And so we're finally here, an attempted military coup during Erdoğan's peak madness. Fasten your seatbelt, coz it's going to be a really bumpy road ahead for Turkey.
Note that Turkish military coups occurred in 1960, 1971, 1980, 1993, and 1997. So just like in Thailand, Pakistan and many Latin American countries, it's sadly a bit like business as usual. But this time around on 15 July 2016, it's not a question of if, but when. "Sultan" Erdoğan had it coming.
Guest writer Michael Rubin sums it all up nicely in ZeroHedge few months ago:
"Could there be a coup in Turkey? The situation in Turkey is bad and getting worse. It’s not just the deterioration in security amidst a wave of terrorism. Public debt might be stable, but private debt is out-of-control, the tourism sector is in free-fall, and the decline in the currency has impacted every citizen’s buying power. There is a broad sense, election results notwithstanding, that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is out-of-control. He is imprisoning opponents, seizing newspapers left and right, and building palaces at the rate of a mad sultan or aspiring caliph. In recent weeks, he has once again threatened to dissolve the constitutional court. Corruption is rife. His son Bilal reportedly fled Italy on a forged Saudi diplomatic passport as the Italian police closed in on him in an alleged money laundering scandal. His outbursts are raising eyebrows both in Turkey and abroad. Even members of his ruling party whisper about his increasing paranoia which, according to some Turkish officials, has gotten so bad that he seeks to install anti-aircraft missiles at his palace to prevent airborne men-in-black from targeting him in a snatch-and-grab operation."
But hang on a minute. Wild speculation spread among Turkish people on the streets that the coup was actually masterminded by Erdoğan himself, to justify the drastic actions that he would make next. And sure enough, after declaring that the coup attempt has failed, Erdoğan dismissed 2,745 judges and prosecutors, and arrested nearly 3000 military personnel. He also said that the coup justifies further consolidation of power, while providing questionable evidence on thousands of perpetrators that were miraculously collected in less than 24 hours.
The EU commissioner dealing with Turkey's membership bid, Johannes Hahn, even suggested that "the swift rounding of judges and others after a failed coup in Turkey indicated the government had prepared a list beforehand."
Meanwhile, the coup is officially blamed on Fethullah Gülen, which according to Dylan Matthews in his brilliant explanation on the Gülen Movement, "it’s very possible that Erdoğan would target Gülen even if he played no role in the events." The allegation is of course denied by Gülen, where he said "the uprising by members of the country's military could have been "staged" by the government", echoing the speculation on the streets.
Regardless whether the speculation about Erdoğan's mastermind is right or wrong, in the end he really did take advantage of this attempted coup and create himself a stronger counter-coup to obtain more power than ever, something that Vladimir Putin would've been proud of.
Some European leaders have already expressed their concern over the scale of Erdoğan's purges, which seems to escalate by the day and nowhere near to be stopped: just 72 hours after the attempted coup, 103 generals and admirals in total have been detained, while 7,899 police officers, 614 gendarmerie officers, 30 provincial governors and 47 district governors have all been suspended. Even the finance ministry has suspended 1500 employees. As arguably the last obstacle for Erdoğan to become an absolute ruler, the Turkish parliament is the only institution left standing. And as we speak, it is under a total lockdown due to an imminent security threat.
And so it appears that we've actually seen nothing yet, and the crazy ride with Erdoğan is only just beginning.
- The purge continues to education (get ready for a massive propaganda): The government revoked the licenses of 21,000 people working in private schools, fired 15,000 people working in the education ministry and demanded the resignation of 1,577 deans.
- 20 news websites are blocked.
- 492 people from Religious Affairs Directorate, 399 from Ministry of Family and Social Policies, 257 from the prime minister's office, and 100 intelligence officers are all sacked.
- 20 July: Erdoğan invoked "emergency powers" under the constitution, which will last for 3 months. This allow Erdoğan and his cabinet to enact laws without the approval of parliament. God knows what kind of laws they're going to change (presumably, a lot). And 1 day later he told Reuters "No obstacle to extending Turkey's state of emergency beyond initial three months."
- 21 July: From the Associated Press: "Turkey deputy prime minister says his country to suspend European human rights convention under new state of emergency."
- 23 July: Erdoğan shuts down 1000+ private schools, 1200+ charity organisations, and 15 universities.
- 26 July: Turkish government ordered the closure of over 130 media outlets (3 news agencies, 23 radio stations, 16 TV channels, 45 newspapers, 15 magazines and 29 publishers and distributors). The government also dismissed 1684 military personnel, including 149 generals and admirals ("amounting to nearly half of the high-ranking officers in the entire Turkish military" as Reuters reported). In return, 99 colonels have been promoted to the rank of general and admiral.
- 31 July: The government has cancelled the passport of around 50,000 people, to prevent them leaving the country. And Erdoğan give himself and his [puppet] prime minister the power to issue direct orders to military commanders.
- 2 August: Turkey's football authorities have fired 94 people, which include referees, assistant referees, regional refereeing committee members and national and regional observers.
- 3 August: Now it's actors' turn, they are suspended from City Theaters.
- 12 August: the government issued an arrest warrant for Turkish football legend Hakan Sukur.
- 16 August: Turkish police raids 44 companies and had warrants to detain 120 executives, over their suspected links to the failed coup.
- 17 August: justice minister Bekir Bozdag said that they "will grant early release to some 38,000 prisoners who committed crimes before July 1", to free space for alledged coup plotters.
Turkey's ideological debate [Bloomberg QuickTake / Onur Ant and Caroline Alexander]
Sultan Erdogan: Turkey's rebranding into the new, old Ottoman Empire [The Atlantic / Cinar Kiper]
The madness of Turkey's "sultan" Erdogan [The Daily Beast / Maajid Nawaz]
Emperor Erdogan: why an increasingly authoritarian Turkey poses a danger to the region [Politico / Steven A. Cook]