Turkey: Another Day of Bombshell Leaks and Bans
Turkish politics have entered a surreal vortex where every day produces evermore shocking developments in such a dizzying rate that yesterday's mind-blowing news is quickly forgotten.
Today is a perfect example: it started with with the unsettling sounds of a Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking at an election rally with a voice so strained that he sounded like he had just inhaled a balloonful of helium, moved on to the truly shocking news of the posting online of a recording of a high-level national security meeting where a possible false flag operation to allow Turkey to invade Syria was discussed, and then ended with the announcement that access to YouTube (where the recording was posted) had just been blocked by the government. In other words, just another day in today's Turkey.
The day's news does bring up some important questions. Who leaked the recording of the meeting, where the foreign minister, head of national intelligence and a top ranking general, among others, talked about ways of defending an Ottoman-era tomb in Syria, and what does it mean that such a supposedly secure event could become fodder in Turkey's raging domestic battles? Various theories have already sprung up about who might have been behind the leak, which the government chillingly described as an "attack" against the state committed by "enemies" of the nation, with Islamic Gulen movement the leading culprit since it is already engaged in a bitter fight with Erdogan. Regardless of if the Gulenists were behind the leak, it is clear the government will be able to use the incident to further crack down on the movement, a move that will only further polarize Turkish politics and society.
Meanwhile, the YouTube ban, which comes only a few days after Turkey blocked access to Twitter and only a few days before Sunday's local elections, marks yet another sad turn for Turkey's already tarnished record on freedom of expression and represents yet another move towards growing government control of social media outlets (which became more popular in recent years in response to the government's growing crackdown on the mainstream press's ability to freely report the news).
What's next in Turkey is anybody's guess. If today is any indication, then tomorrow promises to be a doozy of a news day -- and the day after that even more so.