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Jakarta Post

The lonely man of the Middle East

  • Stanley A. Weiss

Gstaad,Sweden   /   Sat, September 1 2012   /  02:41 pm

When Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan met last month with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin about the civil war in Syria, political biographers had a right to be confused.

After all, one is the leader of a government that has imprisoned more journalists than China and Iran combined; empowered special courts to arrest citizens on suspicion of terrorism without evidence or the right to a hearing; sentenced two students to eight years in prison for holding a sign at a rally demanding “free education”; and has seen more than 20,000 complaints filed against it in the European Court of Human Rights since 2008. The other is president of Russia.

That the leader of secular, democratic Turkey — a long-time US ally and member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) — has managed to out-Putin Putin when it comes to steamrolling civil liberties the past ten y...