Two days back Turkey was rocked by a #military coup that almost succeeded. The coup failed as large crowds came on the streets and demonstrated against the military take over. There was all-round violence and hundreds have been killed. Elements of the Turkish air force also supported the coup. Turkey has had many military coups earlier, but this was a little different. In earlier coups, the military considering itself as the defender of the secular ideology of Kemal Ataturk intervened to stop Islamization. This coup, however, does not appear to be in the same line as the purpose of the coup is still not clear. It was certainly not against any Islamization and perhaps was directed against Erdogan and his increasing desire to concentrate more power in his hands.
Aftermath of the failed coup
The coup has failed, but I wonder if the seeds of the coup may not incubate and produce another coup some years down the line. The Turkish army has always been a factor in politics and cannot be brushed aside. The aftermath of the coup has seen over 6000 arrests including soldiers. These mass arrests have charged the atmosphere. Erdogan promised retribution for the people who supported the coup. Many in the political leadership have called for the death penalty to be restored so that the coup leaders can be executed. Keeping this in mind President Obama very rightly has advised the Turkish government to take action within the ambit of the law.
Turkey is a splintered society and any move to bring back the death penalty and execute the men involved in the coup is fraught with great risk. This will exacerbate the divisions and sow further disaffection in the army and civil society. America cannot look askance at these happenings as Turkey is an important ally in the fight against ISIS and Al Qaeda. Already the fight is affected as Turkey has closed the airspace over the base used by the USAF and no raids are taking place. It will be in the best interest of Erdogan to have a national reconciliation than to talk of dire punishment and executions. One thing is clear, the army itself is divided and a military that cannot present a unified face cannot face an enemy as well.
No details have come as to who masterminded the coup. This time, the army top brass was not aware of it. Erdogan has accused his political foe Fethullah Gulen now in exile in the USA of having masterminded the coup. But he has not been able to furnish any proof as asked for by the secretary of state Kerry. Could the USA have been aware of the coup attempt? the labor minister Suleyman Soylu has stated that he believed the USA was behind the coup attempt. There is no proof but there are many who are unhappy towards the drift to authority and concentration of power by Erdogan. #Middle East