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Turkey

Why Erdogan Is Soft On ISIS

Police forces in Istanbul's Sultanahmet district
Police forces in Istanbul's Sultanahmet district
Ahmet Ä°nsel

-OpEd-

ISTANBULTurkey's government and the media that support it have an odd attitude when it comes to violent acts carried out by ISIS: It's as if the "cultural/ideological dialects" of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government somehow malfunction.

For starters, the government has a hard time condemning the vicious massacres carried out by the organization that calls itself the Islamic State, which is just what happened with the most recent attack in Gaziantep on Aug. 20 month that killed 57 people. The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not use the heavy tones of condemnation reserved for other violent organizations like the Kurdish PKK, or the Gülenist group blamed for the July 15 attempted coup. The difference with ISIS is that it touches their own ideological grassroots.

There is a really serious problem here. This hesitant attitude due to cultural and ideological affinity is the reason Turkey's security forces are less virulent to the presence and actions of ISIS militants compared to other organizations, and why the judiciary is more understanding of them. This does not end with the ruling party and its officials: Indeed, most Sunni Muslims feel this way.

No organization name

In AKP party circles and affiliated media, beginning with President Erdogan himself, are careful to place ISIS actions within a broader definition of terrorism and terrorist organizations. The "terrorism cocktail" that Erdogan invented after the Ankara train station massacre of 2015 was the apogee of this approach. Today, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is careful to not to say the name of the organization when he declared after Gaziantep: "No matter what the name of this villainous terror that caused the loss of innocent life, the state, government, and nation will continue our determined fight against it."

Meanwhile, AKP spokesperson Yasin Aktay says: "All terrorist attacks are carried out by one hand," implying that knowing who the terrorists actually are does not matter. I hope the security forces of Turkey do not think the same, for the sake of everybody's safety. I hope they are not putting all the different acts of violence by different organizations for different purposes all in one basket!

Take the Turkey cells of ISIS: Their actions, purposes and target audience are, for example, incomparable with the charges brought against the Gülenist groups aligned with Fethullah Gülen. Meanwhile, the PKK is a Kurdish political organization that carries out an armed struggle that includes terrorist acts, but this does not mean they are the same as either ISIS or the Gülenists. It is not comparable either in political, organizational or criminal terms.

To come up with such a generalist view of terrorism is of course not done without purpose. The facts are knowingly being hidden when the group in question is the Islamic State. In the last three years, the AKP government has rejected all parliamentary motions by the opposition to investigate the structure of ISIS in Turkey — or even to discuss it in the parliament.

I am not here to say that such attacks by ISIS can be prevented by different words or acts of parliament. Yet this this attitude is a clear evidence of the ideological closeness between the government and ISIS, which risks undermining the response of security forces, judiciary and other state organs toward the organization.

The government is politically accountable if ISIS actions do not stop in Turkey. Trying to cover this up with nonsense like "ISIS is the same as PKK and the Gülenists" only increases this accountability.

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Society

What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.

Image of a kid wearing a blue striped sweater, using an ipad.

Children exposed to technology at a very young age are prominent today.

Julián de Zubiría Samper

-Analysis-

BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

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