29.07.2016 Author: Catherine Shakdam

Unearthing Turkey’s political fault-lines – Failed coup or warning

As I write these lines much of the world media community is still attempting to work its way through the maze of information, misinformation and potential geopolitical repercussions Turkey’s attempted, and failed coup will likely bring in its wake.

As bloggers, political analysts and various pundits have ferociously attempted to rationalize, label, and let’s say it sanitize Turkish President Erdogan’s return to power, I fear we stand all collectively clueless … at least when it comes to those hands which in the shadow orchestrated Turkey’s change in leadership.

How many of us can say they truly saw it coming? I’m not discussing here whether or not the military coup was justified, or even necessary; I’m referring to the proverbial writing on the wall.

From where I’m standing Turkey’s attempted coup d’état came out of nowhere. I will grant you that the element of surprise was most likely what those renegade generals were going for, but still, this particular coup feels off … I will venture and say that Turkey has not yet seen its fill of unrest.

I personally can’t shake the feeling that we all are being politically set up. While I will happily admit that my opinion might not matter that much in the great scheme of things, I will nevertheless argue that honesty and pragmatism have thoroughly lack so far.

Safe from the input of a few of my esteemed colleagues, among whom Andrew Korybko and Marwa Osman, most so-called analysts have screamed banalities, while fanning old-seated political bigotries … did I mention gas-lighting?

Seriously now, has anyone noticed how uncharacteristically cool and collected NATO powers have been in the midst of such a gargantuan political racket? Can we please remember how instrumental Turkey is to Western powers when it comes to geopolitical projection? – notwithstanding the fact of course that the United States houses some its nuclear arsenal on Turkish soil (Incirlik base).

With this in mind are we to believe that Washington failed to keep a really close eye on developments in Turkey – if anything for its own national security? In which case Washington knew about the attempted putsch and chose to keep mum.

Here is what Afshin Rattansi, a well-known journalist and author told RT: “Turkey is a NATO country. Astonishing that just a couple of years ago we would have expected NATO nations to have come to the aid of the Erdogan government, which was elected in November. This time? Nothing.”

No? Still not intrigued enough to even consider the possibility that Erdogan was, if not set up by his allies, at least left to be fed on by the lions?

Then consider this: Quickly after Erdogan took to Face-Time to call on his supporters to save his presidency, the AKP (ruling party) pinned the coup on Fethullah Gulen, a self-proclaimed moderate Muslim cleric who champions interfaith dialogue. Gulen, Erdogan’s long-standing political nemesis has lived in exile in the US since 1999. A quiet man, Gulen does not share Erdogan’s love for theatrics.

But what does this mean exactly? Well two things mainly:

  1. Gulen did in fact plot Erdogan’s demise, in which case the US would have to shoulder some degree of accountability – if not directly, at least by omission.
  2. Erdogan has completely lost touch with reality, our very modern day Nero, and he’s grasping at whatever sliver of evidence he can to project self-assurance as he stands powerless amid the ashes of his regime.

In any case, and whatever scenario you will choose to hold true Washington has played, plays, and will play a crucial role in the making … or unravelling of post-coup Turkey.

Who stands behind July 15th failed overthrowing really does not matter at this point. What matters are the political fault-lines it helped laid bare.

Do not mistake President Erdogan’s grand display of power for a reflection of Turkey’s political reality. All the arrests and military crackdown in the world will not make up for the political tsunami which hit the aspiring Sultan, forever denting his monarchical seat.

As of July 15th, 2016 the neo-Ottoman empire is no more … As of July 15th, July 2016 the Muslim Brotherhood and its cohort of Islamists has beaten the dust one last time, most likely never to rise again.

For all intents and purposes Erdogan’s Turkey is pretty much dead in the water!

Yes, you may argue that Erdogan’s presidency was saved by the people and that such a display of “popular support” ultimately implies a legitimacy worthy of a modern democratic nation-state, but that would be missing the point … again.

I realise I’m swimming against the current here, but I do not buy into Turkey’s sudden infatuation with Erdogan, especially when the man has been actively and rather joyfully disappearing his countrymen civil liberties and dignity.

What I believe we saw was a classic Muslim Brotherhood outing – a desperate attempt to orchestrate a popular uprising against the military. I will quote here the Kurdistan Communities Union: “Portraying Erdogan and the fascist AKP dictatorship as if they were democratic after this coup attempt is an approach even more dangerous than the coup attempt itself. Portraying the fight for power among authoritarian, despotic and anti-democratic forces as a fight between the supporters and enemies of democracy will only serve to legitimise the existing fascist and despotic government.”

Can we please remember just how anti-democratic Erdogan regime has been since 2011, what totalitarian, and downright genocidal slippery slope this wannabe autocrat has ventured on since he shed all matters of democratic pretences? Have you forgotten the blood which Erdogan shed in Syria in the name of cheap oil and gas? Have you forgotten how keen he was to play human trafficker to Syria’s refugees as he towered a giant thug over a fearful European Union?

Have you forgotten what friendships Erdogan has kept so that Turkey could rise an empire once more and claim Syria a province once more?

I didn’t … I remember the terror connections, the plunder and the aggravated human rights violations. I remember how savagely Kurds have been slaughtered for they dared utter words such as justice and political self-determination.

Let us not allow for a failed coup to turn one dictator into Democracy’s poster child!

Here is a real question for you: what happens now? Here is another: who will benefit from the unrest?

What happens now?

Potentially many things … especially since the failed coup interrupted a much tentative détente in between Moscow and Ankara, and beyond that Syria.

Here I will offer my own little grain of salt:

It is likely Erdogan exceeded his political sell-by date and had become somewhat of a political liability to his NATO allies. Not to be the one to break up the party, but I doubt the EU felt particularly joyful towards Ankara when it had to buy its way out of the war refugee crisis to please Erdogan’s venal hunger. As for the US, I’d like to remind readers that Turkey represents a particularly difficult geopolitical headache. How so? To put it simply Turkey’s alliance with Saudi Arabia, compounded by Riyadh’s recent imperial folie des grandeurs, transformed Ankara into a national security threat.

Let me put things in perspective for you – If Washington can view China’s economic growth and reach as a threat to its standing in the world, when China has done nothing but play ball, how do you think our neocons feel when they look into Erdogan’s increasingly hawkish behaviour?

A rich, military strong and politically assertive independent Turkey does not play in Washington’s favour … deduct what you will.

Before I conclude my analysis I will offer one more theory:

I believe that we are on the verge of witnessing a rather significant geopolitical realignment in the Middle East. Whatever happens now, whether or not the failed coup is followed by a coloured revolution, whether or not Erdogan will be indeed betrayed by his NATO allies, regional dynamics have changed, and will continue to change … hopefully for the better since I can foresee a shift vis a vis Syria.

The real winner of Turkey’s failed coup will likely be Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Erdogan’s fall from grace only reinforces President Al-Assad’s position and ultimately the defeat of radicalism as a viable weapon of colonial war.

Another loser here will be of course Saudi Arabia. It is impossible to not look at the 9/11 report and events in Turkey and not recognise the hand of political change – Washington has already begun to detangle itself from its Wahhabi allies … how long before it bites the hands which propped its war economy?

Catherine Shakdam is the Associate Director of the Beirut Center for Middle Eastern Studies and a political analyst specializing in radical movements, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.