Let me alert you to an exceptional piece by Chris Trotter on the events of the weekend on the streets of Turkey, and how Turkish strongman Erdogan has used them since to his advantage. His argument is summarised in the title: Erdogan Lives - And Secular Turkey Dies.
The collapse of this attempted coup d’état has been met with many sighs of relief in Western capitals. Had it succeeded, President Barack Obama, in particular, would have faced an extremely difficult choice. To condemn the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of a Nato ally; or, to endorse the constitutionally sanctioned role of the Turkish military as the secular Turkish Republic’s ultimate protectors. Because it was precisely in this guise that the soldiers who rose against Erdogan presented themselves. As the last, desperate hope of all those Turks who still cling to the legacy of Mustapha Kemal – the father of the modern Turkish state.
That it was colonels, and not generals, who ordered their men on to the streets, says much about the state of Turkey. Those who might have struck a more telling blow in the name of the republic, the nation’s most senior military officers, had long ago been arrested under trumped-up charges by Erdogan’s followers, dismissed from their posts and thrown into prison. A similar fate befell the nation’s senior judges and police officers. In the slow-motion coup Erdogan and his Islamist political allies have been carrying out since coming to power 2003, they have been careful to ensure that the secular state they were striking down would never again rise to its feet.
Those who have been issuing congratulatory statements to the Erdogan regime, should ponder the meaning of its first acts upon reclaiming the levers of power. Yes, thousands of rebel troops and their officers have been detained. That is to be expected. But so, too, have upwards of twenty thousand judges, prosecutors and policemen. Is that the response of a democratic government? No. It is the response of a tyrant who described the failed coup attempt as “A gift from God.”
And what was the nature of “the ‘democratic’ crowds who, at Erdogan’s bidding, poured on to the streets of Ankara and Istanbul to confront the rebel troops”?
Did they shout: “Long live the Turkish Republic!” Or, “Long live Turkey’s secular democracy!” No. The moustachioed men (there were no women in evidence) shouted “Allahu ekber!” – “God is great!”, and declaimed the shahadah: “There is no god but God – and Muhammad is his prophet!”
Secular Turks disdain the facial hair of Erdogan’s followers – although, with the backbone of their judiciary broken, and the last of their military protectors in detention, it might be wise for secular Turkish men to put away their razors, and for secular Turkish women to cover their heads.
Is this the true import of Erdogan’s jubilant description of the failed coup as a gift from God? Does he now feel justified in speeding-up his party’s progress towards the creation of a Sunni Islamic Republic in Turkey? A fanatical religious regime to rival the Shia Islamic Republic of Iran? And how much in common would such a republic have with the theocratic extremism of the Sunni Saudi Kingdom? Between these two powerhouses of radical Islam would stand only Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan – and Israel. Of those five states, only Israel possesses the military strength to defend its borders.
Read and reflect: Erdogan Lives - And Secular Turkey Dies – Chris Trotter, BOWALLEY ROAD BLOG