By Owei Lakemfa
A WEEK ago, I wrote a piece, “Lunacy and bloodbath in Turkey”. It was my analysis of the Turkish government’s insane reaction to the July 15 attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
I did not then entertain the possibility that it could have been a phantom coup. Although Fethullah Gulen, the United States-based cleric Ankara accused of masterminding the coup had voiced such an opinion, I dismissed it.
But a further review of the attempt, the lightning decimation of sections of the populace and attacks on institutions, give quite some credence to that likelihood.
The cerebral Professor Warisu Alli further drew my attention to this when he wrote me: “I have a feeling this coup was stage-managed. How can you have a military coup and all high ranking government officials were not arrested or shot but instead were allowed to be flying about ? Meanwhile the soldiers were killing civilians, holding bridges while senior military officers were spared? Were these soldiers or Boys Brigade in a country with such a rich culture of coup making? And in the end civilians and police saved the day? And immediately the President flew in to take charge and the airport was secured for him by civilians? And he immediately knew the coup plotters to such an extent that thousands of civil and public officials were arrested or sacked? I think it was a kind of plan by the President to get rid of his political opponents. If there was a coup at all it was a setup, a phantom coup!”
Erdogan’s story of how he survived the coup attempt does not add up. His regime claimed that the plotters knew he was at the Marmaris holiday resort, and a few minutes after he left, 25 soldiers in helicopters using ropes, descended on the hotel, shooting. Assuming the low flying helicopters did not detect his convoy; that their intelligence network failed and Erdogan miraculously escaped, what happened next was baffling. Erdogan boarded a plane and two F-16 jets allegedly piloted by the plotters were in the air; they had the President’s plane in sight while it was also in flight. So why did coup plotters who were allegedly bent on bringing the country down in order to get rid of Erdogan, not bring his plane down or at least, force it to land in a place of their choice? Why would alleged plotters who would blow up bridges, bomb parliament and massacre people in order to execute their coup, literally escort Erdogan back to the capital where he took control and crushed them? Is this a case of witchcraft?
When American Secretary of State, John Kerry, suggested that Turkey would need to provide evidence of Gulen’s complicity in the so-called coup, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag retorted: “Does one need evidence to prove the existence of the sun? This is just as clear a matter.” So Turkey does not wish, or has no evidence to present before demanding suspects be extradited? The same way it found some 60,000 people guilty of either complicity in the coup or guilty by association, and took punitive action against them.
The coup has been used as pretext to purge the populace with so many detained that large open places like sports facilities and stables are being used as detention centres. The Human Rights Commission of the Ankara Bar Association reported that detainees are being starved with some being physically abused, including having their hands bound for days. Schools have been physically attacked by roving mobs and academics barred from travelling out of the country. The main attacks are on the military which is being decimated with over 100 Generals on trial. Also, as a possible counter-balance to the Armed Forces, Erdogan has asked civilians to arm themselves. Soon, new recruitment will be made and they are likely to be pro-Erdogan supporters with extremist religious flavour.
A State of Emergency Act has been passed which gives the President power to rule by decree; it also oust the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court. It further curbs fundamental human rights, including that of expression. The Act legalizes Erdogan’s illegal actions since the attempt; these include finding people guilty without trial and sacking some 60,000 people without following legal procedures.
His supporters are also doing all they can to hang the coup round the neck of Turkey’s ally, the United States. In this, Erdogan is gambling; hoping to play Russia against America and gain more concessions. He knows that in the politics of the region, America needs Turkey to maintain its attacks on the Islamic State, a group he has assisted over the years. He is aware that Russia will not be averse to extending its political and military influence beyond Syria into Turkey. So Erdogan, while being wedded to America, is having an affair with Russia and romancing ISIS while hoping to wipe out the Kurds whom he will soon accuse of complicity in the coup attempt.
However, it is on the European Union, EU, he hopes to put most pressure. In March 2016, the Europeans had entered into a dubious trade agreement with Erdogan in which they will force refugees and migrants- who had undertaken the perilous sea voyage to Europe – out of Greece to Turkey. Apart from accepting these defenceless people, Erdogan’s other task is to detain them for a handsome fee of three billion Euros. There were other promises that Turks will be accepted in the EU club and would require no visa to enter Europe.
While Erdogan has kept to his side of the inhuman trade, the crafty EU has sidetracked him by channeling the money so far released through aid organisations rather than pay Turkey directly. After the coup attempt, Erdogan who claims to be catering for three million refugees on behalf of Europe said: “What will Europe do if we let these people go to Europe?…The European governments are not honest”. In response to Erdogan’s antics, the Head of the EU Community, Jean-Claude Juncker, said Turkey is not in a state to join EU. So, it is a case of two crafty entities playing politics with human lives.
In this age of information technology and globalisation, the Erdogan regime is dragging Turkey back to the Stone Age and negating that country’s old civilization. Who can save Turkey from the Erdogan mob?