This is a special edition from The Washington Outsider.
The Friday, July 16, 2016, coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan failed to garner sufficient military and popular support to morph in a sustainable campaign. In announcing a so-called “Peace Council” had seized power in Turkey, the perpetrators of the coup issued a statement saying they had acted, because the Erdogan government had "eroded" democratic and secular rule, which is true. They intended to draw up a new constitution as soon as possible, maintain public order, guarantee freedom of all citizens, regardless of religion, race and language, and impose (presumably temporary) martial law.
Despite the expressed intend to reclaim democracy for Turkey, the cultural trauma of past coups compelled the Turkish People to lash out against those responsibility for the coup. Although public opposition to the coup, and the rebels' largely nonviolent retreat, ensured its end, Turkey’s political problems are far from over. Quite frankly, Erdogan is to blame for this cup attempt. Despite efforts by Erdogan and his supporters to frame the coup as an attack on democracy and its defeat as a victory for democracy, Erdogan’s survival as President is as much, if not more, of a threat to democracy.
Unlike the 2013 Coup against Islamic President Mohamed Morsi, who had yet to solidify control over government institutions and the Free Syrian Army coup in defense of the Syrian People, which was strong enough to resist the forces of the Assad regime, the increasingly authoritarian, Islamist President Erdogan has largely solidified control over power in Turkey. Not only has he spent recent months asserting his influence over the military in order to consolidate and solidify his control over Turkey’s civil institutions, he has spent the last couple of years systematically disabling democracy.
In 2015 alone, Erdogan engineered the need for new elections after initial results blocked his attempts to expand his Presidential powers and afforded the disenfranchised Kurdish minority representation in the government. Adding to his intensifying crackdown on the fundamental democratic rights of free speech and the freedom of the Press, which is intended to suppress domestic and international criticism, Erdogan is using the rationale of this coup to legitimize his purge of revivals from the government, military, and judiciary in a highly-systematic, almost premeditated manner.
Democratic leadership throughout Europe and the United States find themselves in another uncomfortable position. They fully understand Erdogan is a betrayer of democracy, yet they need him to confront the Syrian Refugee Crisis, the Syrian Civil War, and the terrorist threat of the Islamic States. Erdogan may be the guy who control’s power in Turkey, yet he is threat himself. Erdogan has had limited success by cracking down on refugees and protesters while provoking conflicts with Russia and the Kurds, however, his approach foments insurgencies. Not only is Erdogan a threat to democracy in Turkey, he is a threat to European, Middle Eastern security, stability, and peace.
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