It is really hard to get a grip of what is really happening in Turkey.
Media outlets are misleading as usual.
Political interests are at stake and biases are rampant.
It appears Erdogan has retaken power, resisted the coup, and is now in the process of an apparent legal prosecution against all involved.
This is where things are getting murky.
Erdogan hasn’t played the most loyal role as president, often shifting back and forth between extreme left and right politics. This inconsistency is symbolic of Turkey’s state of volatility and instability in the past two decades.
There is much that modern media consumers do not know about international politics. Turkey has endured nearly five coup d’etats in its history. This is the 6th.
What people don’t understand is that democracy can be bought, financially or ideologically, or both. That does not mean that democracy is bad, but that it can be easily infiltrated and exploited to destabilize and cause disorder.
There are many narratives.
Which one is actually feasible and most likely?
Remember that America is the world’s sole superpower, and that it dictates most of what happens internationally. This coup might have been instigated by the US as a result of Erdogan’s policies particularly towards Syria. Anytime a leader of a non-western country becomes influential, he is a perceived threat to the US, even if he has for the most part fallen in line with their demands. Remember Saddam Hussein was initially an American ally against radicalism. But why would America see Erdogan as a threat if he has been, for the most part, enabling the NATO agenda of supplying the Syrian insurgency?
There is a vast difference between rhetoric and reality.
America is playing the game of destabilization once again, but did Erdogan’s team just resist? The irony is that just weeks ago Erdogan had reversed foreign policy and initiated a rapprochement with Russia and Israel, a huge statement to the international community.
When Erdogan first became president he was hailed as the new face of Islamic dignity. At least, that was my interpretation.
He defied Israel with the Gaza flotilla. He embarrassed Simon Perez live on television in the name of Palestinian rights. He bolstered Turkey as a democratic, modern, Islamic nation. He further secured Turkey’s potential integration into the E.U.
What went wrong?
The Syrian conflict created a disaster. A refugee crisis, increased security threat, ideological fundamentalism & terrorism. Providing weaponry to the insurgency and mobility intensified the ripple effects.
Meanwhile, Erdogan was becoming increasingly authoritarian domestically, contrary to his democratic foundations. Aside from the right-wing populist rhetoric, Erdogan began initiating limits on women’s rights & press freedom, two bedrocks of democracy, but perhaps more importantly, two bedrocks of Turkish cultural history.
Naivety cannot be afforded in politics, and perhaps Erdogan was naive to Western interests. Neither democracy nor stability are the West’s priorities, but rather control.
That is why it must be understood that democracy or not, no country can be truly free or stable without respecting its sovereignty.
At this point, we may never know the actual perpetrators, and we will be confused by political rhetoric and unsubstantial media coverage.
What we can know is that even democracies have the potential to violate rights.
There are several possible outcomes depending on who is responsible. I believe Erdogan’s Turkey possesses the power to make serious challenges to Western assertiveness in the region. So far he has expressed willingness to cooperate, up until the recent rapprochement with Russia and Israel.
The most crucial variable in this “coup d’etat attempt” is the “Syrian Crisis”.
Turkey is headed in the opposite direction of NATO.
I think this Turkish crisis gives us the perfect opportunity to address a commonly oversimplified term: “democracy”.
We tend to view things as “democratic or not”, when in reality, democracy is a measure itself, of the ability of a nation to uphold certain principles. Since those principles are hotly debated, it becomes difficult to categorize things as “democratic or not”.
This Turkish crisis is symbolic of the fact that there is a real tension over the definition of “democracy”. Oversimplified understandings will highlight obvious components of democracy like free speech, free elections, term limits – but what about social liberalism, like the freedom of social expression, or, on the other hand, political stability and human security. From this perspective, if we look at the world’s countries, we must gauge the overall relationship between leader and people. This relationship shows how “democratic” a country is. It cannot be understood as solely popular support, because in some cases, more than not, populism leads to immoral decisions, domestically and internationally, like “Brexit” in the UK or the rise of Donald Trump in the US. We cannot accept
Some kings are good. Some are bad.
Some elected officials are good. Some are bad.
The problem is that, elections were largely seen as a check on absolute power.
But what if a democrat becomes an autocrat through authoritarian policies and populist appeals?
What is this begins to compromise democratic ideals themselves? Do executive term limits themselves guarantee democracy, or are other components, like free speech, equally important?
If we analyze the world from this angle, we begin to see that, in some cases, the democracy has let to good results; in other bad ones. But to expect that any one country in the world is more democratic than another, we have to analyze it comparatively from all the variables, not just one. Furthermore we cannot measure good or bad based on a twisted conception of democracy or on a prejudiced or predisposed political opinion.
It was likely that Turkey’s attempted coup was a “check” on Erdogan. If he drifts towards a less expansive, and security-driven policy initiative
Could that have been the spark?
All these inconsistencies further blurs the picture.
Why were police officers arresting military personnel? Aren’t the latter more powerful?
If Fethullah, the supposed engineer of the coup according to Erdogan, is in America, how could he have ushered the coup if the US administration stood on the side of Erdogan?
Was this coup staged by the government to bolster fledgling support for Erdogan?
Seeing as how Erdogan is now appealing to post-Syrian Crisis enemies, like Russia for reconciliation, it might be that this coup was a Western backed attempt at a regime-change. Seeing that Turkey’s military has never successfully failed in ushering a coup, this narrative makes sense.
For the sake of democracy this is not good, as dissidents face an increasing and brutal crackdown. Turkey has not been consistent, and this crisis is a product of that position. It has essential played the position of the “rope” in a long tug-o-war between East and West. For the past few centuries, the West tugged harder. Now it seems, they’ve let loose on their grip, and Turkey appears destined towards an alignment with the East.
What does this mean for America and Europe’s interests in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi (the Gulf entirely)?
Another question that comes to mind – where do the millions of democracy advocates who stood with Erdogan stand now, considering his rapprochement with Russia? Many Erdogan supporters supported his stance against President Assad in Syria.
This is where things get murkier.
Erdogan was initially reconciliatory with Assad. Why the sudden shift, particularly given the “Kurdish threat” and rising instability? Erdogan sent a message of defiance to Israel with his Gaza flotilla charade, but then quickly announced reconciliation. How does this make him look? Who really is Erdogan serving – Turkey or himself?
Another possibility is that Erdogan has awoken from his pro-American slumber of naivety. Once again, the Muslim world fell prey to American double-dealing and mischief. If this is the likely scenario, expect the unexpected – an Erdogan-led drift away from democracy in Turkey.
What are the most important elements of democracy? Popular opinion or social equality? If popular opinion advocates for racism, like in Nazi Germany, should the state reject it? These questions are even being asked in America, where right-wing populism also threatens democratic rule – somehow democratically. Are there flaws in the democratic system which are inherent or can they be fixed through greater laws limiting financial influence, media coverage and xenophobic propaganda?
Populism is threatening democracy which suggests that popular sovereignty isn’t the only variable for democracy – there are many. And one of these becomes threatened, it appears none of them will be possible. Erdogan, a democratically elected leader, began trampling on democratic rights, and thus the military, which historically overthrows leaders who drift to far in either direction on the political spectrum, stepped in though without success – also unprecedented.
Whether or not popular rule triumphs in Turkey is less worrying than the potential compromise of Turkey’s traditional culture of tolerance, diversity and secularism. This is being threatened by the extreme right-wing populist appeals of ruling party. In this regard, Erdogan is bad for Turkey. Will he rollback these efforts too as part of his readjustment initiative? It doesn’t appear that Erdogan’s reconciliatory tone towards Russia or even Israel is genuine, since it has been inconsistent. There is reason to believe that such behavior is an act of desperation – a sign of his impending failure.
In order for global stability, peace and prosperity to ensue, the following must happen – led by the only world superpower – the US:
America as a whole must pivot from its half-century long trend of foreign interventionism; replace it with respect for sovereignty; a rejection of populism and neoliberalism/neoconservatism or simply put – neo-imperialism; recognition of cultural distinctions; and a promotion of cooperative political, economic and social relations.
This might have to see the UN become the global spectator; with the US leading the free world; and cooperating with other global and regional powers to ensure prosperity, stability and peace.