This is Turkey… What’s So Strange About it?

By: Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Wed 20 July / Jul 2016. 07:39 PM
  • Fahed Khitan

The world is on the edge of their seats on the purge campaign in Turkey following the failed coup, which resulted so far in the detention of around 10 thousand soldiers, judges, and public servants, next to over 30 thousand government employees fired. Many fear Erdogan’s regime will overthrow all political opposition, and exploit the coup to eliminate them.

The round up campaign, and the vast range of expulsions seem overly unnecessary to spectators abroad, when in fact, to the Turks, it isn’t; compared to the successful 1980 coup, it is largely humble.

Gen Kenan Evren, leader of the 1980 coup, took over the country within hours, expunged alliance governments, dismantled parliament, imposed martial law, and recanted the country’s constitution. Coup plotters arrested all party leaders, and over 30 thousand Turks fled the country.

Following wide political and constitutional rearrangements, the Turkish people were surveyed on the new constitution, and Evren was elected president.

After the coup, detainees exceeded 650 thousand people, out of whom 230 thousand underwent trial; hundreds were executed and so many were tortured to death, hundreds as well, and thousands were reported missing.

Turkey was in pathetic conditions when the military conducted the coup; the country’s economy paralysed, and armed militias were in control of the people; assassinations were vastly common, in which fundamental nationalist and leftist groups were involved.

In the years after, studies showed Turkish military leaders at the time had helped push the country to the edge to take over authorities once more, with the direct support of American Intelligence. When the coup was exacted, US President Jimmy carter was attending a musical concert when he received a call from a ranking CIA officer telling him: “our boys did it”.

However, the situation in Turkey prefacing the last attempted coup does not resemble the situation back then, in the 1980s, economically at least; Turkey today is in economic prosperity, and the currency is stable.

Nonetheless, there might be some resemblance on the political sphere, as Erdogan’s regime battles that of his former ally, Fethallah Gullen, who has considerable influence in Turkey, and more than 5 million followers. More so, Erdogan is now in open confrontation with the Kurds on one hand, and extremist Islamist groups on the other, who recently flipped against Erdogan after having been clearly in open alignment; allowing these groups to go back and forth through the Turkish borders with Syria, supply groups in Syria with arms and recruits. Moreover, Turkey has just immerged from a suffocating disparity with Russia, and before that with Israel, bedded in stressed relations with the EU and USA, in spite of Turkey’s NATO membership.

Fact is, what Erdogan is doing now, to coup plotters and Gullen-affiliates, would have happened either way, perhaps even much worse could, should the coup had succeeded, or Gullen’s people had scored.

Turkey has a bit of relative specificity. In certain instances, history seems to repeat itself in that country. Some were shocked to hear Erdogan may revive the death penalty to enact the people’s will, as would a democracy, according to Erdogan.

This is not new to Turkey. Evren said the same thing, more or less, in his 1984 speech, in reference to those executed post the coup: must we feed them in prisons for years instead of handing them?

Military coups entail killer stakes either way; you win, you crush your adversaries. But it you lose, you die!