Are Turkish coup d’états over?
July 15 was the third anniversary of the coup attempt in Turkey. We will probably never learn who carried the attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who described it as a gift from God, and why and how they did so. The traditions of secrecy, impunity and lack of accountability in Turkey will not allow for such information to be easily disclosed.
As a result of the coup, millions were tortured, forced to flee, kidnapped and are still suffering; freshman cadets thrown into the streets that day as bait, and those who gave their lives without understanding the consequences of their gift. Rights and freedoms, long in a sorry state, became worse.
The failure of the parliamentary commission of inquiry sums up everything. There is a truth that the regime does not want to be known. The truth that the whole world more or less presumes is that the regime knew or was informed by someone about the coup planned by Gülenist and other military officers, but knowingly allowed the coup to go ahead then established control. The staged coup is engraved in the political history of the country as one of the crucial milestones of Erdoğan's march to the executive presidency.
But could this presidential system, in which all the wrong decisions taken in haste by a single man at the suggestion of the illiterate band around him shaping the lives of the people and the country, become the justification for another coup?
The general sentiment, even if it is not very pronounced, is that the path the regime has taken, especially after the local elections, of antagonising the country and the world on every issue and always remaining in crisis mode, could be the end of the country. The statist reflex goes deep in Turkey and has been the same for centuries; the state is perpetual, people are mortal and subsidiary.
Erdoğan's policies, which are compromising the survival of that state, may open the way for his ruin if they are deemed fatal by the ruling clique dominating the state. The head of that state has played with the 200-year-old DNA of the state and could not replace it with anything new. The S-400 crisis is proof of this fiasco.
The destitution may correspond to the warning of one of the founders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Abdullatif Şener, who once said “the state is yearning for an Erdoğan-free option". That can happen as a bloodless palace coup. The S-400s, purchased to protect the palace, may prove unnecessary!
Erdoğan may be called to account depending on the balance of power within the clique or given the option of exile to Qatar. The new regime would be more likely to hold Erdoğan accountable as "hate object" to boost its legitimacy.
The main task of a likely technocrat government following the palace coup would be to remove the wreckage. This wreckage seems unlikely to be removed by the fantasist platforms of “democracy, hope, brotherhood, beauty, goodness, peace" that speak of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and ultranationalist Good Party in the same sentence. There is no election on the horizon, and no possible strong coalition government that could emerge from the polls, even if there were. Removing the debris is an urgent matter for the survival of that state. The institutions smashed by the regime include those in academia, foreign affairs, the civil service, army and judiciary, and of course, the economy.
The restoration process would inevitably be harsh and against rights and freedoms, especially on the Kurdish issue. Society will be blackmailed into not raise its voice in exchange for political and economic stability. It is plausible to assume that the clique carrying out the bloodless coup d’état will seek Western help to ensure the survival of the state. Eurasian passions may have to be curbed.
The new regime would aim to re-establish confidence with ancient allies, especially NATO, to normalise bilateral and multilateral relations with Europe, and to return to dialogue on the Aegean and Cyprus issues, which are constantly being stirred up by Erdoğan.
Likewise, it would try to get out of the swamps of Syria and Iraq as quickly as possible; stop working with the Muslim Brotherhood and any other head-cutting groups; correct terrible relations with the Arab world outside Qatar and take steps to end Turkey's adventures in Libya and Somalia. Even a stance that paves the way for open dialogue in the Rojava issue may emerge.
The West and its neighbours would have nothing to say against this restoration. As in Egypt, they would turn a blind eye, even if the new regime were the enemy of freedom. Even for the sake of their long-term anti-Russian interests, they would support the restoration to keep Turkey on their side.
For the outside world, an economy freed from the negative effects of the regime would be a sign of the sweet money made again in Turkey. In the same way, the IMF and other members of the international finance crew would rush in. The Turkish public and parties other than the HDP, would not experience any difficulty swallowing restoration. Their common hatred of Erdoğan would help them to support it.
In any case, those supporting the rights and freedoms would carry the can, as always.
The process could last until June 2023 as it is almost impossible to keep a society like this in a straight jacket for longer. The restoration process may take up to June 2023 since it is not possible to govern a country like Turkey, despite everything, with a restrictive and anti-freedom regime for any longer.
© Ahval English
The views expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.