The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewPatrick Cockburn Archive
Everything You Need to Know About the Turkey Coup
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Why was the coup mounted?

This requires assumptions about who carried out the coup. One theory is that the followers of self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen knew that they were going to be purged and decided to strike first.

Was the coup concocted by President Recep Tayyip​ Erdogan to give himself the excuse to crack down?

It is more likely that Mr Erdogan is taking advantage of a real coup to rid the armed forces and key state institutions of all who do not give him full obedience.

He called it “a gift from God” in that it would allow him to do so. An argument against the theory that the coup was a put-up job is that it involved too many people, including high-ranking military officers, and might even have succeeded if the plotters had been able to eliminate Mr Erdogan.

Why did the coup fail?

The plotters did not eliminate Mr Erdogan and did not include the majority of the military high command. They did not enjoy any popular support and did not gain control of communications and the media. They did not have enough soldiers to suppress popular protests in favour of the President. The timing of the coup is also peculiar since it took place late Friday night when people were still up and going outside and not in the early hours of the morning as is traditional.

Is the civilian reaction being orchestrated?

Mr Erdogan successfully orchestrated public protests in order to thwart the coup by calling for them on an iPhone held in front of a television camera. So far as can be judged these were carried out his committed supporters and right-wing nationalists, the numbers on the streets being boosted by free public transport until Monday night. A feature of the coup was that there were no demonstrations in favour of it because the coup plotters announced a curfew and, in any case, Mr Erdogan’s many opponents do not necessarily want him replaced by a military government.

The mosques also played a significant role in mobilising his constituency by calling people onto the streets and delivering sermons all night long as jets flew overhead. Secular Turks are worried that religiously inspired mobs will become a permanent factor in Turkish politics, but there is no doubt that Mr Erdogan is massively popular among a large part of the Turkish public. An online poll by software company Streetbees shows that in answer to the question of whether or not they wanted the army to seize power 82 per cent said no and 18 per cent said yes. The president may be using the coup for his own ends but there is no doubt that he has a democratic mandate.

Is Turkey still a democracy?


In one sense yes: Mr Erdogan’s AKP party was democratically elected in a general election on 1 November, last year. But he runs an increasingly authoritarian government and has taken over or suppressed most critical television stations and newspapers. Mr Erdogan is getting close to his dream of an all-powerful presidency which controls all the levers of power including the judiciary, armed forces and bureaucracy.

Where does this leave the EU deal and the refugee crisis?

Mr Erdogan is a tough negotiator but has proven himself to be an unreliable partner when it comes to long-term commitments.

How will this affect relations with Russia (after the plane that was shot down, and ahead of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin)?

Before the coup Turkey had effectively apologised for shooting down the plane. Mr Erdogan is trying to reduce Turkey’s international isolation by improving relations with Russia and Israel.

But relations with Russia are unlikely to be transformed so long as Turkey is backing groups seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia is committed to preventing regime change in Syria.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Turkey 
Hide 15 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. Junior [AKA "Jr."] says:

    During all this chaos of the coup and since in the resulting pandemonium, have the Kurds secured a corridor to the Mediterranean to give a future planned Kurdistan a port?

    This is a key element, especially considering their planned break-up of the ME, that is being ignored in the press. I have been trying to find info on what is going on, as a result of this chaos in Turkey, with the 60 mile stretch that the Kurds were fighting Turkey for along the Turkey/Syria border to link up their Kurdish strongholds in a quest to reach the Mediterranean. But there appears to be a media blackout of the issue. Very suspicious to me and I think that it is a key component of figuring out just what the hell is going on over there.

    Is this all about the formation of Kurdistan with a port? With Russia gone from Syria and a coup attempt in Turkey, is this coup what our troops in Iraq have been training the Kurds to get ready for? Did WE manufacture this coup attempt so that we could get easier access to Kurdish oil? Did both us AND Erdogan stage it with some unseen benefits going to him? Was Erdogan in on a staged coup to solidify his power AND because it is the only way that the people of Turkey would accept the formation of Kurdistan? Or is it just as it appears, a failed coup? Who the hell knows, but we shall see.

    • Replies: @Junior
  2. Junior [AKA "Jr."] says:

    It is also very suspicious to me that the Kurds did not support this coup or take advantage of the situation especially considering that the more that Turkey turns into a caliphate, the more in danger the Kurds are.

    • Replies: @Talha
    , @matt
    , @Marcus
  3. Talha says:

    Hi JR,

    The reason you likely have that assumption is because of the non-stop propaganda about the Kurds. The Kurds we deal with are the Socialist-Marxist types (PKK, YPG Peshmerga) and they get the most ‘face time’. However, a significant number of Kurds are very traditional (especially in Turkey), which is why they still have a solid birth rate above ethnic Turks. Some are even swayed to join Daesh.
    “Although religious Kurds from Turkey generally do not like the PKK/KCK because they are not sufficiently religious and too Marxist for their taste, the PKK/KCK has modified its positions so that they are no longer as hostile to religion.”

    Ethnic Kurds have long supplied some of the top scholars of the Shafi’i school. Google ‘shaykh al-kurdi’ and see what comes up. The late Shaykh Ramadan Bouti (ra) was Kurdish and was the unofficial Grand Mufti of Syria.

    The Kurds fared better under the Ottomans (as a separate but recognized brother millet) than under Turkish ethno-nationalists – so it is no surprise they would want a return to a better time:
    “Confronted with the choice of being annexed at some point by Persia or formally accepting the supremacy of the Ottoman sultan in exchange for a very wide autonomy, the Kurdish leaders opted for this second solution and thus Kurdistan, or more exactly its countless fiefs and principalities entered the Ottoman bosom by the path of diplomacy.”
    “This particular status was to assure Kurdistan about three centuries of peace. The Ottomans controlled some strategic garrisons on the Kurdish territory, but the rest of the country was governed by the Kurdish lords and princes…Despite interferences from time to time from the central power, this particular status, to the satisfaction of the Kurds and the Ottomans, functioned without any major hitch until the beginning of the XIXth century.”


    • Replies: @Junior
    , @matt
  4. matt says:

    A military regime would be arguably less Kurd-friendly than Erdogan.

  5. Junior [AKA "Jr."] says:

    Thanks for the info, Talha!

    • Replies: @Talha
  6. Talha says:

    No problem JR – it seems clear to me that independence or secession will likely never be tolerated (Turkey is already a shell of it old Ottoman footprint). However, accommodation (I personally feel and hope) can be worked out and a reasonable balance between semi-autonomy and allegiance to Ankara should be reachable as long as cooler heads can prevail – which, admittedly, is getting more and more difficult in that neighborhood. Our interference likely does not help.

    May God preserve you and yours.

  7. Marcus says:

    The more the military weakens, the better their prospects for independence are.

  8. matt says:

    But the PKK doesn’t like the military either. The PKK has been fighting the Turkish state since the 1980s, and for most of that time, they weren’t fighting Islamists. They were fighting secular Kemalist military types, or paramilitary Grey Wolves fascists. Even now, the officers in charge of shelling southeastern Turkey to root out the PKK are largely secular Kemalists.

    In fact, the PKK was even negotiating with the AKP government until this Syria thing blew up in Erdogan’s face. So secular leftist Kurds (and secular leftist Turks, for that matter) don’t have any more reason to like the military than do conservative religious Kurds. That’s why the PKK announced it wasn’t taking sides in the recent coup.

    • Replies: @Talha
  9. Talha says:

    Thanks matt – that is also a good point. Secular Turkish-nationalists are only really the darlings of NATO and Israel, from what I can observe. And of course certain groups of people in the West that can’t see anything positive in the history of Turkey and want it brought kicking and screaming into post-modernity a la Ataturk.

    It is my ardent hope that the AKP is magnanimous in victory over the coup. My personal feeling is that they can be wise about their approach and show themselves to be different than the coup plotters. Instead of using it as a means to not send a bunch of people to death for treason or sacking them. It may be far more effective to simply demote them and hold an open public forum to hear out their concerns to see what drove to this point and what legitimate criticisms can be addressed. That would send a much better message than the vindictive actions that seem to be occurring. That may even turn some of them completely loyal.


    • Agree: pink_point
  10. Junior [AKA "Jr."] says:

    But couldn’t it also be that the Kurds chose not to take sides in the coup because there is already a plan in place for their independence that is being aided by the US with the Kurds seizing ground all along the border of Turkey in the post-coup chaos? I found these interesting articles below which seem to suggest it.

    The campaign, which is being coordinated with the U.S.-backed SDF, could change the equation of both the civil war and the Kurdish struggle for autonomy, according to Mohamed Wajih Joumah, a Turkmen surgeon and senior figure in the political opposition. The SDF is pushing north from the Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates toward the city of Manbij, 100 kilometers northwest of Raqqa, the capital of Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate. Meanwhile, the PYD is approaching Jarablus, on the Turkish border, from the west.

    “If they succeed in capturing both towns, it will open a Kurdish corridor from Iraq to the Mediterranean,” Joumah said in an interview in southern Turkey.

    “As to why the Manbij pocket is important, it represents a major border crossing point where foreign fighters can cross into Syria from Turkey,” Colonel Christopher Garver, a spokesperson for the US-led coalition against ISIS, told the news agency ARA news.

    “In regards to a plan to retake Manbij, I don’t want to speak about potential future operations for obvious security reasons, but if there is a pocket of the ISIS out there on the battlefield, we of course want to attack it to root them out,” Col. Garver added.

    “The formation of the councils indicates two things about a Manbij [offensive]: that it’s imminent and that it forms part of the larger federal strategy of the Kurdish led forces in northeast Syria,” Dr Jonathan Spyer, the director of the Rubin Center in Israel, said.

    And here is an article that says that the vital Manbij was taken over by the Kurds a couple of weeks ago in early July which Erdogan earlier described as a red-line that he would not allow to be crossed because it linked all the Kurdish strongholds.

    Manbij has an added importance to Syrian Kurds in its capacity as the first city to fall under their control recently west of the Euphrates, which opens the road toward the cities of al-Bab and Jarablus. The Kurdish control over Manbij allows, for the first time, a link to be secured between the three pockets (Afrin, Kobani and Jazeera) of Kurdish control in the east and west, thus laying the geographic foundations of a Kurdish province by controlling most of the region bordering southern Turkey.

    • Replies: @Talha
  11. Talha says:

    Hey JR,

    Thanks for that info. These guys are seriously playing a very dangerous game. I personally care little whether another ethnic national state is carved out in that already-complex region. But I do care if this will cause instability and bloodshed and, from what you are describing, these guys are on a crash course with Turkey and possibly Iran’s desire to retain its Kurdish districts. And maybe even destabilizing Lebanon:

    Maybe I’m looking at it too much with a perspective of having a conscience…perhaps this is all part of the plan…


    • Replies: @pink_point
  12. @Talha

    Maybe I’m looking at it too much with a perspective of having a conscience…perhaps this is all part of the plan…

    Whose and what plan?

    • Replies: @Talha
  13. Talha says:

    That was more of a rhetorical statement – there are various groups that benefit from having a further dismembered Middle East that is constantly in tension with itself…


Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Patrick Cockburn Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Full Story of the Taliban's Amazing Jailbreak
"They Can't Even Protect Themselves, So What Can They Do For Me?"
"All Hell is Breaking Loose with Muqtada" Warlord: the Rise of Muqtada al-Sadr