Nonresident Senior Fellow Howard Eissenstat Quoted on New Arrests in Turkey

On October 30, POMED nonresident senior fellow Howard Eissenstat spoke with Nick Ashdown from The Media Line about the new wave of arrests again pro-western activists in Turkey.

Howard Eissenstat, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy and Professor of Middle East History at St. Lawrence University, believes Washington and Europe have fundamentally changed the way they view Ankara.

“For a long time Turkey was perceived as an ally, as a reliable bastion of stability, and because that was the narrative, a lot of human rights abuses were ignored or marginalized,” he told the Media Line.

“Now Turkey is seen as a rogue state, as breaking basic norms of the rule of law.”

Last November the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution calling for a temporary freeze of membership talks with Ankara, and last week proposed a reduction of up to 80 million euros in E.U. funding to Turkey. For its part, Germany is also reportedly mulling a direct funding cut to Turkey.

Experts speculate that the jailed activists were targeted for their western links.

“It was certainly an attack on civil society, but I think it was also an attack on that cooperation with the west,” Eissenstat said. “It was a political case from the beginning. I think it was decided from the top.”

Eissenstat contends this and other recent cases mark an expansion of Ankara’s purge.

On October 18, philanthropist businessman and chairman of the Anatolian Culture center Osman Kavala was detained, with no information on charges given. A day later, Şaban Kardaş, head of the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies think tank, was also detained.

“The Kavala and [Kardaş] cases are a portent of a new wave. Pretty much everybody sees that coming,” Eissenstat explained.

Read the full article here.