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Turkish Autumn: ‘The exact opposite of Arab Spring’

Growing Islamism in the region is a driving force in the lifeblood of the Turkish protests, and even has the sympathy of the police, but the Turkish military is waiting in the wings, political expert Avigdor Eskin told RT.

RT:Erdogan vowed to resolve the crisis when he returns to the country. How do you think he’s going to do that?

Avigdor Eskin: Good evening, blessings from the holy city of Jerusalem. I happened to be a witness to the unrest in Turkey. I spent Sunday and Monday with the demonstrators in Istanbul this week and I can tell you if we were talking two years ago about the Arab Spring then now we are facing the Turkish Autumn. This is exactly the opposite process of what we were facing in Egypt and the region. We see that this wave of Islamism is becoming a really heavy burden to the people and they don’t want to continue with that. This is what the Turkish people were saying.

RT:You say you were there amongst those people in the demonstration. What sort of people are they?

AE: I was not participating in any riots or demonstrations I was just  an observer there to tell the truth and the truth is that the unrest was absolutely spontaneous. People even did not carry any slogans in English, people were not prepared, they just came spontaneously from all parts of Istanbul. It was not only Taksim Square, it was everywhere in the city. You could even see demonstrators on the way to the airport just marching in a very restrained and peaceful way, I must say. Now, unlike the unrest in Romania in 1989 which resulted in the revolution against Ceausescu and I remember Moscow in 1991 and 1993, the amount of people participating and the real determination to reach the goal in Turkey is much stronger than in any other place I saw in the world.

Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in central Ankara June 6, 2013 against the Islamic-rooted government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)

The events there are really very serious and Turkey is not going to be the same tomorrow as it was yesterday. It’s a different country already. Even if we are talking about certain parallels with Paris in 1968, the cultural atmosphere is very different because we are talking about people who are students, intellectuals, professionals, they are all there. There was no sign in any part of Istanbul that there was any even small gathering of the government or rolling Islamist Party supporters. It was just amazing that the street was covered by the protesters and the police were sympathetic to them, I saw it.

RT:Where is the military? We haven’t seen them at all. 

AE: The military is waiting. As you know, many generals and former chiefs of staff of Turkey are in prison now. This is a very special situation where they are waiting for the developments because the Army will take control only if there are more serious disturbances. They are waiting, maybe, the prime minister and the president will start negotiating with the demonstrators. Maybe there will be some appeasing process, they are still waiting for something good to happen. But if instead of negotiating with his own people the prime minister keeps conveying his tough message or even stirring them up more, then you will see next week or in the week after something from the Army. Turkey, as you know, has a culture of a kind of military regime, democracy, military regime, these things happened to them in the past and nobody will be surprised when it happens again now.

Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in central Ankara June 6, 2013 against the Islamic-rooted government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.