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One of the iron clad laws of coup d’état attempts is that the winner takes all.Blog2

A week ago President Erdogan won in Turkey. The subsequent events prove he’s on his way to taking all.

He’s taking all of the military, the police, the judiciary, the media, the education, and the religion. Already more than 60,000 soldiers, police, teachers, and civil servants have been arrested, sacked, or placed under investigation. The speed of the purge strongly suggests many people caught up in it were already on lists drawn up before the coup. President Erdogan had long warned of plots against him, now he can play the ‘I told you so’ card’ as he sweeps all before him. The coup attempt was anti-democratic and roundly condemned by all the major parties in Turkey, but that does not mean that the post-coup years will be democratic.

A three-month state of emergency has been declared allowing his cabinet, to bypass parliament, pass laws, and curtail civil rights as it sees fit. The announcement has been made that the European Convention on Human Rights will be suspended, and the prospect of re-instating the death penalty has been raised.

This is not yet like the dark days of the 1980s when, under military rule, hundreds of thousands of people were jailed, killed or ‘disappeared’. Taking action following a coup attempt is inevitable, but all the signs point to Erdogan’s absolutist tendencies leading to his absolute power.

He has led Turkey as prime minister or president for 13 years, remains hugely popular, and has little now standing in his way to continue for many more years.

He is likely to try again to change Turkey’s parliamentary system of government to a presidential one. Constitutionally the prime minister is more powerful than the president, but, after three terms as prime minister when Erdogan became president he effectively took the power with him through his control of the ruling AK party, and sheer force of personality. Now he will probably attempt to codify that power.

President Erdogan is on course to become Turkey’s most powerful leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk took over the country in 1923 when the Ottoman Empire collapsed. He is likely to achieve this gradually. After this month’s purge he can be expected to revert to his previous ‘long march through the institutions’. He had always moved slowly but steadily, inserting supporters into key positions, especially in education where secularism is being moved to the margins.

It was in his nature to be a ‘gradualist’, but his instincts were re-enforced when the Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi became president of Egypt and rapidly set about instituting religion into all civil institutions. This equally rapidly led to him being removed in a coup.

The gradual infiltration of islamist politics into all walks of Turkish life should consolidate President Erdogan’s grip on the country, but at a long term risk. More than 2,000 Turks are thought to have fought or are fighting with ISIS in Syria. There are neighbourhoods in Istanbul where pro ISIS paraphernalia can be bought, and Salafist ideas are increasingly being propagated albeit mostly outside of the 80,000 strong state controlled mosques. Many analysts are convinvced that Erdogan at best turned a blind eye to ISIS activity, or at worst actually supported it when he was hoping that Syria’s President Assad would fall. The Saudi rulers discovered that flirting with jihadists would come back to bite them, Erdogan may learn the same lesson.

However, that is for the long term, for now the strong man of Turkey is stronger than ever. He’s travelled a long way on the road of his journey through the democratic process. He once described democracy as taking a ride on a tram – “when you get to your stop, you get off”.


17 Comments on "Turkey After The Coup"

  1. Peter Kennedy | 22nd July 2016 at 12:27 pm | Reply

    Possibly related to this, Donald Trump has said that if elected President of the USA he may cut back on the American commitment to NATO preferring that states in Europe and elsewhere look after themselves. The NATO commitment to Turkey is therefore on very shaky ground.

    Does anyone know if there are ICBMs in Turkey run by US forces? I know that JFK removed them as part of the settlement to the Cuban Missile Crisis but I am not sure if they returned.

  2. Good analysis as usual Tim. I’ve given up trying to explain why Erdogan is so popular to people as they just refuse to accept that he has made the majority of people in Turkey better off.

  3. Peter Kennedy | 23rd July 2016 at 10:25 am | Reply

    From the BBC this morning. Detention without charge in Turkey can now be as long as thirty days and at least 60,000 state employees have either been detained or suspended. “Education ministry officials, private school teachers and university heads of faculty together account for more than half the people targeted.”

    • It’s already 28 days in the UK and would have been 90 if the then Labour government hadn’t been narrowly voted down due to small number of rebels (predictably including Corbyn). For those keen to paint the anti-Corbyn wing of the PLP as the moderate saviours of the Labour party it’s worth remembering that these are the people who think holding people for 90 days without trial is ok (as sadly did 41% of the UK public at the time)

  4. you are one pathetic so called journalist stop wasting our time with yr bullshit go get a full time job also like to mention no mp is shot in turkey yet over teheir opinions… unlike in yr own counntry
    erdogan is legitemate president of turkey, we elect him in we elect hin out, go cry againts a wall
    it s a purge now wheather you like or not ,,,,and start recpecting peoples democratic rights

  5. you are not honest. You are ignorant and malevolent. you dos not know The REAL NEWS about TURKEY Dirty white man ..
    ‘It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
    By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
    until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
    for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”Genesisi-18-19, chapter-3

    • Bilal, when you say ‘Dirty white man’ are you being a horrible racist, or are you you unaware of how horribly racist the expression is?

      • You do me too much credit. I have never banned you from posting on here. I leave all your comments for Tim to moderate. If your comments don’t get through, you can thank him, not me.

        And, trust me, if I did want ban you from posting comments, I’d have taken the much quicker approach of banning your ip address entirely.

        I await your apology. I particularly dislike your insinuation that I’m anti-Israel.

        • mahatmacoatmabag | 26th July 2016 at 7:14 pm | Reply

          I apologise for thinking that it was you but not for supporting Brexit & Israel. If you would like me to cease posting on here just say so since all the posts of mine that have been rejected as extreme on here have been posted on the Spectator, Breibart UK, Fox and 2 other US websites & 2 internet forums without censorship or removal. The W&W’s claim to be in the centre politically is misleading & you should remove it ASAP

          • I don’t mind your opinions but I have taken issue with your manner and aggressive nature. If people are polite with me, I’ll be polite back.

            I really don’t have an issue with you posting here and, even if I did, it’s not my business. As far as I’m concerned, you make some interesting points but too often stray into rhetoric which some people would find objectionable. That, I assume, is why Tim chooses not to pass your comments but we’ve really not discussed it. As I’ve previously said, I’m minded to let them pass simply in order to let others see what you consider ‘moderate’. I do understand that some of your comments would inflame debates and I would agree that it’s wise if we sometimes don’t pass them. However, I rarely make that decision. If I actually moderate your comments, it’s only when I notice one which contains nothing objectionable so I pass it immediately. Otherwise, as I’ve told you at other times, I have nothing to do with your comments.

            As for balance: you seem to misunderstand what balance means. You seem to think that balance is merely voicing your opinions and, somehow, our publishing some far left would article/opinion would balance it out. Balance is trying to fairly judge situations and understand that the truth is a hard to negotiate path that’s loyal to the facts. Balance is about being self-conscious enough to stop biases from intruding.

      • mahatmacoatmabag | 27th July 2016 at 10:03 am | Reply

        I am happy to say the W&W is now the official ‘Dirty white man’ website.

  6. you interpret the East and the Islamic world by the logic dirty white man ..
    Dirty white man mean:
    You are not dirty white man..İt is your opinion..Understand????

  7. This type of journalism made me lose confidence in the West! It is sad! Tim Marshall is really deep in his journalism that lacks accuracy and impartiality … He says “Erdogan won” … but what we understand is that the West has lost .. . he talks about what he does Erdogan, but he did not say why he does …. he does not speak of Fettulah Gulen, the gulenistes that made with the help of CIA and NATO the failed coup!
    All that has undergone a purge, they are suspected of being linked to the terrorist group of Fethullah Gulen! So without the state eliminates this parallel state, we could not continue to move forward in democracy in Turkey. M Erdogan and his government were eluted democratically by the majority vote of the people and only the same mechanism could take away from this place!
    The people of Turkey have rewritten the history of democracy with their lives and injured, the West is not even able to read or say or transmit fairly and accurately this event … It’s a shame for those countries which they see themselves as “democratic countries” who can not even respect the will of the people of Turkey …

  8. In June 2011 I visited Turkey (Istanbul and Yalikavak (near Bodrum) I didn’t know until the 11th hour that Turkey was 99% Muslim, otherwise I would have thought twice about going. Yet in the places I visited (admittedly not in the Eastern regions) I didn’t feel at all threatened or oppressed by Turkey’s Muslim population. It felt like a secular kind of Muslimhood, as pioneered by Ataturk. Yet some of the Turks I spoke were feeling twitchy about Ergodan’s probable re-election as president, chiefly because he appeared to have become noticeably more prescriptive/orthodox/Islamic. Is this trend towards a medieval form of Islam, that is becoming contagious, likely to continue or is Erdogan playing power politics? Erdogan and Gulan seems two sides of the same coin. I would value Tim Marshall’s prognosis

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