Six weeks of protests have jolted Ankara. Though the intensity of demonstrations has waned they have continued far longer than any though possible. Some 80 arrests were made in clashes soon after Istanbul’s Gezi Park – epicenter of the protest movement – finally re-opened on 8 July. This comes amid dramatic changes in the regional power balance. The 3 July overthrow of Egyptian President Mursi by the Egyptian military robs Ankara of a close ideological and political ally and resonates uncomfortably with Turkey’s ruling AK party, whose previous incarnation Refah was ousted in a ‘soft coup’ in 1997.
Ankara protested the Egyptian move, with foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, labeling it an “unacceptable… military coup”. A few days earlier Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan submitted to parliament a motion to amend the Turkish Armed Forces Charter, used in the past to justify political intervention. Instead of being bound by a duty to “protect and watch over the republic” the amendment would charge Turkey’s military with a more limited obligation to defend “the Turkish homeland against foreign threats,” Reuters reported. (CONTINUED - 385 WORDS)