The Turkish people celebrate Erdogan’s “victory”

On the news tonight they showed crowds of Turkish people jubilantly celebrating the putdown of the coup. Even if they didn’t favor a coup (which, truth be told, wasn’t a great idea), should they be so jubilant?

It is almost as if the chickens in the henhouse were celebrating the retention of the local fox. Maybe the more rational citizens stayed at home, but, given Erdogan’s rule and the history of Turkey in the 20th century, it seems to me that the proper response is resignation and sadness. Surely they know what’s coming now.

Or am I Turksplaining?


  1. Posted July 17, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    “Or am I Turksplaining?”

    You are norming them/us. But so does Steve Pinker in his The Sense of Style. There must be a difference between helpful guiding, directing, and “bossing”–all attempts to teach–and the splaining that intends to shame, silence, and dominate.

    No, you were NOT splaining here.

  2. Posted July 17, 2016 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    I can only imagine the failed coup is going to make Erdogan and his government even more totalitarian. The coup was like turning over cards in poker, and although every politician has enemies, Erdogan will shrink his circle and criminalise those who are a threat and might be.
    Sad times all round.
    The not so ancient proverb, never trust a politician with a moustache, still stands.

    • Eric Grobler
      Posted July 17, 2016 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      The not so ancient proverb, never trust a politician with a moustache, still stands.

      It took me an hour to come up with an exception to the rule. General Smuts, I think he was a gentlemen.

      • Posted July 18, 2016 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        🙂 I had a quick read about him, he does seem a good fellow.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Or a beard for that matter.
        How many “modern” political leaders particularly in the west have had (unshaven) facial hair?

  3. Posted July 17, 2016 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    My London-born nephew and his Turkish wife live in Istanbul and we facebooked each other from the start of the attempted coup until its effective end when Erdogan spoke in Istanbul.

    What one must bear in mind about Turkish military coups is their history and the secularist inheritance of Ataturk. Several times in the 20th century, the Turkish military intervened and formed coups in order to defend secular values, to guarantee a free press and several months or years down the line to create the conditions for new democratic elections whenever it looked like secularism was threatened. So in Turkey, authoritarian coups like this are upside-down: they have been harbingers of the reassertion of secularism vs the pressures of a 99% Muslim population to overturn it. Far from ideal and deeply peculiar.

    On the night, Erdogan called via Skype – ironic, since he has limited social media in Turkey – for the ‘people’ to come out on the streets to protest the Army movements. That was done via the call to prayer from imams who support Erdogan. And the response was immediate and unprecedentedly massive in Taksim Square in Istanbul. All political parties opposed the coup, even the ones which Erdogan has suppressed: it was presented as an attack on democracy. That narrative was aided by the bombings of the parliament building.

    From this distance, and even to my nephew, it is unclear whether the demonstrators came out to defend democracy or to defend the parliamentary Islamist Erdogan. Perhaps it was a mixture of both.

    Erdogan is going after his ex-ally the cleric Gulen, living in the US, yet Gulen himself declared before that he did not support it. That announcement appeared 15 minutes after Obama declared that he supported Turkish democracy, in other words, Erdogan. Yet it was becoming clear by that time that the coup was failing. I did not see the UN make one declaration as the events moved so quickly.

    Erdogan can credibly claim that the UN, Obama and Gulen all stood aside while they worked out who was likely to win. Indeed, Erdogan is really going after Gulen and accusing the US of harbouring someone who he calls a traitor. It looks like, with the round-up of alleged co-conspirators, Erdogan is enormously strengthened along with his Islamist project. The only thing I cannot tell is how much his street supporters on the night genuinely believe that they were supporting democratic institutions: and therefore how much of a bulwark they form against him when, as he obviously would like to, he moves further against the free press, seeks to stir sectarian divisions and limits governmental democracy.

    • Filippo
      Posted July 17, 2016 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      “Erdogan can credibly claim that the UN, Obama and Gulen all stood aside while they worked out who was likely to win.”

      What would the U.N. and Obama have to do so that Erdogan could not credibly claim that they were standing aside?

      • Posted July 17, 2016 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        Well, let’s take Obama. Turkey is a NATO state and, for all Erdogan’s degeneracies, a democracy. He can reasonably expect support from Obama. It took Obama about one and a half to two hours unequivocally to support Erdogan: imagine if there had been an attempted coup in the UK. It wouldn’t have taken that long. Erdogan can point to that and say what a strong man he is to the Turks and leave them to infer the brittleness of US support for what he calls Turkish democracy. He’s already doing that in calling for Gulen’s extradition from the US: the conspiracy theory is already spreading, indeed it did on the night of the attempted coup, that the US was behind the action.

    • Posted July 17, 2016 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      I beg to differ on Turkish coup history. They preserved secularism, yes. Democracy, only kinda sorta. The major opposition parties came out against the coup, which looks like the voice of the people speaking, to me.

      Erdogan is no democrat, and this will make him worse, but I don’t see military coups as a solution. There are other ways to get democracy back, and I suspect that eventually Turks will find them.

      • Posted July 17, 2016 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        Yes, paultorek, your links confirm my necessarily schematic (for the sake of brevity, with a limit of 500 words) overview. I am much less optimistic than you on Turks getting towards a decent, stable secular democracy. Erdogan is consciously inviting the conditions for sectarian divisions to arise: the revival of anti-Kurd propaganda and moves in the Turkish east, the resettlement of Syrian refugees and their placement where intra-Muslim dissension will increase, the destabilization on the Syrian border, the defense of Turkish air-space from Putin all nourish his nationalist, Bonapartist, yet ultimately parliamentary Islamist narrative. An ideology rather like the roots of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Sayyid Qutb.

      • Eric Grobler
        Posted July 17, 2016 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        I suspect that eventually Turks will find them.

        I think it will take 100 years for that to happen.

  4. Posted July 17, 2016 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    In fact on the night I saw reports of several regional actors, ISIS, Assad and some elements of the Kurds (I forget which) saying that they supported the coup. The only foreign organizations who opposed the coup were the US and Gulen on the night (and even then, very late). Erdogan could publicize that and add to the bunker mentality of his support: unfortunately, he would have the facts on his side. And present himself as the defender of Turkish sovereignty.

  5. Eric Grobler
    Posted July 17, 2016 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Atatürk is turning in his grave.

    This stupid coup attempt will polarize the society further and give Erdogan the “mandate” to give his presidency broader powers.
    This “democracy” was already under threat, journalists are routinely arrested and newspapers threatened with closure.
    The APK is also increasingly corrupt and has given support to various islamist groups like the Islamic State.
    Meanwhile some in the EU/NATO support full EU membership for Turkey!

  6. Posted July 17, 2016 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    This video explained, within hours of the start of the coup, how it was likely to fail:

    This video explains why:

    The leader of the movement blamed for the coup is in exile in the USA, where Erdogan can’t reach him. If Erdogan caused his opponent’s followers inside the military to believe the coup was called, it would allow Erdogan to protect his own safety during the coup, cause his opponent’s military followers to out themselves, give Erdogan excuse for having the USA extradite his opponent, and provide political and propaganda fodder to further cement Erdogan’s intention of lifelong, tightly controlled leadership of Turkey.

    I hope the USA provides political asylum for Erdogan’s opponent. He is a huge leader in the Sufi sect of Islam, the sect that is already reformed and leading the way toward science and peace, where Sunni/Wahhabi and Shia refuse to go.

  7. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted July 17, 2016 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Seems a very dramatic coup, or at least there are reasons or attempts to paint Erdogan as a democratic hero.

    Articles claims the phone call was the turn around. And that Erdogan’s plane and its two military escort planes were targeted by military planes, but that for some reason they didn’t shoot him down.

    EU’s foreign ministers have moved to support Turkey. (I.e. Erdogan.)

  8. rickflick
    Posted July 17, 2016 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m thinking…if things really go wickedly bad as they seem to be in Turkey, in a few years there will likely be another, probably successful, coup that will turn back the tide of theocracy. I wish it wasn’t the only way to salvation, but I must confess that seems to be the way it is.

  9. Jonathan Dore
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    What’s still mysterious to me is the motivation/ideology of the coup plotters. Were they secularists trying to roll back Islamization, as Turkish coups traditionally have? Or were they Gulenists, as Erdogan claimed? The Gulenist movement is not fanatical but it is a fairly conservative Islamic movement, not likely to make common cause with a coup designed to *stop* Islamization. As a further complication, my understanding was that the Gulenists are strong in the police force (which clearly sided with Erdogan in the coup) but not in the army. And finally, if it *was* a secularist coup, why would Erdogan pass up the opportunity to blame secular forces and instead go after a movement which is not very far removed from his own ideology?

    None of this makes any sense to me, probably because I’m not well enough informed. Can anyone here throw any light?

    • Posted July 18, 2016 at 4:30 am | Permalink

      The only manifesto I saw on the night from the coup was a brief sentence maintaining human rights and democracy: granted, they can mean anything but it looked like yer typical Turkish liberal coup stuff.

      If it’s true, as Erdogan says, that General Mehmet Disli led the coup, then Gulen wasn’t involved.

      But the atmosphere in Turkey is now feverish. The UN has just released a text warning of bomb threats in many Turkish locales. Erdogan is rounding up huge numbers of his opposition and my nephew is reporting that the participants in the coup are being tortured in the mosques.

      As for Erdogan going after Gulen who doesn’t differ much from him, I suppose that’s what sectarians always do: the ISIS leadership hate the Hazimis, and al-Qaeda hates ISIS but if you can explain to me the differences between what they actually do, you should be a Middle East analyst. But, no you’d need a Turkey expert to answer that.

    • Posted July 18, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      If you find my comment with the two video links, I think it will change your opinion on Gulenists and help explain what happened. If you can’t find it easily enough, let me know and I’ll repost them in another comment. I hadn’t heard of them until failed coup attempt. The two videos are not form Gulenists but, rather, from outside third parties who have background to share.

  10. colnago80
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 4:56 am | Permalink

    As Ralph Waldo Emerson was once quoted as remarking, when you shoot at a king, don’t miss.

    • Posted July 18, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      + 1

      • FiveGreenLeafs
        Posted July 18, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        That is one of the reasons I harbor doubt about all this.

        In many ways, the whole thing simply seem (in light of our general historic experience) both to naive, and inept in its planning and execution.

        And arguing from the presumption that the coup planners all were incompetent bumbling fools, is, (without more explicit knowledge) to my mind, not a wise position to take…

  11. FiveGreenLeafs
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    I am seriously beginning to contemplate whether the historic analogy (comparison frame) we need to apply here, is the Reichstag fire of 1933.

    We now see 1000s of judges, military personal and civil servants, and (the in latest news) 8000 police officers in Ankara and Istanbul arrested or removed from their posts.

    The EU commissioner responsible for Turkeys membership negotiations, is now openly expressing his worries, with what seems to be prepared lists of people to arrest or remove from office. More info in newsflash from Reuters below…

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted July 18, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      The Reichstag fire and The Great Purge.

      • FiveGreenLeafs
        Posted July 18, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. And a Great Purge it appears to become, by all signs and measures.

        It will be fascinating to observe how politicians in Europe (and the rest of the world) will react and respond to all this.

    • Posted July 18, 2016 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Erdogan couldn’t possible replace all those civil servants unless he was prepared before the coup, suggesting he also prepared the coup and did so as a false flag operation in order to effectively remove any and all remaining opposition to his planned regime.

  12. Posted July 18, 2016 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    At least, with these events, I hope that the attempts to smuggle Turkey into EU will be postponed.
    Also, with the Turkish security apparatus in disarray, it seems to me a perfect time for the Kurds to rise up. But there is no indication that this will happen.

    • Posted July 18, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      I’m guessing that’s because the Turkish security isn’t really in disarray, because Erdogan, himself, planned and arranged all this to happen in order to out those who don’t actually support him, especially from the ranks of the Turkish security, and to terrify into deepest hiding those who aren’t outed.

  13. Posted July 18, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    First of all, secularism and democracy are not worth of murder of innocent people. The coup was illegal and the bombings were acts of abhorrent violence and murder. I believe some anger towards the perpetrators is completely warranted.

    Besides, I think it is too simplistic to see the Turkish army just as a bulwark for democracy and secularism. More probably, they are interested in suppressing the Kurdish rebellion and siphoning NATO funds and aid into their own pockets. For example, in the aftermath of 1960 coup, the army executed the elected the prime minister of the country! How is that good for democracy?

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