Update on the failed Turkish coup. Part 1 Erdogan’s purge begins
While there still appears to be some small pockets of resistance, the attempted military coup in Turkey has been dealt with by those loyal to the government and Erdoğan remains in power. For the hours following the launch of the coup Turkey was in a veritable state of confusion and chaos, but now that another day has past, and the dust has settled, the situation surrounding the coup1 and its potential consequences are much clearer.
The attempted coup was conducted by elements of the Turkish armed forces calling themselves the Peace in the Country Council (PCC).2 This group was mainly composed of “officers from the Air Force, the military police and the armored units.”3 There stated aim was to prosecute those who “have betrayed” Turkey, to reinstate law and order and to “reinstall 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.”4
For many reasons the attempted coup failed. It did not have the support of the people, of the political opposition, of the police, of Turkish intelligence, and large parts of the Turkish army. Most importantly they were unable to capture or kill President Erdoğan, although PCC forces did launch airstrikes at the hotel the President was staying at in Marmaris and sent soldiers to nab him, however he was able to escape before the hotel was struck.5 With Erdoğan free, he was able to make effective use of facetime and rally those loyal to him, particularly popular AKP supporters, to resist the mutiny.
This counter operation was successful and the coup was defeated, although there was significant bloodshed. As the result of the fighting at least 265 have been killed, including 47 civilians and 104 PCC members, and 1,440 have been injured.6 There are also reports that some involved in the coup attempt were summarily executed by AKP supporters.7
Let the purging begin
With such a situation, where Erdoğan’s own life was reportedly threatened and his hold on power almost broken, one could think that the Turkish President would be a bit rattled, even lacking confidence in his ability to maintain power in the future. This does not appear to be the case. In fact Erdoğan, being as ruthless and optimistic as he is, sees the failed coup as a great opportunity to further his aims. In a remarkable burst of forthrightness, he even said, “This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.”8 Erdoğan has been true to his word, the purge of the Turkish military has commenced.
Already at least 6,000 military personnel have been detained on suspicions of being connected with the attempted coup.9 Among the detained are 103 Generals and Admirals including the commanders of the second and third armies (Generals Adem Huduti and Erdal Öztürk) and Ali Yazıcı the chief military assistant to the President.10 Air Force Commander Akın Öztürk has also confessed to being involved in plotting the coup.11 As the air force was heavily involved in the attempted coup, it is under intense scrutiny to weed out any of suspect loyalty to the government. For instance Incirlik airbase, which is used by US and coalition forces to launch air strikes on ISIL in Syria and stores 50 US B61 nuclear bombs, has been placed on lockdown and it commanding officer arrested.12
While we can safely assume that the purge of the Turkish military is being used to get rid of anyone who Erdoğan perceives as a threat to his power, it is also an understandable course of action as any state, to maintain its existence, must rid itself of military insurrectionist. However, the current purge in Turkey is not limited to the military but also extends into the judiciary and law enforcement. Thus far 2,745 judges and prosecutors have been suspended from the positions based on their alleged links to Fethullah Gülen and some 426 have been detained.13 Even two members of the Constitutional Court have been detained. I guess it is possible that the effected judicial officials were in fact linked to the coup or are linked to Gülen, however to me this appears to be a flagrant attempt to neuter Turkey’s judiciary branch, thereby eliminating a potentially effect threat to Erdoğan’s power grab. Furthermore, the Interior Ministry has suspended almost 9,000 law enforcement officials and confiscated their firearms.14
But it gets worse, as Erdoğan has started a witch-hunt–as some have called it–against government critics in general.15 Turkish police are asking citizens “to report those who support terrorism & crime,” while at least one critic of the government has been arrested. Mahir Zeynalov, a Turkish journalist, has reported himself that he has received death from pro-Erdoğan tweeters and himself has tweeted, obviously referring to Erdoğan and company, “So everyone should know who is responsible if anything happens to me or my family.”16 It should be becoming clear that the situation in Turkey is becoming graver by the day and even by the hour.
Not only is Erdoğan mobilizing against the military and judiciary via purges and against critics at large, he is also dealing with another potential threat to his power, Fethullah Gülen.17 At one time Erdoğan and Gülen were allies, but the two had a falling out causing the latter to flee from Turkey to the US. Gülen is a rather shadowy figure currently living in a vast compound in Pennsylvania. He is a reclusive iman and spiritual leader, who heads the Hizmet movement and opperates over 1,000 schools throughout the world. Erdoğan has accused Gülen of attempting to subvert his government through the operation of a clandestine deep state within Turkey. It is difficult for me to judge the verity of such accusations, but it does seem to me that Erdoğan uses Gülen and the Gülenist movement as a universal scapegoat of sorts, for which every problem in Turkey is attributed to. Right on cue, rightly or wrongly, Erdoğan is blaming the Gülenists as being behind the coup.18
Not only is Gülen being implicated in the coup, Turkey is demanding that the US extradite him to Turkey. In a statement Erdoğan asked President Obama to “Hand over that person [Gülen] in Pennsylvania after this coup attempt. … If we are strategic and model partners, please meet this demand of your partner.”19 Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım was even more blunt that his President saying, “I do not see any country that would stand behind this man, this leader of the terrorist gang, especially after last night. A country that would stand behind this man is no friend to Turkey. It would even be a hostile act against Turkey.” Some Turkish officials were not content with making demands to and threatening the US, but also accused them of culpability in the attempted. Labor Minister and close associate with Erdoğan, Süleyman Soylu alleged “America is behind the coup. Some magazines published there were involved [in staging the coup] for the last couple of months.” While John Kerry adamantly denied such claims and warned that they could harm Turkish-US ties, he also basically said that if Turkey could provide legitimate evidence implicating Gülen then the US would consider the extradition request.20 The US Ambassador to Turkey also reiterated such a sentiment.21 Regardless of Gülen’s guilt or unsavoriness, if Erdoğan can get his hands on him then he will have eliminated one of main political and ideological foes.
The coup had little support
One of the reasons that the attempted coup failed was that it did not have any political support from the main opposition parties.22 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the CHP, stated, “This country had suffered a lot from the coups. We do not [need] these difficulties be repeated.” The leaders of the HDP said “The only solution is democratic politics. In these challenging and critical days which Turkey goes through, whatever its reason might be, no one should put himself in the place of the people’s will. The HDP is opposed to any kind of coup under any circumstances and as a principle.” In a show of unprecedented political cooperation and solidarity Turkey’s four major parties condemned the coup in a joint state, “We the groups of four parties strongly condemn the coup attempt against our mighty nation, the national will the state, and lawmakers and parliament as its reflection, and the attacks on the parliament itself. The Turkish parliament is on duty as one heart. … Despite our political differences, we are beside the national will, we embrace it and we will embrace it forever with all our lawmakers and organizations.”23 In response, Erdoğan made thank you calls to the leaders of the CHP and MHP.24
The Turkish religious establishment, represented by its leaders, was also against the coup. Not only was the Muslim Diyanet (Presidency of Religious Affairs) and its leader Mehmet Görmez supportive of the democratically elected government, so to was Turkey’s Chief Rabbi Rav Izak Haleva and the country’s Christian leaders from the Greek and Armenian Orthodox and the Assyrian and Turkish Catholic churches. In a joint statement issue by these religious leaders they declared, “In the name of God, we as the religious representatives of Jewish, Christian and Muslim citizens, together with our communities, are in a deep state of sorrow because of the terror incidents that have disrupted peace in our beautiful country and the world and have that have caused unbearable pain by taking the lives of many loved ones of our citizens. … Terror and violence wherever and whoever they come from can never be defended and regarded as legitimate. Killing one person is like killing the entire humanity and is absolutely not accepted by believers.”25
Erdoğan also had the support of numerous world leaders and organizations. President Barack Obama, Chancellor Merkel, EU officials and NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg among others all basically called for the legitimate democratically elected government of Turkey to be supported and for the violence to stop.26 While these countries and groups have had at times strained relations with Turkey, they are all allies of the latter, so their support for Erdoğan should be expected. But what is surprising is that countries such as Russia and Iran, which have had very troubled relations with Turkey, have expressed their backing for Erdoğan’s government.
The Russian Foreign Minister stated, “The escalation of the political situation (in Turkey) against the backdrop of existing terrorist threats in this country and of armed conflict in the region pose heightened risks for international and regional stability.”27 Putin wished “for a speedy restoration of strong constitutional order and stability in Turkey.”28 Various Iranian officials have condemned the coup. A Foreign Ministry spokesman stated, “A stable, secure and democratic Turkey is a priority for the Islamic Republic of Iran.”29 While the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei’s senior adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati said in an interview, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is a state governed by religious democracy, i.e. a government based on popular vote within the framework of Islamic values and is naturally against any illegal move and act of bullying to change popular governments.”30
It should also be noted that Erdoğan also had significant popular support, with thousands of people answering his resist the attempted coup. If we are to believe Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, “The biggest role in preventing this treacherous act belongs to our honorable people.”31 An assortment of Turkish business organizations made a joint statement praises democratic values and stating “Any intervention that aims to overthrow our elected government will kill our democracy and economy.”32 From the world of Turkish media Aydın Doğan, honorary chairman of Doğan Holding, a media company that owns Hurriyets among other outlets, characterized the coup as “a heinous attack on the state, the nation and democracy.”33
Ultimately what is of particular note to me is that the attempted coup by the PCC had minimal domestic and international support, even though Erdoğan is not an overly popular figure in Turkey among a significant portion of the Turkish population. What is even more interesting is that those speaking out against the coup are themselves lauding the importance of democratic values, yet Erdoğan prior to the coup attempt was no exemplar of democratic values, and now, after the coup, he is unleashing a purge, obviously with the intention of furthering his power and instituting a more authoritarian civic order in Turkey.
 http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/turkey-prime-minister-coup-attempt-foiled-160716001125028.html , http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/07/16/Turkey-s-Erdogan-Uprising-was-act-of-treason-.html
 http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/07/18/475766/Turkey-coup-attempt-Yildirim–crackdown-Erdogan , http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/turkey-government-launches-purge-attempted-coup-160716162415421.html , http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/2839-detained-over-coup-attempt.aspx?pageID=238&nID=101682&NewsCatID=341 , http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/high-ranking-generals-detained-in-turkey-coup-attempt.aspx?pageID=238&nID=101669&NewsCatID=341
 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-authorities-impose-lockdown-at-incirlik-air-base-us-consulate—————–.aspx?pageID=517&nID=101697&NewsCatID=341 , http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-07-16/turkey-suspends-all-us-operations-against-isis-incirlik-airbase-which-vaults-us-b61- , http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/07/17/475575/Turkey-US-Coup-Base-Military-