July 17, 2016

Coup Attempt

Ahmet Kurucan

First and foremost, I would like to extend my condolences to the families of the 161 civilians who were martyred. I pray that God receives them with His grace; I pray for patience and strength to their families and I pray for quick recovery and good health to the thousands who have been wounded. This attempt has wounded not only them; I, together with the 80 million citizens of the Republic of Turkey, have been greatly wounded.

On the evening of July 15, 2016, a group of military officers, independent from the commanding ranks of the state military, carried out an attempt that we must define clearly. This was certainly an attempt at a coup, not 'if's or 'but's about it. Calling it a "coup scenario" is merely a way of underestimating the extent of it. We cannot ignore what is happening just by labeling it as that. Through this coup attempt, Turkey's politics and democracy has suffered a blow that will continue to haunt the country for years to come. Thus, this group who went so far as to kill their own people, fire at their own police and bomb their own parliament have staged this coup against the people of Turkey and their future.

Having said that, we must not overlook the fact that this attempt, which stands clearly and undeniably before us, does carry a "tragicomic" side to it. To have an attempt at a coup in which armed soldiers can't even shut off the television broadcasts and the internet communication lines is pretty "tragicomic", everyone would agree to that.

It's important to remember these questions asked by experts in the field: wouldn't we expect to see all private channels be subject to the same treatment as was TRT channel, through which the coup statement was sent out?; Shouldn't TIB (Department of Telecommunication) have been raided and the internet connection been cut off?; From what we know of other examples of coups around the world, couldn't this coup attempt have been initiated in the later hours of the day when everyone was sound asleep?; Considering the fact that this coup is being carried out against the current government and those in political power, shouldn't the coup have been started off by taking the president, ministers and even the leaders of other opposing parties into custody?; The President called out to the citizens to take to the streets through its partisan and supporting channels and media outlets. Why wasn't their broadcast cut off? Because these actions were not taken -- and let's pay attention to the fact that it was not take these actions could not be taken, it was that these actions were not taken -- it is safe for us to say that this attempt was devised in such a way so that it would not succeed. The claims that certain media outlets had gotten hold of the list of soldiers attempting the coup within minutes of the initiation of the coup is in itself proof to support this thought, I believe.

In that case, who are these people who are attempting to stage this coup? In terms of reaching the answer to this question -- which we hope will come clearly out into the open once the attempters have been thoroughly interrogated -- the only thing we can do at the moment is put forward ideas based on the data that has been gathered so far. The only solid data we have at the moment are Fethullah Gulen Hocaefendi -- whom the President and representatives of the government have clearly stated and whom they have demonized by declaring him to be the leader of a parallel state and terrorist organization since the corruption investigations of 17/25 December of 2013 -- and the persons in the military who are supposedly acted out in his command. The fact that the people in power have been labeling even the smallest of legitimate opposition as a form of "coup" (i.e. Gezi Park protests, 17/25 government corruption investigations..) makes these allegations fall short of credibility. This group of people that they are accusing have been suffering at the hands of the government for the past 3 years, with thousands of their organizations being taken over the government, with their media outlets being taken over, with their philanthropic volunteers being taken into custody through fabricated justifications, and so forth.. They have been and continue to express their legitimate opposition and seek their rights, and they do this within the limits of the established laws that are part of a democratic system. In this respect, it is hard to believe that the perpetrators of this coup attempt are truly the ones that the government representatives are pointing their fingers at.

As we continue to express our opinion; we must ask ourselves, which group of persons would be the most beneficial in seeking out the perpetrators of such incidents which remain unsolved? As those who have been closely following Turkish politics from 2010 onward would very well know, those who are in power today, the AKP -- or rather the President himself -- have been labeling any part of society who stand in the way of the ideal of the "Presidential system" as a kind of inside-enemy. These include volunteers of the Hizmet Movement, Kurds, Alawites, liberals.. in short, any group or part of society that does not support his plans and projects or votes for him even. In this respect, the rigging of the June 7 2015 elections which was later considered invalid, the November 1 elections, the terror and violence that has escalated since and the comments and remarks made regarding all of these are all too fresh in our minds.

Looking at things from this perspective, we can see that Erdogan and the ideals that he has been voicing for all these years -- with the Presidential system being in the front lines -- are what have benefited the most from this current attempt. As a matter of fact, if we were to think about how the timing of the coup in question coincided (or was made to coincide) with a period of time when, for days, the pro-Erdogan media outlets have been broadcasting the claims that officers affiliated with the movement will be discharged after the meeting of the Supreme Military Council that is scheduled to be held in the following days, we cannot help but remember the expression "how significant is the timing"! It is only with time that we will understand whether this analogy that we have made based on the only solid data we hold at the moment is in fact true or not, because, alas, the truth does have this bad habit of coming out sooner or later.

Well then, what happens now? One needn't be an oracle to figure this out. As Metin Munir points out in his article on the T24 web page, this unsuccessful coup attempt has 'saved Erdogan while drowning the rest of Turkey.' What needs to be done in the aftermath of this attempt is for AKP to return once again to the spirit of the years of AK Party, the spirit that flourished in its initial founding. When interrogating the perpetrators, they must not make the mistake of turning this into a witch-hunt as had been done during the 17/25 cases. As they call people to account in the name of the rule and superiority of law, they must pay heed to the principles of transparency. Yet, I have doubts that Erdogan, who refers to the attempt of a coup in which 161 citizens died as "God's blessing", will fail to act as such. The portrait of Erdogan that we have witnessed thus far gives the idea that as of July 16 2016 he will become even more harsh and aggressive.

As of this day, Turkey will become a country in which nothing will be as it used to be and a more authoritarian regime will continue to make its course. The authority will continue to pounce on the civilians and will increase its pressure on both the people and the system. The polarization of the society will grow in severity and all dissidents who are caught in Erdogan's radar will continue to suffer and bleed. In fact, the lay off of 2745 judges and the ruling to take 140 Supreme Court and 48 State Council members into custody on the morning of July 16 can be considered the first signal rockets of what is lying ahead.

Published [in Turkish] on Yeni Hayat, 18July 2016, Monday