2016 / 7 / 19
Turkey heads further towards Autocracy
By Freeyad Ibrahim
No serious attempt to capture´-or-muzzle the political leadership, no leader ready to step in, no communication strategy (or even awareness of social media), no ability to mobilize a critical mass within either the armed forces´-or-society. In their place a platoon of hapless soldiers on a bridge in Istanbul and the apparently uncoordinated targeting of a few government buildings in Ankara.
Erdogan will no doubt be the chief beneficiary of this turmoil, using it to further his push for an autocratic Islamist Turkey,
A successful coup would have been a disaster. Erdogan has massive support in the Anatolian heartland, particularly among religious conservatives. Mosques all over the country were lit through the night as imams echoed the president’s call for people to pour into the street. There can be little doubt that any military-controlled administration would have faced a Syria-like insurgency of Islamists and others.
No wonder President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry “agreed that all parties in Turkey should support the democratically-elected Government of Turkey, show restraint, and avoid any violence of bloodshed.”
But “restraint” is not part of Erdogan’s vocabulary. As Philip Gordon, a former special assistant to Obama on the Middle East, wrote: “Rather than use this as an opportunity to heal divisions, Erdogan may well do the opposite: go after adversaries,-limit- press and other freedoms further, and accumulate even more power.
A prolonged crackdown on so-called “Gulenists,” whoever Erdogan deems them to be, and the Kemalist “deep state” (supporters of the old secular order) is likely. An already divided society will grow more fissured. Secular Turkey will not quickly forget the cries of “Allahu akbar” echoing from some mosques and from crowds in the streets.
There can be little doubt the expressions of support for Erdogan from Western capitals came through gritted teeth.
( secular writer, author-novelist, translator, poet, political analyst, and essayist.)