World View: Attempted Army Coup in Turkey Collapses Within Hours

Erdogan (Burak Kara / Getty)
Burak Kara / Getty

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours
  • Extradition of Fethullah Gulen may be linked to reopening Incirlik air base

Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours

Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, on Saturday. Erdogan accuses Gulen of organizing the coup attempt (Reuters)
Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, on Saturday. Erdogan accuses Gulen of organizing the coup attempt (Reuters)

A botched army coup on Friday attempting to overthrow Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) collapsed within a few hours overnight.

Reports indicate that the army leadership was not involved, and that a group within the army attempted to overthrow the army leadership as well as the government.

On Saturday, 3,000 soldiers and 2,000 judges were arrested.

Erdogan is accusing Fethullah Gulen, a 76-year-old Turkish Muslim cleric living in self-imposed exile in America since splitting with Erdogan, of orchestrating the coup from his desk in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.

Erdogan has been in power since 2007, so it’s not surprising that he’s made a lot of enemies. There are many reasons why some people might wish to see Erdogan removed from office:

  • Erdogan has become increasingly autocratic, and many accuse him of destroying Turkey’s democracy. In recent times, he’s shut down an opposition newspaper and jailed reporters for printing news that he didn’t like. ( “6-Mar-16 World View — Turkey’s ‘shameful day for free press’ as government seizes Zaman media”) Each time there’s a terror attack or other crisis, Erdogan finds a way to amass more power to himself. Some people fear that he will turn the coup crisis into an opportunity to become a dictator.
  • Erdogan has been changing Turkey’s character from a secular state to a conservative Islamist state, making him a hero to millions of pious Turks who felt ignored by the old secular elites. This all came to a head in 2007 over the issue of women wearing headscarves. ( “(May 2007) More than a million of secularists rally in Turkey”) However, Ataturk, the revered founder of Turkey after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, declared that Turkey would be a secular state, with freedom of worship for people of all religions, including Jews and Christians. Ataturk asked the army to be the preserver of the secular state, and many in the army today see it as their job to stop Erdogan’s changes.
  • In 2010, 30 army officers were arrested after evidence has been found that in 2003 they had attempted a coup called “Operation Sledgehammer.” ( “26-Feb-2010 News – Turkey debates Islam versus secularism”) This caused a major confrontation between Erdogan’s Islamist AKP party and the army that is far from being healed.

There are many reasons for opposition to Erdogan, and many of them have coalesced under the spiritual leadership of Fethullah Gulen, whether or not that means that Gulen had a more direct responsibility for the coup attempt.

Turkey was deeply divided prior to the coup, and those divisions are probably even deeper now. Millions of Turks say that Erdogan is authoritarian, anti-secular and Islamist. It’s unlikely that Erdogan will be able to heal these divisions anytime soon.

As one analyst put it, Erdogan has recently gone to great lengths to reconcile differences externally — with Russia and Israel — but what he really needs to do is reconcile differences internally, within Turkey itself. Hurriyet (Ankara) and BBC and AP and Daily Mail (London)

Extradition of Fethullah Gulen may be linked to reopening Incirlik air base

Turkey has a half million man army, the second largest in Nato, and Turkey occupies the central region in the Mideast, literally bridging Europe and Asia. Turkey is considered vital to the West for many reasons:

  • The EU-Turkey refugee deal has slowed the tsunami of Syrian refugees flooding into Europe down to a trickle.
  • Turkey is the lynchpin of the Obama administration’s strategy in Syria and Iraq.
  • Turkey’s control of its border with Syria is needed to slow the flow of trade between the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) and the rest of the world.
  • The US military depends on Turkey’s Incirlik airbase. The US military and 1,500 US troops and personnel stationed there, and the US air force uses it as a base from which to launch air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

For all of these reasons, there is great concern internationally that the government of Turkey is going to be increasingly unstable in the next few months.

Incirlik airbase is currently closed since the coup attempt, and the Obama administration would like it to be reopened.

Turkey apparently wishes for the Obama administration to extradite Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey.

Analysts have suggested that Turkey will use the Incirlik closure as leverage to gain the extradition of Gulen.

Gulen lives in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, on a 26-acre compound called the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center. He has denied that he was involved in the coup, and the Obama administration position is that Turkey will have to supply some proof if he is to be extradited.

As long time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries will be one side, and India, Iran, the United States and the West will be on the other side.

Ten years ago, this trend prediction seemed bizarre, but it’s already been astonishing to see Iran and the West move closer together, especially through the nuclear deal, while Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have become increasingly alienated and distrustful of the United States under the Obama administration. This is all in the direction of the trend prediction that I posted years ago.

As I’ve said before, the reconciliation between Turkey and Russia is strongly anti-trend, so is not expected to last. ( “8-Jul-16 World View — Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia”) If the coup brings further instability, it will move in the direction of the above trend, and that will have big effects on the Turkey policies of Russia, Iran, the U.S., and the West. Anadolu (Ankara) and CNN and AP and BBC (27-Jan-2014)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Justice and Development Party, AKP, Ataturk, Russia, Israel, Fethullah Gulen, Saylorsburg Pennsylvania, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Syria, Iraq, Incirlik airbase, Iran
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