There is one golden rule about military coups. If you start one…you must win one.
And thats how the coup in Turkey will be remembered. The plotters plotted. The plotters lost.
I do not like Turkey very much. It is not so much that I hold a grudge about the fall of Constantinople. It is not that I agonise about the Siege of Vienna. It is not that I spend sleepless nights thinking about the various Balkan Wars that I studied for O level History in 1968.
The Ottomans had an “empire” and I just dont like empires. Too many of the worlds problems are caused by imperialism (bad) anti-imperialism (good) and post-imperialism (it’s complicated).
Turkey is one of those countries that resents its own geography. Like “white” South Africa preferred to believe that it was a land between England and Netherlands which became detached and drifted south of the Equator. Like Israel has difficulty believing it is in the Middle East and thinks of itself as having a land border with either Central Europe or having a land border with North America.
Turkey seems to have the same problem. It wants to be part of the European Union. It was an issue in last month’s EU Referendum Campaign…an issue played up by the LEAVERS and played down by the REMAINERS. Regardless of the potential Timeline for any proposed joining the EU….there is a bigger and more fundamental flaw….Turkey is not actually IN Europe or at least most of it is not in Europe.
The “West” has been kind to Turkey. It is a criminal offence in Germany and most of western Europe to deny the Holocaust…the genocide of Jews, Slavs, Gypsies and others in the 1930s and 1940s. In Turkey, it is a matter of national pride to deny the genocide in Armenia a generation before Adolf Hitler.
The First Gulf War was fought because Iraq invaded Kuwait (an ally of the West). But beyond some diplomatic fuss, there was no War in the 1970s, when Turkey (a member of NATO) invaded Cyprus and set up a puppet state in the north of the island. The Republic of Northern Cyprus is a de-facto State.
See….that’s the thing. Turkey is a member of NATO and the only thing that the West wants in Turkey is…stability. And sites for nuclear weapons that point towards Russia and air bases to facilitate air strikes in Syria and Iraq. And of course, the “control” of Iraqi and Syrian refugees. Turkey want western money.
STABILITY! What crimes are committed or tolerated in your name?
Turkey is…a democracy. Surely a good thing. And secular. Surely a good thing. And while the current government seems back-sliding towards a greater tolerance of Islamism than the west would like, it is still democratically elected.
The first few hours of last week’s Coup were interesting. It looked like it had succeeded and on Fux News, ex-members of the American “intelligence community” appeared as expert analysts to say that in the interests of the “West” , it would be good if the Coup succeeded. Democracy in Turkey was flawed…”not Democracy as we understand the word” as one ex-general put it.
Some statistics. Two hundred people are dead. The majority of the military foot-soldiers will not have been involved beyond accepting the orders of legitimate commanders but six thousand detainees, including military officers, police officers and judges indicates an extreme form of “purge” .
The alternative view might be that this Coup was extremely well supported and with so many people seemingly involved, it would have been difficult to keep the secret. Logically over cocktails in consultates in Ankara and Istanbul,diplomats would be chatting. Logically journalists would have been fed by sources and at NATO HQ in Brussels, Turkish colonels would have been sounding out other nationalities. Satellites of East and West would surely have picked up some movements.
And the Intelligence Services in Eastern and Western capitals would have picked up “chatter”. Possibly the information was fed back to Erdogan.
Either way, the Coup failed and Erdogan is actually more in control than ever. It is the nature of successful Coups that other governments condemn the overthrow of Democracy but arrange to work with the new regime. It is the nature of failed Coups that other governments distance themselves from any association with plotters and rejoice at the victory for Democracy and urge restraint in the judicial process.
Nobody loses…except of course the Kurds. The Kurds are always betrayed.
The World moves on.
I dont like Turkey. It is Saudi Arabia-lite. Allegedly a valuable “ally” which shames so called “western values”.