Turkey getting its own 'Arab Spring'?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 12, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


WALID PHARES, FOX NEWS TERRORISM EXPERT: It is not similar but it is very comparable in the sense that in the most of the countries of the Arab spring there were no democracy before, there were no real political parties vying for elections in Egypt and Tunisia and of course in Syria. In Turkey there were political parties, but the comparison is that in power in Turkey today you have an Islamist government as in Egypt, as in Tunisia, and possibly as in Libya. That government wants to gradually impose their vision of an Islamic country very gradually in Turkey. And civil society now has felt that pressure and they are rioting against it.


BRET BAIER, HOST: The protests are continuing in Istanbul. And we have had a lot of back and forth with the government there, the prime minister today meeting with protesters making some concessions. But it sounded from Leland Vittert's report that that was not enough, as you look at some of the pictures still continuing out of Turkey. Charles, what about this?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's a big deal because historically the government in Turkey, this Islamist government, is the model that the west would like to imagine is the answer to the rise of Islamism. The other answer is Iran, which is authoritarian, totalitarian, extreme and radical. Everybody says that's not where we want these countries to go. For instance in Egypt and Tunisia, we would rather them end up if they are going to be run by Islamist, by a Turkey like government.

The problem is and the reason there are people on the streets it is not what appears. In Turkey you have an Islamist government that is extremely authoritarian. It started out elected, like a democracy. But like Putin in Russia, who was also elected and dismantled all the instruments of democracy, it's becoming extremely authoritarian.

There are more journalists in jail in Turkey than there are in China.  He has had trumped up charges against opponents in the military, judiciary, et cetera. The reason this is a different uprising than the ones in Egypt and elsewhere is an uprising by people against an Islamist government, the ones in the Arab world were against secular dictators with the Islamists waiting in the wing and grabbing power. Here it's anti-Islamists, the first since the one in 2009 in Iran. But it looks as if the government is in no mood to have any compromise.

BAIER: Kirsten, what about the administration, the president weighing in here? He has talked about a lot of other hot spots around the world, including all the times he talked about Egypt. He hasn't talked about this.

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Yes, and it's been something that's been on the radar for a while. I think anybody that's followed it, it's enormous tragedy because it's a very westernized country really for that region. And I think, you know, what happens there is very important.

I don't know how much the president can do. The reality is, democratic elected Islamist typically don't stay very democratic very long.  So, you know, the only hope is that perhaps there is an election next year, that somehow there is a legitimate election and that somebody who isn't an Islamist is elected. But as long as there is Islamist in power it is only going to get worse.

BAIER: Take a listen to the prime minister today talking to protesters.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRIME MINISTER (via translator): I urge the young people who I believe are there with sincere feelings, to put an end to this protest. And I call on those who insist on continuing, this is over. We won't put up with this any longer.


BAIER: That's Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, talking, saying we won't put up with any of this.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I don't think they have done much putting up with it thus it far. And, you know, his acknowledging that they might have sincere feelings, I guess, is some small step in the right direction.

Look at the way that he has operated over the past two weeks. In a sense, it's the way he has been operating as Charles suggests with the journalists and political opponents for years. And people who are surprised that Erdogan would do this are not surprised that it's in him to do this, it's just surprise that he's doing it so openly.  At least in the past he has been a little bit subtle about it. I think we ought to be speaking out on the side of the protesters even if it's a democratically elected government.

BAIER: That is it for the panel.

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