For the last two days the news has been full of the attempted coup in Turkey. Many governments, including that of the United States, came out in support of the “democratically elected government” of President Erdogan, which since has regained control. Reprisals are now underway and proceeding with full force.
But this designation of a government “democratically elected” is a misnomer, something not surprising from our own government and media. The situation is reminiscent of the government overthrow in Egypt a few years ago, when the Obama administration supported the Muslim Brotherhood, which also was a “democratically elected” government. But it was instituting harsh, repressive measures in an attempt to create a fully Islamic state, the same as Erdogan has been doing in Turkey. This was part of the reason for the attempted coup.
In 1923 Ataturk founded the modern, secular Turkish state. Under their Constitution, the role of the military is to ensure that it remains that way. There have been four coups in recent years before Erdogan, all with the goal of keeping the nation a secular, Turkish state, rather than an Islamic one. Recent purges of top leaders and crackdowns in various areas, along with deteriorating relations with Israel have marked Erdogan’s time in power. When this coup attempt began, both Erdogan and mosques across the country called for people to flood the streets to stop the attempt, which says something about his power base.
The failure of this coup doesn’t bode well either for Turkey’s western alliances (remember, it is a NATO member) or for its future relationship with Israel. It also provides an opening for Islamic factions and groups such as ISIS. Things are deteriorating rapidly, and the failure of this coup is one more brick in the wall of instability and Muslim ascendancy in the Middle East.