The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a politician not known for subtly. His reaction to the failed coup may soon make many Turks regret the military’s lack of success. Erdogan’s political ambitions are almost without limit. Now his name is the law – backed up with popular support (at least for the time being). Who knows – will he make himself president for life?[A note on the margin: Was Erdogan behind the coup attempt? This is possible considering how badly it was executed. Whether this is true or not, Erdogan’s powers are now almost boundless].
What we know now is the attempted coup was planned and executed by a small number of army officers. They justified their actions with the following statement:
“Turkish Armed Forces have completely taken over the administration of the country to reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedoms, the rule of law and general security that was damaged. All international agreements are still valid. We hope that all of our good relationships with all countries will continue.”
The irony of these words should be obvious to all: what the plotters hoped to regain for Turkey will certainly be lost as Erdogan exacts his gleeful revenge. The plotters had hoped to restore political stability to the country; the only thing they succeeded in doing is just the opposite.
What can we expect now?
The military will be entirely purged of element not loyal to Erdogan. This is really bad news – the military was the key institution that could exercise a degree of independence and stand up to the president. It will not longer be the Turkish military – it will become Erdogan’s private instrument of enforcement.
Civil liberties, particularly the media, will be assaulted with even greater force. The judiciary – already besieged – may recall the days before the coup attempt as a time of relative freedom.
Turkey’s “Kurd problem” will only worsen and Ankara’s inconsistent policies confronting terrorism will probably generate more terror as a result.
Erdogan’s experiment with democracy and political Islam is now even more confusing. Erdogan now has even more power to decide the limits and uses of Islam in politics. This is dangerous. Established laws and legal enforcement should regulate this and not by personal whim.
Turkey’s strained relations with the EU are now ever more complicated. The only upside for Brussels is Erdogan is a known quantity – more erratic behavior is on order.
For Washington, a successful or failed coup is of no importance. As long as Erdogan is loyal to NATO, the Americans will happily tolerate the Sultan.
Before the coup attempt, the military said Turkish troops would not be sent to Syria. Erdogan’s hands are now free. Is he foolish enough to embark on a military campaign that would most likely fail? Yes, maybe.
Will Erdogan stop or reverse Turkey’s rapprochement with Russia? Probably not – having Turkey at odds with such an important country is detrimental to Erdogan political ambitions.
If the coup had succeeded would have Turkey’s prospects improved? This is possible. Post-failed coup, Turkey’s prospects are indeed grim.
Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.