Last week, following concerns amongst significant elements of the Turkish Armed Forces, commonly viewed by many as the Guardians of Turkey’s Secular Constitution, especially at a time when the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) are in power, a Coup attempt occurred in which a faction of the Turkish Military referring to themselves as the Council For Peace in the Homeland attempted to remove the Islamist President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power.
The Coup attempt started on the evening of Friday 15th July, and ended the morning after.
Initially, it seemed that the coup was going according to plan for the Council For Peace in the Homeland, with bridges along the Bosphorus Strait being successfully blocked, the highest ranking General in the Turkish Military, Hulusi Akar, being captured, Istanbul Attaturk Airport coming under the control of the anti-Erdogan elements of the military, and the Turkish Intelligence Service, long seen by some as being used as a tool of oppression against Secular Turks and Kurdish activists campaigning for human rights in the country, having its Headquarters hit by missiles fired by Turkish Military Helicopters.
Crowds of Turks had gathered in Taksim Square, guarded by soldiers loyal to the Council for Peace In The Homeland, to celebrate what they prematurely perceived as the removal of Erdogan and his Islamist AKP from power. However, they were let down by the faction of the military which sought to depose President Erdogan.
Speaking on CNN Turkish channel on FaceTime call from an iPhone nervously held in the hand of a Turkish TV presenter, President Erdogan called upon his most loyal of supporters to rally in the streets and disrupt the Military Coup which was occurring.
His desperate call, to the surprise of many analyzing, was answered and Erdogan’s core Islamist supporters came onto the streets of both Ankara and Istanbul, some in their pyjamas, and disrupted the coup by obstructing roads and even going as far as removing soldiers from tanks.
In hindsight, many analysts have concluded that the coup was poorly co-ordinated, however, since the coup was planned in secret, the military faction who referred to themselves as the Council For Peace in the Homeland could hardly mobilise crowds of civilians in Turkish society who had grown tired of Erdogan’s hardline Islamist ideas and also his foreign policy, which most controversially includes the arming, training and funding of various Jihadist rebel groups who are fighting against the Syrian Government.
Pro Erdogan elements of the Turkish Army clashed with Turkish military personnel loyal to the Council For Peace in the Homeland and this led to a decisive victory for Mr Erdogan.
The morning after one of the most hectic nights in Turkish history for decades, the Pro-Erdogan elements of the military appeared to be in control, and, unfortunately, as a result, some soldiers belonging to the Council For Peace in the Homeland who were involved in the Coup attempt were subject to being beheaded by Pro-Erdogan mobs, according to video footage released by activists in Turkey, which was cited by the Independent and the Mirror’s websites.
In recent days, President Erdogan declared a State of Emergency in Turkey which gained the approval of his party’s MP’s who make up the majority in Turkey’s Grand National Assembly. This, along with the suspension of the European Convention on Human Rights, which Turkey is a signatory to, are steps which many observers see as Erdogan seizing an opportunity to falsely imprison those who oppose his agenda which aims to ensure that Turkey moves away from being a Secular State guaranteeing freedoms for all, towards being a theocracy on par with Saudi Arabia.
According to the BBC & Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency there have been dismissals on a nation-wide scale, based on mere suspicion by Erdogan’s government. In the Education Ministry, 15,200 officials have been sacked along with 6,500 employees. 21,000 teachers have had their licenses revoked by the government with no prior explanation and 1,577 University Deans have been asked to resign. 100 intelligence officials and 257 of the Prime Ministers staffers have also been dismissed.
To his supporters who want to see the ultimate downfall of Turkey as a Secular State, these ‘security measures’ are seen as necessary. However, there are many in Turkish society who fear that the purges which are now occurring will be used as a pretext for Erdogan to target those whom he merely perceives as a threat to his Islamist vision in the country.
The situation in the next 3 months should be monitored closely, since, if it is true that Erdogan is going to reverse Turkey from being a Secular State, he may use this State of Emergency to lay the foundations of a new authoritarian and Islamist order in Turkey.