Revolution and counter-revolution: A tale of two December 17s - YASIN AKTAY

Revolution and counter-revolution: A tale of two December 17s

December 17th is the day of the first spark of major social upheaval, which quickly spread throughout the Islamic world ten years ago, and at the same time it is considered the day when Turkey witnessed the most strange, insidious and treacherous of coup attempts.

Both events or days appear to be different, but in reality they share a lot in common.

Of course, it is not just that the two events, the coup attempt that occurred in Turkey three years after the outbreak of the revolution in Tunisia, coincided on the same day, December 17, and it would be wrong to regard the two events as one that only has to do with the Middle East, and the other was just confined to Turkey.

In fact, the truth is that what happened in Tunisia on December 17, 2010 is not independent in any way from what happened in Turkey, and the same is true of what Turkey went through during the treacherous coup attempt through the judiciary on December 17, 2013, which wasn’t unrelated to the Arab Spring.

Ten years have passed since the Arab Spring revolutions, which began after a street vendor set himself on fire in Tunisia, on December 17, 2010, in protest of ill-treatment by the police. The Arab Spring, which has become the umbrella of the broadest demands for freedom and democracy that the peoples of the Middle East have experienced since the colonial era; There is no doubt that during these ten years there have been different experiences and stages in every country, but the common denominator between them all was: the conflict between peoples calling for democracy, freedom, dignity and decent living, and authoritarian governments that were responding to these demands with repression. This conflict has always been the last straw before people could erupt anywhere and at any given moment.

The Arab peoples who acted according to those demands ten years ago, were fully aware of the extent of backwardness that despotism had caused for a century, and that the code that oversees the relationship between the people and the state is a farcry from where it should be.

Of course, it goes without saying that the "globalization era" had been a cause for their movements as well. These peoples knew and were aware of the reason that saw them lagging far behind in the world. They knew that the absence of human rights, freedom of expression, decent living and prosperity was caused by governments crouching on their chests along with the lack of any fair elections that could show them to the door, as if these rulers were nothing but a mere inevitablity of fate for these peoples.

The level of education and urbanization in the Arab society had reached dangerous dimensions, and despite the increase in the level of education,chances for development and improvement remained scarce, in addition to the lack of suitable job opportunities for the educated segment, as their governments failed to provide that to the masses, and here lies the dilemma, because each of those governments had been controlling the economy for 20 or 30 years without any free elections. Rather, the economy was managed according to the whims of the few, who were plundering countries’ resources for themselves. Therefore, we find that poverty rates were constantly rising, despite the presence of real aptitudes and good academic standing.

However, we find that those who enjoyed a higher educational level and a higher level of civilization as well, were more critical and bolder in demanding their rights, additionally, they also started looking for spheres and platforms that would enable them to participate in politics.

There was another reason as well, which is the interconnectedness that enabled these peoples to compare their countries with the rest of the world, thanks to the channels of communication that allowed people to compare the situation in their own countries with others around them. There is no doubt that with each comparison, the extent of their desire to demand accountability from their rulers had only soared.

Meanwhile, in the eyes of these people, Turkey was a unique success story that they were looking up to. Although their educational curricula that falsely taught and indoctrinated them that Turkey was an occupying power that had colonized them for centuries.

Turkey during the last century was a country that had turned away from the Islamic world and the Arabs, and it chose a secular path along the European line. It was also the first to recognize Israel as a push by the United States to support its policies in the Middle East.

Arab peoples saw Turkey that way, at least they did five years prior to the outbreak of the Arab Spring revolutions.

And during these intervening five years, there was something happening in Turkey as well, it was going through a great economic development revolution. In addition to this, Turkey was witnessing a democratic revolution simultaneously. Not only that, but Turkey had also begun to turn its gaze back towards the Arab and Islamic worlds, reconcile with Islam, and most importantly, it was doing all of this without hitting the pause button on its attempt to integrate with the European Union.

Moreover, Turkey now had a leader who can say "no" to the United States, challenge and stand up to Israel, and not make concessions during its negotiations with the European Union. Rather, he adopts a bold stance that always takes into consideration the interests of the country and the people. In light of all these parts that formed the new way Arab peoples viewed Turkey, there was a new reality represented by Erdoğan's stance against Shimon Peres, and the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, which Arabs dubbed the "ship of freedom."

This scene was one of the things people pointed to when criticizing their governments and rulers, it was still imprinted in their minds. They have seen the contrast between the viciousness of their rules towards their peoples, who are subjected to all kinds of tyranny, oppression, authoritarianism and humiliation, and yet they shake in their boots in front of the United States, Israel and Europe. Arab Peoples have seen these differences, and now see Turkey represented by Erdogan, as their ultimate goal.

These peoples saw, through the modern Turkish model, the possibility of having a modest government before its people, kind to them, benevolent to them, that they could question and hold accountable, and in return, an independent and proud one against the United States, Israel and the Europeans.

Thus, the centuries-old colonial system quickly began to crumble. Secularism, Zionism, colonialism and despotism began to vanish. Something had to be done at that moment.

However, at the same time, something had to be done in Turkey that was different from what happened under the Arab Spring, of which Turkey was one of the chief inspirations. At a time when we began to witness counter-revolutions against the revolutions of the Arab Spring, it was only inevitable that they would attempt a coup in Turkey, which took the form of the events of December 17, 2013.

Therefore, we say: Three years later, there was a December 17 in the form of an attempted coup in Turkey through the judiciary to counter the December 17 of the Arab Spring revolutions.


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