Satisfying Erdogan's Imperial Ambitions
"Had I stayed ten or fifteen additional minutes, I would have been killed or I would have been taken [by coup military at the resort hotel in Antalya on July 15]."
"[As for the public's call upon his government to reintroduce the death penalty]: "You cannot put aside the people’s demands."
"In a country where our youths are killed with tanks and bombs, if we stay silent, as political people we will be held responsible in the afterlife."
"No democracy shall allow for soldiers, prosecutors, police, judges, and bureaucrats to take orders
from an outside organization [speaking of charges that Gulenists were responsible for the coup attempt] instead of the institutional bureaucracy."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
"I don't know who planned or directed it [attempted Friday-night putsch]. According to my experiences, I think that the [Gulen movement] attempted this coup."
"But I cannot tell who within the armed forces organized and carried it out."
General Akin Ozturk, charged and arrested as the coup military leader
Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service/The Associated Press Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses supporters gathered in front of his residence in Istanbul on Tuesday.
Some nine thousand police officers, bureaucrats and others have been been fired by Erdogan's administration, identified as being loyal not to the state, but to the movement led by self-exiled Turkish Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who, once supportive of Erdogan, now rejects his administration as fanatically Islamist and corrupt. And whom, in turn, Erdogan characterizes as an interfering government-in-exile, insisting that the United States extradite him to Turkey from his home in Pennsylvania.
American air force warplanes stationed at Incerlik air base in Turkey have been placed in what appears like siege conditions with all power cut off, and Turkish military standing on guard. The U.S.-led airstrikes on Islamic State positions are obviously on hold until Turkey's demands that Mr. Gulen be turned over to Turkish justice sees some kind of resolution. With the U.S. in turn demanding that proof be shown them first that the elderly and ailing Mr. Gulen was in any way directly involved.
The Interior Ministry has dismissed 30 governors, 52 civil service inspectors and 16 legal advisers. Military police officers and coast guards have been removed from duty while the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has arrested the former air force commander charged with being the coup ringleader, along with 24 other military elite personnel. The thousands of soldiers rounded up and the many generals will be tried for treason. Even those in the teaching profession have been impacted with over 24,000 fired.
The very courts that have been purged of prosecutors and justices by the thousands who were identified by the Justice and Development Party to be aligned with the Gulenists will now see Erdogan loyalists stand in judgement of the arrested. The Constitutional Court, comprised traditionally of secularists attempted a decade earlier to ban Erdogan's party on the basis of its being religious in character. When Erdogan called a snap election and won, the judicial system lost that attempt.
Ever since, the Justice and Development Party has focused on dominating the judicial system with appointing only Islamist loyalists. Erdogan has been warned that the injudicious level of his vengeance-soaked crackdown post-coup may result in the country's NATO membership being placed in jeopardy, while the European Union warns that a return to the death penalty would automatically disqualify Turkey from EU membership.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is prepared to veto any talks with Turkey joining the European Union if the death penalty is restored in Turkey. Matters internally have played out beautifully for Erdogan, with the bulk of the population having grown increasingly Islamist over the years, in full support of their president changing the constitution to give the presidency imperial powers.
His claims that the Kurds are in a league with all Islamist terrorist groups threatening to continue destabilizing the country, even as his military is killing Kurdish civilians, has resonance with his followers.
The instability that has rocked Turkish society with the attacks that have taken place in the public arena targeting popular areas certain to extract maximum deaths in bombing attacks has convinced the public that only their autocratic president with his firm hold on Turkey's future can save them from disaster. Erdogan's isolation on the world stage has been partially repaired with his pallid peace offerings to Russia and Israel.
Turkey remains the gateway for Syrian refugees flooding into Europe, and as such provides him with a trump card in ongoing negotiations with an overtaxed Europe tired of providing haven to economic opportunists and genuine refugees alike, stressing their already strained economies and Muslim-saturated societies even further. And the porous border that allowed Islamic State recruits ready entry to Syria with Turkey looking the other way is a matter far from resolution, one that has come back to bite Turkey.
An already strained economy is now further strained with violence from all directions ensuring that tourism has been depressed and is likely to remain so for the duration. The threat of civil war in Turkey is not that far from potential eruption. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not possessed of a conciliatory nature, and the extent of his revenge will reveal in part the near trajectory of the country's fortunes.