Everyone's bills went up. A lot.
Turkish consumers were shocked by two consecutive government decisions to increase prices for electricity and natural gas over the weekend. A written statement from the state-owned Turkish Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) on Saturday said the price of natural gas for end-users (households) will increase by 18.72 percent.
Separately, the Energy Market Regulatory Agency (EPDK) announced on Saturday that electricity prices for households per kWh will increase by 9.26 percent and by 8.71 percent for industrial use. The decision was announced after an appeal by the Turkish Electricity Trading and Contracting Company (TETAŞ) to pass on the rising costs of electricity generation to retail prices.
This is the third gas price hike in a month, and a massive hit for everyone here. At least the weather's getting warmer, but unless you're fabulously wealthy, this really hurts.
In other news, this morning a bomb was found at the Swisshotel in Istanbul, and another bomb went off at the Gaziosmanpaşa District Governor’s Office, injuring two.
ISTANBUL — The United States and dozens of other countries moved closer on Sunday to direct intervention in the fighting in Syria, with Arab nations pledging $100 million to pay opposition fighters and the Obama administration agreeing to send communications equipment to help rebels organize and evade Syria’s military, according to participants gathered here.
From raising an alarm against a possible Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear installations to exhorting western leaders to believe that Tehran is not engaged in building atomic weapons, Turkey is going out of its way to impart a glimmer of hope to the upcoming talks in Istanbul between the six global powers and Iran.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been emphatic in stating that an Israeli attack on Iran would prove “disastrous” for West Asia. “Israel should not attack Iran,” Mr. Erdogan told reporters after returning from a two-day official visit to Tehran.
“The entire region would be devastated,” he observed, Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman quoted him as saying. Mr. Erdogan’s words appeared to acquire fresh resonance after Israel issued a tight three-month deadline within which it wanted talks between Iran and the global powers to yield tangible results.
There has been a disturbing rise here lately in threats against and attacks on Alevis:
Alevi homes in the eastern province of Erzincan were defaced with red marks following a similar act targeting Alevis in Turkey’s Adıyaman, Gaziantep and İzmir provinces. “This mentality is fed by a left-right clash, the Alevi-Sunni conflict, and the Turkish-Kurdish dispute. We stand shoulder to shoulder to come together against this type of incident,” Selahattin Özer, president of the Alevi-Bektaşi Federation, said, adding that such actions are reminiscent of incidents in previous years.
Walls of Alevi houses in the village of Avcılar in Erzincan province were defaced by hate-filled messages.
The Pirsultan cem house in Yeşilkent (Avcılar/Istanbul) became subject to an attack of the municipality police once more. Many people were beaten.
The opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Avcılar Municipality laid the foundation stone for the cem house, a place of worship for the Alevi community, eight years ago. However, the building has not been finished still. Local resident Deniz Türkmenoğlu said that the opening ceremony of the cem house was held by CHP Mayor Mustafa Değirmenci but that not a single nail was hammered in afterwards. ...
One week ago, the municipality police entered the house and smashed pictures hanging on the wall to the floor. Türkmenoğlu said that he had talked to the deputy mayor just three days before who had assured him that they were going to find a solution.
On Wednesday morning (28 March), the municipality police carried out another assault on the cem house. Türkmenoğlu stated that a team of one hundred people attacked the place and that everybody who came to the scene was beaten and exposed to tear gas. Three people on guard inside the cem house were apparently beaten heavily and obtained a medical report from hospital.
More than a few people have noted that this has a "Deep State" feeling--in other words, people suspect that rogue elements of the government are stirring this up for reasons no one can fully understand. This happens in Turkey. Despite years of Ergenekon investigations, no one believes Turkey's Deep State has truly been neutralized. One friend pointed out that these events put him in mind of the 1995 Gazi Quarter riots.
There have lately been many protests in Istanbul and Ankara--often resulting in a heavy police reaction and injuries. Fistfights seem to be breaking out in parliament every day.
Michael Koplow, blogging at Ottomans and Zionists, says what I've been meaning to say about the US relationship with Turkey. Since he said it first, it spares me the trouble. He notes that we've returned to our Cold War relationship. We ignore authoritarianism in exchange for an ally willing reliably to secure our interests:
The implications for U.S. pressure on Turkey to maintain its liberalizing reforms and not roll back any progress that was made between 2002 and 2009 are that no such pressure will be forthcoming any time soon. The U.S.-Turkey relationship has moved firmly into the realm of realpolitik, and anyone expecting Washington to speak out on press intimidation or harassing of political opponents will be waiting a long time. The U.S. needs Turkey more than ever in the wake of the Arab Spring and Turkey equally needs the U.S., and so the golden age/model partnership is going to be maintained no matter the hardships on either side. If it means Ankara sacrificing its relationship with Iran or the U.S. appearing to cynically give an ally a free pass, so be it.
It is cynical. And sad.