Recent developments in Turkey

I received this today from the Turkish Cultural Center in Manchester, NH.  I offer it to show what Turks here in the United States think of the recent events, not as a push for any particular side.  A lot of media people make their living having opinions on matters in which they are not personally invested, and sometimes, not even knowledgeable about.

Recent developments in Turkey
Dear Friends,
As you may know, Turkey has been facing many difficult challenges for the past several years. As usual, Turkish President Erdogan has blamed a group for the recent coup attempt without any evidence. This early labeling of the coup to the Gulen movement only raises suspicion about the validity of President Erdogan’s claims and intentions – to get credit and to continue his anti-democratic and dictatorial style. He has stopped almost all free media and jailed many opposing him. We are afraid this attempted coup will be used by him to push more dictatorship on the people of Turkey. Please keep the innocent people of Turkey in your prayers. We stand with democracy, not with any military intervention which is against democracy.

Yesterday Mr. Fethullah Gulen gave an interview to the media at his residence in Saylorsburg, PA. NYT’s Stephanie Saul filmed it:

Mr. Gulen calls for an international investigation of the coup attempt in Turkey:

Union Leader 

CNN’s profile and take on the accusations: Guardian: of America: 

Timeline of events:

– On Friday night, a group of middle-ranking military officers and Turkish soldiers under their command attempted a coup.

– Their focus was on Ankara and Istanbul, taking control of the Istanbul’s bridges, airports, the Turkish parliament, and some police stations.

– Their attempted coup was ill-planned and badly executed

– Their efforts were thwarted by the police aided by the huge public support

– 265 people killed, including members of the coup; 1,500 wounded; 3,000 soldiers arrested.

– Government has blamed the coup on the Gulen movement. Some govt ministers have also blamed the US as being behind the coup.

Who is behind this coup?

– We really do not know. It is still too early to say.

– What we do know is that Erdogan has already started using this incident as a pretext to further purge those in public service beyond those involved in the coup.

– For example, while it was reported that 47 military officers were involved in the coup, as of now, almost 3,000 officers, including tens of generals have been arrested. Furthermore, sacked are ten members of the High Board of Judges and Prosecutors and 2,745 judges & prosecutors in addition to the already detained tens of appellate judiciary judges.

– How did the government determine the culpability of 2745 judges overnight in a coup orchestrated by a fraction of the military? Clearly, these are people the government wanted to get rid of anyway and is using this opportunity to do so.

Has Gulen condemned the coup?

– Absolutely and unequivocally.

– In the early hours of the coup, the Alliance for Shared Values, an organization that speaks on behalf of Gulen, condemned the coup attempt. This was followed by a personal statement by Gulen, and by leading Gulen inspired organizations condemning the coup without if’s, and’s or but’s.

– Gulen’s condemnation was picked up by the world press, including New York, Times, Reuters, CNN and the Financial Times.

So why has Erdogan blamed Gulen for this coup?

–  Gulen and Hizmet is Erdogan’s “default scapegoat.”  Whenever something happens that he does not approve, he blames it on Gulen. Blaming this military act on Gulen allows Erdogan to strike elsewhere on pretext that they are one and the same.

So the Turkish people stood with President Erdogan against the military? I thought they hated that guy?

–  Even those staunchly critical of Erdogan and the government around 50% of the people) condemned the coup and stood by the government.

–  Crucially, the coup plotters failed to project the sense that their coup was succeeding which coup experts point out as crucial.
–  There was no support for a military takeover by the Turkish people

Why have the people opposed Erdogan in the past? What has he done that has made people so unhappy?
–  In his 1st and 2nd terms, Erdogan ran a reforming government.
–  However, from 2010 onwards, Erdogan became increasingly authoritarian as he began to pursue more populist Islamist policies. The summer 2013 Gezi park protests was in reaction to this authoritarianism which Erdogan labelled as a coup of the “interest rate lobby”, a euphemism for the Jewish lobby.
– This authoritarian streak gained momentum when a series of corruption investigations implicating Erdogan’s inner circle went public in December 2013 onwards. To suppress the substantial evidence and judicial investigations, Erdogan fought back to control and colonize the judiciary, media and civil society to crush all forms of dissent.
–  Many people are unhappy with the resulting authoritarian regime.

What now?

– Having attained complete loyalty from Turkish state and civil society structures, Erdogan’s next stop is likely to be the Turkish diaspora overseas.  We are already seeing coordinated moves against Hizmet overseas and this is likely to continue.  For the past 6 years, Erdogan has been creating formal and informal structures through which to mobilize the Turkish-speaking and increasingly wider Muslim communities.

Turkish Cultural Center, New Hampshire

About Rep. Steven Smith

Steven Smith is a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, serving his 7th term. Rep. Smith currently represents Charlestown, Newport, and Unity. Rep. Smith is the Deputy Speaker of the NH House.
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