” … an excuse to snuff out secular democracy” Quartz


 "In the immediate aftermath of the Turkish military’s attempted coup on July 15, the international community responded with relief. While many people within Turkey and outside of it are no fans of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian regime, the bloodshed and chaos that would have resulted from a government overthrow seemed like the worse of two options

But a little more than a week after the failed coup, it’s clear that the Turkish president is taking advantage of it in an attempt to gain absolute power in Turkey, enacting draconian measures and targeting any person or institution who might act as a voice of dissent. As Turkey moves toward dictatorial rule, here’s what the international community needs to know. 

Turkey has so far used its newly declared state of emergency to force the closure of 2,341 institutions, including universities, charities, hospitals, and labor unions. What does this have to do with the coup attempt?   Quartz


Whether or not you agree with me that Sultan Tayyip I was in control of the "coup," it seems clear that he intends to destroy Turkish secular republicanism. His persecution of the supposed Gulenist "threat" is IMO just a squabble between two factions of the Islamist movement in Turkey.  The real target for Erdogan is Ataturk's legacy.  pl  


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49 Responses to ” … an excuse to snuff out secular democracy” Quartz

  1. Dubhaltach says:

    Colonel, All:
    Patrick Armstrong’s posting about the goings-on in Turkey is well worth reading: Thoughts on the Coup Attempt in Turkey – Russia Observer

  2. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    Just perhaps with full control of 50+ nuclear devices (Incirclik+black sites) the Sultan’s real target is less Ataturk’s legacy and more a “refresh” of the Ottoman Empire ‘beyond’ Vienna/The Gulf.
    Perhaps the time has come, thanks to Erdogan and Trump, to think about reformulating US alliances based less on defense and country markets per se and more on land-sea geographic resources.

  3. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Col. Lang, SST;
    Here is a parody on this subject:
    I will try to formulate our synopsis of what is transpiring in a day or so.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  4. Stonevendor says:

    Somehow it is hard to imagine this happening again with today’s Turkey.

  5. oofda says:

    You are spot-on. In fact, this crackdown appears to have been planned for some time, with Erdogan just waiting for such an opportunity. What effect this will have on NATO and the struggle against ISIS is an unknown for now. But very troubling indeed.

  6. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    A comment on the article you linked to:
    One of the reasons for this “coup”‘s failure was the secular officers in TSK, who sat it out. They deliberately let the gulen creeps surface and be identified. That tayyip is also arresting some secular officers is just opportunism on his part. Quite a few flag rank officers who had been jailed under the sledge-hammer and Ergenekon plots of the gulenists are being recalled to active duty.
    Those who impute collaboration between seculars and gulenists are quite misguided.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  7. b says:

    Is there any non-Gülen organization that has been cracked down on yet?
    The schools, universities and hospitals closed are, as far as I could tell, all Gülen related.
    I am so far rather encouraged that Erdogan has not attacked the other parties and allowed demonstrations. CHP even demanded Gülen’s extraction from the U.S. today. It does, like most other people, believe that the U.S. was involved in the coup (or at least knew about it and didn’t tell).
    Erdogan is right now engineering a 180 degree turn in foreign policy orientation. From west to east (Russia, China, Iran). He even lets the Syrian rebels hang in the air. He needs the support of his whole nation for that turn.
    I do not believe that he will crack down on everything secular (yet). It would ruin his international standing everywhere (including in the east) and diminish his legitimacy. Why should he bother. He has a comfortable majority in parliament and all the time of the world.

  8. turcopolier says:

    IMO you are deluded. He intends to destroy secularism in Turkey. “The schools, universities and hospitals closed are, as far as I could tell, all Gülen related” How do you know that? Is it because the government says so? http://www.unz.com/article/erdogan-takes-control/ pl

  9. SmoothieX12 says:

    Somehow it is hard to imagine this happening again with today’s Turkey.
    Why? About 15-16 years ago Anatol Lieven wrote a wonderful piece on non-linear nature of history. The piece, if my Alzheimer doesn’t fail me, was in Foreign Affairs. It was a very symptomatic piece since Fukuayama’s faux-academic delusion of the End Of History was still very popular and Huntington’s magnum opus was being challenged left and right by neocons. But for some reason, Huntington’s prediction of self-identification, especially with faith, was happening much faster than unfolding of the end of history. It was just history, as it always was. For me it was very clear since I experienced all that first-hand and way before Huntington’s Clash Of Civilizations was published.
    In the end, in Frank Herbert’s Dune universe it was a feudal political order and it was well tens of thousands years into the future. I wonder if Fukuyama even read Dune to give himself a pause. Lieven pretty much was saying the same–things go and come around, Marxists called it a spiral model of society’s development. In simple words–as Pink Floyd sang:
    Us, and them
    And after all we’re only ordinary men.
    Me, and you.
    God only knows it’s noz what we would choose to do.
    Forward he cried from the rear
    and the front rank died.
    And the general sat and the lines on the map
    moved from side to side.
    Black and blue
    And who knows which is which and who is who.
    Up and down.
    But in the end it’s only round and round.

    Race, blood, culture, faith always (I underscore–always) trump political system in the end. Turkey is not an exception, especially when one knows a thing or two about Islam. In the end, there was Iran and nobody cares what brand of clothes is being worn by people–once the cry of faith and nation is heard, elites should run. This is in a nutshell.

  10. turcopolier says:

    “it is hard to imagine this happening again with today’s Turkey” Ah! you are a victim of the false idea that history has direction and evolves. pl

  11. SmoothieX12 says:

    I do support (but only to a certain degree) spiral (that is come and go but each time on a new plane of development) view of history. I, certainly, do not accept the idea of “democracy” (the most abused political term in history) as a final point of development. As I already stated race, blood, faith are in the foundation–the thing Marxists failed to recognize. I, certainly, can understand Tolstoy’s Differential Of History theory. As per phrase:
    “it is hard to imagine this happening again with today’s Turkey”
    I simply quoted Stonevendor to address the factor of faith (and the rest of it). Turkey remained Islamic in culture even under Attaturk’s secularism. I saw many Turkmen, Azeri, Dagestani and Chechen non-urban localities in my life–even after 60-70 years of the serious secular (much more serious than Attaturk’s) Soviet rule, the outlook remained distinctly Islamic, bar, of course, polygamy which was an absolute no-no.

  12. walrus says:

    if history is a guide, Erdogan will seek control of every institution in Turkey that could possibly be a source of dissent or a foundation of opposition. This will go right down to the professional associations, Freemasons, Alliance Francais etc., charitable institutions. They must either be controlled or destroyed.
    Anyone who thinks Erdogan will stop at the alleged Gulenists is tragically misguided. Now is the time to get out while you can.

  13. VietnamVet says:

    Having survived the coup, Erdogan’s only choice is to consolidate his Islamic Base and neuter the Turkish Military Forces. Internationally his regime has to join in an alliance with Russia and China for protection and economic aid. The bloggers’ b and Dmitry Orlov view of him switched 180 degrees instantly when this became clear. Western media and its leaders have to ignore the loss of Turkey less Donald Trump be elected in November. The utter incompetence of the West’s leadership has been exposed. They are failing at their basic job of protecting their citizens. This is all interconnected; the dismantling of democratic governance, the rise of Corporatism, and Globalism’s Losers returning to their tribal roots for safety. Russia is the media scapegoat. The world is plunging into the abyss of a third Great War with Russia.

  14. b says:

    Disagree with Giraldi on most things he touches in that piece. Including some factual numbers he got wrong (like 20,000 imprisoned – its some 12 with 8 of them being simple soldiers who will be set free over the next days). He doesn’t get “peace at home” which is an old Atatürk slogan and a Kemalist motto “Peace at home, peace abroad”.)
    While my first thesis was that this was probably a fake coup I have changed that after looking at some details. The coup was real. The Russians picked up the preparations and alarmed the government. The general command ordered stand down for all troops which warned the coup plotters. They decided to launch prematurely in the afternoon instead of 3:00am. Units got even stuck in traffic! The bad timing ruined it especially after the people came out.
    Whatever. It is irrelevant what we believe. What the Turkish people believe is the reality with which everyone will have to live. The majority believes that the U.S. was somehow behind it (just like it was behind that Gezi park show). That is at least not implausible.
    Girladi also does not consider the alternative. What would have happened if a coup would have won? Not even half the army stood behind it. Erdogan followers as well as secular folks would not be cowered (They remember 1980). There would have been massive street fights and a guerilla civil war would have started. ISIS and Jabhat would have come in from Syria to join the fight. The mess would have been gigantic (and could still go there).
    The Gülen crew is just as ambitious and ruthless as Erdogan. See the Ergenok and Sledgehammer cases. Erdogan will knock it out.
    He has a plurality of voters but not a 50+% majority. I don’t expect that to change. He’ll make a lot of loud noise, continue his Islamisation program as it was already running and (hopefully) turn down the Syria engagement.
    I hate the guy but what is coming is likely less negative than all plausible alternatives.

  15. turcopolier says:

    Giraldi lived for many years in Turkey. How about you? pl

  16. michael brenner says:

    Yes – I know personally former students, apolitical and secular, who have been “suspended” from university and government jobs.

  17. SmoothieX12 says:

    Just now the political decision to build Turkish Stream was made. Russian official Rossyiskaya Gazeta informs:
    The link is in Russian. It will have colossal ramifications.

  18. kodlu says:

    On a longer historical scale, the US was very happy to support/look the other way the rise of “moderate” Islam in Turkey, starting as early as the 80s, of the Evren + Ozal variety, thinking they would be more pliable. The Saudi money first entered Turkish politics back then, people like journalist Ugur Mumcu who wrote at length on these were assassinated. So the deep state took on increasing Islamist overtones, so called “Turkish-Islamic” synthesis. After the soft postmodern coup of 2007, Erbakan who was more nationalistic was eliminated as a political alternative, and the rise of AKP was set in motion, with former Demirel, Erbakan, Ozal, Ciller supporters joining the AKP and some useful idiot fellow travellers of the extreme liberal variety also sympathetic and taking care of public relations with the outside world. This coalition also included Gulenists who got stronger in the government apparatus, and after the fake “Ergenekon/Balyoz” trials of Kemalist and some Eurasianist generals, were able to entrench themselves even more in the Turkish armed forces.
    The coup failed because enough Kemalist officers, rank and file soldiers, and the public opposed it. The days of coups are long past, but the problem of Erdogan remains. It is very unclear how this will play out in terms of foreign policy and in terms of the Turkish polity. Don’t forget all political parties have opposed the coup.
    A good English source on Balyoz is Dani Rodrik.

  19. turcopolier says:

    “The days of coups are long past.” Do you really believe that? Why are they “past?” pl

  20. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    My question on the Turkey coup is “How does this affect the Opium Farm and who controls it?” That is to say, Turkey is a lynchpin in the global heroin trade. Especially to Europe (including Russia). Deep state involvement in the heroin trade is key not only to backstage armaments deals but also to propping up drug laundering banks like Bank of America and HSBC.

  21. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to Ishmael Zechariah 26 July 2016 at 02:28 PM
    I’ll take your word for it while bearing in mind our host’s maxim that one should consider not only the information but its source.

  22. b says:

    Traveled to and in Turkey regularly in the 1990s (had a Turkish girl friend at that time). Several multi-weeks long trips, alone and as pair, in mostly east and south east Turkey by regular public bus and Dolmus. Living in non-tourist hotels. Contacts with (lower officer rank) Turkish military as well as with Kurds who I believe were PKK.
    Not enough to really learn the country or language but enough for some impressions of the society.

  23. b says:

    There is a historic connection of the heroin trade from and through Turkey and the CIA going back to 1948.
    See Heroin, Organized Crime, and the Making of Modern Turkey. Ryan Gingeras. Oxford University Press. 2014.
    There are claims, though no public proof, that the Gülen organization’s money was generated in that relation.

  24. visitor says:

    There are a few points that are often forgotten regarding Erdogan’s reaction.
    1) He faces the Turkish “deep State”, the shady network of military, intelligence services and gendarmerie which has been forcefully intervening in Turkish life, shutting off, or attempting to shut off democratic processes no less than 9 times in the past 56 years (from Wikipedia).
    2) Erdogan also faces a major ideological competitor and political adversary in the islamic Gülen movement — which has millions of followers and is strongly represented in the State apparatus.
    3) In the past 25 years, with the sole exception of Tunisia, every time a political islamic party reached power with a majority in the Near East and North Africa via a fair and square democratic election, it was subsequently overthrown by a coup: Egypt in 2013, Palestine in 2006, Turkey in 1997, Algeria in 1992. This is the first time that such an attempt is defeated.
    Importantly, Erdogan’s AKP, as well as Hamas and Morsi’s Freedom and Justice party all derive from the Muslim Brotherhood.
    Furthermore, when Necmettin Erbakan was overthrown in 1997, Erdogan was already a seasoned politician, mayor of Istanbul, member of Erbakan’s islamic Welfare Party — and was imprisoned and banned from politics for a while.
    From his very personal experience and recent history in the Near East, Erdogan’s merciless retaliation, including the prepared lists of suspects, as well as his unquestionable paranoid streak, are all completely understandable. What has been going on in Egypt regarding the Muslim Brothers (and other non-muslim parties and movements) shows what could have happened to him — or what could happen if he does not root out this kind of opponents. Do not think a second that the Turkish military is more squeamish than the Egyptian one about its methods. This does not excuse Erdogan’s purging methods, but this is the Near East and, alas, he has a point when he thinks it is a matter of life and death.

  25. turcopolier says:

    “from and through Turkey and the CIA” You have no proof whatever for this accusation against the United States. None! It is rooted solely in your unrelenting enmity for the United States. A book published by some “scholar” who shares your prejudice is not proof. I want names, dates, places. pl

  26. turcopolier says:

    “one should consider not only the information but its source” That is not what I said. Your formulation of implies that you should condition belief by considering the source. In a general sense that is true but the essence of my “maxim” is that information should not be discounted solely because of the source. The reason for that being the possibility that other information may establish a truth in which the original item is confirming. pl .

  27. Bill Herschel says:

    I learn more reading this blog and its comments than I do reading every MSM out there.
    With regard to Turkey, I now believe that what happens in Turkey and, for that matter, the rest of the ME is irrelevant in the U.S.
    I sincerely believe that Trump is owned and operated by Russia (cf. missing tax returns). And because I am a million miles off topic I will be brief.
    When Germany invaded Russia they had the best military on earth. When Russia invaded Germany only a few years after, Russia had the best military on earth (cf. the Manchuria campaign). In particular Russia beat Germany with tanks, the great German strength.
    How long did the United States’ insular, cliquish elite think it could tamper with governments around the world, edging closer and closer to the borders of Russia, not to mention tampering with the government of Russia itself, before Russia would turn the tables?
    Yet, even now, they bleat about the Atlantic Alliance (a.k.a. [hiatus in manuscript]). That is denial. The elite needs to look at what happened in the Republican Primaries. They need to look at Brexit. Look hard and look quick. The New York Times says that Hillary Clinton’s chance of being elected is the same as an NBA player making a foul shot. I’ve seen John Havlicek miss foul shots, and Hillary Clinton is no John Havlicek.
    Trump will destroy the United States.

  28. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I generally agree with you but I think it works both ways; that the outlook of Western Europeans, also, remains Traditional in their own sense – like in Italy where even the communists baptized their children.

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Samuel Huntington was empirically vindicated in the Iran Nuclear case where the entirety of Western Diocletian Civilization waged an economic & financial war against the core state of Muslim Civilization (Seljuk and non-Seljuk).
    Significantly, the states that helped Iran were non-Diocletian states; Turkey (but not Russia or India) and China.

  30. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Bill Herschel,
    Do you really think that the Clintons are less susceptible to blackmail than Trump?
    Ishmael Zechariah

  31. turcopolier says:

    Bill Herschel
    “I sincerely believe that Trump is owned and operated by Russia (cf. missing tax returns).” Really? Why? Business follows capital and markets. What would be wrong with doing business in Russia, or China, or Turkey, etc.? I think you are just looking for a propaganda opportunity. OTOH I think he should release his tax returns just as herself should release her Wall Street speaking transcripts. pl

  32. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    For some in the West this is a casus belli. They had been working to stymie this for a decade.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  33. bth says:

    Putin and Erdogan meet up on 9 August so expect constant build up to that date. Looks like Russia pipeline into Europe, Russia controlled gas field access from Cyprus via Turkey, reopening of food access to Russia from Turkey, shift toward Turkey agreeing to work with Assad on live let live basis in return for heavy hand on Kurds in Syria by Assad plus intel sharing in Caucus region with Russia are all in play. Also keep in mind Turkey needs trucking routes south and Kurds/US have done a pretty good job of obstructing that in the center. Now that Russia has passed on its messaging to its various news outlets we will hear nonstop about it with ever more elaborate color commentary about US involvement in Turkey with increasing detachment from reality. Targeting Gen. Campbell by latest conspiracy incantation likely goes clear back to handling of Turk SF outside Kirkuk in 2003 by 173rd AB. Net result likely Finlandization of Turkey this Fall. One wonders how Erdogan plans to divide up the Gulen spoils amongst his network?

  34. SmoothieX12 says:

    For some in the West this is a casus belli
    The key phrase here is “for some”. More importantly, those “some” are well known, they are easily identifiable and their intentions are not a secret anymore. As per real war on Russia–it is not as easy as neocon “strategists” think, but then again, the level of those “strategists” is such that they wouldn’t be allowed to run a local diner in any normal community, let alone plan wars. I do submit, however, that this is what makes them so dangerous–having no clue.

  35. Bill Herschel says:

    I think what’s bothering me is that the narrative line in Washington is that the U.S. faces threats from abroad, that our City on the Hill is in danger from foreign influence. You have commented on the inanity of our insistence that we are better than everyone else. But this goes well beyond that. I think Trump represents a threat from within. And I will be happier than anyone when he releases his tax returns and they are innocuous.
    Clinton? If Clinton were anything but what she is no one would be talking about any of this. Is she in bed (what a thought) with the financial elite? Do birds fly?

  36. Bill Herschel says:

    That is an interesting question. If the answer is they are equally susceptible, then you have to choose your fifth column. We have just done too much to piss off the Russians. I wouldn’t blame them for a second if they were out to tear the U.S. to bits from within.

  37. b says:

    You may want to talk to PBS about its “unrelenting enmity for the United States”. It shares my belief that the CIA was (and probably is) involved in large scale opiate trades.
    Southern Europe in the early cold war, then the golden triangle, then south America, then Afghanistan. Wherever there is heavy U.S. action and CIA involvement there flourishes a new center of opiate production.
    Pure coincidence of course. And Air America only flew legal matters.

  38. turcopolier says:

    Alfred W. McCoy is the source for the unsigned chronology from PBS. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_W._McCoy is as fervent a fantacist about the US government as you are. I invite anyone to look at his citations in the listed work and report back on that. BTW Air America was not founded for the purpose of supporting the drug trade. It had many function and I doubt that was among them.

  39. Ex-PFC Chuck says:

    John Helmer posted on the strategic implications of the Russ/Turk rapprochement below is a link Naked Capitalism’s repost with introductory comments. Helmer’s Russian sources tell him Moscow didn’t tip off Erdogan.

  40. SmoothieX12 says:

    Samuel Huntington was empirically vindicated
    On many points he was, others–not so much. But at least he made a leap after his Vietnam warmongering and The Clash Of Civilizations remains one of the most thought-provoking and, in reality, peace-loving books. He screwed up, of course, on Russia’s account (which is expected from most US academe) and on the magazine he founded–Foreign Policy–a collection of neocons and interventionists (also of Russophobes). But his main strategic failure was Fareed Zakaria;-))

  41. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to turcopolier 27 July 2016 at 07:52 AM
    I was paraphrasing and plainly not doing it terribly well. My meaning was that while what he was saying could very well be true that Ishmael Zechariah’s clearly and passionately expressed partisanship was such that I would be reluctant to accept his assertion without some supporting further evidence.
    (This isn’t to impute mala fides to him)

  42. rjj says:

    Naive question. Have not been following this thread. Know NOTHING, so apologies (if they are in order).

    b said: Erdogan is right now engineering a 180 degree turn in foreign policy orientation. From west to east (Russia, China, Iran).
    Smoothie said: race, blood, faith are in the foundation… I saw many Turkmen, Azeri, Dagestani and Chechen non-urban localities in my life–even after 60-70 years of the serious secular (much more serious than Attaturk’s) Soviet rule, the outlook remained distinctly Islamic…

    Is this a “New Turkistan” operation on Russia’s soft underbelly and in her last remaining grain growing region???

  43. Thomas says:

    “Is this a “New Turkistan” operation on Russia’s soft underbelly and in her last remaining grain growing region???”
    No. it is real policy making by the Sultan to survive and continue to rule with a possible future prize of being Sunni Islam’s standard bearer (Caliph) for the next ten to twenty years.

  44. rjj says:

    that is what The Sultan is doing. How will he accomplish that – what will that look like in the -stans of quondam Turkistan with which he is seeking closer relations?

  45. Thomas says:

    “How will he accomplish that – what will that look like in the -stans of quondam Turkistan with which he is seeking closer relations?”
    Turkey will become what its geography provides, a bridge country among Islam. Asia and Europe.
    For the Stans, it would be in the form of economic cooperation with their brother Turks in which Turkish firms will hope to get established business relations, though how profitable will remain a question, diplomatic support as a go between for them with Russia and China regarding contentious issues, and cultural support in Islamic solidarity.
    Greater Turkistan will be what it always was, a Grand Dream to discuss over coffee. Turkey is a significant regional player but not in the class of Russia which has shown via the Georgia and Crimea operations that there is no softness about them.
    The key event which will bring all this to light will be if the border with Syria is closed as the Islamic State on Iraq-Syria is sent to the pages of history books in the coming weeks. The outcome of the August 9th meeting between Turkey and Russia will reveal whether this happens and on what scale, in my view.

  46. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Col. Lang, SST;
    Yes. There were protests. Incirlik is ~20 km to the city proper so there were convoys to bus the protesters. The police is protecting the base at this point. I do not believe anything will come of this.
    Let us wait to see how tayyip’s Russian gambit plays out.
    Ishmael Zechariah

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