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Turkey

Tunnel Connecting European & Asian areas of Istanbul Represents Success and Problems in Turkey, Says St. Lawrence University Professor

Tunnel Connecting European & Asian areas of Istanbul Represents Success and Problems in Turkey, Says St. Lawrence University Professor

English: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip E...

English: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Third Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Canton, N.Y. –Howard Eissenstat, assistant professor of history at St. Lawrence University and an expert on Turkey and its influence in the region, says the new Marmary Tunnel linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul represents all the qualities that have made the current AKP government, under the leadership of Tayyip Erdogan, one of the great success stories of the Middle East, as well as the many qualities that have made AKP rule increasingly problematic.

“On the one hand, the new tunnel is an important step in addressing the massive traffic problems that dramatically undermine quality of life for Istanbul’s rapidly increasing population (currently about 13 million, and growing by about a quarter of a million new residents per year),” Eissenstat says.  “The project represents both Turkey’s increasing technological prowess and its capacity to gain international finance to feed its rapid growth.  At the same time, the project highlights the ways in which the AKP government has been willing to trample local concerns and use large projects to reward political allies.

“Erdogan’s critics, pointing to the gentrification, and concerns regarding  environmental, cultural, and safety repercussions, believe that these major projects in Istanbul have put the public interest behind the economic benefits to Erdogan’s allies and his own desire to leave his mark on the city he grew up in and once governed as mayor,”m he says.  “Indeed, it was just these concerns that helped spark the protests that rocked Turkey this past June over the destruction of Gezi Park.”

Eissenstat writes on Turkish nationalism, Turkish foreign policy, political Islam, and human rights issues in Turkey.  He has lectured at the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State, the Canadian Foreign Service Institute, and given testimony to the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee of the Canadian Senate.  Eissenstat speaks frequently to the media and non-governmental organizations on current affairs in Turkey.

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About Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist. Named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" for 2006/07 by the New America Media. He is the recipient of four Lisagor Awards from the Chicago Headline Club and the 2009 Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Visit his website at www.TheDailyHookah.com. Find his podcasts on iTunes and on Vimeo.

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