The failed coup in Turkey has not led to the removal of the conservative regime of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. On 15 July, members of the so called ”Peace at Home Council”, tried to remove him from power. Although the Turkish parliament and presidential palace were attacked, rebel soldiers were unable to take political power. 48 hours after the start of the coup, forces loyal to the president captured most rebels. Erdogan started with massive crackdown on critical Turks and arrested over 9.300 people. More then 50.000 government workers were suspended from their jobs and the Turkish Army is said to be purged!
In the past, military coups were able to win political power because the decision to remove civilian leaders were made at the highest level of the Turkish Armed Forces. This coup was not organized by the military command as most generals remained loyal. 24 hours after the start of the coup, the conservative party of Erdogan was able to use social media to rally its supporters. Rebel soldiers took control over the state television and state newspapers, but failed to understand the power of social media. Soon Erdogan supporters were in the streets demanding an end to the coup!
President/dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is popular with many Turks. He draws support from the lower classes of Turkey and presents himself as a populist. The intellectual secular elite never liked him, but they have lost at lot of political power since Erdogan’s conservative party (AK Party) won the 2002 elections. Poor workers and peasants have been brainwashed to think that this strong man supports their interests. Then there is ethnic nationalism, which is used by the AK Party to rally the Turkish people behind the president. Nationalism is also the tool used in the war against the Kurdish PKK as Erdogan has abandoned the peace talks!
The Justice and Development Party or AK Party is founded in 2001 after the Turkish Court banned the Islamic; Virtue Party. Reformist members decided to form the AK Party which does not call itself Islamic or supportive of Koranic doctrine. Yet in its heart the conservative party’s ideology is Islamic and many of its reactionary ideals can be found in the Koran, the holy book of Islam. Erdogan won the 2002 elections, because he used a populist agenda which was popular with the faithful masses. Unlike the secular upper class and the military, Erdogan claimed to support the little man. Like all populists he played on the harsh secular laws, which were very strict in Turkey before Erdogan came!
Over 96% of all Turks are Muslim. The secular constitution speaks very clearly about the separation of state and church, yet there is a Presidency of Religious Affairs which controls all religious affairs and even pays many imams. Atheism is not allowed and those who reject religion are prosecuted by both the state and society. Intolerance and ignorance is deeply rooted and rejection is common. Independent studies however have shown that none-religious Turks are growing. It is said that already 10% of all people under the age of 15, do not call themselves religious!
Turkey has never been a true democracy. The government has banned a lot of political parties for undemocratic reasons. Most parties who support the Kurdish people are called ”PKK sympathizers” and banned by the Turkish Court. In the past the state banned Islamic parties too, but since Erdogan came to power only secular Kurdish parties have been banned. Because of his use of ethnic nationalism, Erdogan is finding support among far-right nationalists. Members of the Nationalist Movement Party belong to the far-right and their youth group the Grey Wolves are known as violent thugs who attack and murder leftists. The nationalists have been used by the government to launch assaults on the People’s Democratic Party, the largest left-wing party in the nation. As always the AK Party remains the shadows as the nationalists do the dirty work for the conservatives!
The failed coup has resulted in popular support as many AK supporters believe that Erdogan is a force for democracy and freedom. Like the supporters of the far-right Republican Party in the USA, the Turkish conservatives have this misguided idea that their strong man works for the little man. Few understand that Erdogan is a dictator who is slowly turning Turkey into a dictatorship. His war on the Kurds, the silencing of critical newspapers and the use of nationalists to attack leftists, Erdogan is not afraid to use brutal force. He is the Vladimir Putin of Turkey and like the Russian ”czar”, Erdogan does not care about the needs of working class people!
Revenge is his next step. 50.000 government workers have been suspended, 9.000 Turks are arrested and the army is said to be purged of all critics. It reminds us of the 1980 coup when the military took control and also purged Turkish society. Some believe that the 2016 failed coup was the work of Erdogan himself to boost popularity. One thing is clear: the failed coup allows the president to start a witch hunt against supporters of Fethullah Gülen and other critics. Gülen used to be a close friend of the president, but he wanted more power and Erdogan would not allow this. Although both men worked together to combat secularism, Fethullah Gülen lost the power struggle and went into self-exile!
Who led the rebel soldiers on 15 July 2016 is not yet fully clear. We do know that elements of the Turkish Armed Forces tried to seize power. Over 100 rebels were killed in the fighting with loyalists losing over 60 soldiers. 145 civilians were killed as rebels and loyalists fought in both the parliament and presidential palace. Two rebel helicopters were shot down and two went missing. One turned up in Greece were 8 rebel soldiers asked for political asylum. It was also reported that two rebel F-16 fighters got the presidential plane in sight, but choose not to shot it down. It remains unknown if this story is true or false!
Revolutionary socialists would not have supported a military government. Both Erdogan and the Turkish Armed Forces are part of the same problem. We have zero trust in the generals who command the army, navy and air force as we have no trust in Erdogan. Revolutionary socialists give critical support to the People’s Democratic Party and call on it to build a socialist program, to fight for a Socialist Republic of Turkey with democratic rights for all. The fight is not over and although the AK Party remains in power, the purges in both the government and army shows that the regime not as stable as it pretended to be!