It is already hard to qualify the July 16 events in Ankara and Istanbul as a military coup or a revolt, like Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s called them in his first reaction. Iran was more accurate: its National Security and Foreign Policy Committee spokesman Seyed Hossein Naghavi Hosseini called the events a mutiny. However, the Iranians are sure that the Turks are paying for their pro-terror policy in Syria.
When all the rebels are punished, the Turkish authorities will still have to find out how a group of military commanders could manage to capture the General Staff, airports, roads and bridges and to take hostage Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar and why they surrendered and tried to flee to Greece. They could not but realize that after so many deaths (194-298 according to different sources) they would not be able to avoid punishment. And some of them have even been lynched. Greece was not the best refuge – as a NATO member it would be obliged to extradite the runaways. On the morning of July 16, the Greek ERT reported that a Turkish helicopter landed in the Greek territory. The people inside were privy to the riot and asked for political asylum. All of them were military men. Turkey has already requested Greece to give them back. The Greek foreign ministry is considering the request.
Almost 3,000 military men had been arrested by July 16 evening. And both sides were lying. At first, the rebels lied that all the Turkish leaders had been arrested and that a new constitution would soon be adopted. Now the authorities are lying that all the rebels have been arrested. But Greek sources report that besides the people from the helicopter, at Turkey’s Gelcu naval base a group of Turkish military men captured a frigate with the commander of the Turkish navy on the board. It is hard to imagine how one could so easily put down a revolt involving military planes and tanks. Among the rebels, according to Mayor of Ankara Melih Gokcek, was the pilot who shot down the Russian Su-24 in Syria last year. Gokcek used this fact to blame rascals from some third party, who sought to isolate Turkey and to spoil its relations with Russia.
The Turkish authorities prefer making such assumptions to finding out what it actually was – a real attempt to topple the “moderate Islamists” or just a show for giving Recep Tayyip Erdogan an even freer hand in his country. According to Erdogan, the rebels were commanded from Pennsylvania. He meant the “father of moderate Islamism” Fethullah Gulen, who is hiding from him in the United States. But first Gulen and his supporter denied any connection to the rebels and then US President Barack Obama expressed support for Erdogan and called on all Turkish parties to support his legitimate regime. Erdogan perfectly knows that Gulen is controlled by the US special services – so, his charges against him mean charges against Washington. In any case, Erdogan’s fraud has been exposed by the rebels, who have said that nobody commanded them.
Any attempted coup – no matter, who organized it – means that the end of the “moderate Islamists” is near.
Erdogan has messed up not only in his contacts with ISIL but in many other interesting “episodes.” The United States is trying to clean up these “mess.” But when the Americans’ partners lose their faces, they lose all they have. We all have seen the examples – Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and many others. But the paradox in Erdogan is not only that he tried to blame Gulen and the Americans but that now some Turkish mass media are trying to blame Russia. Perhaps, very soon the Turks will blame China, Iran, Israel or France. Haven’t you noticed that the crisis in Turkey started right after the tragic events in Nice?
They in Europe say that the attack was organized by the terrorists who came to Europe as refugees, while French President Francois Hollande has sent the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to Syria. ISIL has already claimed responsibility for the attack. In the meantime, US State Secretary John Kerry was negotiating with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Syria and possible US-Russian alliance against terrorism.
The crisis in Turkey has dispelled the myth about strong Erdogan. During the crisis, the ambitious Turkish president was hiding and was contacting his people by phone. This is a far cry from the heroic Chilean President Salvador Allende, who defended his presidential palace with a gun in hand. Erdogan’s behavior has become a revelation for many in Turkey. And what was especially strange to see was that Turkey’s allies, the United States, the European Union and Israel were silent, while Russia, Greece and Iran were the first to stand up for it. Those countries are really worried about Turkey’s growing ambitions over a vast territory from the Balkans to Central Asia.
This is why Erdogan’s “public cowardice” is a guarantee that this is just the beginning and that Turkey’s future is not in the hands of some colonels or majors as Erdogan is trying to show. In the past, Turkish commanders were supervised by the United States and NATO. Today, according to Stoltenberg and Mogherini, they in the West support Erdogan. But the strange thing is that they did not do it during the first hours of the crisis.
Today it has become clear for all that Turkey is facing disintegration in both society and army. And a split in the army is a guarantee of inevitable (military and political) defeats. The fact that the Incirlik air base was in the spotlight has reminded us of the Iranians’ warnings that they are on the watch all along their border with Turkey.
The Turkish air base in Incirlik - the site the Americans and their allies use against ISIL fighters in Iraq and Syria - is now closed, according to CNN. New York Times adds that the Turks have prohibited the Americans from using it and the latter wonder why. Sky News Arabia reports that almost ten Turkish judges have been arrested on suspicion of being privy to the coup. German Chancellor Angela Merkel demands that those guilty be punished legally. And on top of this, Al Jazeera says that a plane with Erdogan onboard has departed from Ataturk Airport in Istanbul to an undisclosed destination. All this proves that the crisis in Turkey is not over.
Even though this is very much like a show (and is very much the August 1991 coup in Moscow), the world’s leaders are worried. What if it was a real attempt to topple Erdogan? In this case, what we witnessed was an attempt by a group of Turkish commanders to keep their country from splits and disintegration. If this is true, this attempt will hardly be the last as Erdogan will hardly be able to regain people’s trust and to come to terms with his nationalist opponents.
EADaily’s Middle East Bureau