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Turkey: Anatomy of the Coup

The coup was an internal revolt by the entire military which was defeated because of Erdogan’s popular support.

Alexander Mercouris




Though there are still many unanswered questions, since the collapse of the attempted coup it has become possible to answer many questions both about the coup and about the general situation in Turkey. It is also possible to make some educated guesses.

  1. The US was almost certainly not involved in the coup.

As the coup was underway there was speculation that it was launched because of the steps Erdogan had recently taken towards a rapprochement with Russia. However, as I discussed previously, the scale of the coup points to months or at the minimum weeks of planning. The timing of the coup makes it virtually impossible that it could have been organised so soon after Erdogan took the first steps to reopen dialogue with Russia by sending his apology to Putin for the SU24 incident.

In addition US reaction to news of the coup was not consistent with the US being involved. The invariably pattern of US supported coups is that they are timed to take place in the aftermath of political protests against the government the US wants overthrown, thereby making it easier for the US to represent the coup as a defence of democracy rather than its overthrow. The US then almost immediately signals its support for the coup as it is underway, generally blaming the overthrown government for the fact it is happening.

None of this happened during the attempted coup in Turkey. All the indications on the contrary suggest that the US and EU were taken by surprise by the coup. The fact French diplomatic missions in Turkey closed on 13th July 2016 – i.e. Just before the coup got underway – was almost certainly connected to the Bastille Day holiday rather than to foreknowledge of the coup.

Though the US almost certainly was not involved in the coup, it will undoubtedly be concerned by what is happening in Turkey. Erdogan is altogether too erratic and impulsive a leader to be considered by the US a reliable asset and relations between him and US President Obama are known to have been strained. Erdogan for his part is known to be unhappy with the US, and it is not impossible that he may blame the US for the coup. With Erdogan already complaining that the US is providing asylum for Fethullah Gulen – the man he accuses of being behind the coup – it is not impossible that in the aftermath of the coup relations between Turkey and the US could deteriorate further.

  1. The coup was supported by the entire military.

Whilst the coup was underway the Turkish government insisted that only a faction of the military was involved in the coup and that it was acting outside the chain of command, and that the greater part of the military remained loyal.

This is not believable. The only troops visible during the coup belonged to the coup plotters. There is no information that these troops were resisted at any time by other military units loyal to the government. Not a single high ranking officer publicly dissociated himself from the coup whilst it was underway. Whilst some members of Turkey’s senior military leadership were arrested by the coup plotters in Ankara, it is striking that not a single commander of a single Turkish military unit anywhere else in Turkey publicly pledged his loyalty to the government or offered Erdogan the support of his troops.

By contrast the coup plotters were able to deploy troops in both of Turkey’s two biggest cities – Ankara and Istanbul – and bring tanks and other armoured vehicles onto the streets, use helicopter gunships against the Turkish parliament, and declare martial law across the whole country. Moreover, and contrary to claims that the air force remained loyal to the government, there is no doubt the F16s which in the early hours of the coup were seen flying over Ankara and Istanbul were supporting the coup.

The coup plotters were also able to obstruct social media and the internet and interfere with broadcasts by state television.

The coup plotters were also able to bomb the hotel where Erdogan was staying in what was clearly an attempt to kill him, and for some hours were able to prevent his aircraft landing anywhere in Turkey. Indeed Erdogan’s position for some hours looked so desperate that there are credible reports that he asked for asylum in first Germany and then Britain.

All this points to a coup which had the overwhelming backing of the armed forces. The coup was not surpressed by the army. Rather it crumbled in the face of civilian resistance organised by the government and the Islamic clerical authorities who called their supporters onto the streets.

The fact that the coup had the overwhelming support of the military should make one skeptical of Erdogan’s claims that the Gulen movement was behind it. Erdogan has in recent years used the Gulen movement to try to represent himself as the target of a huge sinister conspiracy being organised against him by a mysterious exiled Islamic cleric. In that way he is able to represent his opponents as tools of this conspiracy, thereby casting doubt on their motives whilst denying the true level of their support.

Erdogan is using this device again to isolate and discredit the coup plotters. In reality it is simply not credible that Gulen could orchestrate a gigantic conspiracy involving the entire Turkish military from his distant exile in the US. As it happens he has denied doing so and has condemned the coup.

  1. Erdogan retains wide support in the country.

This is often denied but the facts speak for themselves. In the face of a coup by the army large numbers of people were prepared to risk their lives by flooding onto the streets to resist the coup and support Erdogan and the government.

Erdogan has many opponents and critics in Turkey. However he retains a critical mass of devoted support from the population and in the showdown with the military this proved crucial. However the coup shows that in the face of hostility from the army it is this core of population that is the only factor that is keeping Erdogan in power.

  1. Erdogan will try to use the coup to tighten his grip on Turkey.

There are already reports of a major purge of the Turkish judiciary underway, and no doubt a purge of the army will follow. With the defeat of the coup there is no force in Turkey that can prevent this. However one side effect of the defeat of the coup and of the purge is that it will demoralise the Turkish army. Its ability to conduct military operations in places like Iraq and Syria has for the time being at least been diminished.

There is a temptation on the part of Erdogan’s many external critics to regret that the coup against him failed. That temptation should be resisted. Like him or not Erdogan is Turkey’s constitutionally elected President whilst the history of coups in Turkey has been – to say the least – unhappy. The coup in 1960 resulted in two decades of instability and political violence, whilst the coup in 1980, though it may have averted a civil war, was nonetheless an exceptionally brutal affair, which left behind it wounds that have still not fully healed.   In light of Erdogan’s popularity had the coup against him succeeded it would have been bound to have been followed by years of fierce repression by the military of his supporters, which could only have destabilised Turkey further. This at a time when there are violent jihadi groups already on the scene waiting to capitalise on any instability.

In the event the coup failed. Like him or not Erdogan has survived and for the time being at least he is here to stay.



The End Of The US Unipolar Moment Is Irreversible

The United States is in the terminal phase of its unipolar moment.



Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:

The past weeks have shown how part of the American establishment is weighing the pros and cons of the Trump administration’s strategies around the world. I have a strong feeling that in the coming weeks we will see the destabilizing effects of American politics, especially towards its closest allies.

A disastrous flip of events appears to be on its way, in case Trump were to lose the November midterm elections (the House and Senate elections). If this were to happen, the Trump administration would probably exploit the Russia gate conspiracy claiming that Moscow had now acted in favour of Democrats. Trump could argue that Moscow was disappointed by the lack of progress in softening US sanctions against Russia; indeed, by Trump’s measures against Russia (expulsions, sanctions, property seizures) and its allies (China, Iran and Syria).

Trump would not hesitate to claim Russian interference in the midterms to aid the Democrats, citing intelligence reports. He would say that Russia aims to create chaos in the US by placing roadblocks in the way of attempts to “Make America Great Again” and handing the House and Senate to the Democrats. He would use the electoral defeat to blame his accusers of getting aid from Russia. In doing so, he would be accelerating the implosion of his administration in an all-out war with the establishment. The mainstream media would dismiss Trump’s accusations against the Democrats of collusion with Russia as a conspiracy theory of an unravelling presidency. All this, summed up, would lead to the Democrats having majority in both houses, easily proceeding to the impeachment of Trump.

Italy is piggybacking on the US, operating side by side with Washington to expand its role in North Africa, especially in Libya. However, Rome will have to offer something in return to please Trump. Evidence points to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) as the quid pro quo, the US encouraging Italy to complete it in order to put pressure on Germany’s North Stream II project and undermine Russian gas deliveries to the EU. I have the impression that the only card available for Italy to play (and which interests Trump) is an endorsement of Washington’s positions on Iran, given that Italy already shares in common with Washington differences with Paris and Berlin on many issues. In this sense, Conte’s words about US intelligence info on the JCPOA paves the way for further decisions:

“”I didn’t take a specific stand. I said we are willing to evaluate the necessity to take more rigorous stances if the (nuclear) accord is shown to be ineffective. We are waiting to have elements of intelligence, Italy would like to evaluate it with its EU partners”

As evidence of Washington’s failed strategy towards Iran, India continues to buy crude oil from Iran, increasing the amount in the last month by 52%. China is also increasing its importation from Iran. Meanwhile, Iran is working with other countries to circumvent the US dollar in order to sustain their mutual trade within a new framework of agreements. Washington is especially disappointment with New Delhi, with American officials continuing to reiterate that India’s intentions align with Washington’s. Since November, with the imposition of counter-sanctions on countries that continue to work with Iran, Washington’s bluff will become evident to everybody, much to the disappointment of the Trump administration.

In the meantime, relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia have almost completely broken down on account of human rights. Ambassadors have been expelled and there is a continuing war of words, with trade between the two countries being brought to a stop. This is the latest example of the divisions manifesting themselves within the Western elites, with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Trump administration being in opposition to the likes of France, Germany and Canada.

What is also clear is that the issue of energy is central to Washington’s strategy. Between criticism of the German Nord Stream II and invitations to Italy to finish the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, it is clear that both the Trump administration and the policy makers of the deep state are strongly concerned about what actions allies and enemies could take to overcome the pressure brought to bear by Washington on the issues of energy, Iran, and sanctions. This shows that the US is very fearful of de-dollarization, especially coming from its allies.

Bypassing sanctions with currencies other than US dollar, or creating creative finance structures that bypass the SWIFT payment system, are the only means of maintaining relations between countries in spite of Washington’s sanctions. The US strategy is limited in the short term and certainly harmful in the long term for US Dollar financial hegemony.

That Washington’s allies are even entertaining such possibilities places US financial hegemony at great risk in the long run. This worries the American deep state a great deal, even without Trump, who in any case will not be in charge past 2024 (should he be re-elected in 2020).

One of the points of greatest tension is precisely this strategic difference between the Trump administration and the policy makers in the deep state (AKA Langley and Foggy Bottom). While the former can increase the pressure on allies (through NATO, the JCPOA, TTIP and TPP) to obtain immediate solutions and benefits, the latter must above all consider the effects in the medium and long term, which are often harmful for US interests. The imposition of sanctions on Iran, and the obligation of European allies to comply with this directive, is a prime example.

Another of Washington’s strategies revolves around the price of oil. The United States would have no problem seeing the price of crude oil skyrocket. Secretly, many in the administration hope that Iran will take the first false step by closing the Strait of Hormuz (Teheran will not make this move as things stand now); some even hope that the crisis between Canada and Saudi Arabia will have some impact on the cost of crude oil.

Even trade war and tariffs should be seen as part of Trump’s short-term strategy to demonstrate to his base that something is being done against countries that he thinks are taking advantage of the United States. In reality, Trump knows, or should know, that there is no way of stopping China’s growth, a result of globalization that has been the engine of free-market capitalism, making the western elite richer than ever before. Trump deceives his base with trade wars and tariffs, but in the long run the costs will be borne by American consumers, many of whom are Trump’s voters.

Trump thinks in the very short term, constantly aiming to present himself before his electors with a list of ticked boxes ( Peter Lavelle of Crosstalk gets trademark of this definition), confirming that he is fulfilling his electoral promises. In this way he hopes to win the midterms in November. To succeed in this endeavor, the economy must pick up to a gallop (for now this is happening thanks to a series of tax cuts and the continuous pumping of easy money from the Fed) and he must put pressure on his allies as well as aggressively confront Iran, Russia and China through sanctions, cutting energy supplies and forcing Tehran to negotiate once again the nuclear agreement.

What many analysts struggle with when trying to analyse Donald Trump is that there is no overarching strategy uniting his actions into a coherent policy. Trump acts extemporaneously, often with a very short strategic outlook and for internal political motivations.

Nevertheless, if there is something that worries the deep state, it is the long-term impact of tariffs, trade war, sanctions and impositions on allies; or, to put it most simply, de-dollarization. If there is anything that scares the Trump administration, it is remaining entangled in a destabilizing war with Iran that would lead to the early end of the Trump presidency and destroying its legacy, as Bush’s legacy was destroyed by Iraq.

In all this uncoordinated and inconsistent behaviour, there is the hope of a major rise in the price of oil that would help slow down China’s growth and transform the US shale-gas industry into an ultra-profitable business, further boosting the US economy and allowing Trump to present further evidence to his base of his ability to improve their lives.

The United States is in the terminal phase of its unipolar moment and is struggling to come to terms with the downsizing of its role in the world. Its ruling elite cannot accept the prospect of sharing power, preferring to oppose by all means possible the transition to a world order involving more powers. If this situation is already complex for any superpower enough to manage, a president has been elected who has little regard for compromise and mediation.

Ultimately, in addition to an obvious problem in defining Washington’s role in the world over the next few years, the United States finds itself with a president who is in almost open warfare with an important part of the US establishment. The deep state is still living on the hope of impeaching Trump to halt the loss of US influence, deluding themselves that things can return to how they were at the height of the unipolar moment in the 1990s.

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America’s Lengthening Enemies List

17th years in Afghanistan and America’s list of enemies continues to grow.

Patrick J. Buchanan



Authored by Patrick J. Buchanan

Friday, deep into the 17th year of America’s longest war, Taliban forces overran Ghazni, a provincial capital that sits on the highway from Kabul to Kandahar.

The ferocity of the Taliban offensive brought U.S. advisers along with U.S. air power, including a B-1 bomber, into the battle.

“As the casualty toll in Ghazni appeared to soar on Sunday,” The Wall Street Journal reported, “hospitals were spilling over with dead bodies, corpses lay in Ghazni’s streets, and gunfire and shelling were preventing relatives from reaching cemeteries to bury their dead.”

In Yemen Monday, a funeral was held in the town square of Saada for 40 children massacred in an air strike on a school bus by Saudis or the UAE, using U.S.-provided planes and bombs.

“A crime by America and its allies against the children of Yemen,” said a Houthi rebel leader.

Yemen is among the worst humanitarian situations in the world, and in creating that human-rights tragedy, America has played an indispensable role.

The U.S. also has 2,000 troops in Syria. Our control, with our Kurd allies, of that quadrant of Syria east of the Euphrates is almost certain to bring us into eventual conflict with a regime and army insisting that we get out of their country.

As for our relations with Turkey, they have never been worse.

President Erdogan regards our Kurd allies in Syria as collaborators of his own Kurdish-terrorist PKK. He sees us as providing sanctuary for exile cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan says was behind the attempted coup in 2016 in which he and his family were targeted for assassination.

Last week, when the Turkish currency, the lira, went into a tailspin, President Trump piled on, ratcheting up U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel. If the lira collapses and Turkey cannot meet its debt obligations, Erdogan will lay the blame at the feet of the Americans and Trump.

Which raises a question: How many quarrels, conflicts and wars, and with how many adversaries, can even the mighty United States sustain?

In November, the most severe of U.S. sanctions will be imposed on Iran. Among the purposes of this policy: Force as many nations as possible to boycott Iranian oil and gas, sink its economy, bring down the regime.

Iran has signaled a possible response to its oil and gas being denied access to world markets. This August, Iranian gunboats exercised in the Strait of Hormuz, backing up a regime warning that if Iranian oil cannot get out of the Gulf, the oil of Arab OPEC nations may be bottled up inside as well. Last week, Iran test-fired an anti-ship ballistic missile.

Iran has rejected Trump’s offer of unconditional face-to-face talks, unless the U.S. first lifts the sanctions imposed after withdrawing from the nuclear deal.

With no talks, a U.S. propaganda offensive underway, the Iranian rial sinking and the economy sputtering, regular demonstrations against the regime, and new sanctions scheduled for November, it is hard to see how a U.S. collision with Tehran can be avoided.

This holds true as well for Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Last week, the U.S. imposed new sanctions on Russia for its alleged role in the nerve-agent poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British town of Salisbury.

Though the U.S. had already expelled 60 Russian diplomats for the poisoning, and Russia vehemently denies responsibility — and conclusive evidence has not been made public and the victims have not been heard from — far more severe sanctions are to be added in November.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is warning that such a U.S. move would cross a red line: “If … a ban on bank operations or currency use follows, it will amount to a declaration of economic war. … And it will warrant a response with economic means, political means and, if necessary, other means.”

That the sanctions are biting is undeniable. Like the Turkish lira and Iranian rial, the Russian ruble has been falling and the Russian people are feeling the pain.

Last week also, a U.S. Poseidon reconnaissance plane, observing China’s construction of militarized islets in the South China Sea, was told to “leave immediately and keep out.”

China claims the sea as its national territory.

And North Korea’s Kim Jong Un apparently intends to hold onto his arsenal of nuclear weapons.

“We’re waiting for the North Koreans to begin the process of denuclearization, which they committed to in Singapore and which they’ve not yet done,” John Bolton told CNN last week.

A list of America’s adversaries here would contain the Taliban, the Houthis of Yemen, Bashar Assad of Syria, Erdogan’s Turkey, Iran, North Korea, Russia and China — a pretty full plate.

Are we prepared to see these confrontations through, to assure the capitulation of our adversaries? What do we do if they continue to defy us?

And if it comes to a fight, how many allies will we have in the battles and wars that follow?

Was this the foreign policy America voted for?

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In Private Meeting, Facebook Exec Warns News Outlets to Cooperate or End Up Dying in ‘Hospice’

“Anyone who does care about news needs to understand Facebook as a fundamental threat.”

The Duran



Via Common Dreams

During a closed-door and off-the-record meeting last week, top Facebook executive Campbell Brown reportedly warned news publishers that refusal to cooperate with the tech behemoth’s efforts to “revitalize journalism” will leave media outlets dying “like in a hospice.”

Reported first by The Australian under a headline which read “Work With Facebook or Die: Zuckerberg,” the social media giant has insisted the comments were taken out of context, even as five individuals who attended the four-hour meeting corroborated what Brown had stated.

“Mark doesn’t care about publishers but is giving me a lot of leeway and concessions to make these changes,” Brown reportedly said, referring to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “We will help you revitalize journalism… in a few years the reverse looks like I’ll be holding hands with your dying business like in a hospice.”

As The Guardian reported on Monday, Facebook is “vehemently” denying the veracity of the comments as reported by The Australian, referring to its own transcript of the meeting. However, Facebook is refusing to release its transcript and tape of the gathering.

Brown’s warning about the dire prospects for news outlets that don’t get on board with a future in which corporate giants like Facebook are the arbiters of what is and isn’t trustworthy news comes as progressives are raising alarm that Facebook’s entrance into the world of journalism poses a major threat to non-corporate and left-wing news outlets.

As Common Dreams reported in July, progressives’ fears were partly confirmed after Facebook unveiled its first slate of news “segments” as part of its Facebook Watch initiative.

While Facebook claims its initiative is part of an effort to combat “misinformation,” its first series of segments were dominated by such corporate outlets as Fox News and CNN.

Reacting to Brown’s reported assertion that Zuckerberg “doesn’t care about publishers,” Judd Legum, who writes the Popular Information newsletter,argued, “Anyone who does care about news needs to understand Facebook as a fundamental threat.”

“In addition to disputed quote, there are also Facebook’s actions, which are fully consistent with the quote,” Legum added. “We desperately need to develop alternative delivery mechanisms to Facebook.”

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