By: Leandro Albani / Source: Resumen Medio Oriente / The Dawn News / July, 16, 2016
“This uprising is a gift from God to us” said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as the hours of chaos and tension seemed to be coming to an end, and savoring a victory that is still difficult to measure for the times to come.
Last Friday night, when the Turkish Prime minister, Binali Yildirim, said in a press conference that there was a coup attempt underway, the military movements and the information crossovers wouldn’t stop. Later, the Turkish intelligence services (MIT) announced that the destabilization planes were finally defeated. In the heat of the situation, Erdogan called the people to mobilize to defend the government and the uniformed rebels didn’t spare ammunition against those who took to the streets of Ankara and Istanbul.
So far, the estimated death toll of the violent clashes that took place last Friday night is between 160 and 260, and the wounded amount to 1,440. Yildirim announced that 2,800 people were detained [at the time this article is being translated, Al Jazeera reports 6,000 detained], both civilians and military, accused of being part of the coup attempt.
A conflict with a History
The relationship between Erdogan and his Party, AKP, with the Turkish military forces has always been difficult. This tension and discontent, was deepened in 2003 when the Ergenekon case was made public, where Erdogan’s government arrested hundreds of military men involved in a plan to overthrow the Executive Power. The Islamist orientation of the AKP administration, with its attempts to reform the constitution to “Islamize Laws”, was always rejected by the Army. The founding principles of the Turkish Republic in 1923, laid by Mustafá Kemal (known as Ataturk, “father of the Turks”) had a secular orientation, similar to the European models. And, even though the Armed Forces were educated as protectors of that liaty, they also received rigid ideological training on that Turkey is a uniform and homogeneous country: this is what enabled the Armenian Genocide. The same attitude was taken towards others minority nationalities, mainly the Kurdish people who have historically been (and still are being) systematically repressed.
It’s also true that sectors of the Turkish Army don’t agree with Erdogan’s attempts to overthrow the Syrian government of President Bashar Al Assad, let alone share the obsession of the AKP leader to back up the terrorists of the Daesh (ISIS).
As the Army’s troops were mobilizing throughout Ankara and Istanbul, President Erdogan called his followers to take to the streets. At the same time, news agencies informed that the leader had already sought asylum in Germany (which he was denied), that he had landed in Tehran so as to prepare his way back to Istanbul and that his entire cabinet had been arrested.
As the night covered the Turkish sky, the images that transcended were shocking: thousands of people in the streets defending their government, shouting: “Allah is great!” (Allahu Akbar!) and in the background, the sound of machine guns and F-16 aircrafts bombing the cities, was heard. The critical scenario took us all by surprise. It caught off guard not only the Turkish population, but also the U.S, the European Union and NATO, which Turkey is a part of, with the second largest army. Despite the fact that as hours went by Erdogan’s allies started expressing their rejection against the coup, it’s curious that the movements within the Turkish Armed Forces and the disorder that unleashed the coup attempt had not been previously identified.
Who promoted the Coup Attempt?
As the chaos wasn’t enough, Erdogan pointed at Fethullah Gulen as the responsible for the coup. Gulen, a former ally of the Turkish President, has been living in the U.S since his relationship with Erdogan fell apart a few years ago. Both leaders arrived in power together, even though Gulen, considered as one of the main religious leaders of Sufi Islam, had always remained in the shadows. This didn’t stop him from injecting the Turkish state with his followers and cadres —mostly, the police body and the judicial branch. Both Erdogan and Gulen share the same vision for society and to reach it they never spared the application of repression to gain positions towards their conception of a “moderate Islam”, articulated in their policies.
During the most confusing and urgent hours that Turkey went through, as the death toll was informed, and there was speculation about whether Erdogan would finally arrive to the airport of Istanbul or not, a suspicion began to fly silently over the country: perhaps this was a self-inflicted coup that would allow Erdogan to grab even more power in his plan to become a regional leader, based on his idea of a neo-Ottomanism for the entire Middle East.
Is this hypothesis unreasonable? No, because during the more than ten years of Erdogan in power, there are evidences of all the strategies and extreme methodologies he has used to grab hold of the Turkish State. As the international media presented Erdogan as the symbol of “democracy” in this fight, as opposed to the un-democratic coupists, we must remember that Erdogan was never a democrat.
The most recent example were last year’s elections, in which the AKP endured a resounding defeat and was not able to form a government of its own. Given this situation, the President unleashed a cruel repression against the Kurdish people (represented by the HDP) and called for new parliamentary elections as he declared the state of siege. With little legitimacy, and entire cities destroyed by the Army, Erdogan convened elections for late 2015, in which he obtained a large share of votes based on fear, a chauvinist nationalism and irregularities of all kinds.
It’s well known that the Turkish President wants to carry out a referendum to change the current parliamentary system into a Presidentialist one. This attempt to accumulate more power (which is denounced by the opposition) failed last year due to the crisis generated by the election process. Now, with a powerful victory in his hands, Recep Tayyip Erdogan could actually reach his longed dream of becoming the eternal Sultan of Turkey and Middle East.
Erdogan has already suspended 8,000 policemen and removed 2745 judges (~36% of the total 7604) from their duty. Five of them were HSYK (Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors).