Coup in Turkey

star-where-to-Turkey_150I saw a certain amount of joy on the Internet about the perceived humiliation of Turkish President Erdogan. My feelings about the attempted/failed/continuing coup in Turkey are very mixed.

Beterin beteri vardir.
Every “bad” has its “worse”.

Turkish proverb or so I have been told
General Evron

1980 Turkish coup d’état

Turkish Armed Forces see (or perhaps that should be saw) themselves as the guardians of the secular and unitary nature of the Republic along with Atatürk’s reforms and have intervened by taking over the government three times. If it had been successful this would be the fourth. It would seem to be the last, for a very long time.

BUT what messages for the Jews and for Israel?

By reputation the Turkish armed forces for the strongest pro Israel force in the country. While it is true Erdogan had already replaced the General Staff with top military officers sympathetic to his agenda there were, as the attempted coup shows, plenty of slightly lesser ranks left. Coups are almost always conducted by colonels, anyway. Think of Colonel Khaddafi and Colonel Nasser.

No longer.

More than 2,800 military personnel have been arrested. In addition, thousands of judges and prosecutors have been purged.

Retribution has been so swift that some have suggest that the whole thing was staged to enable Erdogan to eliminate his strongest opposition. Fethullah Gülen, for example, the cleric blamed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the failed coup in Turkey has said as much.

Although I am not a Turkish expert I doubt this conspiracy theory. That would have been too much of a gamble – the coup might have succeeded or Erdogan could have been assassinated. Why putting a bullet into his head wasn’t the first order of business is still unclear?

My theory is that a coup attempt was always on the cards. As I wrote earlier there is plenty of historical precedent. Erdogan was simply very well prepared. Probably he always intended to purge some unspecified time in the future. That might have come as early as upcoming meeting of the Supreme Military Council, which convenes every August to consider military appointments and retirements.

Why else were the judiciary also targeted?

Erdogan interviewed

Interview by I-phone

Another lesson is that the ‘traditional’ seizing of the television and radio stations is no longer crucial. A smart phone and social media is all one needs.

CNN will always be happy to assist. What are the ethics of in effect supporting one side in a coup? Is this a case of if we didn’t do it someone else would?

It was less than a month ago that Turkey and Israel kissed and made up over the Mavi Mamara incident.  Full ambassador-level relations were restored and $20 million compensation was paid. This allowed Erdogan to save face. Realists! Turkey and Israel do about $5.6 billion in business with each other despite Erdogan. Turkey could become Israel’s largest customer for natural gas. We should, perhaps, discuss the wisdom of putting all our eggs in this one basket, at some other time.

If you have a conspiratorial frame of mind you might also suggest Turkey’s rapprochement with Israel and Russia was a means to avoid either or both countries assisting with the coup. Israel will undoubtedly be blamed but that is S.O.P. with Muslims and fits neatly into the Jews–are–responsible–for–all–evil framework.

We’ll have to wait and see whether business as usual will continue.

There is, however, some Israeli connections that will not be ignored. General Akin Öztürk, who served as commander of Turkey’s air force, was arrested Saturday in connection with the failed coup. He served as Military Attaché to Israel in the 1990s. Turkey and Israel used to conduct joint military exercises and had a strong partnership in military equipment and arms until September 2011. That will be enough. in some quarters, to blame the Jews but it seems, at least for now, blame the Americans is Turkey’s preferred tactic.

Erdogan asked Germany’s Angela Merkel for asylum. She snubbed him. That must make him the only refugee she has turned away.

I’ll bet she is kicking herself now for all the goodwill she lost, over one weekend. With hindsight had she accepted him he would have been back home before he had a chance to take a shower. The moral, for Israel, is clear. Don’t count on those who call themselves your friends. They may shaft you.

We started with a proverb so it is fitting we end with one that seems applicable to an ill-planned, ultimately unsuccessful coup..

Vakitsiz oten horozun basini keserler.
The cock that crows too early gets his head cut off.

Turkish proverb or so I have been told


About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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