Published: 22 July 2016. Author: Tayfun Hatipoğlu.
Each day that goes by after the farcical “coup” supposedly organised by rebel army units, we see a real coup being put into operation by President Erdogan’s regime. One sector after another faces a massive purge. Already over 60,000 state employees have been arrested or fired. And many more are promised as those interrogated supposedly give up the names of their colleagues.
We have seen this technique before from would-be dictators in history. Hitler burnt down the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building, then blamed it on the communists in order to justify the introduction of an emergency and the assumption of executive powers. He then proceeded to round up all his opponents and launch his murderous regime. In the Soviet Union, Stalin used the assassination of his rival and Leningrad Party Boss Kirov to justify a four year purge of Soviet society that led to the murder of millions.
In Turkey, despite all the government’s crocodile tears over the 265 dead and 2100 injured by last week’s pantomime “coup”, the regime’s real priorities quickly emerged as they immediately seized upon events as a pretext with which to remove long lists of opponents to President Erdogan. A three month State of Emergency allowing the President to rule by decree has been rushed through Parliament and the European Convention on Human Rights suspended. Now, Erdogan will be able to implement laws without parliamentary approval and no court will be able to challenge them. He will have the power to extend his already heavy control of the media, restrict freedom of assembly and detain and arrest on a massive scale.
Erdogan has just told Reuters that “there was no obstacle to extending the state of emergency beyond the initial three months”. No wonder that Can Dündar, the editor of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, has described Turkey under the new state of emergency as “an oppressive regime where the law and liberties will be suspended, press will be censored, and the parliament eliminated.”
Within hours of the coup attempt 2700 judges, including many of the country’s top justices, have been suspended and/or taken into custody. All clearly based on lists prepared before the coup. What could all these judges have to do with a coup attempt? After all, we didn’t see gown-wearing court officials in the streets of the capital brandishing sub machine guns or manning tanks.
Or is it just a coincidence that Erdogan has expressed his anger and frustration in recent months with the decisions by some top judges to free journalists and academics that he had targeted for prison? And could it be that he feared that these existing judges might not have done his bidding and imprisoned the scores of members of parliament that are soon to face trial after the new law removing parliamentary immunity? Clearly, Erdogan is using the failed coup to finish off his takeover of the judiciary that he began in 2014. He effectively admitted to this in his post-coup interview with Al Jazeera.
Then again, why would Erdogan be removing the country’s 1500 university faculty heads? Were academic stormtroopers blocking off the bridges over the Bosphorus, or university lecturers piloting the helicopter gunships? Or could it just be a coincidence that over 2000 university academics angered Erdogan by issuing a petition against the unnecessary war launched against the Kurds in the south-east of Turkey, a war organised in order to stampede voters into regaining an AK Parti majority in last November’s parliamentary elections?
The truth is that by taking over the directorship of all of Turkey’s faculty departments the President’s party will now have the power to appoint and dismiss all of Turkey’s academic staff, and thereby begin to install a self-serving religious fanaticism throughout Turkey’s higher education system.
Teachers as Coup Plotters?
And what about the 21,000 private teachers now dismissed just for working in schools linked to the Gulen religious movement? How could they have possibly have been implicated in the coup? Perhaps they were using their lesson plans to arrange the distribution of army units for the military rebels.
Civil Servants in Armour?
Tens of thousands of civil servants have now been dismissed after a culture of informing on each other was earlier introduced in government departments. Working from previously prepared lists thousands of officials have been dismissed from education, social security, environment and even the government’s Sports Department. Are we seriously expected to believe that officers responsible for sports facilities were part of a military plot?
In addition to the arrest of thousands of individual soldiers, around a third of Turkey’s 360 serving generals have been detained since the coup. These included commanders of military intelligence, generals in charge of the special forces, admirals and air force leaders. Even before their interrogation began we have seen their battered and bruised faces on television and their semi-naked bodies gathered together in the stables. So much for Erdogan’s assurances that torture and abuse will not be unleashed in his crackdown.
While no one would have sympathy for any commanders who issued orders to shoot unarmed civilians, are we really supposed to believe that the pathetic mini coup of last week could have been organised by so many high level and highly experienced officers drawn from all wings of Turkey’s military service? The botched “coup” bore all the amateurish hallmarks of something organised at junior level without much co-ordination and of very limited scope. If such a huge array of military leaders had truly been involved in the coup then surely it would have been on a much bigger scale, far better organised, and rolled out across the whole country rather than in just a few locations. After all, the Turkish armed forces are the fourth largest in the world and second biggest in NATO after the United States. How can we understand a coup organised by over 100 generals and admirals that collapses within a few hours at the first sign of opposition from police and demonstrators.
Indeed, the whole timing of the “coup” is very suspect. Who organises a coup at ten o’clock on a Friday evening when millions of us were outside eating and walking around? Now we have heard that the Department of Intelligence was already aware of the coup in the afternoon. Even Erdogan admitted on television that he heard about it at 8pm. In other words a full two hours before it even began!
Last but not least, how could such a coup plan involving a big percentage of generals and commanders, and if the government is to be believed, even to include sections of the police and the judiciary, be developed without it coming to the attention of Turkey’s huge and fearsome intelligence service? It beggars belief that not one of the thousands of officials supposedly involved in the coup reported it to his superiors, or that it was not picked up by the large scale wire-tapping system in Turkey. Erdogan had to admit in his Reuters interview that: “It is very clear that there were significant gaps and deficiencies in our intelligence, there is no point trying to hide it or deny it”. This has to be the understatement of the decade! Or is it just an excuse used to cover up a deeper plot while providing yet another reason to purge the intelligence services and install more reliable staff.
Who Is Accused of Organising the Coup?
We are told that the coup was organised by the Gulen Islamic religious movement whose leader lives over in the United States. The fact that this was announced as the coup was actually taking place and before any of the participants had been interrogated or evidence assembled makes one immediately suspicious. The government’s response was just too well-prepared.
As to the accusation that the Gulen movement organised the coup, everyone in Turkey who knows anything about the Gulen community knows that they have little or no support in the armed forces. That is why the Gulen were the prime movers behind the anti-armed forces prosecutions in recent years in the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials. To think that the arrested generals and admirals were supporters of Gulen is laughable and could only be put forward in the wierd ‘Erdogan in Wonderland’ atmosphere fostered by the President’s pro-government media which even influences the ignorant and confused international media. As they say in modern marketing speak: if you want to tell a lie make it a big one and deliver it with great confidence.
Gulen’s Method of Operation
It is well-known that despite the Gulen movement being a strange Islamic religious cult it has always operated by running educational institutions and businesses and placing its graduates into the professions and institutions. Thus, in the first ten years of Erdogan’s rule when Gulen and AK Parti were in alliance, the Gulen community provided a large number of the new government officials appointed to run the various government civil ministries. They provided Erdogan with his “cadres”. It was only after the fallout between the Gulen movement and Erdogan three years ago, as Erdogan’s increasing totalitarianism pushed him to cast off any power sharing with former allies, that he decided to drive the Gulenists out. More recently, he has “discovered” a Gulen “terrorist” organisation which they have named FETÖ, an acronym or name that doesn’t even appear to stand for anything. Indeed, never having bombed, assassinated or killed anyone that we are aware of, FETÖ has to be the strangest terrorist organisation the world has ever seen. In reality, it is an imaginary organisation dreamed up by the Turkish government, especially over the last year, so that they can pin the “terrorist” label onto the Gulen movement, link them in the public mind to the Kurdish PKK and Islamic State, and thereby justify the taking over of the Gulenist businesses, schools and media channels.
Who Actually Organised The Coup?
If it wasn’t the Gulen movement behind this “coup”, then who was responsible for it? Coming from the army it could only have been the responsibility of a pro-Ataturk, pro secularist group of officers. The large number of senior generals and admirals that have been arrested each would have taken decades to reach their high positions, decades during which everyone in Turkey knows that the army was completely dominated by a pro-Ataturk, pro secular ideology. The Turkish armed forces were always the bulwark against Islamic political movements whether these were the older REFA Party or the more modern versions in the AK Parti or the Gulen movement. This army even put tanks on the street as part of a “soft” coup in 1997 to remove REFA from the government. Indeed, as recent as 2007, leading figures in the army were contemplating organising a coup against the possibility of AK Parti putting their candidate, Abdullah Gül, into the position of President.
To prove the point, the army rebel statement that was read out on state television as the “coup” began was clearly a pro-Ataturk, pro-secularist statement which could not have been written by the Gulen people. Yet strangely, all mention of this statement has conveniently ceased.
What Kind of Coup Was it?
It is possible that the “coup” was in fact a false flag operation actually prepared and put into operation by the government. After all, this wouldn’t be the first time that the government had sacrificed unarmed Turkish citizens to aid their struggle to defend and extend their power. The bombings in Suruç and Ankara last year organised against the pro-Kurdish HDP which killed 150 and badly injured hundreds more, bore all the hallmarks of a government operation using ISIS proxies. These bombings were part of a sustained campaign by the AK Party including the burning of 250 HDP offices all over the country, all were designed to provoke HDP into street fighting and thus to be discredited in the second parliamentary election.
However, there are certain indications that this “coup” may have had some genuine elements to it. That said, the bumbling, limited and amateurishness of the operation leads one to think that it may have been part of a government-inspired ‘agent provocateur’ plan involving only a few senior officers with support from junior ranks. A plan known about in advance and encouraged by the government’s intelligence services. And then crushed before it could be rolled out.
At some time in the future hopefully the truth will come out. Perhaps even sooner if the massive publication of internal AKP documents by Wikileaks this week yields up anything related to these events.
Extending the President’s Power
What then is going on? It is clear to anyone with open eyes that this whole operation has been designed to provide the means for removing the President’s rivals and enemies in a clean sweep. To “cleanse the institutions of state” as Erdogan put it the day after the “coup”. In this way, the President is swiftly extending his power into those areas of the state and society he doesn’t yet dominate.
The army in particular was an institution not yet under Erdogan’s control, being run by officers brought up on the fundamental secularist principle laid down by Ataturk that religion and politics should not be mixed. In an interview with the Reuters news agency a day ago President Erdogan let the cat out of the bag as he announced that “within a very short amount of time a new structure will be emerging. With this new structure, I believe the armed forces will get fresh blood.”
A Dark Future is Coming for Turkey
In order to ramp up the mood of paranoia the Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag has just warned that a possible second military coup is being prepared. What bullshit! The authorities want to maintain the fever pitch atmosphere so that they there is no let up in arrests and dismissals. Accordingly, they are encouraging their supporters to continue demonstrating every day, and reports are coming in of gangs of AKP youth wondering the streets of even small towns shouting and issuing threats.
Already some journalists are being rounded up and human rights lawyers too. For example, the Washington Post interviewed human rights lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz on Turkey’s crackdown. The next day he was detained at Istanbul airport.
Forty two TV and Radio station licenses have been revoked. How long will it be before the last few opposition voices are snuffed out?
Now the two opposition parties, CHP and MHP, which came behind the government after the “coup” and helped pass the State of Emergency law are now expressing concern that the state of emergency could concentrate too much power in the hands of Erdogan. How stupid could such opposition leaders be? Erdogan first attacks his closest rivals such as the Gulenists, or his most serious enemies such as the HDP and the remaining secularists in the state. Next he will come for the other opposition parties.
What these pathetic opposition parties don’t seem to recognise is that the AK Parti is not a normal bourgeois political party which is willing to play the parliamentary game: in power for a time, then in opposition for another. Rather, it is a mass social, political and religious movement determined to take over power on a permanent basis and penetrate and dominate all institutions of society. Its membership of ten million is an insatiable beast that needs constant feeding with welfare services, jobs and benefits. If one day these cease the whole project will start to crumble, and awareness of this ceaselessly drives the AK Parti leaders to extend their octopus tentacles into every nook and cranny of society in the search for more resources to feed its supporters.
The AK Parti movement uses religion and mixes it with politics in order to cement its base together and present itself as a holy crusade. It was no accident that mosques all over Turkey broadcast the call to prayer throughout the Friday night of the “coup” to rouse the faithful to come out and defend “their” regime. Or that scores of imams appeared in the streets in Istanbul marching against the coup along with their followers.
Erdogan has floated the idea of reintroducing the death penalty so that he can execute some of those in detention so as to terrify the rest of his critics. When the European Union warned him that such a move would lead to the cancellation of Turkey’s EU membership bid and any hope of visa-free travel for its citizens, he just shrugged his shoulders and indicated a total lack of concern. In response to criticism of his post- coup crackdown by the French Foreign Minister he told him to mind his own business.
Those who still maintain that Erdogan is just a puppet of American Imperialism seriously underestimate him. He has his own agenda for total power and is willing to do virtually anything to achieve it. Indeed, he seeks to build his own imperialism. Anyone watching the sickening videos now being played on state television can see his pretensions to become a modern-day version of the Ottoman Caliph to be adored by his followers.
Don’t Believe the Coming Avalanche of Lies
Get ready for a never-ending stream of accusations and mountains of fabricated evidence laid out in the government dominated media. Already ridiculous stories are emerging of large caches of arms being found at the offices of legal prosecutors but in reality planted in order to justify the purge. Don’t believe the lies!
Get ready for armfuls of confessions from those arrested ? Stalin taught the world how to intimidate prisoners in order to get them to admit to the opposite of the truth. Whatever is confessed don’t believe it. It will all have been extracted under duress and in flagrant disregard of basic human rights.
Those already being interrogated will no doubt give the names of anyone they know in order to escape the intimidation and pressure – just as they did in Argentina in the 1970s. Thus arrests will spread in wider and wider circles until the regime feels confident that all opposition has been silenced or neutered.
Bir Gün… (One Day…)
Where there is life there is hope – and even in these darkening times, hope must be maintained. All regimes fall. And the stronger they become the harder they fall. One day Erdogan’s rule will come to an end. To that day we must look forward and prepare. Venceremos!