June 3, 0138 hrs CET
The events are unfolding fast. Right now, there is a major crackdown going on in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana, Antalya and god knows where else. It’s so bad that even the Syrian government is warning its own citizens that it’s unsafe to travel to Turkey.
The Turkish media are hardly covering it at all. The social and international media are covering it around the clock. Curiously, the tweet that got most retweets by far – over 20.000 – was a message of solidarity by Galatasaray football player Wesley Sneijder.
Today at Taksim, the epicentre of the protest, things were peaceful. The people were in full control of the square and enjoying their newly liberated park. Like a rock in a pond, the uprising is now expanding to the far corners the country.
At nightfall, police began their coordinated attack. Once again they made massive use of chemical weapons. Not only protesters, but also first aid units and university buildings were tear gassed. In Ankara, hundreds of people were arrested and locked up in a gymnasium. In Besiktas district in Istanbul, people formed a human chain to build barricades on the main streets. Police engaged them with a bulldozer. The people captured the bulldozer, and then started chasing the police vehicles. It was magic.
Around the same time, Anonymous launched an all out digital attack on government websites as reports came in of live rounds of ammunition being fired. Pictures of real bullets were uploaded onto the internet. Protesters were not intimidated. They held their streets.
Same thing happened in Ankara. People were attacked as they menaced to march to parliament. They kept on chanting and regrouping in waves of tear gas. In Izmir, the local office of the governing party was reportedly burned down. Long after midnight, the boulevards of the city were packed with people celebrating victory.
So the crackdown might fail. Erdogan is in an increasingly difficult position. Rumours say he might call out the hard core thugs from the religious right in support of the police. It would mean bloody chaos.
I hardly know anything about Turkey, but one of the things I understood when I was there is that the Turks love to plot. This revolt is creating possibilities. So there must be a hell of a lot of plotting going on right now. In the opposition, in Erdogan’s own party, in the mosques, over tea, in the working places, in the universities, and obviously within the ‘deep state’. But the most important variable in this intricate equation will be the nation’s supreme authority, the army.
Over the last decade, the army has significantly lost influence at the expense of police and islamists. This might be an opportunity for Turkey’s generals to reassert their power.