Home Essays Turkey: A War on Multiple Fronts (part II)

Turkey: A War on Multiple Fronts (part II)

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Measures and reactions:

Shortly after the news of the coup began spreading, foreign ministers of different countries made statements declaring their denunciation of the coup. The first two countries that made official statements clearly condemning the coup as it was underway, however, are Morocco and Qatar. The reasons for Qatar’s immediate support is both understandable and expected for it has for long supported and promoted the Brotherhood ideology. This factor both explains its unconditional backing for Turkey and the long-standing tension with the post-coup regime in Egypt. Morocco’s outright alignment with Turkey ceases to be shocking the moment we look at it as one from a political party to its ideological ally rather than from one state to another. Later, more sober about its true standing in the international scene, the Moroccan government has expressed “its worry from the Turkish government’s seizure of liberties and the fate of the arrestees.”

The condemnation of the failed coup by leading European countries was accompanied by even a stronger condemnation of the security measures taken by the Turkish cabinet. The French Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, as all his fellow European leaders and foreign ministers stated that he “had to condemn the coup in Turkey, this is the least we could do,” and continued on France 3 “[But] we want the rule of law to function fully, this is no carte blanche for Erdogan.” Three days later, the same official threatened that Turkey might cease to be a viable partner in the fight against ISIS because “There are questions that are being asked and we will ask them. [Turkey] is partly viable but there are suspicions as well. Let’s be honest about this”, insinuating that the coup was fabricated in order to make purges in the military.

Erdogan’s, in a language characterized by a lack of the usual diplomatic euphemism tells the French minister to “mind his own business.” Statements of German officials went in the same direction: Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that any changes should take place through the parliament whereas her Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier emphasized that “only acts which are legally punishable can be targeted, not political opinion.”

The Austrian Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz, besides expressing his concerns about the measures of the Turkish authorities, has asked the Turkish people to leave Austria if they want to support Turkey. On a larger scheme, the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherinistated that “the rule of law has to be protected in the country […] There is no excuse for any steps that takes the country away from that.”Guenther Oettinger, the European Commissioner, in his turn warned Erdogan “He would strengthen his position domestically, but he would isolate himself internationally”

On July 20st, the Turkish president Erdogan announced that a meeting with the National Security Council has resulted in declaring a state of emergency in the country. The bill was approved by the parliament one day later, and Turkey is now bound by the terms of the European Council’s treaty to report regular updates to the secretary general. The state of Emergency, among other things, will last for three months and enable the president and his cabinet to bypass the parliament when drafting new laws.

As to what might affect Turkey, the state of emergency will result in a suspension of the European convention of human rights: “Turkey will derogate the European convention on human rights insofar as it does not conflict with its international obligations,” said the deputy prime minister, NumanKurtulmu?. Although taken by France after a milder incident, the Paris Attacks last November, this measure has stirred fears in Europe and led to another series of attacks again.

The war against Erdogan’s policies involves another equally turf battle. A great many media outlets have, since the first minutes of the coup, produced a massive corpus of rhetoric hailing the coup plotters, and then later, deeming Erdogan a dictator exploiting the coup to round up his political opponents. Egyptian media figures fervently acclaimed the plotters and announced the success of the coup in the next day’s newspaper issues and soon later the same figures started the conspiracy that Erdogan orchestrated the coup.

This, one would argue, is totally expected from the post-coup Egyptian media that sold its soul to the army, and the entire Arab world media corpus that operates within a narrow space of freedom allowed by the authorities in their countries. Nonetheless, what has appalled many is the unprecedented bias of the ensemble of the international media that has seemed helpless about creating and perpetuating a discourse, that remarkably lacked consistency, seeking to demonize Erdogan and his cabinet and stirring uproar against their totally normal measures. Even more mindboggling was the Wikileaks’ ambiguous release of almost 300.000 emails of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party.

The sum of these official and non-official statements and discourses is objectively hypocritical and lacks minimal objectivity standards. They obviously spring from the same ideology that has put numerous obstacles in front of Turkey’s endeavors to join the European Union, an ideology that is simply unhappy that a political party with an Islamic background is able to practically debunk the theory that Islam and the modern values such as democracy are mutually exclusive. It is sufficient to point out that the success of the Egyptian military coup d’état, the massacres that accompanied it, and ridiculously unreasonable rulings against Morsi, his toppled government officials and advocates, combined, did not spark this excessive array of criticism and uproar.

With this said, the Turkish government has to realize that it does not afford a multi-front war and that further tension will, like the case with Russia, have direct consequences on its economy. For this reason it has to abstain from backfiring at every foreign minister or government official and to make minimal statements readouts and addresses in regards to the fate of the arrestees. All sorts of verbal clashes will confirm the propagated image that Turkey’s measures violate the international laws and conventions.

Secondly, Turkey has to counter the massive media discourse through a gigantic cyber campaign promoting its successful political and socio-economic models. Last but not least, Erdogan has to avoid, at all cost, reinstating the death penalty, which will provide his detractors with more reasons to accuse him of dictatorship and will not produce any direct political gains, particularly that the military institution is now leashed. Simultaneously, Turkey should not publically renounce on the death penalty until there is no shadow of a doubt that a coup volcano will not erupt anytime soon.

A Second Coup Lurking in the Shadows:

In an interview with Reuters, The Turkish president warned from a second coup attempt. This, he explain, would not be easy for the plotters but would be devastating for Turkey, should it succeed. His prime minister, BinaliYildrim, later echoed this in his visit to the Headquarter of the private police that was shelled by putschists. In the same regard Erdogan admitted that the coup could have been successful as the Turkish Intelligence Services were not fully prepared for such undertaking: “Unfortunately, in this incident it was clear that there were significant gaps and deficiencies in our Intelligence, there is no point in hiding or denying that. I said it to the head of the National Intelligence.”

As part of the security procedures undertaken by the cabinet, Erdogan promises to reform of the intelligence services and clarified that the Supreme Military Council that is chaired by the prime minister and includes the defense minister and the chief of staff will look into restructuring the armed forces: “They are all working together as to what might be done, and … within a very short amount of time a new structure will be emerging. With this new structure, I believe the armed forces will get fresh blood,” Erdogan told Reuters.

The security measures taken by the Turkish Government to counter potential coup are both important and delicate, especially what concerns restructuring the Armed Forces. The intelligence services should go through a thorough internal managerial reassessment and be allowed more space and resources to cooperate with other services and institutions. As to the Armed Forces, Erdogan and his cabinet should reckon that the failure of the coup is not an occasion to subdue or humiliate the Army but a chance to put it back permanently in its natural position, under the authority of the president, its Commander in Chief.

For this matter, the process of restructuring the military institution should actively involve top generals and officers as indispensible contributors and allies. Otherwise, the sense of subjugation resulting from their exclusion from the reform process will compel it to always try again. So far, the Turkish government has proven sober about this intricacy, which one senses in the choice of words of the president and other government official when they talk about the plotters as “traitors who bypassed their superiors.” In his turn, the Armed Forces General HulusiAkar has dubbed the plotters “a disgrace for the Armed Forces” and shown a willingness to cooperate with the government, which indicates that the situation is being handled well.

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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

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