Trotter on Turkey (and why this is a must-read)

Chris Trotter is refusing to follow the Western media spin that democracy won in Turkey when the military coup was quashed.

The collapse of this attempted coup d’?tat has been met with many sighs of relief in Western capitals. Had it succeeded, President Barack Obama, in particular, would have faced an extremely difficult choice. To condemn the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of a Nato ally; or, to endorse the constitutionally sanctioned role of the Turkish military as the secular Turkish Republic’s ultimate protectors. Because it was precisely in this guise that the soldiers who rose against Erdogan presented themselves. As the last, desperate hope of all those Turks who still cling to the legacy of Mustapha Kemal ? the father of the modern Turkish state.

That it was colonels, and not generals, who ordered their men on to the streets, says much about the state of Turkey. Those who might have struck a more telling blow in the name of the republic, the nation’s most senior military officers, had long ago been arrested under trumped-up charges by Erdogan’s followers, dismissed from their posts and thrown into prison. A similar fate befell the nation’s senior judges and police officers. In the slow-motion coup Erdogan and his Islamist political allies have been carrying out since coming to power 2003, they have been careful to ensure that the secular state they were striking down would never again rise to its feet.

Erdogan already succeeded in eliminating most of the top tier of military commanders who would act against him.?

Those who have been issuing congratulatory statements to the Erdogan regime, should ponder the meaning of its first acts upon reclaiming the levers of power. Yes, thousands of rebel troops and their officers have been detained. That is to be expected. But so, too, have upwards of 2000 judges and prosecutors. Is that the response of a democratic government? No. It is the response of a tyrant who described the failed coup attempt as “A gift from God.”

American and European diplomats have taken reassurance from the coup’s failure, citing the crucial role Turkey has been playing in combating the terrorist Islamic State (IS). Shrewd observers of the Erdogan regime have, however, speculated that part of the motivation for the weekend coup attempt may have been senior army officer’s disgust at alleged behind-the-scenes cooperation between Erdogan and IS. After all, the terrorists’ arms had to come across, and their oil be carried over,somebody’s border.

Those same diplomats should also take another look at the “democratic” crowds who, at Erdogan’s bidding, poured on to the streets of Ankara and Istanbul to confront the rebel troops.

Did they shout: “Long live the Turkish Republic!” Or, “Long live Turkey’s secular democracy!” No. The moustachioed men (there were no women in evidence) shouted “Allahu ekber!” ? “God is great!”, and declaimed the shahadah: “There is no god but God ? and Muhammad is his prophet!”

Erdogan is an Islamist, and he’ll turn Turkey into an Islamic caliphate. He’s just smart enough to do it slowly. The coup was probably Turkey’s last chance to hold on to a secular future.

Article 2 of the Turkish constitution states: “The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state governed by the rule of law”. This reiterates the principle contained in the document’s preamble that: “there shall be no interference whatsoever by sacred religious feelings in state affairs and politics”.

The actions of the Erdogan regime, both before and after the weekend’s abortive coup, make it clear that constitutional government in Turkey has become a fiction. The eternal vigilance Kemal Ataturk enjoined upon Turkey’s soldiers has failed. Europe will soon have an Islamic Republic at its southern gate.


– Chris Trotter, NZ Herald