Turkey, Syria, and the Future of Eurasia
On the 15th of July, 2016, sections of the Turkish armed forces launched a coup against the government of Turkey and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The coup failed spectacularly, several hundred soldiers and civilians were killed, upwards of a thousand were injured and Erdogan's hold on power is now stronger than ever.
Thus begins and ends all the actual facts that we know about the coup. Almost everything else that has emerged is speculation, rumor-mongering and (depending one one's analysis) either wishful thinking or gloom and doom. Who's word one takes at face value now has everything to do with what one thinks about the coup, what happened and what has emerged from it.
Gulen: Omniscient, Ever-present Demon or Mostly Illusory Boogeyman?
Erdogan and his government (let's be honest with ourselves about what we mean when we say "Turkey") quickly declared exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen to be the mastermind of the coup. Well-respected, and justifiably so, analysts and researchers like Sibel Edmonds and James Corbett immediately concurred. But to date absolutely zero concrete evidence has been presented by anyone to back up this claim. Argument from authority does not constitute actual evidence.
Tyler Durden said it best on the Zero Hedge blog, the day after the coup attempt:
The government says the attempted coup was carried out by a clique within the military loyal to Gulen's movement.
However, as we reported last night, the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is currently residing in the US, said he condemned the coup “in the strongest terms.” Gulen, as those who have followed recent Turkish history know, is Erdogan's quasi-imaginary bogeyman nemesis; Erdogan has repeatedly accused Gulen of plotting a "parallel state" whose intention is to overthrow Erdogan, and has used that strawman narrative as justification to expand his powers and to push for a shift from a parliamentary to a presidential regime.
Gulen wrote in his blog that "As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations."
Was Gulen behind the coup? Hardly. But as over the past several years, the spectre of a Gulen "coup" - now culminating with last night's events - is all that Erdogan will need to further cement his ruthelss, authoritarian grasp over the country, which this morning, with gun shots still heard in Turkey, began with the cleansing of all judges and prosecutors even remotely critical of the "president." Recall that just two months ago, we reported that "Erdogan Nears Absolute Power With Appointment Of Puppet Premier, Stripping MPs Of Immunity."
However if turns out that Gulen really was behind the coup then the suspicions of American involvement will no longer be mere widely believed speculation but actual fact. The connections between the Gulen movement, its leader-in-exile in Pennsylvania and the CIA is now well-established fact.
Evidence of foreign involvement with, and backing for, the coup
Whether or not evidence of direct involvement in the coup on the part of Gulen or the US emerges, we do know now for certain that the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had advance knowledge of the coup and were quite happy with the fact that it was happening. Again, in the absence of hard evidence this does serve to make a pretty good case for US and/or Israeli involvement in the coup as well.
But nevertheless suspicions are rife, both inside and outside of Turkey, that the whole thing was planned and orchestrated by Erdogan himself to fully consolidate power and drive out or imprison all of his perceived enemies (i.e. anyone who has ever expressed any public disagreement or disapproval of himself or the AKP) from every sphere of public life, including the judiciary, the press and the education system.
And one particularly interesting aspect of the whole thing that has been, by and large, ignored by both the mainstream and the alternative media is that the planners of the coup were planning on releasing evidence proving that former PM Ahmet Davutoglu and the head of the MIT (Turkish intelligence) Hakan Fidan, were aiding and colluding with Turkey's supposed chief nemesis, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The Geopolitical Fallout From the Coup
True or not, a very high percentage of Turkish citizens, to say nothing of the government itself, are convinced that Gulen and the US were ultimately behind the coup. What this means is that the process of rapprochement between Turkey and both Russia and Iran, something which was already underway for a few months now, will only gain steam and hasten Turkish integration into the Eurasian bloc: As George Ades puts it :
Once Turkey and Russia became "best friends" again, it was only a matter of time before a military coup would be attempted; many of us began to write about it and I’m not thinking of a coup that would be instigated by disgruntled Turks, but one that would serve overseas interests. One week before the events of Friday, the Turkish regime began a wholesale arrest and prosecute campaign among the highest ranking officers in its military; Admirals and Generals were being rounded up and detained on charges of treason. Why wasn’t this purge done before that by the paranoid Erdogan? Unless of course the names of these officers were not known to the Turkish Secret Services before. So who was it that supplied them with the list of dissidents?
The Iranian press is now claiming that the "tip-off" for the coup came from Russian Intelligence. Personally I would not rule that out; in fact I suggested as much in previous posts.
So where does all this leave Turkey in the global power game?
Turkey is a valuable NATO ally, the "gatekeeper" of the Bosporus Straits that control the Black Sea and the Russian Navy’s access to the Mediterranean. The US is not likely to let go of that trump card that easily. At the same time, Erdogan has lost confidence in the US that in all likelihood were behind the attempt to overthrow him; to put it bluntly, he no longer trusts them. Erdogan is in survival mode at the moment and after evaluating the situation he has probably come to the conclusion that his best chances lie with Moscow.
The problem with this Turanic pivot to Eurasia however, is that's happening in the aftermath of an immense purge of virtually every segment of civil, public and political society in the country -- the closing of 2,341 schools, charities, unions and medical centers; the suspension of 37,500 police officers and civil servants; revoking the licenses of over 20,000 teachers; over 10,000 arrested so far. It will be not easy to start the foundations of the newly Eurasian Turkey with such kind of acts.
No one can say for certain what the future holds for Turkey but two things I will say: stability does not seem to be in the cards, not in the long term and not even in the very short term future. And, what is of paramount importance, what happens in Turkey doesn't just stay in Turkey. Turkey's influence reaches out and encompasses a vast territory including western China, Central Asia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, the Caucasus, Ukraine, Crimea, the Balkans and western Europe. Chaos and instability will not be in anyone's interests other than those who pursue "creative destruction" (read - USA) as a goal in and of itself.