The latest crisis
in Turkey triggered by the so-called military coup attempt is not the
first of its kind. Military coups have become a sort of tradition laid
down first by the Young Turks, or even the Janissaries. One must note that
the “Young Turk Revolution” in 1908 too began as a military coup.
Turkish military elites were behind the military coups of May 1960,
March 1971, and September 1980, appearing upon the political scene each
time when there was a need to defend the gains of the Kemalist Republic.
Back in 1997 it was the military elites that forced Turkish Prime
Minister Necmettin Erbakan to shift Turkish laws toward secularism.
is a fairly well known fact that Turkey’s military forces are a
stronghold of Kemalism. Young Turkish students, the future officers,
since their first days of training the spirit of unconditional devotion
to the revolutionary achievements of Kemal Ataturk” impressed upon them.
At the same time, most radical parties behind the cloak of Islam in
Turkey have always despised the army who seems to be always standing in
their way. Every attempt they make to strengthen their positions within
the political arena have always ended with military coups.
Turkish military retains the status as the most influential state
institution in the country since it has been defending the secular
nature of Turkish politics for decades. However, a number of
peculiarities during this latest “failed military coup” raises doubts
that military officers were behind this violent episode.
First of all, everyone was likely aware
that President Erdogan took leave from the capital to enjoy a sort of
vacation, therefore any “revolutionary” attempt would have targeted his
residence along with the government buildings in Ankara. However,
according to Turkish media sources, those behind the coup failed to
implement this essential step in seizing power.
The government quickly established that Colonel Muharrem Kose and a number of officers belonging to the Turkish military attaché services were
allegedly behind the coup. Therefore they claim that the officers that
were in charge of signing military contracts with foreign countries were
in charge, which, in their opinion, means that the coup was triggered
by the disruptive forces that are aligned with the exiled preacher
Fethullah Gulen. This was the claim Tayyip Erdogan made via his
smartphone in an interview with CNN’s Turkish studio immediately after
the coup began, accusing his former ally who now poses as his sworn
enemy. One must remember that Fethullah Gulen is in control of a
business empire worth 20 billion dollars, run from his office in the US,
where he has been residing in self-imposed exile.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in power for over a decade
now, since becoming prime minister in 2002. Without a doubt, he has
been the most influential and transformative politician in his country
since Kemal Atatürk. In domestic policy, Erdogan has been obsessed with the construction of an authoritarian
presidential regime, although during the first decade of his rule, he
has been perfectly capable of handling all the issues within the
framework of a parliamentary system. He has come a long way and along
this road he has become a ruthless dictator. He has been brutally
suppressing demonstrations and protests, blocking unwanted media
channels, and restricting every kind of freedoms. He has even been
trading refugees, exploiting their desperate circumstances to achieve
specific political goals.
Erdogan is consumed by nostalgia for the
Ottoman Empire’s days and the dreams of Turkey being at the head of the
“Muslim World.” He cannot sit quietly in his White Palace, which he had
built with the apparent prospect of living (and leading from) there
until the end of his days.
The only problem he could encounter on
the road to the absolute tyranny were Turkey’s armed forces – the last
defenders of the Kemalist Republic.
Internal security has become the primary focus in
Turkey in 2016. The terrorist attacks in Ankara and Istanbul have
become a day-to-day reality, and against this background Erdogan has
successfully been playing the “terror card”, which has been noted by
March 14, 2016, Erdoğan publicly called for the Turkish definition of a
terrorist to be broadened to include supporters of terrorism, equally
guilty and subject to punishment . It was heavily implied that this
amendment would be used to implicate political and business figures.
In addition to the “terror card”, in a bid to deal
with his political opponents, Erdogan coined the term “puppeteers”
which he introduced during a public debate about two years ago when he
said that there are “puppeteers”, or rather “higher intelligence”
controlling political developments in the the Middle East. Supporters of
Erdoğan then extended the usage of this term and identified the US,
Great Britain and Zionists as “puppeteers” and then made a list of their
plots. One of the strongest supporters of Erdogan, editor of the pro-government Milat newspaper, called Fethullah Gulen, “Gyulizabeth”, claiming that he has been serving the British Crown.
Looking at the events of “a failed
military coup,” one cannot forget that the active participation of
military leadership in the political life of the country is one of the
hallmarks of Turkish history. Erdogan, in the speech he gave almost two
decades ago announced that Turkey would do away with this “behind the
scenes military government,” and promised to reform civil-military
relations. Moreover, it has become convenient to carry out these reforms
in the context of the Europeanization of Turkey, as the EU demanded
from Turkey the establishment of new civil-military relations where the
army should remain in their barracks to serve civilian administrations
instead of telling them what they can or cannot do.
Therefore one can come to the following conclusions:
- “A failed military coup” was staged by Erdogan himself;
- We’ve witnessed Erdogan using his tricks once again, like the so-called “terrorist card”;
- The purpose of Erdogan’s move was an attempt to persuade the
population of the country that there’s a need to revise the constitution
to grant Turkey’s president virtually unlimited powers;
- Taking into account the active opposition to Erdogan’s dictatorial
aspirations that has been posed by the army, it’s not surprising that
its representatives (and not the higher command) were selected to play
the role of organizers of this provocation;
- “Army’s fault” in the latest developments, of course, will be
actively used by Erdogan for undermining the authority of the military
command in demanding new additions to the country’s constitution that
would fit his own interests.
It’s really important how timely a
manner the state controlled Turkish media sources have twisted the whole
situation to fit Erdogan’s plans. This, of course, can be attributed to
the assistance that Washington has been providing Turkey in the
creation of a so-called Turkish “information force,” being trained in
Ukraine. As stated at the presentation of the project head of the
Turkish General Staff, Hulusi Akar, the “information force” will be used
to neutralize “any threats and challenges” within Turkey.
for the severe punishment of those who took part in this “failed
military coup”, Erdogan’s cruelty has already been demonstrated even by
his allies, and there’s little doubt that this too was a part of this
provocation, no matter what Turkish media sources say otherwise.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”