Beleaguered at home, Turkey loses friends abroad as ISIS threat grows

The Guardian reports: His government is less than two months old, but there has been no honeymoon period for the new Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Wednesday, in particular, was full of woe.

That was the day authorities rushed to impose a curfew in five largely Kurdish provinces. Angry demonstrations over the government’s refusal to relieve Kobani, the Syrian canton under siege from the brutal group calling itself Islamic State (Isis), led to a spate of deaths. That toll has since risen to more than 35. Wednesday was also the day the minister for the economy politely lowered expectations. The mid-term programme cut the growth projections for this year from 4% to 3.3% and for next year from 5% to a still optimistic 4% – and boldly promised to rein in public spending before next summer’s general election.

On Wednesday, too, the European Union released its annual report on Turkish accession, which, though couched in diplomatic language, did little to conceal that in a year in which Turkey had tried to ban Twitter and YouTube, in which the national broadcasting authority gave scant air time to opposition candidates during a presidential election, and where parliament had granted immunity to national intelligence to track citizens on the web, the country had backslid on fundamental rights and the rule of law.

All this is in stark contrast to “New Turkey” which the building-sized posters promised in the runup to last August’s presidential poll. That contest was won on the first round by Tayyip Erdogan, Davutoglu’s mentor and predecessor. Erdogan still runs the show and few doubt his great ambition is to secure a large enough parliamentary election next year to change the constitution to a Putin-style presidential system. [Continue reading…]

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