Ashgabat, 25 July 2016 (nCa) — The botched coup of Turkey (15-16 July 2016) is a multidimensional event of global importance. Only hindsight can afford 20/20 vision. As we move away in time, the underlying dynamics of this incident will emerge out of the fog of proximity; some elements are visible already.
The basic questions for analysts are:
- What role did Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and his movement play in the coup?
- Was there any active encouragement or support of some western countries or organizations behind this deadly and illegal raid on democracy?
- What actions can Central Asia take to protect itself against similar chain of events?
In search of answers, we shall mainly base this series on what can be called as circumstantial evidence and logical interpretation.
Let’s start with the second question i.e. was the west actively in favour of this coup attempt?
A reliable indicator is the first reaction from the west in the early hours of the coup attempt. — The rule of thumb is that if you staunchly support a system or value, your first reaction should be in line with your known position about that system or value.
This was not the case on the night of 15 July 2016.
As the tanks, helicopters and airplanes started massacring the people on the streets of Turkey, the first reaction from the USA and western Europe was clearly in support of the military takeover – ‘All sides must exercise restraint,’ and ‘We are watching the situation carefully.’
Not a word in support of democracy, not a word in favour of the popularly elected government.
They were hopeful that by the daylight they will obtain another military dictator like Egypt, who will obey the western commands and trample the aspirations of the people under his tank treads. It was only after the coup attempt was crushed by the unarmed people that they started singing their tired song about democracy, the song that was put on mute for the fateful night.
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Before returning to the possible western involvement in the coup attempt, let’s take a little detour.
There is widespread impression that Erdogan has moved away from the legacy of Ataturk. The authors of this idea are possibly unaware of the real legacy of Ataturk, perhaps even uneducated on the very concept of legacy.
For instance, Turkey joined Nato in 1952, just 14 years after the death of President Ataturk. This was an important departure from the neutral stance of Ataturk.
In subsequent years, Turkey abolished death penalty, guaranteed equal rights to women and liberalized every area of economy and life.
None of this was construed as betrayal of the legacy of Ataturk because it was not. The legacy of Ataturk is in formulating the policies that can best serve the interest of Turkey and adjusting those policies according to the demands of time.
The legacy of Ataturk is not rooted in pettiness. It is not hostage to issues such as whether hijab should be permitted in educational establishments and if the women should be free to uncover their skin but not to cover it.
The legacy of Ataturk is in the aspiration to make Turkey strong, secure and prosperous. That is what Erdogan had exactly delivered and that is what his detractors are reluctant to acknowledge.
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Returning to the question of the possible western encouragement or even active support of the botched coup, we should simultaneously start looking at the role of Gulen in some past events.
There can be a number of starting points for doing that but we can begin with the Operation Sledgehammer and the Ergenekon.
Ergenekon was, perhaps still is, a clandestine, secularist ultra-nationalist organization with strong ties with the military and security forces and deep roots in a diverse range of areas. The investigations and trials from 2001 to 2011 hinted at the involvement of Erdenekon in the separatist Kurdish movement (PKK), organized crime, drugs, undermining of the elected government and a number of other serious issues. The role of the Gulenists was and still remains a mystery in the trials and indictments.
With fresh insight, it may be advisable to reopen the Ergenekon investigations with the view to determine whether the Gulenists were actually sidetracking and confusing the investigators.
Related to the Ergenekon saga is the Susurluk case of 1996 where some factions vocally and openly undercut the government plans to engage in peaceful negotiations with the Kurds. Two of the main proponents of peace talks – President Turgut Özal and general Eşref Bitlis – died in 1993, the general in a plane crash and the president by heart attack which is actually believed to be poisoning. The Kurds were going to declare independence in 1994 and had the peace negotiation gained traction, it would have been difficult for the Kurds to stick with their demand for a separate homeland. However, creation of a Kurd state is a known CIA project and the hawks within the system who defeated the peace talks and launched armed action which led to actually strengthening of the Kurdish movement, were obviously working on behalf of the CIA.
Now is the time to revisit the case and find the exact involvement of Gulenists.
Speaking of the Kurdish state, it seems that the Gulenists and CIA are on the same page and will go to any length to achieve this.
As of the start of July 2016, the Kurdish state seemed to be appearing on the border of Turkey with Syria and the Erdogan government took stern notice of it. For this budding Kurdish state to succeed, it is necessary that Turkey should have a weak and indecisive government in Ankara, and the attempted coup was a major step in that direction.
The Operation Sledgehammer (Balyoz Harekâtı) was a coup plan when the AKP (Erdogan’s party) came to power in 2003. Elements within the military establishment planned to bomb two mosques in Istanbul and shoot down a civilian aircraft and blame it on Greece. This was meant to create chaos and justify a military coup. In this case, the Gulenists were apparently supporting the AKP government but their meddling at every step gives rise to suspicions that they were busily hiding something else. Fresh investigation of this case is likely to unearth some of the roots of the failed coup of July 2016. Were they covering their own tracks? Were they hiding their real assets inside the establishment?
To be continued . . .