What just happened in Turkey? I have been thinking about this for a number of hours now, and I have narrowed it down to two options. Either this was the worst military coup in my entire lifetime, or it was staged. I will explain how I came to this conclusion below, but in any event the end result of this “coup” is that President Erdogan is even more popular and has consolidated power to an extent that is absolutely breathtaking. He already was essentially a dictator, but now this “coup” has sealed Turkey’s fate and has pushed them even farther down the path toward becoming a radical Islamic state.
If you are going to conduct a military coup, the very first thing that should be on your list is to decapitate the current leadership structure. But even though hundreds were killed and approximately 1,400 people were injured during the short-lived conflict, not a single high ranking official was killed or captured.
I don’t know if I have ever heard of a coup where that didn’t happen. How do you not get a single high ranking official? Either the planners of this coup were completely incompetent, or it was fake. And yes, it is entirely possible that only a small portion of the military was involved and this effort represented the best that they could do to try to rescue Turkey from the grip of a ruthless dictator. Maybe they were hoping that once they lit a spark the public would rally to their cause.
But I don’t know if I am buying that explanation. There are just way too many inconsistencies.
For instance, according to Reuters F-16s that were controlled by the opposition could have fired on Erdogan’s plane and taken him out, but they didn’t…
Erdogan’s survival has turned him into a “sort of a mythical figure” and could further erode democracy in Turkey, said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish research program at The Washington Institute.
In public remarks, Erdogan described the coup as “a gift from God," and he has spoken of the need to “cleanse” the government and the military. So far since the end of the “coup," approximately 6,000 officials have already been rounded up…
As for Erdogan, this is just par for the course. Those that follow Turkey closely know that he has already been acting like a modern day version of Adolf Hitler for years. The following comes from Ralph Peters…
Key opposition figures have been driven into exile or banned. Opposition parties have been suppressed. Recent elections have not been held so much as staged. And Erdogan has torn the fresh scab from the Kurdish wound, fostering civil war in Turkey’s southeast for his own political advantage.
Erdogan has packed Turkey’s courts with Islamists. He appointed pliant, pro-Islamist generals and admirals, while staging show trials of those of whom he wished to rid the country. He has de facto, if not yet de jure, curtailed women’s freedoms. He dissolved the wall between mosque and state (Friday night, he used mosques’ loudspeakers to call his supporters into the streets). Not least, he had long allowed foreign fighters to transit Turkey to join ISIS and has aggressively backed other extremists whom he believed he could manage.
Erdogan envisions himself as the one that will recapture the glory of the old Ottoman Empire, and to show how great he is, he had the largest presidential palace in the entire world built for himself. If you can believe it, it is actually 30 times larger than the White House…
The Turkish military coup caught the world by surprise when it was triggered in the middle of some major shifts in Erdogan’s foreign policy. The classic number one question of “why now?”, has yet to be answered. But the number two question of “Who benefits?” already has. Mr. Erdogan does.
Following the ill-prepared and executed keystone cops’ coup attempt that we watched most of Friday night and Saturday morning, we are now seeing Erdogan’s counter coup roll forward with power and precision, almost as if following a prepared plan. He has openly declared he is going to clean out all supporters of the coup, but we know that really means cleaning out all of his democratic opposition.
The mind blower came with the release of the mass firings in the judiciary among not only judges but the prosecutors, with a total of 2745 being suspended so far, as announced by the Anadolu News Agency. Such an action could not possibly have been the result of active knowledge of the coup, but from a judicial “enemies list” that Erdogan’s security people had been keeping of those known to be opposition supporters.
But it gets worse. The decision to sack the judges was made at an extraordinary meeting of Turkey’s High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), a NTV broadcaster reported. Five members were removed from the HSTK itself, whose head is the Turkish Justice Minister. Additionally, Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for 140 Constitutional Court members and 48 members of the Council of State. The arrests have already been made.
So while the coup participant numbers in the military are just a bump in the road, we are seeing what appears to be a full purge of the judiciary to give Erdogan and his party full control of the courts, hardly an act of democracy in anyone’s book.
Some individual stories are beginning to emerge. One of the top leaders taken hostage early in the coup was Chief of Staff, General Hulusi Akar. Reports claim he was helicoptered to Akincilar air base northwest of Ankara, but was later rescued on Saturday, which must have been a Special Operations quickly organized plan put together on the fly, and will most certainly be an amazing story if we ever get the details.
The flip side to that was the troops who were not even clued in, but told they were doing operational maneuvers, something not unusual after all the terrorist attacks. I knew something was wrong when I saw the two trucks of soldiers with light weapons blocking the Bosporus Bridge coming into Istanbul. They did not have even one armored car or a heavy machine gun that I could see. They could have been dusted off that bridge by one tank, or an Apache helicopter making one 30mm gun run on them. They were being used as cannon fodder in the “Hail Mary” pass coup attempt, which will go down as one of the most inept in modern history.
The Erdogan regime has an established record of not accepting any responsibility for its mistakes, but choosing among the available scapegoats to pin the blame on, and this most likely will continue. Investors and financiers do not like to deal with leaders who live in fantasy land, as the rent is very expensive and its pleasures fleeting.
We wish God speed to all the innocent Turkish people caught in the middle of this, and the Syrian refugees at the bottom of the barrel there. They have suffered enough. But they also will be held responsible for the leadership they chose, and in the end, can blame no one but themselves.