Pacifica: Attempted Coup in Turkey

From a special news report distributed by the Pacifica Institute, July 20, 2016

What happened?

  • On Friday night, a group of middle-ranking Turkish soldiers attempted a coup
  • Their focus was on Ankara and Istanbul, taking control of the Istanbul’s bridges, airports, the Turkish parliament, and some police stations
  • Their attempted coup was ill-planned and badly executed
  • Their efforts were thwarted by the police aided by the huge public support
    161 people killed, including members of the coup; 1,500 wounded; 3,000 soldiers arrested
  • The government has blamed the attempted coup on the Gulen movement. Some government ministers have also blamed the US as being behind the coup.

Who is behind this attempted coup?

  • We really do not know. It is too early to say.
  • Erdogan is using the incident as a pretext to purge those associated with the Hizmet Movement from any position affiliated with the state, society and to further smear the Movement in general
  • For example, while it was reported that 47 military officers were involved in the coup, as of now, almost 3,000 officers, including tens of generals have been arrested. Furthermore, the Higher Board of Judges and Prosecutors sacked 2745 judges and prosecutors including ten of its own members. Already tens of appellate judiciary judges are detained by orders from the Ankara Prosecutor.
  • How did the government determine the culpability of 2745 judges overnight in a coup orchestrated by a fraction of the military? Clearly, these are people the government wanted to get rid of anyway and is using this opportunity to do so.

Has Gulen condemned the coup?

  • Absolutely and unequivocally
  • In the early hours of the coup, the Alliance for Shared Values, an organization that speaks on behalf of Gulen, condemned the coup attempt. This was followed by a personal statement by Gulen, and by leading Gulen inspired organizations condemning the coup without if’s and but’s.
  • Gulen’s condemnation was picked up by the world press, including the FT.

So why has Erdogan blamed Gulen for this coup?

  • Gulen and Hizmet is Erdogan’s “default scapegoat”. Whenever something happens that he does not approve, he blames it on Gulen.
  • Be it a condemnatory letter from 75 US Senators on Turkey; to corruption investigations; to something [else ridiculous]. Gulen becomes a pretext to purge state and society of anyone not entirely loyal.
  • It is far easier to blame this on Gulen because that is a narrative the public have already come to accept. Also, by claiming that the Gulen movement is everywhere, blaming this military act on Gulen allows Erdogan to strike elsewhere on pretext that they are one and the same.

How did Turkish people stand with President Erdogan against the military?

  • Erdogan’s support among the Turkish electorate was approximately 40-50 per cent before this coup. So he already had widespread support.
  • Even those staunchly critical of Erdogan and the government condemned the coup and stood by the government.
  • Crucially, the coup plotters failed to project the sense that their coup was succeeding which coup experts point out as crucial.
  • There was no support for a military takeover by the Turkish people

Why have the people opposed Erdogan in the past? What has he done that has made people so unhappy?

  • In his 1st and 2nd terms, Erdogan ran a reforming government.
  • However, from 2010 onwards, Erdogan became increasingly authoritarian as he began to pursue more populist Islamist policies. The summer 2013 Gezi park protests was in reaction to this authoritarianism which Erdogan labelled as a coup of the “interest rate lobby”, a euphemism for the Jewish lobby.
  • This authoritarian streak gained momentum when a series of corruption investigations implicating Erdogan’s inner circle went public in December 2013 onwards. To suppress the substantial evidence and judicial investigations, Erdogan fought back to control and colonize the judiciary, media and civil society to crush all forms of dissent.
  • Many people are unhappy with the resulting authoritarian regime.

Aftermath – As of 19 July evening

  • 29,464 suspended from civil service 1,577 deans were asked to resign
  • 21,000 teachers in private schools had their licenses revoked
  • 6,319 soldiers are in custody
  • 950 civilians arrested
  • 3 newspapers were denied printing facilities
  • 20 news websites were blocked in Turkey
  • 2,745 members of the judiciary were among the suspended civil service personnel.

What now?

  • Erdogan has already won. There won’t be any meaningful opposition to his witch-hunt against opposition groups from now on.
  • Till now, the Chief of General Staff resisted Erdogan’s attempts of redesigning the military. The Chief of staff has now given into that.
  • Having attained complete loyalty from Turkish state and civil society structures, Erdogan next stop is likely to be the Turkish diaspora overseas.
  • We are already seeing coordinated attacks against Hizmet overseas and this is likely to continue.
  • For the past 6 years Erdogan has been creating formal and informal structures through which to mobilize the Turkish-speaking and increasingly wider Muslim communities.

Fethullah Gulen issued the following statement on recent developments in Turkey

I condemn, in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey. Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force. I pray to God for Turkey, for Turkish citizens, and for all those currently in Turkey that this situation is resolved peacefully and quickly.

As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations.

Fethullah Gulen’s interviews

Mr. Gülen calls for an international investigation of coup attempt in Turkey

Fethullah Gülen: ‘I deplore and reject any anti-democratic attempts.’

Why was Mr. Gulen’s name brought up in the coup attempt in Turkey?

Fethullah Gülen comments on rumors about the coup attempt in Turkey

Gülen: The truth will eventually come out, let us focus on integrity and togetherness of our society

CBS8 – San Diego News: Local group reacts to accusations against cleric

Fox31 Denver: Some Coloradans feel backlash of failed coup in Turkey

Colorado group defends Turkish cleric accused in coup

Hate speech in Turkey turns into hate crime

CNN: Who is Fethullah Gulen, the man blamed for coup attempt in Turkey?

New York Times: An Exiled Cleric Denies Playing a Leading Role in Coup Attempt

Guardian: Turkey was already undergoing a slow-motion coup – by Erdogan, not the army