Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Terrorist Turkish Military

"[The aborted coup d'etat represents' an attempt at an uprising by a minority within our armed forces."
"They will pay a heavy price for their treason. The process has started today and it will continue just as we fight other terrorist groups."
"I'm making a call out to my people. I'm inviting them out to all our public squares. I'm inviting them out to our airports. Let us gather in our squares, at our airports as the people and let that minority group come upon us with their tanks and artillery and do whatever they wish to do."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

"Those who are attempting a coup will not succeed.  Our people should know that we will overcome this."
Turkish General Zekai Aksakalli, commander, military special forces

"[We have seized control] to re-install the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for the law and order to be reinstated."
Coup leaders statement
People stand on a Turkish army tank in the capital Ankara [Tumay Berkin/Reuters]

The arrogant presumption of a man claiming his determination to protect the very democracy he has altered to suit his personal taste is responsible for the delayed reaction of a significant proportion of the Turkish military, demeaned and subjugated, held in contempt, cleansed of its 'secular' generals and kept in tight control by Islamist defenders of the faith has come back to clamp its aggravated teeth on the seat of Erdogan's expensive trousers. He felt confident he had eradicated officers who might wish to return the nation to its traditional secular status separating faith and state.

Friday night it seemed certain that those members of Turkey's armed forces who remained loyal to the democratic European vision of Kamel Ataturk, in taking the initiative while Mr. Erdogan was on vacation outside the country, had taken control of the country. The background of troop movement, helicopters overhead, explosions, gunfire and an air battle between the coup helicopters and loyalist military warplanes marked the wholesale,  unexpected violence that was taking place.

And when Turkey's president called on Turkish citizens to get out on the streets to demonstrate their support for his government, he was calling on people to place themselves in high danger to satisfy his need to demonstrate that there are Turks prepared to sacrifice their safety for his ongoing demagoguery as a leader intent on destroying the country's democratic credentials, wedded to his rage at Turkish Kurds, his appetite to destroy the judiciary, to criminalize journalists who criticize him and his support of fanatical Islamism.

Turkey has not, in reflection of its past, been entirely comfortable with Erdogan's authoritarian rule; that he ran afoul recently of another authoritarian with an ego as large as his own, equally given to self-boosterism and sidelining state finances to erect palatial palaces while engaging in raging conflict with those who defy them, sank Turkey further into a state of isolation on the world stage. His crackdown on dissidents and the media expressing an opposing opinion to his own is legendary.

Brutalization of the Turkish Kurdish population in the southeast of the country while portraying them as prepared to destroy the country through their separatist agenda brought the country to an embattled state, fighting Syrian and Turkish Kurds while finally ending support of Islamic State terrorists to pretend to confront them on the battlefield, as a NATO member.

Soldiers had blocked Istanbul's main Ataturk Airport with four tanks stationed there and another two along with a military vehicle before the VIP terminal for the obvious purpose of denying Erdogan return to the country. All flights were stopped when soldiers entered the flight tower. The headquarters of the TURKSAT satellite station and Ankara police headquarters were attacked. A palace in the use of the prime minister and deputy prime ministers had a dozen tanks moving toward it.

The purge of the army high command, Erdogan's accusations against senior officers of coup plotting and the hundreds he had placed on trial during the "sledgehammer" cases has all waited silently in the background, simmering on low heat until the coup plotters felt sufficiently prepared to mount a real coup. Had they been successful Erdogan's determination to rewrite the constitution to give himself imperial presidency powers in perpetuity would have been stopped.

On the other hand, Turkey has the government a majority voted into power. Those Turks who are unhappy with the Justice and Development party are not in the majority. That the majority has been influenced by the propaganda machinery of an Islamist party speaking to those who already share its political ideology but who have been willing to be convinced that malign forces conspire to destroy Turkey and its cultural and religious values is only a partial explanation.

President Erdogan can now go on to claim that foreign interests were involved in motivating the coup leaders to strike against his rule, his party, the elected government and the people of Turkey. The very fact that it took a military coup, not an election to attempt to remove this man and his party from government will be validation enough for his claims that 'terrorists' have attempted to hijack the Turkish agenda to favour the evil plans of outside sources.

If it weren't for the fact that Erdogan was forced by the country's increasing isolation and failing economy, complicated by conflict on all fronts, to make peace with Russia and with Israel, he might have pointed the finger of blame at Israel which has in fact extended its support for him in a display of Realpolitik. On the other hand, he could still hint darkly at a "Jewish conspiracy" that succeeded in conspiring to persuade disloyal members of the military to topple him.

Clothes and weapons beloging to soldiers involved in the coup attempt lie on the ground abandoned on Bosphorus Bridge.
Clothes and weapons belonging to soldiers involved in the coup attempt lie on the ground abandoned on the Bosphorus Bridge. CNN

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