The Turkish Army is Back in Politics Supporting Erdoğan. Turkey Scrambling to get out of the Crisis he Created

Recently Erdoğan initiated an utterly unnecessary project to dig a canal between the Black Sea and the Marmora Sea. Istanbul Bosphorus Strait currently serves the purpose, and its capacity is underutilized. The new channel would just be a parallel second passageway to the Bosphorus strait. If the canal is built and opened, it would be Turkey’s gift to the US since the new Istanbul Canal would circumvent the Montreux Treaty and open up the passage to the Black Sea for all US warships without oversight. Erdoğan’s business partner Qatar is financially behind the new canal project. Before Turks had any idea or information about a canal project that nullifies the Montreux treaty, the government sold the land around the canal route to the Qatari businesspeople. The land prices will rise after the canal is built, providing handsome profits for the landowners around it.

The Turkish Army is Back in Politics Supporting Erdoğan.  Turkey Scrambling to get out of the Crisis he Created

The Turkish Army is Back in Politics Supporting Erdoğan. Turkey Scrambling to get out of the Crisis he Created

It was expected. Many people have been waiting for something to break, anything, any time now. The political crisis in Turkey was following right behind the economic catastrophe Turkey is in. Something had to break.

When the 103 retired admirals published a letter yesterday voicing their concerns about the direction the country was headed, all hell broke loose. It reminded the government of the past coups that brought down governments. Erdoğan’s authoritarian regime and his party that curtailed nearly all democratic rights, imprisoned journalists, banned strikes, closed political parties, appointed top-down loyalists to local governments after imprisoning the elected mayors, had lawyers beaten, and shelled villages in Turkey with heavy artillery, and committed innumerable atrocities, immediately went into the victim role when some retired officers expressed their views in public.

But the country was already at a breaking point

Only in the last few days, Turkey pulled out of a convention, Istanbul Convention, that protected women from violence. Immediately more than 80 women were slaughtered. Representatives started asking where the 128 billion dollars disappeared at the same time Erdoğan’s son-in-law Finance Minister disappeared one night. Poll after poll showed the governing parties were losing voters and were now falling behind the opposition. Women took to the streets to protest the annulment of the women’s protection convention. After all the beatings, arrests, beatings, and attacks from the police, students still continue protesting an unqualified rector appointed by Erdoğan. A Kurdish representative in the National Assembly was first dragged out of the Assembly building, then beaten and roughed up in his home by the police who came to arrest him. His crime was retweeting a news item from an internet news site. With the government’s order, the prosecutor started the legal process to shut down the opposition progressive, pro-Kurdish, and pro-human rights HDP party. The government canceled the law that prevented those with relationships to fundamentalist religious sects from entering the army officer ranks.

Then, referring to Erdoğan’s personal decision to cancel the Istanbul Convention on women’s protection one night without anyone else’s knowledge, a top official from Erdoğan’s AKP party said Erdoğan had the right to pull out of the Montreux agreement if he personally wanted to.

That may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back

Erdoğan and Fethullah Gülen cleanse the Turkish army, weaken it and install their loyalists

The Turkish army has a long history of staging coups that brought down democratically elected governments. Every time the military took power, it always used the excuses of defending the State that Atatürk established, protecting the Atatürk’s principles, or eliminating those they saw the benefit of labeling as terrorists. However, most of the time, the coups helped set up a government favorable to the US, the so-called free market system, and the international finance capital. The Turkish army is the second-largest army in NATO after the US, and Turkey has very close security agreements with the US. By showing the intention to bypass the Montreux Treaty, the AKP government shows its loyalty to the US interests. It presents this gift to the US after waiting for about three months for Biden to call Erdoğan and the US insisting Turkey cancel and return the S-400 missiles Turkey bought from Russia.

Erdoğan, a favorite of the US, brought to power only with the US support, cleaned the army from the Kemalist officers before he finally came out of the closet to establish an Islamic sharia regime in Turkey. The secular Kemalist officers would probably not have allowed the country to move this far towards radical Islam. However, Erdoğan retired the secular Kemalist officers in the army and filled the ranks with religious loyalists with his lifelong ideological and organizational buddy Fethullah Gülen, a CIA operative.

The Turkish government, behind the scenes, was run by Fethullah Gülen and Erdoğan as a coalition, with Fethullah being the silent partner. The police, judiciary, and the military were in the hands of Fethullah Gülen, who placed his loyalists in these departments.

However, when Erdoğan and Gülen fell apart and started fighting after a suspicious coup attempt in 2016, Erdoğan established his one-person command and imprisoned anybody he suspected of being a Gülen sympathizer. This wasn’t an easy task because, including himself, the entire AKP party officials were actively working with Gülen. Gülen, on the other hand, was under the protection of the CIA, FBI, and the highest US officials and resided in the US, running his spying operations in the world for these organizations from his compound in Pennsylvania, USA.

More army officials lost their jobs and forced to retire in the cleanup Erdoğan started against his ex-partner in the Turkish armed forces.

Erdoğan came to power with his promise to end the anti-democratic military coups. He claimed his right-wing, religious party also suffered from the coups and, using this argument, ran on a campaign for more democracy and civilian rule. He pledged to take the government and the authority from the unelected military and make civilian democracy run the country. Many liberals, democrats, even some leftists believed in his fairy tales.

The US also supported him because he promised more liberal and free-market measures to allow US companies to exploit the Turkish markets. Erdoğan, true to his promise to the US, opened up nearly all public enterprises to be sold pennies to the dollar to foreign capital. This alone made him and his party the favorite of international finance capital and the banks. He, in return, enjoyed a toothless army, full of his loyalists, a removed obstacle or a threat against anything he wanted to do.

All obstacles removed, time to move towards Open Islamic Fascism

The coast was clear and open for Erdoğan to move towards the sharia regime he always wanted to. However, the latest economic crisis, unimaginable corruption, theft, bribery, cronyism, lying, nepotism, smuggling, and the newest scandal revealing low-ranking officials in his party snorting cocaine and living very luxurious lifestyles. It is hard to explain widespread narcotic usage in one’s party when one preaches conservative family values and condemns people drinking beer. All this amongst rising hunger, failure to manage the pandemic, all around poverty, and the latest, Erdoğan’s palace’s official limousine getting caught with 8 pounds of cocaine are creating discontent even among his supporters. With dollar shooting up to 8.1 TL in the last few months did not help either.

When the retired admirals published the open letter yesterday about their concerns, the government jumped on this public declaration to accuse the writers, the retired admirals, of attempting a coup. The AKP, ministers, and the government spokesperson denounced this letter as an anti-democratic intervention to Erdoğan’s personal and limitless power and rule.

After few hours of exchanges of both support and denunciation of the letter between opposition and government, another group of Kemalist and secular retired officers announced their support to the admirals.

The country’s top prosecutor already started a criminal investigation of the admirals. Other retired top officers voiced their support to the letter in response.

The weakened army supports Erdoğan

The loyalist police, the army, and the government departments immediately countered the backing to the ex-admirals with their loyalty message to the Turkish State, the government, “democracy,” and Erdoğan. However, this open involvement of active duty army and police units on behalf of the AKP government did not bring a government reaction. Erdoğan must have forgotten his initial promise to keep the active-duty army and police officers away from the elected civilian government affairs.

It was as if the country suddenly divided one night along the line drawn by the retired admirals’ letter. Or maybe, the issues not allowed to be discussed by the authoritarian AKP government came to a boiling point and exploded. Whichever it is, allowing the police and the army to defend him publicly proves one more time that Erdoğan failed to implement a civilian, democratically elected, civilian government independent from the armed forces in Turkey.

Before Erdoğan took power, the military had published a concern letter, not dissimilar to the admirals’, that caused the elected government to dissolve. This event is known as the postmodern coup in Turkey because without even using a single weapon, the army brought down the government. Today, the government supporters liken the retired admirals’ concern letter to this, taking it as a threat and anti-democratic. However, the opposition points out that today’s letter comes from retired admirals, plain civilians, who are only exercising their freedom of speech. The retired admirals or the retired officers have no power to make a government fall. In the past, however, it was the active officers and the Joint Chiefs of Staff publishing their dislikes against the government.

Erdoğan needs an excuse to justify his upcoming more anti-democratic policies

Many analysts are already claiming that this could be yet another one of Erdoğan’s tricks to stay in power. They are convinced that in this weakest point of his power, he needed an excuse to show himself both as a victim of an anti-democratic military intervention and also to justify the repressive measures he needs to crush all opposition because he has nothing else left to stay in power.

Turkey is still being ruled with Presidential decrees after the suspicious coup in 2016. For many people and seasoned analysts, that coup was staged by Erdoğan himself to concentrate his power. Right after the coup failed, Erdoğan said the coup was, “Heaven sent.” When the opposition demanded an investigation into the coup, the proposition was rejected in the Assembly by Erdoğan’s party, literally preventing the information becoming public on who was behind the contradictory, amateurish, bungled theatrics that paraded as a coup attempt against Erdoğan. However, the coup does seem like heaven-sent because Erdoğan used the excuse to declare emergency rule, send thousands to prison, fire teachers and academicians, clean out the police, judiciary, and the military, appoint his cronies to positions that were electoral before.

A letter of concern from the admirals today doesn’t look like it has any teeth. It is a cry of secularist and Kemalist ex-officers as they watch on the sidelines their country reversing the international treaties Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the country’s founder, signed that many consider defines the independence and sovereignty of Turkey. Montreux treaty is one of these treaties. Erdoğan and his radical Islamic followers believe the Ottoman Empire was a sharia-ruled country. By dismantling the Ottomans, ending the caliphate, and establishing modern Turkey, they claim Mustafa Kemal Atatürk dismantled an Islamic country and formed a secular republic against Allah’s will. They feel any treaty Kemal signed is a failure and must be reversed. The admirals and the secularists, on the other hand, want to uphold the agreements and praise them as victories against world imperialism.

Selling the country’s resources and opening up access for the benefit of the US

Recently Erdoğan initiated an utterly unnecessary project to dig a canal between the Black Sea and the Marmora Sea. Istanbul Bosphorus Strait currently serves the purpose, and its capacity is underutilized. The new channel would just be a parallel second passageway to the Bosphorus strait. If the canal is built and opened, it would be Turkey’s gift to the US since the new Istanbul Canal would circumvent the Montreux Treaty and open up the passage to the Black Sea for all US warships without oversight. Erdoğan’s business partner Qatar is financially behind the new canal project. Before Turks had any idea or information about a canal project that nullifies the Montreux treaty, the government sold the land around the canal route to the Qatari businesspeople. The land prices will rise after the canal is built, providing handsome profits for the landowners around it.

Patriots, Kemalists, and secularists are aware of the business deals Erdoğan is conducting, including the new canal project and selling the country inch by inch. And the plans to circumvent the Montreux treaty for the US would weaken Turkey’s hand in access to the Black Sea where Russian ports and navy exist. The dealings and the attacks on the treaties Mustafa Kemal has signed are not taken lightly, even by the retired officers or admirals. This last-minute attempt to voice their opposition to slipping towards sharia every day has opened up a can of worms for a government already paranoid of any opposition.

Turkey is poised to see some heated debates and events in the following days. The AKP party called for a party meeting to discuss the admirals’ letter.

Will the secularists and patriots stand up to prevent a catastrophic collapse of their country to one-person sharia fascism? Or, will they let Erdoğan play the victim against a toothless concern letter and use this as the last step to finalize his lifelong project and bury Turkey back in time to a dictatorship of sharia law. We will have to wait and see.

Mehmet Bayram – Sendika.org

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