In Turkey / Türkiye

New Cold, July 18, 2016

Enclosed below are four commentaries and news articles analyzing Turkey in the aftermath of the failed coup of July 15,-16, 2016. Here is the latest news on July 18 from Turkey:

After Turkey’s failed coup, Erdoğan’s brutal clampdown

Commentary by Yavuz Baydar, published in The Guardian, July 18, 2016

Turkish soldier accused of joining coup is escorted to court in Marmaris on July 17, 2016 (Reuters)

Turkish soldier accused of joining coup is escorted to court in Marmaris on July 17, 2016 (Reuters)

How heavily the bloody coup attempt in Turkey has traumatised the country may be beyond anyone’s imagination. Needless to say, the perpetrators, in what seemed like an ill-planned, fast-forward action, have delivered a deadly stab to the country’s already wounded democratic system, which had been sending an SOS out to the world for some time.

It is the blood spilled that is the greatest cause for concern. According to the prime minister, Binali Yıldırım, 161 people – mainly police officers – were killed, and 2,840 were wounded in the course of 12 hours – and these figures exclude civilians who died during the clashes overnight on Friday. Such bloodshed is bound to trigger further rage and violence, and many fear that the persistent calls by AKP figures for the pro-Erdoğan crowds to demonstrate in the streets will fuel the tensions. Attempted lynchings were a stark reminder of this.

Around 6,000 people (including many officers and soldiers) have been taken into custody and more will follow. Among them are generals, and large numbers of mid-ranking officers across the country. We know that they will be charged with high treason, and we also hear that the AKP is considering bringing back capital punishment – only abolished in 1999.

The drama erupted unexpectedly, and its progress during the course of Friday night left many perplexed. It seemed that the action was badly orchestrated, patchy, and undecided. But when the news of bombings in Ankara broke, the questions became ever more serious. Observers were left wondering who was really in charge of the country – and that question still lingers.

Troops seized the state broadcaster and forced a presenter to read a long manifesto that pledged a battle against corruption and a return to democratic order. But when the parliament building was bombed, confusion hit a peak.

Who were these army officers? All fingers pointed to a coup designed by the Gülen movement. Yet, given the wide spectrum of those involved and the content of their manifesto, it is highly likely that the plotters had several affiliations. It is known that the Syrian crisis and the war against the PKK caused fissures within the army.

Reports have suggested that a wave of arrests were in place for early Sunday morning, targeting alleged Gülen-backing officers – giving the coup the appearance of a pre-emptive move set in motion by these fears. If true, it explains why the action was so sloppy and faded so swiftly. Whatever the motivation, the attempt has doubtlessly been used as a pretext for Erdoğan to do whatever he intended to do in any case – pushing for one-man rule by a total cleansing of all opposition.

The early signs in the aftermath suggest just that: in a hasty move, 2,745 judges and prosecutors – nearly a fifth of the total – were suspended on Sunday and arrest warrants were issued for 188 high court judges. So the attempted coup has given a green light for seizing control of not just the media, but for launching a purge in the judiciary and the military.

Therein lies the trauma for this unfortunate nation, whose aspirations for a decent democratic order have been more or less buried by this historic folly. Its severest consequences may just be beginning.

Yavuz Baydar is a co-founder of P24, the Platform for Independent Media, and is a columnist and blogger. Platform for Independent Journalism (P24) is an initiative to support and promote editorial independence in the Turkish press at a time when the journalistic profession is under fierce commercial and political pressure.

Turkey’s baffling coup

By Dani Rodrik, published in Project Syndicate, July 17, 2016

Military coups – successful or otherwise – follow a predictable pattern in Turkey. Political groups – typically Islamists – deemed by soldiers to be antagonistic to Kemal Atatürk’s vision of a secular Turkey gain increasing power. Tensions rise, often accompanied by violence on the streets. Then the military steps in, exercising what the soldiers claim is their constitutional power to restore order and secular principles.

This time, it was very different. Thanks to a series of sham trials targeting secularist officers, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had managed to reconfigure the military hierarchy and place his own people at the top. While the country has been rocked by a series of terrorist attacks and faces a souring economy, there was no inkling of unrest in the military or opposition to Erdoğan. On the contrary, Erdoğan’s recent reconciliation with Russia and Israel, together with his apparent desire to pull back from an active role in the Syrian civil war, must have been a relief to Turkey’s top brass.

No less baffling was the almost amateurish behavior of the putschists, who managed to capture the chief of the general staff but apparently made no meaningful attempt to detain Erdoğan or any senior politicians. Major television channels were allowed to continue to operate for hours, and when soldiers showed up in the studios, their incompetence was almost comical.

Planes strafed civilians and attacked the parliament – very uncharacteristic behavior for the Turkish military outside areas of Kurdish insurgency. Social media were full of pictures of hapless (and apparently clueless) soldiers being pulled out of tanks and disarmed (and sometimes much worse) by civilian crowds – scenes I never thought I would see in a country that has come to hate military coups but still loves its soldiers.

Erdoğan was quick to blame his former ally and current nemesis, the exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, who leads a large Islamic movement from outside of Philadelphia. There are obvious reasons for taking this with a grain of salt, but the claim is less outlandish than it may seem. We know that there is a strong Gülenist presence in the military (without which the government’s earlier move against senior Turkish officers – the so-called Eregenekon and Sledgehammer cases – could not have been mounted). In fact, the military was the last remaining Gülenist stronghold in Turkey, since Erdoğan had already purged the movement’s sympathizers in the police, judiciary, and media.

We also know that Erdoğan was preparing to make a major move against the Gülenists in the military. A few officers had already been arrested for fabricating evidence in earlier trials, and it was rumored that a large-scale purge of Gülenist officers was in the works for next month’s meeting of the Supreme Military Council.

So the Gülenists had a motive, and the timing of the attempt supports their involvement. It is a supreme irony that the coup Erdoğan long feared from the secularists may have eventually come from his one-time allies – who themselves were responsible for fabricating myriad coup plots against Erdoğan.

Yet a bloody military coup lies very much outside the traditional modus operandi of the Gülen movement, which tends to prefer behind-the-scenes machinations to armed action or explicit violence. The coup may have been a desperate last-ditch effort, given the prospect that they were about to lose their last stronghold in Turkey. But, with so many unanswered questions about what took place, the emergence of many strange twists and turns in the coming weeks would be no surprise.

There is less uncertainty about what is likely to happen next. The coup attempt will add potency to Erdoğan’s venom and fuel a wider witch-hunt against the Gülen movement. Thousands will be sacked from their positions in the military and elsewhere, detained, and prosecuted with little regard for the rule of law or the presumption of innocence. There are already alarming calls to bring back the death penalty for putschists, which recent experience shows is a very broad category for Erdoğan. Some of the mob violence against captured soldiers portends a Jacobinism that would jeopardize all remaining due-process protections in Turkey.

The coup attempt is bad news for the economy as well. Erdoğan’s recent, somewhat skin-deep reconciliation with Russia and Israel was likely motivated by a desire to restore flows of foreign capital and tourists. Such hopes are now unlikely to be realized. The failed coup reveals that the country’s political divisions run deeper than even the most pessimistic observers believed. This hardly makes for an attractive environment for investors or visitors.

But, politically, the failed coup is a boon for Erdoğan. As he put it while it was still unclear if he was going to emerge on top, “this uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.” Now that the coup has failed, he will have the political tailwind to make the constitutional changes he has long sought to strengthen the presidency and concentrate power in his own hands.

The coup’s failure will thus bolster Erdoğan’s authoritarianism and do little good for Turkish democracy. Had the coup succeeded, however, the blow to democratic prospects surely would have been more severe, with longer-term effects. That provides at least some reason to cheer.

Dani Rodrik is Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is the author of The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy and, most recently, Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science.

Backers deny that Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric in the U.S., had role in Turkey coup

By Lisa Rein and Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post, July 17, 2016

Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen in 2013 photo (Slahattin Sevi, Associated Press)

Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen in 2013 photo (Slahattin Sevi, Associated Press)

Fethullah Gulen, the reclusive Muslim cleric accused of inspiring Turkey’s failed coup attempt, lives in exile in a gated compound in the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania. The 74-year-old is said to be in fragile health. His popular movement embracing moderate Islam has bred a global network of organizations, publications, think tanks and schools, among them dozens of charter schools in the United States.

Before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that the United States extradite Gulen to Turkey because of his alleged role in the coup plot, the charismatic preacher and the conservative leader were staunch allies.

On Saturday, Gulen’s supporters denied any link to the violence. In a statement on its website, the Alliance for Shared Values — the U.S. arm of Gulen’s movement, which is known as Hizmet — called the Turkish government’s claims “highly irresponsible” and said that the group does not support the military’s attempt to take power.

“We remain concerned about the safety and security of Turkish citizens and those in Turkey right now,” the group said in a statement.

In a subsequent interview with reporters in his home, Gulen suggested that the Erdogan government might be behind the coup.

“I don’t believe that the world believes the accusations made by President Erdogan,” Gulen told the Guardian and other media outlets in a small prayer room. “There is a possibility that it could be a staged coup, and it could be meant for further accusations [against the Gulenists].” He said he rejects all military interventions.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry told reporters that the United States would consider Gulen’s extradition to Turkey if there was evidence of wrongdoing by the cleric, who has maintained influence in Turkey through his followers in the judiciary and police. Turkish media reported Saturday that 2,745 judges had been removed because of suspicions that they have links to the Gulen movement.

Gulen has long advocated tolerance, peace and “acceptance of religious and cultural diversity,” his movement’s website says, drawing on the traditions of Sufism, a mystical strain of Islam that is generally viewed as moderate.

In a 2015 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, he denounced the Islamic State, calling for an end to violent extremism and advocating equal rights for men and women and education for Muslims.

“The international community would do well to realize that Muslims are the primary victims of terrorism — both literally and symbolically — and they can help marginalize terrorists and prevent recruitment,” he wrote.

But the Gulen movement’s expansion of power has led some skeptics to think that the cleric and his supporters are trying to use their influence to make Islam in Turkey more conservative instead of less.

Gulen had once been a friend of Erdogan’s and his Islamist-inspired government and helped the political leader consolidate power. But the men split bitterly several years ago, after Erdogan and his ruling party blamed the cleric for stirring up allegations of corruption among senior officials as well as Erdogan’s son.

Since then, Erdogan has accused Gulen of trying to seize power from his home more than 5,000 miles from the Turkish capital by using his movement to infiltrate the government and its security forces.

Gulen’s followers have opened private schools around the world, including more than 160 science-, math- and technology-focused public charter schools in the United States. These publicly funded institutions — unofficially known as the Gulen charter — are thought to be operated by people belonging to or associated with the Gulen movement, usually Turks.

Among the leading schools in the network are the high-achieving Harmony schools in Texas, which have won millions of dollars in grants from the U.S. government. (There is also a Harmony charter school in Washington.)

Some of those schools have faced controversy, including accusations that school leaders have awarded contracts to Turkish-run businesses over other businesses that submitted lower bids. The schools have also been criticized over hiring large numbers of teachers from Turkey on special visas that allow U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialized fields.

The origins of Thursday’s failed coup are uncertain. But on Saturday, some Turkish analysts — who declined to speak publicly because they are nervous about Gulen’s deep reach into the country — were skeptical that his followers could manage to pull it off.

What is clear is that for the past decade, even as their relationship with Erdogan frayed and their leader moved abroad, the Gulenists have remained an influential force within Turkey in various institutions of the state, including the police and judiciary. And Erdogan’s government has cracked down on the cleric’s movement, starting in 2013 after mass protests against the government rocked the country.

More recently, the government has shuttered television stations and taken over a prominent newspaper linked to the Gulenists.

“Whether or not the Gulenists were involved in the coup plot, it’s obvious there’s going to be a massive witch hunt in which the government will go after suspected Gulenists in the police, judiciary and officer corps,” said Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “It’s going to be big.”

Turkey seemed to have list of arrests prepared: EU official

TeleSur, July 18, 2016

The swift rounding up of judges and others after a failed coup in Turkey indicated the government had prepared a list beforehand, the European Union commissioner dealing with Turkey’s membership bid, Johannes Hahn, said Monday in a report on Reuters.

“It looks at least as if something has been prepared. The lists are available, which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain stage,” Hahn said. “I’m very concerned. It is exactly what we feared,” he added.

Following a failed coup attempt on Saturday, Turkish authorities have already rounded up 6,000 people in the armed forces and judiciary for allegedly backing the coup. Erdogan said that a purge of this “virus” would continue.

The notion that there was a list of arrests already prepared is sure to fuel speculation that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself staged the coup as a pretext to further consolidated his power. U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen has accused the president of staging the coup.

Meanwhile, Erdogan accuses Gulen of being the mastermind behind the coup and has called for him to be extradited to Turkey. He said a “terror group” led by Gulen’s Hizmet movement had “ruined” the armed forces, that its members were being arrested in all military ranks. Gulen denied any connection with the coup.

Reports indicated that in the weeks before Friday’s coup attempt, Erdogan had been planning to purge high-ranking officers who supported Gulen. According to the pro-government Turkish newspaper the Daily Sabah, there was a pending decision on “more than 1,000 military personnel who have alleged connections to the Gulen Movement and are charged with military espionage.”

Before the insurrection had even been completely put down, Erdogan called it a “gift from God,” and claimed it provided him with a reason to “cleanse” the military.

The Foreign Ministry raised the death toll stemming from the coup attempt to more than 290, including over 100 rebels, and said 1,400 people were hurt


EDITOR’S NOTE: We remind our readers that publication of articles on our site does not mean that we agree with what is written. Our policy is to publish anything which we consider of interest, so as to assist our readers in forming their opinions. Sometimes we even publish articles with which we totally disagree, since we believe it is important for our readers to be informed on as wide a spectrum of views as possible.

Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Start typing and press Enter to search

Translate »