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History As It Happens

Mar 14, 2023

Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria killed at least 50,000 people. In four Turkish provinces, hundreds of buildings collapsed in seconds, trapping their occupants while government rescue teams failed to adequately respond. This was not entirely a natural disaster. Over the past several decades, Turkish governments offered builders "amnesties" allowing them to ignore safety codes, including the stronger building codes enacted after a devastating 1999 quake. The most recent amnesty occurred in 2018 under the increasingly despotic President Recep Erdogan, who now faces the most acute crisis of his two decades in power. In this episode, historian Howard Eissenstat discusses Turkey's history of shoddy construction and the political future of Erdogan's AKP party.