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I’m not a supporter of the conspiracy theory. In most cases these are bizarre stories which are impossible to give any credibility. But in the particular case of the latter attempted coup in Turkey, I would suspect there is something behind it which has not a nice scent. The President of Turkey, Mr. Tayyip Erdogan is using this attempted coup to purge the army, and move on the Islamist drift in the way which he always wanted. According to the Turkish Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir Bozdag, more than 6,000 people related to the coup have already been arrested, and he has promised that these arrests will continue ongoing. Today it has been known that most of these purged and arrested people, were identified in a drawn up list beforehand. The latest death toll provided by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, reached 290 people, which includes military rebels and civilians. Erdogan will move further in this matter, by the idea of reintroducing the death penalty in the country.
Analyzing the recent history of Turkey, since the fall of the Caliphate and the Turkish empire, Mustapha Kamal ‘Ataturk’ one of their most brilliant generals, and the military around him, changed and modernized the state, and tried to get closer to the West while limiting the political Islam. Since then, there has been a tension between those who defend a modern and secular Turkey, backed by the army, and those who try to recover the Islamic tradition, mainly located in the Anatolian peninsula. As a result, the tension has resulted in several coups during the last decades.
Erdogan himself was part of the Islamist party’s Youth organization which gave a military coup in 1980. His party was outlawed, but he returned to the political activity in the party APK, with the wish of implementing the Islamic precepts in the Turkish society. After a stint in prison, Erdogan came to the conclusion that “it was necessary to find a way for Turkish Islamism to be compatible, at least for a while, to the democracy and the market’ economy“. The key to this statement is, “at least for a while.” It is possible that the time has just arrived.
About the authorship of the coup, the theory with more followers and defended by Erdogan’s Administration and Cabinet, points out to the Cleric Fetula Gulen, self-exiled in the US and former friend of Erdogan. It is known about the presence of Gulen followers’ movement within the Army, especially among the officers. For years, the President Erdogan has insisted that Gulen was plotting to carry out a coup. Both Erdogan and Gulen are conservative Islamists and against the Army’ role as the guardian of Turkish democracy, and guarantor of secularism imposed by Atatürk, (the ‘father of the Turks’). Fetula Gulen, founder of Hizmet (Service) movement, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan had many common objectives in 2002, when the current president’ party, ‘Justice and Development’ (AKP) was presented to the ballots. Former allies and close friends, Erdogan accused Gulen of being behind the leak of several recordings which would link Erdogan with serious corruption’ cases. Since 2013 the Gulen’ movement is persecuted in Turkey and hundreds of its members within different public bodies, have been arrested.
Today, the circumstances are portraying to Erdogan as the big winner of the crisis: A leader who was low at the polls due to his increasing authoritarianism, has become overnight in the defense of democratic order. The weakness of the rebels and the collapse of the entire coup action in just a few hours, it is seen by some as evidence of a false action. This thesis is defended by the most critical of Erdogan: the secularist and pro-European sectors, who see their president as someone capable of anything to stay in power. Some have suggested that, although he did not organize the coup, perhaps he knew in advance and looked away and let them move on, and then establish himself as the leader and savior. I’m in for this thesis, which seems the most realistic one.
During his government, Erdogan has sought to move towards Islamism, while maintaining an erratic foreign policy. As a result, it has meant a great tension with the military who might have tried to solve the situation. The result of the coup seems as a triumph of Erdogan, because since then it is being an Army cleanup, which could allow the faster progress of the political Islam. The most important Administrations in Europe have already anticipated the possibility that the coup is used by Erdogan to accentuate his authoritarian drift.
It is very important to be aware about the situation in Turkey from now on. This attempt to make a secular twist by the force, seems like it will eventually allow Erdogan and his party to go deeper about the Islamist politics, something which is extremely serious given Turkey’ hot geopolitical situation today, with borders with Russia, Iran and Syria.