of course, there are small-town secularists and big-city fundamentalists, too– it is a big complex society of 74 million people (falling between France and Germany demographically).

Since 2002, a conservative, pro-market government tinged with religious commitments has been in power, after decades of rule by militantly secular governments that favored a large public sector. The eclipse of secularism has caused deep resentments and grievances among some in the urban middle classes.

BP: Resentment among some of the urban middle class? Sounds, familiar?

Dexter Filkins in the New Yorker on the Turkish military, the establishment, and their role:

The military often acted on behalf of a class of elected officials and civil servants. These people and the institutions they belonged to—including newspapers, such as Hürriyet; the sprawling family-owned holding companies that sometimes received favorable treatment from the government; and the heads of the country’s leading universities—represented roughly thirty per cent of the population. They are still referred to, often dismissively, as the White Turks; everyone else is a Black Turk.

BP: The Dexter Filkins article is a great read. You can clearly see some comparisons with Thailand and also for background on Turkey.

Duncan McCargo and Ayse Zarakol in their article “Turkey and Thailand: Unlikely Twins” which was published in Journal of Democracy (v. 23 no. 3, pp. 71- 79). A full copy of the article is available from here. Below are some excerpts:

Hence, after brief experiments with insular foreign policies, both countries moved squarely into the Western camp, following state-led but nonsocialist development strategies throughout the twentieth century. This type of development generated its own winning institutional coalition, complete with the usual political and economic privileges. Winners included the military-bureaucratic elite, a state-supported business sector, and middle-class urbanites who embodied the state’s ideal of what it meant to be modern and Thai or Turkish. On the losing end were rural dwellers, ethnic and religious minorities, and small entrepreneurs with no access to state favor.For both Thaksin and Erdogan, success at the ballot box has come from acting as champions of these forces, whose relative political quiescence or disenfranchisement no longer seems feasible in light of their increasing economic success.

Thailand and Turkey built their twentieth-century social and political transformations on the basis of specific and historically contingent institutional arrangements. In both countries, power was largely in the hands of a conservative bureaucratic elite working closely with the military in a partnership based on shared goals of nation-building. The nation-building project was framed in terms of a “modernization” process requiring leadership (and indeed, micromanagement) by elites. The vast bulk of the populace found itself marginalized, allegedly lacking the schooling and sophistication needed to play anything more than a subordinate role. Power was concentrated in the hands of elites who purported to be selfless and were often aligned with  technocrats. But the elites’ primary qualification to rule rested upon the monopoly that they held over legitimate state power. This monopoly was predicated upon and validated in turn by loyalty to the founding mythos of the modernizing nation-state.

In other words, the popular idea that Thailand is neatly split by an urban-rural divide, with “poor farmers” periodically laying siege to Bangkok, is as woefully simplistic as the supposed divide in Turkey between Islamists and secularists. Thailand’s  urbanized villagers have their counterparts in Turkey’s gecekondu (roughly meaning “shantytown”) folk, who are generally discussed with reference to their level of religiosity rather than class, but that is merely a matter of framing. The stereotype of the AKP voter that prevails among the old-line Turkish establishment portrays him as a so-called belly-scratcher: a barely  educated, provincial know-nothing with traditional (but insincere) religious values and minor business acumen who puts his  own self-interest above the needs of his country. In reality, Erdogan and the AKP, like Thaksin and his parties, draw support from a number of social groups by means of a message that mixes claims of business-friendly managerial acumen with populist promises of upward mobility for both the new entrepreneurs of the hinterlands and the urban villagers of the cities.

BP: The McCargo and Zarakol article already provides an sufficient comparative analysis so no need to repeat in BP’s summary.

Sixth, an opposition who can’t win and their establishment supporters.

The National Interest:

The main opposition, the Republican People’s Party, is a party in name only. It has proven incapable of appealing to voters, organizing itself to contest elections; and, most importantly, offering alternative policies to the AKP. Instead, it is in a state of constant turmoil as cadres fight for spoils that can at best be described as crumbs. The hapless state of the opposition propels the demonstrators: people have found out that they cannot count on the opposition to fight for their rights. Hence, the only outlet they have is the street.

Foreign Affairs:

For many of the people who turned out to protest over the last four days, Erdogan wore out his welcome from the very start. Supporters of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), which represents a peevish, reckless, and visionless group of Kemalist elites and alleged social democrats, oppose the AKP on principle. There were also reports of Leftists and “anti-capitalist Muslims” joining the fray. A variety of small, less-influential political parties turned up to wave flags in Taksim Square. Yet the anger went beyond the typically narrow interests of Turkey’s party politics. The demonstrators were not “marginal” as Erdogan asserted, but rather profoundly frustrated because they have been marginalized. 

The FT:

The real drama of Mr Erdogan’s Turkey is not the secularists’ spectre of creeping theocracy but that the Kemalist opposition has proved unelectable, trapped in the past and reliant on generals and judges to win back what it keeps losing at the ballot box. Part of this drama is the paradox that Mr Erdogan and the AKP, politically paramount but paranoid about plots against them, behave as though they were still the opposition – with the difference that the feedback loop of this normally well-oiled political machine has been short-circuited by sycophants. Before first winning power in October 2002, the AKP spent 22 months interviewing in depth 41,000 people across the country. Now, even allies admit, Mr Erdogan listens mostly to himself.

BP: Trapped in the post and reliant on generals and judges to get into government? Hmm…..

Dexter Filkins in the New Yorker:

On April 27, 2007, just before midnight, the office of the Chief of the General Staff posted an unsigned memorandum on its Web site, expressing concern about the possibility of an Islamist President, and about Islamist activities that appeared to be taking place under Erdoğan’s government. The memo said, “It should not be forgotten that the Turkish armed forces are a side in this debate and are a staunch defender of secularism. They will display their attitude and act openly and clearly whenever necessary.”

The next day, Erdoğan issued a statement that practically dared the generals to come and get him: “It is unthinkable that in a state governed by the rule of law the Turkish general staff—as an institution under the Prime Minister—would speak against the government.”

Three months later, the A.K. Party won a resounding electoral victory, and Erdoğan secured Gül’s ascension to the Presidency. In the eyes of many Turks, the military had been humiliated. The Western diplomat said that, for the military, the combined effect of losing the duel with Erdoğan and the mass arrests that followed was “the coup de grâce.”

“The generals were living in a Kemalist museum,” the diplomat said. “It rotted from within.”

BP: This seems even a more clumsy attempt than Prayuth’s “vote for good people” speech before the 2011 election. The big difference is that there has been no recrimination in Thailand and no arrests. Prayuth is still Army Chief. Whereas in Turkey, there has been crackdown against all government opponents including the military with hundreds of arrests.

NOTE: Just replace “secular” with “monarchy”and it could have read that something that Prayuth or some others would have said….

Finally, and briefly, on the role of the “deep state”/plot against the government.

On Ergenekon, Open Source Center from a few years ago:

“Ergenekon”is the name of an alleged illegal neonationalist organization accused of planning to oust the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) government through a military coup. The organization, in turn, has been linked to the so-called “Deep State,” alleged to be a vast, underground network of secular Turks plotting criminal acts to destabilize the government. The detention of a number of high-ranking military officers in February was the latest in a series of operations linked to the alleged conspiracy dating back almost 10 years. Initial information about the organization appeared in documents belonging to journalist Tuncay Guney in 2001, and alleged coup plans were found in the diaries of former Naval Forces Commander Ozden Ornek in 2007. The seizure of 27 hand grenades in a police operation on a house in Istanbul’s Umraniye District in June 2007 prompted an ongoing comprehensive investigation in which, thus far, more than 200 prominent civilian and military figures have been detained. The investigation revealed additional coup plans, which were all reported by the antimilitarist and liberal daily Taraf. Two trials, involving nearly 200 defendants, are currently underway in conjunction with Ergenekon, but no one has yet been convicted.

Reuters  on the trials:

Ergenekon is accused of being at the heart of political violence, extra-judicial killings and bomb attacks which scarred Turkey in recent decades – an embodiment of anti-democratic forces which Erdogan says he has fought to stamp out.

Critics see the case as a ploy to stifle opposition, part of a grand plan by the leader to tame the secularist establishment, including an army that intervened to topple governments four times in the second half of the 20th century.

Investigation of the alleged conspiracy, which surfaced in 2007 when police discovered a cache of weapons in Istanbul, was initially welcomed by a public eager to see an end to the “Deep State” – a shadowy network of militant secularists long believed to have been pulling the strings of power.

Dexter Filkins in the New Yorker  on the Deep State:

Few people in Turkey contest the notion that something resembling a deep state existed, but its scale, its nature, and its life span are not entirely clear. According to Kerem Öktem, a research fellow at Oxford University, the courts and the police protected the operatives of the deep state. “These people carried out assassinations and acts of sabotage, and they staged events that were designed to instill fear,” Öktem told me. “And they always got away.”

Prosecutors, historians, and journalists say that the deep state was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, including dissident political leaders, intellectuals, and journalists. It played a central role in combating the Kurdish insurgency of the nineteen-eighties and nineties—the so-called dirty war—when tens of thousands of guerrillas and civilians were killed or disappeared. Death squads in predominantly Kurdish cities like Diyarbakır operated with near-impunity…

According to Turkish politicians and journalists, the Kemalist élite and its allies in the deep state employed the press to exaggerate threats to the state—from leftists, from ultra-nationalists….

The Western diplomat summed up what he thought of the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer prosecutions: they had started well, he said, but then became tools to destroy the opposition. “A lot of this stuff would never hold up in a Western court,” he said. “People are being put on trial for their beliefs.”

BP: Although if you read all of Filkins’ piece you will see he is quite skeptical particularly how broad the investigation has become with many journalists and critics of the government now arrested making one doubt how serious of a plot there was one in the first place….

A shadowy ground of power pulling the strings of power? A kind of network monarchy? Ok, the analogy only goes so far and well we did have a coup in Thailand which has not happened in Turkey. The situation in Turkey is just much more extreme than in Thailand. Nevertheless, some of the comparisons are very interesting and Turkey and Thailand provide an interesting case study in comparative politics…

NOTE: This kind of comparative analysis is not something that BP intends to do often, but after reading McCargo’s article – which had been aware of for a while although just hadn’t been able to find a copy of – and just reading up on the situation in Turkey, it seemed worth blogging on…

*Haven’t been recently, but in pre-social order crackdown days at two different Thai universities, BP noticed the 7/11s didn’t sell alcohol and cigarettes and can’t imagine that access is easily more available now….