Friday, July 15, 2016

Why Turkey Changed It I Can't Say... (w/ Update)

(see Update below):

Oh man, this is crazy beyond crazy:

For the Sixth Time in Its Modern History the Turkish Military Has Seized Control.


Istanbul had just suffered a serious terror attack a few weeks ago when their airport was shot up. I don't know if the situation around that, along with the ongoing fighting against ISIL and fractuous dealings with the Russian military, had pushed the military to turn against Edrogan.

From The Atlantic:

The Turkish military says it is taking over Turkey in order to restore democracy. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was on vacation, said those who attempted the coup would face the “highest price.”

The situation is so fluid at the moment that posting anything more than this - that Erdogan called on the mosques to rise up and the military called for a curfew - would be foolish. Your best bet is to click on those two links and keep up with the official news channels.

As for my two cents:

Never a huge fan of coups. Uprising by the populace, I'm mostly in favor of that because it's the people who are having their say. Military coups have a nasty habit of killing too many innocent people. Unfortunately, in some situations where the political situation has logjammed, a coup could be the only sane response by people in those straits. Could, not always...

This is tricky, and messy, and you don't ever want to encourage this sort of thing.

The key to this is Erdogan. He's been an autocrat in power: Pushing out rivals at an alarming rate, violating various civil liberties, and establishing a more theocratic government that was at odds with a secularized military.

Back to that Atlantic article:

Erdogan served as mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s as part of an Islamist party, but was barred from politics and imprisoned in 1998, a victim of the periodic crackdowns on religious parties that have characterized the Turkish state since its founding. He returned to politics with the AKP, or Freedom and Justice Party, a more moderate party that melded Islamism with modernizing impulses. Erdogan became prime minister in 2003. The rise of the AKP initially fed speculation that the military, a staunchly secular institution loyal to the precepts of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, might launch a coup, as it had done many times in the past.
But Erdogan managed to strike a middle path, drawing in some liberals who applauded his modernizing steps, as well as more conservative and religious voters. He kept the military at bay, in some cases prosecuting generals for alleged coups. His “Turkish model” was highly lauded abroad, with Western leaders and analysts hoping it might represent a successful fusion of Islamist politics with liberal democratic principles—a fusion that came to be seen as ever more necessary as Islamism became entrenched across the Middle East. President Obama in particular grew close to Erdogan, holding up him as a model.
But Erdogan’s liberalism only went so far. As his tenure lengthened, he broke with the enigmatic religious leader Fethullah G├╝len, a longstanding ally who is now exiled in Pennsylvania. It soon became apparent that his goal was not a liberal democracy but a sort of revival of Ottomanism. Erdogan grew increasingly autocratic, cracking down on the media and drawing power to himself, working to transform the Turkish presidency—traditionally a relatively weak position, compared to the prime ministership—into a strong one. He became president in 2014, but the civil war in neighboring Syria and increasing tensions with Kurds encouraged him to grab even more power. By earlier this year, reporters were referring to Erdogan as being “on a march to dictatorship.” Even if Erdogan is able to survive the coup and reassert control, the Turkish model is dead—and so are any hopes that Erdogan might be a liberalizer or a democrat.

If Erdogan wins this fight, it's more than likely he will crack down even further: a guy on the path to dictatorship rarely backs up and lessens his need for control. If the military coup wins, there's every likelihood they won't relinquish control until they've stabilized their own issues regarding the Syrian Civil War, ISIL, and Kurdish separatism (which will be particularly messy as the Kurds in Iraq are one of the U.S.'s staunchest battlefield allies versus the very dangerous ISIL).

Just one more Gordian Knot re-tying itself back into an unbreakable mess again.

I really really don't like this year 2016 right now.

Update (7/16): The coup failed within hours of the attempt, although there's still reports of resistance and there's still people missing. The death toll is in the hundreds - 161 so far, with thousands wounded - and the cleanup process will likely reveal more casualties.

This coup and the aftermath will have adverse effects on the war effort against ISIL, the ongoing Syrian civil war and refugee crisis, and Turkey's relationships with NATO and their attempt to join the EU.

For myself, I'm still conflicted over this. As I said above, Erdogan was already turning himself into a dictator, and he's going to be in the mood to assume even more control and punish far more people than he needs to... which basically ensures there'll be another attempt because people who know it's possible will inevitably push back.

That Guardian update is already reporting Erdogan has dismissed nearly every judge in Turkey. There's no evidence the judicial system was involved in the coup - all the news reports has only a faction of the military committing it - yet Erdogan is striking out at any group in an attempt to establish who's loyal or disloyal no matter what. There are news reports Erdogan was pushing to dismantle an independent judiciary back in June, so this move stinks of autocratic power-grab.

1 comment:

dinthebeast said...

They just liked it better that way...
I had to respond to your headline. Erdogan is in a difficult position, but firing and jailing the military leadership wasn't the smartest thing he could have done. Apparently he didn't get all of them, and there really isn't a better option than the power the military holds there. It's a little like Egypt in that way. He seems to think he needs to be "strong" to counter the power of the military, but seems not very aware that the world is watching now.

-Doug in Oakland