Category Archives: Turkey

One Year on From the Failed Coup, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is More Autocratic Than Ever

Soner Çağaptay, author of The New Sultan, writes for The Guardian:

Image result for ErdoğanThis week is the first anniversary of the failed coup against Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a coup he has used since to further alienate his opponents. Most recently, on 16 April, he won a referendum to become head of state and head of government simultaneously, emerging as the most unassailable Turkish politician since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the secular republic in 1923.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Atatürk shaped Turkey in his own image as a western society. In his Turkey, the state banished religion to the private sphere and discriminated against pious citizens. But since 2003, Erdoğan has dismantled Atatürk’s societal model, flooding political and education systems with rigidly conservative Islam, as well as pivoting Turkey away from Europe and the west.

This is, paradoxically, Erdoğan’s Atatürk side. Of course, Erdoğan does not share his values, just his methods. Just as Atatürk reshaped Turkey, so Erdoğan is building a new country, but one that sees itself as profoundly Islamist in politics and foreign policy – to make it a great power once again.

Erdoğan is an anti-Atatürk Atatürk. As I explain in my book The New Sultan, having grown up in secularist Turkey and faced social exclusion at a young age because of his piety, Erdoğan is motivated by animosity towards Atatürk’s ways. Yet he has dismantled Atatürk’s system by using the very tools that the country’s founding elites provided: state institutions and top-down social engineering.



The War Between Globalism and Nationalism Is Just Getting Started

Ian Bremmer writes for Time Magazine:

When the storm turns out to be less severe than the warnings, there’s always a sigh of relief–and maybe a bit of over-confidence after the fact. If fans of the European Union felt better after populist Geert Wilders came up short in the Dutch elections in March, they also took heart from the absence of anti-E.U. firebrands among the leading contenders for this fall’s German elections. Then came May 7. The victory of Emmanuel Macron over Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential elections signaled that “the season of growth of populism has ended,” Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, said on May 8.

Not so fast. Europeans will soon remember that elections are never the end of anything–they’re a beginning. And whether the issue is unelected Eurocrats’ forcing voters to abide by rules they don’t like or fears that borders are insecure, there are good reasons to doubt that the anti-E.U. fever has broken. France’s Macron now faces powerful opposition on both the far right and the far left. Hungary and Poland are becoming increasingly illiberal. Brexit negotiations are getting ugly. And resentment toward the E.U. is still rising throughout Europe.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump may be pushing what increasingly resembles a traditional Republican agenda, but polls show that his supporters are still eager for deeper disruption. Trump’s embrace of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Egypt’s Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte suggests a lasting affinity with aggressive strongmen. His chief adviser and nationalist muse, Stephen Bannon, may be under fire, but he’s still there. The Trump presidency has only just begun.

In short, nationalism is alive and well, partly because the problems that provoked it are still with us. Growing numbers of people in the world’s wealthiest countries still fear that globalization serves only elites who care nothing about nations and borders. Moderate politicians still offer few effective solutions.


‘Sherlock Holmes of Armenian Genocide’ Uncovers Lost Evidence

Tim Arango reports for The New York Times:

For more than a century, Turkey has denied any role in organizing the killing of Armenians in what historians have long accepted as a genocide that started in 1915, as World War I spread across continents. The Turkish narrative of denial has hinged on the argument that the original documents from postwar military tribunals that convicted the genocide’s planners were nowhere to be found.

Now, Taner Akcam, a Turkish historian at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., who has studied the genocide for decades by piecing together documents from around the world to establish state complicity in the killings, says he has unearthed an original telegram from the trials, in an archive held by the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

“Until recently, the smoking gun was missing,” Mr. Akcam said. “This is the smoking gun.” He called his find “an earthquake in our field,” and said he hoped it would remove “the last brick in the denialist wall.”

The story begins in 1915 in an office in the Turkish city of Erzurum, when a high-level official of the Ottoman Empire punched out a telegram in secret code to a colleague in the field, asking for details about the deportations and killings of Armenians in eastern Anatolia, the easternmost part of contemporary Turkey.


Markets Worry More About Political Turmoil Than Encroaching Autocracy

The Economist reports:

Image result for Markets worry more about political turmoil than autocracy[…] In Turkey investors may have feared turmoil if Mr Erdogan’s proposal had been defeated. It is an old, but fairly reliable, rule that investors dislike uncertainty. And the early years of Mr Erdogan’s tenure, when he was seen as a liberalising democrat, saw rapid economic growth; his transformation into an emerging autocrat has not put investors off. Since he took office, the Istanbul market has gained 760% (see chart).

An authoritarian government can provide certainty, at least in the short term. In 1922, when Mussolini took power in Italy, its equity market returned 29% and its government bonds 18%, according to Mike Staunton of the London Business School. Hitler’s accession in 1933 saw German shares return 14% and bonds 15%. True, Wall Street did even better that year under Franklin Roosevelt but still—even then, Hitler was clearly a dangerous extremist.

The world’s most developed economies tend to be democracies, and to be more open to trade and foreign investment. But as China has demonstrated, it is certainly possible to generate rapid economic growth without a democratic system. China’s stockmarket (along with Hong Kong’s) has been among the best-performing bourses this millennium.


‘Dreadful Year’ of Attacks in Turkey Capped by 39 Dead in Istanbul Nightclub Attack

Amy Goodman speaks to Koray Çaliskan, associate professor of political science at Bogaziçi University, and are also joined by Kani Xulam, director of the American Kurdish Information Network, after Turkey suffers another terror attack. (Democracy Now!)

There Is Nothing the Turkish Government Can Do To Stop ISIS Terror Attacks On Its Soil

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

gunman.jpgThe killing by an Islamic State (Isis) gunman of 39 civilians in a nightclub in Istanbul is the latest massacre in Turkey, where such slaughter is now happening every few weeks. The perpetrators may differ but the cumulative effect of these atrocities is to persuade Turks that they live in an increasingly frightening and unstable country. It is also clear that the Turkish government does not know what to do to stop the attacks.

These are likely to continue with unrelenting savagery whatever the government does, because Isis is too big and well-resourced to be eliminated. It is well rooted in Turkey and can use local militants or bring in killers from abroad, as may have happened at the Reina nightclub and was the cae in the assault on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport earlier in the year.

As in France, Belgium or Germany, it is impossible to stop attacks when ordinary civilians are the targets and the killers are prepared to die. Their success is often blamed on “security lapses” but in practice no security will provide safety.

What makes “terrorism” in Turkey different from Europe and the Middle East is not the number of dead – more are killed by Isis in Baghdad every month – but the diversity of those carrying them out. Three weeks ago, the killing of 44 people — mostly policemen — outside a football stadium in Istanbul was claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), allegedly an arm of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey in Ankara on 19 December was blamed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a third group, the followers of Feithullah Gulen, who are held responsible for the failed military coup on 15 July.


Turkey Leads World in Jailing Journalists in 2016: Interview with Elana Beiser

Kim Brown speaks to Elana Beiser, editorial director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), who says countries are using their own national security laws against journalists who are critical of authorities. (The Real News)

The Istanbul Bombings Are a Sign of the Trouble Turkey Is Now In

Patrick Cockburn, author of Chaos & Caliphate, writes for The Independent:

Image result for Istanbul Bombings[…] The bombings will no doubt be used by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to justify his proposed assumption of more power under a new bill just submitted to the Turkish parliament. In practice, Erdogan already wields dictatorial powers and Turkey’s shift towards becoming an authoritarian state using arbitrary powers is well under way. The last remnants of the free media are being closed down and journalists are being arrested under the guise of pursuing those responsible for the failed military coup on 15 July. Even before this purge, Kurdish population centres in the south east had been shelled and bulldozed into heaps of rubble.

Erdogan has responded to the Istanbul bombings by swearing to eradicate those responsible, but it was he himself who created the conditions under which terrorism has become a permanent feature of Turkish life. He chose confrontation with the Kurds last year in order to boost his nationalist support at the polls, while the rise of Isis in Syria since 2011 would not have been possible without Turkey’s tolerance of extreme jihadis. For a long time Isis had free passage across the Turkish-Syrian border and al-Qaeda clones, not much different from Isis, received copious supplies of arms and ammunition.


The Kingmaker Club

Stephen Kinzer writes for The Boston Globe:

epa05501742 A Houthi militiaman keeps watch as Yemenis attend a rally in support of the newly formed supreme political council, Sana'a, Yemen, 20 August 2016. According to reports, the supreme political council, formed by Houthi rebels and ex-president Ali Saleh three weeks ago, called on Saudi Arabia to direct negotiations to put an end to the 17-month conflict in Yemen, in an attempt to bypass stalled UN-sponsored peace talks between the Houthis and Yemen's Saudi-backed government. EPA/YAHYA ARHABViolently intervening in the affairs of other countries has brought the United States much grief over the last century. We are hardly the only ones who do it. The club of interventionist nations has a shifting membership. During the current round of Middle East conflict, two new countries have joined: Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Both have succumbed to the imperial temptation. Both are paying a high price. They are learning a lesson that Americans struggle to accept: Interventions have unexpected consequences and often end up weakening rather than strengthening the countries that carry them out.

Turkey’s long intervention in Syria has failed to bring about its intended result, the fall of President Bashar Assad. Instead it has intensified the Syrian conflict, fed a regional refugee crisis, set off terrorist backlash, and deeply strained relations between Turkey and its NATO allies. As this blunder has unfolded, Saudi Arabia has also been waging war outside its territory. Its bombing of neighboring Yemen was supposed to be a way of asserting regional hegemony, but it has aroused indignant condemnation. The bombing campaign has placed Saudi Arabia under new scrutiny, including more intense focus on its role in promoting global terror, which the Saudi royal family has managed to keep half-hidden for years.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia intervened in foreign conflicts hoping to establish themselves as regional kingmakers. Both miscalculated. They overestimated their ability to secure quick victory and failed to weigh the strategic costs of failure or stalemate. If the Turks and Saudis had studied the history of American interventions, they would have been more prudent. We know the sorrows of empire. From Iran to Cuba to Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq, the legacy of our interventions continues to haunt us. Ambitious powers, however, continue to ignore the stark lesson that American history teaches. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are the latest to repeat our mistake. It is the same mistake that has undermined many nations and empires. They overestimated their ability to shape events in foreign lands. Now they are paying for their delusional overreach.


Obama to Erdogan: U.S. Will Help Find Coup Plotters

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Presidents Barack Obama and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met face-to-face today for the first time since the failed July coup in Turkey, providing for a somewhat awkward side-story to the G20 summit in China. Obama sought to reassure Erdogan of his support, and committed to help bring those involved in the coup to justice.

This has been an enormously touchy subject between the US and Turkey, with Erdogan seeking the extradition of a high-profile cleric from the United States, who he has accused of masterminding the coup. Expressing outrage at US reticence, Erdogan and other Turkish officials have suggested that the US was involved in the coup.


Investors Unfazed by Instability in Turkey

Landon Thomas Jr. reports for The New York Times:

On the face of it, this might not seem the right time to be investing in Turkey.

Terrorists attacked the main airport in Istanbul, a foiled coup raised questions about political stability, and the country’s debt is being downgraded by rating agencies — all of this happening within a span of two weeks.

So what were the best-performing investments in the global economy last week?

You guessed it: Turkish stocks and bonds — up 6.6 and 3.8 percent in dollar terms, according to Merrill Lynch.

Emerging markets are known for their wild, discordant swings, but this mini-rally in Turkey, brief as it may be, highlights just how much risk yield-starved investors are willing to take on when $11 trillion worth of bonds of governments around the world are offering up negative returns.


Turkey’s secret pact with Islamic State exposed by operative behind wave of ISIS attacks

Nafeez Ahmed reports for INSURGE INTELLIGENCE:

New evidence has emerged that the Turkish government under President Erdogan is covertly providing direct military, financial and logistical support to ISIS, even while claiming to fight the terror network.

The evidence comes in the form of testimony from an ISIS terrorist captured by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, widely recognised as the most effective force confronting ISIS on the ground.

The testimony has been reported by two Kurdish news agencies, the Syrian-Kurdish Harwar News Agency (ANHA) based in Rojava, and the Turkish-Kurdish Ajansa Nûçeyan a Firatê (Firat News Agency or ANF News). The latter’s head office is based in Amsterdam.

Websites of both news agencies are blocked in Turkey.

Interviews with the ISIS fighter, captured by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), reveal that Turkish military and security forces are facilitating ISIS operations within Syria, as well as ISIS terrorist attacks inside Turkey.

The new testimony corroborates similar claims made by other former and active ISIS members, as well as Western and Middle East intelligence sources.

Yet Turkey is a leading member of the NATO alliance. And while the Western members of NATO have gathered mounting intelligence confirming Turkey’s sponsorship of ISIS, they have refused to act on this intelligence.


Erdogan Moves to Consolidate Power After Failed Military Coup: Interview with Baris Karaagac and Ariel Salzmann

Sharmini Peries speaks to Baris Karaagac and Ariel Salzmann who discuss the July 15th coup attempt and say the Turkish president will use the crisis to eliminate all dissent from the judiciary and the military. (The Real News)


Erdogan could use the coup against him to turn Turkey towards full-scale Islamisation

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

an102884259epa05427172.jpg[…] The programme of Mr Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) since they won their first general election in 2002 has been to reverse the secularisation introduced by Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the republic in 1923.  As the AKP has tightened its grip on power, it has chipped away at the secular institutions of the state and encouraged the Islamisation of education and social behaviour as well as seeking to cull non-Islamist officials and officers.

Mr Erdogan has said that he wants to see “the growth of a religious generation”, which would replace long-standing secular domination in Turkey. His foreign policy since the Arab Spring in 2011 has been to support the largely Sunni Arab uprising in Syria in alliance with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, though his efforts to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad have so far failed. This strategy included tolerance for extreme Islamist jihadi movements such as Isis, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, enabling them to establish networks of support inside Turkey. However, in the summer of 2015 the Turkish government agreed to let the US and four other states, including the UK, use Incirlik air base in south east Turkey for air strikes against Isis. Gunmen and bombers from the Islamist group attacked Ataturk Istanbul airport in June killing 42 people.

The failed coup will enable the implementation of Mr Erdogan’s long-desired presidential system based on Islamic values. It is unlikely to face much resistance now from people who do not want to be labelled as coup sympathisers. Not only are large numbers of soldiers and officials being arrested, but they are being publicly humiliated by being beaten, forced to strip to their underwear and lie crammed together on the floor of wherever they are being held. The commander of Incirlik air base, Gen Bekir Ercan Van, was shown on film handcuffed and being bundled into the back of a van.


Welcome to the Turkish Winter: The Great Purge is Just Beginning

Burak Kadercan writes for War on the Rocks:

Crowd-Flag-Turkey-Coup[…] Put bluntly, we have just entered a new phase in the ever-dramatic and hardly predictable story of Turkish democracy, a chapter that could easily be called the “Turkish Winter.” The coup attempt and Erdogan’s reactions to it will be the key drivers of this phase, but they are merely the symptoms of the real disease that troubles Turkey. The ever-struggling Turkish democracy is dying a slow and painful death, and no single political actor has the will, power, and the right set of incentives to prevent this decay. The road ahead is stark: either an absolute presidency that will not only further ossify but also institutionalize Erdogan’s one-man status, or civil strife that will either take the country down the road of Syria or lead to yet another coup attempt.

I wrote about this phase, “Turkish Winter,” for the first time three years ago amid the Gezi Park protests and later here on War on the Rocks last September. Back then, my predictions appeared to many as mere hyperbolic and dystopian nonsense to some. In the wake of the failed coup attempt, the claim that Turkish democracy is on its deathbed is no longer hyperbole, but rather an obvious statement. Dystopia has become how many Turks have come to define the state of Turkish politics. At the time, I was trying to warn spectators about the coming of a political firestorm (or ice age, if I am to stick to the winter terminology). The coup attempt and its immediate aftermath suggest in no uncertain terms that we have entered a new phase in Turkish politics. Welcome to the Turkish Winter. And it is only beginning.


Turkey Coup: Erdogan Purges 20,000 As EU Commissioner Voices Concern Over “Prepared Arrest Lists”

Tyler Durden reports for Zero Hedge:

[…] In total, approximately 20,000 political opponents “purged” just days after the conclusion of the failed coup.

At the same time speculation that the terribly planned “coup” was anything but came from the European Commission itself. As Reuters adds, the swift rounding up of judges and others after a failed coup in Turkey indicated the government had prepared a list beforehand, according to EU commissioner dealing with Turkey’s membership bid, Johannes Hahn, said on Monday.

“It looks at least as if something has been prepared. The lists are available, which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain stage,” Hahn said. “I’m very concerned. It is exactly what we feared.”

It is also exactly what Erdogan has expected and hoped for. And with broad western support for Erdogan over the weekend, his mission to concentrate all Turkish power in his own hands is now assured.


Erdogan: Death Penalty, Detentions to Cleanse Turkey After Failed Coup

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

The first 48 hours after Friday evening’s failed coup d’etat in Turkey has seen the launching of a massive crackdown on anyone even suspected of being involved, with some 6,000 from the military already detained in relation to the attempt, including the commander of the Incirlik Air Base, where US troops and a substantial number of US nuclear arms are stationed.

This appears to be just the beginning, with Erdogan openly talking about bringing back the death penalty, saying the public wants to see the coup plotters executed and that “in a democracy, whatever the people want they will get.”

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag also hinted that the mass detentions are going to go quite a bit further, saying that the operation “is continuing” and that the number could soon surpass the 6,000 being reported.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is vowing that the entire country would be cleansed of the “virus” responsible for the coup attempt, attempting the pin the effort on former ally and current exile Fethullah Gulen.


The 50 American H-Bombs in Turkey

Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, writes for The New Yorker:

B-61 nuclear bombs, the same model as those stored by the U.S. at airbases in various NATO countries, often under lax safeguards.[…] According to Hans M. Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, underground vaults at Incirlik hold about fifty B-61 hydrogen bombs—more than twenty-five per cent of the nuclear weapons in the NATO stockpile. The nuclear yield of the B-61 can be adjusted to suit a particular mission. The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima had an explosive force equivalent to about fifteen kilotons of TNT. In comparison, the “dial-a-yield” of the B-61 bombs at Incirlik can be adjusted from 0.3 kilotons to as many as a hundred and seventy kilotons.

Incirlik was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the wake of the Second World War; when Turkey joined NATO, in 1952, it became a crucial American base during the Cold War. With a flight time of about an hour to the Soviet Union, the base hosted American fighters, bombers, tankers, and U-2 spy planes. And, like many NATO bases, it stored American nuclear weapons. NATO strategy was dependent on nuclear weapons as a counterbalance to the perceived superiority of Soviet conventional forces. The threat of a nuclear attack, it was assumed, would deter Soviet tanks from rolling into NATO territory. And granting NATO countries access to nuclear weapons would strengthen the alliance, providing tangible evidence that the United States would risk a nuclear war for NATO’s defense.


Despite Early Tensions, US-Turkey Ties Remain Unchanged After Coup Attempt

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

The immediate wake of Friday evening’s failed military coup in Turkey looked like it was going to have a significant impact on US-Turkish relations, with power cut to the airbase at Incirlik, from which a significant number of US forces operate. There were even suggestions that the US might’ve been involved in the coup attempt.

Secretary of State John Kerry denied such claims, and insisted it was “irresponsible” to even suggest the US might’ve been involved with the coup, despite all those coups the US has been covertly involved with over the years.

Indeed, much of the speculation related to Kerry’s own statements in the early hours of the coup effort, in which he emphasized a US desire for “stability and continuity.” It was only when it became apparent that the coup was failing that US officials began issuing statements condemning the effort.


Turkey Coup: How an iPhone Defeated the Tanks

David Hearst writes for Middle East Eye:

To mount a coup, senior Turkish army officers from the commando units, land forces, the first and fourth armies, and the airforce went to extreme lengths to seize power.

They occupied two airports and closed a third. They attempted to separate the European from the Asian sides of Istanbul. They bombed the parliament in Ankara nine times. There was a pitched battled outside the headquarters of MIT the Turkish intelligence agency. They deployed tanks, helicopter gunships and F16 jets.

To defeat the coup, the Turkish president used his iPhone. Mosques used their loudspeakers, broadcasting the call to prayer hours before dawn. Political leaders of all creeds, some staunch opponents of the president, called unambiguously for the coup to be defeated. Policemen arrested soldiers.

Unarmed people recaptured CNN Turk and the bridges across the Bosphorus, braving gunfire to recapture democracy for their country.


Erdogan Had It Coming: Turkey’s Coup May Have Failed, But History Shows Another Will Succeed

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

turkey-soldiers.jpgRecep Tayyip Erdogan had it coming. The Turkish army was never going to remain compliant while the man who would recreate the Ottoman Empire turned his neighbours into enemies and his country into a mockery of itself. But it would be a grave mistake to assume two things: that the putting down of a military coup is a momentary matter after which the Turkish army will remain obedient to its sultan; and to regard at least 161 deaths and more than 2,839 detained in isolation from the collapse of the nation-states of the Middle East.

For the weekend’s events in Istanbul and Ankara are intimately related to the breakdown of frontiers and state-belief – the assumption that Middle East nations have permanent institutions and borders – that has inflicted such wounds across Iraq, Syria, Egypt and other countries in the Arab world. Instability is now as contagious as corruption in the region, especially among its potentates and dictators, a class of autocrat of which Erdogan has been a member ever since he changed the constitution for his own benefit and restarted his wicked conflict with the Kurds.

Needless to say, Washington’s first reaction was instructive. Turks must support their “democratically elected government”. The “democracy” bit was rather hard to swallow; even more painful to recall, however, was the very same government’s reaction to the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi’s “democratically elected” government in Egypt in 2013 – when Washington very definitely did not ask Egypt’s people to support Morsi and quickly gave its support to a military coup far more bloody than the attempted putsch in Turkey. Had the Turkish army been successful, be sure Erdogan would have been treated as dismissively as the unfortunate Morsi.


Turkey’s President Survives Coup Attempt, Thanks in Part to Social Media He So Despises

Robert Mackey writes for The Intercept:


[…] The plotters failed, despite following a script that had might have succeeded in the 20th century, in part because Erdogan was able to rally support for democratic rule using 21st century tools: video chat and social media.

After the officers claimed control of the country in a statement they forced a presenter to read on TRT, the state broadcaster, the country’s internet and phone networks remained out of their control. That allowed Erdogan to improvise an address to the nation in a FaceTime call to CNN Turk, a private broadcaster the military only managed to force off the air later in the night, as the coup unraveled. In his remarks, the president called on people to take to the streets.

Minutes later, the president repeated his plea for protesters to defend democracy on his own Twitter feed.



The Counter-Coup in Turkey

The New York Times Editorial Board writes:

It was ironic that, as members of the military launched a coup against him on Friday night, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey resorted to guerrilla media tactics — broadcasting via the FaceTime app on his cellphone — to urge Turks to oppose the plotters. Mr. Erdogan has been no friend to free expression, ruthlessly asserting control over the media and restricting human rights and free speech. Yet thousands responded to his appeal, turning back the rebels and demonstrating that they still value democracy even if Mr. Erdogan has eroded its meaning.

That erosion now seems likely to accelerate, exacting a terrible price from Turkey’s citizens and posing new challenges to international efforts to confront the Islamic State and halt the killing in Turkey’s neighbor, Syria.

Given the chaotic and bloody events of the last two days, there is little doubt that Mr. Erdogan will become more vengeful and obsessed with control than ever, exploiting the crisis not just to punish mutinous soldiers but to further quash whatever dissent is left in Turkey. “They will pay a heavy price for this,” he said, chillingly. “This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.”



A Short History of Modern Turkey’s Military Coups

Turkish Coup 1960As Turkey was roiled on Friday by an attempt by the military to seize control of the nation in a coup, some of its older citizens may have a sense of déjà vu.

Though Turkey has had a long and illustrious history as a regional power—the Ottoman Empire, ruled from Istanbul, was long a major power—the Republic of Turkey itself is a relatively young nation, founded less than a century ago. And yet it has seen more than its fair share of coups.

That high rate of turmoil isn’t exactly an accident. In fact, one of the reasons behind the string of coups has to do with something baked into the Turkish system of government. As TIME explained after one of those coups, the nation’s constitution leaves the military with the authority to “step in” when needed; military leaders are not beholden to political leaders.

As the magazine put it in 1960, after autocratic premier Adnan Menderes was deposed in a largely bloodless military coup: “The Turkish army has long scrupulously observed the admonition of the late great Kemal Ataturk that the army should stay out of partisan politics. But it also remembered that Ataturk charged it with guarding the constitution.”


A failed coup in Turkey could tip the country into authoritarianism

Ezra Klein writes for Vox:

Could the coup attempt in Turkey against President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan’s government end up empowering… President Erdogan? Some analysts think so.

To see why, go back to this excellent July 5th New York Times story by Sabrina Tavernise outlining the growing fears that Erdogan was moving towards “seizing the title of president for life.”

At the time of the article, the concern was that Erdogan sought — and could perhaps achieve — authoritarian power in his office. He was trying to purge hundreds of judges from Turkey’s top courts, cracking down on freedom of the press (the editor of the state’s largest newspaper was forced to flee the country), and forging a closer alliance with the country’s military (“the [military’s] chief of staff was a witness at his daughter’s wedding”).

The story paints a picture of a country teetering on the brink of authoritarianism. “Pray for us,” Ergun Ozbudun, a constitutional expert, told the Times.


How Turkey’s military launched coup against President Erdogan

Protesters stand on an armoured vehicle in Istanbul.Even before soldiers appeared on Istanbul’s Bosphorus Bridge and tanks were positioned at the entry and exit points for the capital’s Ataturk Airport on Friday night, there had been a sense of unease in the air in the Turkish capital.

On a warm sunny day Gabriel Turner, a 23-year-old management consultant from north London who was on holiday in Istanbul, had been strolling through the city and remarked on how many police seemed to be patrolling the streets

“I thought that was normal but the two Turkish girls I was with told me it wasn’t,” he told The Telegraph on Friday night. “We were walking around the centre of Istanbul, at the Grand Bazaar there were police at every entrance and exit with lots of guns.”

A few hours later, at about 8pm, a police helicopter was seen buzzing low over the rooftops, as if it was searching for something – another sign perhaps of what was to come – but it was not until nearly 10.30pm that the true import of the military manoeuvres became clear.

Suddenly in the thriving heart of Istanbul where friends had gathered for a Friday night out, everyone was looking at their phones – word was filtering out – Turkey was once again subject to a military coup.


Erdogan Continues His Consolidation of Power in Turkey: Interview with Baris Karaagac

Sharmini Peries speaks with Baris Karaagac, who says Turkey’s President Erdoğan is continuing to consolidate power by appointing his friend and current Transportation Minister as Vice President. (The Real News)

Turkey’s New PM Says Expanding Erdogan’s Power “Top Priority”

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Just weeks after the expulsion of Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey has a new prime minister in the former of Binali Yildirim, a former Transportation Minister and long-time ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Needless to say, this greatly improves Erdogan’s position, ending his feud with the prime minister’s office over attempts to expand his own power, with Yildirim saying that his “top priority” is to expand Erdogan’s power, at the expense of his new post.

Historically, the Turkish prime minister holds most of the power in government, with the presidency mostly a figurehead position. Erdogan, however, has been shifting this since becoming president, seeking “reforms” that will give him near-dictatorial power.

Davutoglu, a high-profile politician himself, was clearly resistant to losing so much power, but Yildirim seems fully aware that he’s in office to do exactly that, and with Erdogan now getting a constitutional amendment allowing him to prosecute his political opponents, it seems nothing stands in his way from adding to his authority.


Turkey’s Erdogan Rejects EU, Won’t Ease Anti-Terror Laws

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ruled out any reforms to his nation’s anti-terror laws, even if it costs his nation the long-sought deal for visa-free travel within the European Union for periods of up to 90 days.

Human rights groups have roundly criticized the Turkish laws for allowing the government to crack down on general dissent, including nationalizing the major newspaper, Zaman, and arresting researchers and journalists for criticizing the president.

Erdogan has insisted his government needs such powers for national security, and says the EU won’t force any changes. If anything, signs are that the Turkish government is moving to increase its powers even further, with ongoing efforts to strip opposition MPs of legal immunity so Erdogan can charge them with terrorism as well.

In March, Erdogan declared that “democracy, freedom, and the rule of law have absolutely no value any longer,” in a speech in which he vowed to revoke that immunity and set the Turkish military on the political opposition to “do what is necessary.”


Turkey: Erdogan wants to rule Turkey without Davutoglu

Reinhard Baumgarten writes for DW:

There is great cause for alarm in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has gone to unprecedented lengths to consolidate his power. He is determined to change the constitution and make himself the boundless ruler of the Turkish people by hook or by crook. Voters have declined to help him to that end in two successive parliamentary elections. Both times his Justice and Development Party (AKP) came up clearly shy of the votes needed to assemble a parliamentary majority.

Yet Erdogan, who constantly points out that he is the first Turkish president to be directly elected, refuses to accept the message that voters have sent him. Erdogan appointed Ahmet Davutoglu to succeed him as prime minister because he saw him as a willing executor of his political will. That obviously didn’t work out. Despite his abundant loyalty toward Erdogan, Davutoglu remained too independent.

Tensions have been simmering within the AKP for months now. Party grandees such as Abdullah Gül and Bülent Arinc have openly expressed their displeasure with Erdogan’s shameless lust for power. Nevertheless, such criticism hasn’t changed anything. Quite the opposite: Erdogan, who is obliged by the current constitution to remain neutral on a party level, has strengthened his control over the AKP.