Opinion: Turkey Under Attack

Donate

Opinion: Turkey Under Attack

Written by Joshua Tartakovsky exclusively for SouthFront

Preface

A key characteristic that must be adopted by those who wish to understand the world, dream of a multipolar world or take political action is to rapidly adapt to new realities rather than remain stuck in the framework of the past.

In today’s dizzying speed of global developments what was relevant one day ago may no longer be relevant today. An enemy of yesterday may become the friend of today. And the world’s sole superpower may seek to remove or topple an ally once he no longer serves its purposes or takes an independent position.

The coup against Erdogan

At the coup-attempt that took place on Friday night, the Turkish parliament was bombed by jets and helicopters as 10 people were wounded. The plotters entered forcefully into the state-sponsored TV station TRT and made a female news anchor read a statement at gunpoint. The central police station in Ankara was bombed. The Fatih Sultan Mehmet and Bosphorous bridges in Istanbul were blockaded by tanks. The Chief of Staff, Gen. Hulusi Akar, was taken hostage.

After President Erdogan called on the Turkish people to come to the streets on Face Time, the Turkish people bravely resisted the coup. Despite considerable risks, citizens of Turkey overwhelmed the streets with Turkish flags in their hands. All four major political parties denounced the coup.

The first key point to understand is that this coup-attempt was not just about removing Erdogan. It was an attack against Turkey as a republic. The parliament was bombed. Can anyone imagine how news agencies would cover developments if the German Bundestag was bombed by an F-16? If the US Chief of Staff would be held hostage, would the US not go to war at once and bomb the country from which the action was ordered? Is Turkish sovereignty as precious as French, German or American sovereignty or is Turkey a colony and its actions therefore can be dismissed as irrational and overly reactive? Those are some of the questions we need to ask ourselves.

Why did Erdogan lose favor in the eyes of the West?

When seeking to understand who was behind the coup attempt and what was its goal, the first thing to note is the reaction of the western press and US officials. For years, the western media and its leaders has turned a blind eye to President Erdogan’s silencing of dissidents and to his imprisonment of those who dared to mock him; his subtle support for ISIS, and his placing on trial journalists who exposed Turkish support for ISIS. US ambassador to Turkey claimed there was no evidence for Turkish support for ISIS, although Erdogan in fact imprisoned senior journalists who documented the transfer of weapons to Syria via Turkish security services.  Obama did not seem very concerned about the Turkish crack-down on the Kurds in Diyarbakır in southeast Turkey despite the siege that lasted for months and the fact that bodies were piling on the streets and could not be retrieved due to the curfew.

However, a key turning point seemed to be the horrific terror attack, carried out presumably by ISIS in the Istanbul Atatürk Airport in June 29, 2016. Foreign Policy magazine claimed that Erdogan had it coming due to his support for ISIS. When Russia presented evidence in December 2015 that Erdogan supported ISIS, the US State Department responded by saying that “We frankly see no evidence, none, to support such an accusation.” Time Magazine said that such allegations “do not hold water.” Now, following the recent coup-attempt, the US leaders denounced Erdogan for purges of suspected saboteurs, while Foreign Policy magazine claims Erdogan can only blame himself for the coup.

If one looks at the way Erdogan is depicted by US media, it is clear that he had a falling from grace. Did he suddenly engage in human rights violations? Did he start to support ISIS just now? Did the operations against the Kurds begin just recently?

When Erdogan supported ISIS, the US media did not denounce him for this. But recently Erdogan has been changing his tune. He has formally reconciled with Russia and apologized for the downing of the SU-24. He is reconsidering a Russian-Turkish gas pipeline. He has reconciled with Israel after years of tension due to the Navi Marmara incident. He even signaled he wishes to mend ties with the government of Syria, ending his support for rebels there.

Perhaps these latest moves explain why all of a sudden Erdogan became a mad dictator in the eyes of the US.  Erdogan started reconciling with his regional partners while his internal policies remained the same more-or-less. One may wonder if the US in its current economic crisis does not wish to see countries of the region cooperate economically in mutually beneficial arrangements but profits instead from chaos and ongoing wars as it seeks to bring down global powers such as China, as it sees profits for its military-industrial complex grow, and sabotages trade routes between China and Europe. After all, the US seemed to have no problem with Erdogan when he supported ISIS, only when he sought to restore relations with Russia. One can reasonably argue that wars around the world ensure US will remain a safe haven for investment.

Who is actually behind the coup?

As one can imagine, there is little direct evidence at this point on who was actually behind the coup since no one would be as foolish as to leave such obvious sign marks. One may ask, however, the following questions:

  1. If Kemalists who seek to guard Turkey’s secular identity were behind the coup, why did they take action only now after years of Turkish support for jihadist rebels in Syria? Indeed, Kemalists welcomed close relations between Israel and Turkey. Why would they turn against Erdogan once he restored these mutually beneficial relations?
  2. If Kemalists were behind the coup, why would Turkey claim that US-based Muslim leader Fethullah Gülen (whose schools were raided by the FBI in the past and who some have argued that he has strong CIA links) was behind the coup via his alleged vast network in Turkey and is now demanding his extradition? Some may argue that Erdogan would wish to find a scapegoat for his short-comings and errors at home. But why would he risk his entire relations with the US for this purpose? Could he not find a more convenient scapegoat that would not unravel US relations? Turkish Labor minister, Mr. Süleyman Soylu, who is close to President Erdogan, claimed explicitly that the US was behind the coup. Why would Turkey, a respectable NATO member, fall into such dangerous allegations if they had no basis?
  3. If Erdogan is behind the coup and did so to illicit greater sympathy at home, why would he also seek to destroy his relations with the US in the process? Coups are a dangerous business. One may know how they begin but now how they will end. Why would Erdogan seek to enact a coup that could result in his removal? After all, he had the support of most Turks anyway.

Purge of the Gülen network

Since the coup-attempt, the Turkish government has been involved in a wide purge of suspects in the military, justice system and academia. While the Turkish government may be using the opportunity to silence dissidents who were not involved in the coup, fears of the Turkish government cannot be dismissed. One can only recall how the US created internment camps for Japanese citizens during World War II and approved of the Patriot Act following the September 11 attacks. And while one may criticize the mass arrests, they are not without reason due to the fact that conspirators managed to infiltrate leading positions in Turkey’s state institutions as the coup-attempt indicates. While one may rightly wish to critique the arrest of secular dissidents, Turkey’s new foreign policy aspirations of forming better relations with its neighbors and soothing its tensions with Russia should be welcomed, especially by those who do not wish to see a third world war taking place.

Erdogan was democratically elected and enjoys wide support from the Turkish masses. That he may impose restrictions on civil liberties and seek to reintroduce faith to public life is partially due to the fact that for decades the secular Turkish military elite that ruled the country looked down at the country’s religious masses as backward. In Erdogan they see their genuine representative since he is one of them. It is their time of triumph and revenge. When the Turkish economy did well, Erdogan pursued a pro-market policy. Now with the global stagnation unfolding, Erdogan has pursued nationalism. But the absence of a genuine socialist political party in the parliament (the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party is seen as a sectarian Kurdish party) could be partially blamed on the communists themselves who have stayed clear from religion alienating the Turkish masses in the process and not speaking to them in a faith-based language that resonates. While one may criticize the depth of the ongoing purge, the key issue that must be defended is Turkish sovereignty.

Turkey stands alone

Turkey is currently isolated. The US has turned against it while Turkey alienated Russia too due to the fact that people associated with Gülen brought down the SU-24. People who supported the Syrian government cannot forgive Erdogan for his support of Syrian rebels while liberals take issue with his crackdown on civil liberties. However, it is at this time that Turkey needs our solidarity more than ever. A country’s right to sovereignty is inviolable as long as it does not invade other nations. Erdogan has made mistakes and is far from perfect, though it is understandable that he would zig-zag in Turkey’s new path after years of repression by the military elite as he seeks to find his way on new terrains.

While Erdogan may have known about the coup in advance arguing that he was behind it does not stand the test of reason. The coup was an attack on Turkey as a state and revealed the speed with which the US can rush to dispose of its allies once they no longer serve its interest. One who is concerned about the future of Turkey and the region should support Turkey at this time. Turkey is in a particularly dangerous moment. The US may now seek to engage in another coup and may claim nuclear weapons placed in Turkey. An invasion of the country on a false pretext cannot be ruled out. Turkey should be forgiven for its past misdeeds, as it is currently under attack. The unraveling of Turkey or a civil war there is in no one’s interest. Turkey may have made mistakes as it was always in a sensitive position but its right to sovereignty is undeniable. A stable and independent Turkey is in everyone’s interest. Even when it comes to the Kurdish question there is no better candidate than Erdogan in reaching a solution as he has advocated far more lenient positions in the past. While Russia or Syria may rightly be skeptical about Turkey’s reliability, they must give Turkey a chance.  After all, it probably paid heavily for its recent independent moves. A sovereign and independent Turkey is in the interest of all countries in the Middle East.

Donate

SouthFront

Do you like this content? Consider helping us!

  • George Washington

    Please stop including links that lead to paid-subscription sites like the Financial Times.

    • Joshua Tartakovsky

      Good point. Noted for the future. By the way, just a side tip, if you search for headlines on news.google.com you can usually access them for free from there. I’m not a fan of Google spying on people but it’s a good resource.

  • Spunkyhunk

    Turkey IS under attack, yes – by Erdogan and his Islamists who have destroyed the secular order and reduced it to a terrorist-supporting Islamic dictatorship.

    Why does South Front publish this disingenuous propaganda piece by a slimy Israeli-American “journalist” trying to whitewash Erdogan? This guy is only shilling for Erdogan because he normalized with Israel.

  • Jordan

    So the gist is, that everything is the fault of Western (American) meddling? If you’re going to make far-fetched claims, all I ask that you come out and do so boldly; these insinuations are facile and beneath you. Either the U.S. did attempt to instigate a coup in Turkey or it didn’t, and if you’re arguing the former just say it, damn it. And then square that theory with the U.S. government’s reaction to the coup in support of the “democratically elected government”, anything less reeks of charlatanism.

    Very disappointed with this article.

    • Doom Sternz

      I thought he did say it in a reasoned and pragmatic review of the facts that we do know. While there is no solid evidence that US lead another coup i do follow the reasoning used, its a logical conclusion.

      • Jordan

        So far as I can tell, he never actually makes that point. He certainly dances around it and alludes to the possibility, but while he (in big black letters, I might add) asks the question “Who is actually behind the coup?” he declines to give a definitive answer and instead merely suggests that it was the big bad hegemon stirring shit up again.

        You know what the kicker is, too? I don’t even mean to discount the possibility that this is the case. I think it deserves real consideration. But the way this piece’s author deigns a charade of having answers without actually engaging in a dialogue about the facts available is reprehensible in its smugness.

      • Jordan

        What I mean is that it’s clear that’s what he wanted to say—that the coup was an attempt by American entities overthrow the Erdogan regime. I just wish he would have said it outright and then begun actually analyzing the situation and accounting for the many seemingly conflicting factors that were excluded from this piece, chief among them being the Obama administration’s announced support of the Turkish government. If that’s answered for (presumably by arguing that the statement was only made once it was clear that the coup would fail), then I would point also the obvious incompetence of the coup planners. If this was orchestrated by American forces, I would argue that it was intended to fail to from the beginning. From launching the coup early in a Friday evening (when people were very much awake and probably looking from something to do with themselves), to doing it when Erdogan was out of reach—there are too many outright blunders here for intelligent actors with the experience and foresight that, presumably, we would expect a state as familiar with launching coups as America to have.

    • USA = Empire of Evil

      But (almost) everything IS the fault of american meddling and thier global tyrrany in every part of the world, sorry if you can’t accept the truth. This coup is 100% american made, i even predicted something like this a few weeks ago, when Erdogan fired Davutoglu, and then apologize to Putin. Gulen = CIA.

  • Leo

    Spot-on analysis

  • Theglassdoll

    I disagree… Turkey is experiencing the start of karma. No Kurd or true Syrian can forgive Erdogan’s failed policies. And like the crimes of America, people have awoken to these world tyrannts. Turkey will remain isolated and is Nato’s scapegoat and weakest link.

  • Boris Kazlov

    USA don’t like rapprochement Turkey-Russia, after all it is on their orders that Russian jet was downed and pilot killed.

  • Mac-101

    This Coup was designed to fail. Boy Scouts could have put together a better one. Is the author of this report an Islamist? Enjoy Sharia.
    .
    So has the Turkey and da Bear made an alliance? It sure looks like Hitler’s daughter, Merkel is using the Turks and Islam to destroy Western Civilization and establish the Globalist NWO. We truly do live in interesting times!
    .
    http://www.kentuckychief.org for US Senate, Kentucky, 2020, Ditch da Mitch
    .
    No BANKSTER, PoliTick, Judge or Crony Corporate Fascist too Big to JAIL or Impeach!
    .

  • For many years Turkey was the aggressor. So, its about time to become the victim of its own politics

  • Vito

    I agree with the article analysis but I would clearly say that USA is behind the coup. It’s in the western style to use bad guys to carry out dirty tasks ( see Siria ) and then kill them to ” clean the crime scene” . Probably Russia contributed to this result by letting Erdogan strategy in Siria come to light. Erdogan was probably “burned” as USA pawn. But , believe me, what’s really untolerable in all this story is the propaganda in western media. If you go to internet, radio, TV there is a complete censorship of opinions against the ” self-made coup by Erdogan” . They dediced he did it because he’s a bad guy. Full stop. And this absence of different opinions is the main proof the things are not like that.

  • Mumin Bayar

    Man you know nothing.. Your analysis are really too bad even a child can make better explanations!

  • MvGuy

    I’m reading the article and the comments and wondering WHY so many are jumping to conclusions BEFORE we find out what really happened. Turkey has captured so many suspects that it seems inconceivable that they will find out what happened.

    Question No.1 Was the U.S/NATO a driving force behinf the coup, or (unlikely) an innocent party helplessly seeing a potentially disastrous putsch unfold.

    Question No. 2. Did NATO provide refueling to jets used to attack citizens and Parliament.. as has been reported?

    I’ m sure that if there was NATO involvement, they are telling their co-conspirators to say nothing and help is on the way soon.

    I have read that General Semi Terri was killed by a loyalist junior subordinate early on in the coup which severed communications for the plotters….. Who was this loyalist junior officer, what is his name and where can I read his account about how he decided to take such a risk?

    All in all, I think it’s too early to be able to thoroughly understand the full scope of this coup attempt, real of ersatz. If it was genuine and US, NATO driven, there will be monumental efforts to “shape” the reality