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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

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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.

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It’s Back to the Iran-Contra Days Under Trump

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Wayne Madsen, via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Showing that he is adopting the neoconservative playbook every day he remains in office, Donald Trump handed the neocons a major win when he appointed Iran-contra scandal felon Elliott Abrams as his special envoy on Venezuela. Abrams pleaded guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding information on the secret sale of US weapons for cash to help illegally supply weapons to the Nicaraguan right-wing contras, who were battling against the government of President Daniel Ortega. Abrams would have headed to a federal prison, but President George H. W. Bush, an unindicted co-conspirator in the scandal, issued pardons to Abrams and his five fellow conspirators – former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, and former Central Intelligence Agency officials Alan Fiers, Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, and Clair George – on Christmas Eve 1991, during the final weeks of Bush’s lame duck administration.

Abrams escaped being charged with more serious crimes by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh because he cut a last-minute deal with federal prosecutors. Trump, who has made no secret of his disdain for cooperating federal witnesses, would have normally called Abrams a “rat,” a gangster term meaning informant. The man who helped engineer the pardons for Abrams and his five convicted friends was none other than Bush’s Attorney General, William Barr, who has just been sworn in as Trump’s Attorney General. Trump, who is always decrying the presence of the “deep state” that thwarts his very move, has become the chief guardian of that entity.

During a recent hearing of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, newly-minted congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, reminded her colleagues and the world about the sordid background of Abrams.

Omar zeroed in on Abrams’s criminal history:

“Mr. Abrams, in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful.”

Abrams, as is the nature of neocons, refused to respond to Omar and cited her comments as “personal attacks.”

Abrams’s and his fellow criminals’ use of mercenaries and “death squads” to conduct secret wars in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala during the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s has made a re-entrance under Trump. Abrams was brought on board by neocons like National Security Adviser John Bolton, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to oversee a US military build-up in Colombia, said to be 5000 US troops, to support Venezuelan paramilitary and military efforts to topple President Nicolas Maduro. Abrams and Bolton are also believed to have retained the services of another unindicted conspirator in the Iran-contra affair, Michael Ledeen, a colleague of the disgraced and convicted former Trump National Security Adviser, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Ledeen and Flynn co-authored a book titled, “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and its Allies.” The book contains nothing more than the standard neocon tripe one might expect from the likes of Ledeen.

An official investigation of the Iran-contra scandal by the late Republican Senator John Tower of Texas concluded that Abrams’s and Ledeen’s friend, Iranian-Jewish middleman Manucher Ghorbanifar, a long-time Mossad asset and well-known prevaricator, was extremely instrumental in establishing the back-channel arms deals with Iran. Ghorbanifar has long been on the CIA “burn list” as an untrustworthy charlatan, along with others in the Middle East of similar sketchy credentials, including the Iraq’s Ahmad Chalabi, Syria’s Farid “Frank” Ghadry, and Lebanon’s Samir “Sami” Geagea. These individuals, however, were warmly embraced by neocons like Abrams and his associates.

Abrams, whose links with Israeli intelligence has always been a point of consternation with US counter-intelligence officials, is part of an old cabal of right-wing anti-Soviet Democrats who coalesced around Senator Henry Jackson in the 1970s. Along with Abrams, this group of war hawks included Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney, William Kristol, Douglas Feith, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Abram Shulsky, and Paul Wolfowitz. Later, this group would have its fingerprints on major US foreign policy debacles, ranging from Nicaragua and Grenada to Lebanon, Iraq, and Libya. Later, in December 2000, these neocons managed to convince president-elect George W. Bush of the need to “democratize” the Middle East. That policy would later bring not democracy but disaster to the Arab Middle East and North Africa.

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela. They have old scores to settle with Nicaraguan President Ortega. The initiation of “regime change” operations in Nicaragua, supported by the CIA and the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami, have been ongoing for more than a year.

The Trump administration has already achieved a regime change victory of sorts in El Salvador. Nayib Bukele, the former mayor of San Salvador, who was expelled from the formerly-ruling left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation (FMLN) party and joined the right-wing GANA party, was recently elected president of El Salvador. Bukele has quickly re-aligned his country’s policies with those of the Trump administration. Bukele has referred to President Maduro of Venezuela as a “dictator.” He has also criticized the former FMLN government’s recognition of China and severance of diplomatic ties with Taiwan. It will be interesting to see how a sycophant like Bukele will politically survive as Trump continues to call hapless asylum-seeking migrants from his country, who seek residency in the United States, “rapists, gang monsters, murderers, and drug smugglers.”

Another country heading for a US-installed “banana republic” dictator is Haiti. President Jovenal Moise has seen rioting in the streets of Port-au-Prince as the US State Department removed all “non-essential” personnel from the country. Moise, whose country has received $2 billion in oil relief from Venezuela, to help offset rising fuel prices, has continued to support the Maduro government. However, at the US-run and neo-colonial artifice, the Organization of American States (OAS), Moise’s envoys have been under tremendous pressure to cut ties with Venezuela and recognize the US puppet Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president. Moise’s refusal to do so resulted in armed gangs hitting the streets of Port-au-Prince demanding Moise’s resignation. It is the same neocon “regime change” playbook being used in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

There will be similar attempts to replace pro-Maduro governments in his remaining allies in the region. These include Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Abrams was also brought in as an adviser on Middle East policy in the George W. Bush administration. The carnage of Iraq is a stark testament to his record. In 2005, it was reported that two key Bush White House officials – Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams – gave a “wink and a nod” for the assassinations by Israeli-paid operatives of three key Lebanese political figures seeking a rapprochement with Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah – Member of Parliament Elie Hobeika, former Lebanese Communist Party chief George Hawi, and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In 2008, a United Nations panel headed by former Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare later concluded Hariri was assassinated by a “criminal network” and not by either Syrian and Lebanese intelligence or Lebanese Hezbollah as proffered by Abrams and his friends in Washington.

Representative Omar was spot on in questioning why Abrams, whose name is as disgraced as his two fellow conspirators – Oliver North and John Poindexter – whose criminal convictions were overturned on appeal, is working for the Trump administration on Venezuela. The answer is that the neocons, who can sense, like raptors, Trump’s political weakness, have filled the vacuum left by top-level vacancies in the administration.

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Putin: If mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, Russia will station arms to strike decision centers

Putin: If US deploys mid-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to respond.

RT

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Via RT…


If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves, but also at command and control centers, from which a launch order would come.

The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides form having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology.

The US is set to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in six months, which opens the possibility of once again deploying these missiles in Europe. Russia would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.

Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch – mere minutes. This poses the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange triggered by a false launch warning, with the officer in charge having no time to double check.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapon systems, which can be used not only against the territories from which this direct threat would be projected, but also against those territories where decision centers are located, from which an order to use those weapons against us may come.” The Russian president, who was delivering a keynote address to the Russian parliament on Wednesday, did not elaborate on whether any counter-deployment would only target US command-and-control sites in Europe or would also include targets on American soil.

He did say the Russian weapon system in terms of flight times and other specifications would “correspond” to those targeting Russia.

“We know how to do it and we will implement those plans without a delay once the relevant threats against us materialize,”he said.

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Labour MP split is a cheap and final ploy to derail BREXIT (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 179.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss a small group of UK Labour MPs decision to quit the party and sit as Independent MPs in the house of commons.

Their excuse for leaving Labour was directed at leader Jeremy Corbyn for presiding over an “institutionally anti-Semitic” party. The real reason they are leaving Labour is because they are staunch remain MPs and are hoping to derail Brexit.

The seven Labour MPs quitting the party to become ‘The Independent Group’, are Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.

RT reports that Luciana Berger, the MP for Liverpool Wavertree took to the stage first, to claim that she could not stay in the party any more because it had become “institutionally anti-Semitic.”

Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, a prominent ‘People’s Vote’ advocate appealed to all MPs, not just Labour, to join their group, as the current parties are part of the problem, not the solution.

He argued that “It is time we dumped this country’s old fashioned politics.” Umunna claimed the UK needed a political party “fit for the hear and now” and the “first step in leaving the tribal politics behind.”

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Via RT

Twitter has been rocked by the sudden departure of seven Labour MPs to form their own Independent Group, with party supporters feverishly debating whether the move is better for the party, or a wake-up call to Jeremy Corbyn.

Former shadow cabinet minister Chuka Umunna along with MPs Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey have all jumped ship in the biggest Labour Party split since 1981, when the so-called “gang of four” left to form the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

In a press conference, Umunna stated that the established parties “cannot be the change because they have become the problem” arguing that it is “time we dumped this country’s old-fashioned politics.”

Jewish MP Luciana Berger said she was “embarrassed and ashamed” at what the Labour Party had become and criticized her former party for becoming “sickeningly institutionally racist.”

“I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation. I look forward to a future serving with colleagues who respect each other,” she added.

Reaction to the news online has been a mixture of shock and dismay, to outright derision. Some Labour supporters were quick to delight in the departures, suggesting the party will be stronger without detractors undermining it from within.

Others though said it was time for Jeremy Corbyn to take the criticism seriously.

Meanwhile, some Twitter users commented on Young Labour’s somewhat barbed response to the situation.

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