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  • Arian Sauer

The Political Consequences of the Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

On the 26th of February, at a football match between two Turkish clubs, Beşiktaş and Antalyaspor, fans threw thousands of plush toys onto the pitch, four minutes and 17 seconds into the game. This was because of an earthquake that had happened on the 6th of February at 4:17 o'clock, which had affected millions of people in Turkey and Syria. The toys were part of an event called “This Toy is My Friend”, which was organised by the fans. All the toys were to be given to children affected by the disaster in Turkey and Syria.

There were a series of earthquakes between the 6th of February and the 21st of February and the strongest one, occurring on the 6th of February, had a magnitude of 7.8 points on the Richter scale, which is one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded. The tremors were so strong that you could feel them in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan.

Over 50 000 people died and about 1.5 million people were left without basic needs, like shelter. Tens of thousands of buildings were destroyed or damaged, including homes and hospitals and many people were forced to flee from towns and cities affected by the earthquakes to find shelter.

Earthquakes are not a new phenomenon in Turkey. In fact, it is one of the world’s most active earthquake zones. The country is situated on the Anatolian plate, squeezed between the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates.

The activity at the soccer match was one of the most recent expressions of frustration with the government under President Tayyip Erdogan. While the toys flew on the soccer ground, many chanted for a change in government.

Ironically, Erdogan came to power 20 years ago due to the poor handling of the then government in dealing with another deadly earthquake. Back then as well as now, the country was in a financial crisis with high inflation.

During his presidency, Erdogan has solidified his grip of the country surviving many elections and even a coup attempt. Despite his many critics, most people still believed he will win the upcoming election in May easily.

Now the public outrage following the February earthquakes is high as people wonder why the tougher building regulations were not properly implemented and the humanitarian aid for victims was delayed.

Turkish people are eager to see whether history repeats itself.

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1 Comment

Mar 14, 2023

Very well written. Alot of input given.

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