Erdogan’s favorite coup, or, Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Turkey

My first impression of the failed coup in Ankara and Istanbul is that, despite the hundreds of dead and wounded, it was not quite for real: the plotters did not try to kill or capture Erdoğan and his key lieutenants, to incapacitate the security forces, to destroy AKP offices, and to neutralize the Erdoğan-loving imams. (And they failed to put a face on the operation.) The rebels, it seems, caused quite a few civilian casualties, but forgot to take care of Erdoganists in key positions of power. They resorted to violence but misdirected it in obvious ways.

All in all, either the coup was led by Erdoğan’s trusted agents-provocateurs or Erdoğan’s security services provoked a group of discontented officers into an ill-planned putsch. On the other hand, it is possible that the attempt was a desperate move by soldiers angry at Erdoğan for a perceived betrayal of the army – it could have been his latest change of course in Syria.

Now the path has been cleared for Erdoğan to change the constitution and become dictator-for-life.

Twitter is spewing out incantations like “democracy” and “will of the people” and “brave and courageous Turkish citizens” and all sorts of self-righteous claptrap from varied sources. Look, Iran is a democracy. It has elections, parties, and parliamentary debates. Do you want that for Turkey?

Democracy is worth anything when it ensures certain fundamental rights and liberties: “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” An Islamic democracy, by virtue of being Islamic (unless the term refers to some enlightened branch of the faith, like Ismailism going mainstream), cannot protect the rights of individuals.

By the way, this is democracy in action in Turkey. Islamist savages cutting the throats of young conscripted soldiers involved in the coup attempt.


  1. “Erdoğan’s security services provoked a group of discontented officers into an ill-planned putsch.”

    Possibly, or maybe the plotters knew they were going to be purged anyway and this was a desperate bid to pre-empt that. Not much makes sense. They had the chance to shoot down Erdogan’s jet but they didn’t take it. On the other hand, Erdogan skyping from his hotel room looked pretty shaken and unheroic so that doesn’t suggest he was part of a “false flag operation”.

    Erdogan is almost as thin-skinned as Robert Mugabe. His paranoia has made him fall out with former friends such as Gulen, who is now the “Great Satan”. As you say, expect massive and disproportionate vindictiveness in the coming months. He already had his purge wish lists ready. Erdogan might well overplay his hand though, especially internationally. He’s already tried to blackmail the Americans into handing over Gulen and reinstating the death penalty won’t play well in Europe.

    • I don’t understand how Gülen could have inspired the coup. When he and Erdoğan were friends and allies, Gülen was all for putting senior officers in jail, as it happened during the Sledgehammer and Ergenekon trials. Then he absconded to the US and Erdoğan was left to sort out the army’s and the navy’s problems caused by the decimation (the Ergenekon verdicts get quashed IIRC). Why would the military risk everything to advance Gülen’s agenda?

  2. Democracy is worth anything when it ensures certain fundamental rights and liberties:

    Quite: democracy is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Which the supporters of Hamas never quite understood when they won the elections in Gaza and were confused that the western powers declined to fund them while they continued to fire rockets into Israel. If democracy results in the tyranny of the majority, then it has failed.

  3. They had the chance to shoot down Erdogan’s jet but they didn’t take it.

    Yes, it was an amateurish effort and their hearts didn’t seem to be in it. Had they been serious, they would have driven that tank right over the top of that Erdogan supporter and headed straight for the rest of them. And they’d have made damned sure the TV and radio stations were in their hands within the first hour.

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