The Turkish coup: checkmate to the Ankara’s sultan?

During the evening of the 15th of July 2016 all the press agencies of the world break the news that some Turkish troops occupied armata manu one of the two Bosphorus bridge in Istanbul. Several tanks are seen on the cities’ streets: immediately everybody screamed about a coup.

The Ankara police headquarters is seen through a car's broken window caused by fighting during a coup attempt in Ankara, Turkey, July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The events

Jets and helicopters of the Turkish military aviation flew at low altitude over Istanbul and over the capital Ankara; they hit main targets such as the Intelligence’s headquarter, the central police station and the Turkish parliament in Ankara. A few minutes later the ground troops took control the “Kemal Ataturk” international airport of Istanbul, the Erdogan’s AKP party headquarter and the Turkish state network television TRT headquarter. They immediately stopped all their shows. The armed forces’ chief of staff Hulusi Akar has been captured and arrested by the coup’s troops. Immediately after, Erdogan left Marmaris in the south of the Aegean Sea where he was holidaying and he connected with Turkish CNN by using a social network program. From his smartphone, the Turkish president urged people to take to the streets and resist the coup. The appeal was welcomed by many Erdogan’s political supporters, thousands of whom took to the streets of Istanbul and Ankara. In some circumstances the people and the coup’s troops fired arms at each other. In a short time the pro-government part took over the coup and the presidential plane was able to land unharmed on Istanbul airport, that was completely free from rebel soldiers. Once obtained control again, Erdogan and his faithful staff started the reclamation’s operations in all the institutional structures; managing one of the biggest “purge” of the Turkish national history against the civilian and military government employers. The Ankara’s parliament is nowadays considering the possibility to approve a constitutional modification by adopting a parliamentary amendment: it could reintroduce the death penalty for the high treason’s crime.

The analysis

In light of this we can make some strategic and geopolitical considerations. In primis, it’s undoubted that the coup was managed by a part of Kemalist current inside the Turkish army. It was not a sort of auto-coup managed by Erdogan himself, as many people have thought all around the world. But it was a very bad attempt to use an old political instrument not actual anymore, especially for the modality adopted. The first failure happened when the secret service advised Erdogan about the imminent coup some hours before. This way the presidential military advisor chief Ali Yazici and his troops found an empty room, after storming into the hotel where the Turkish president was. Erdogan was able to run away with his presidential plane towards Istanbul. The second failure happened when two F-16 driven by two major officers parties to the coup couldn’t shoot down the presidential airplane. They were supplied by an airtank that has taken off from the Incilik NATO airbase. Erdogan had to fly around the Istanbul airport, ‘cause this structure was still in the rebels’ hands. Some confidential sources, not confirmed yet, affirm that pilots couldn’t shot down Erdogan’s plane for two reasons: first of all, for the electronic countermeasures that equip the plane. These were able to make arduous identify the target by the rebels’ pilots, because they were acting on the plane’s transponder; secondly, for the presence of some other loyalty military planes, that protected the president’s escape and prevented the attack.

Also, one basic element from which to start to analyze the coup’s failure is the social situation in which it developed. The coup was managed by a very minority part of Turkish army; it started from their absolute certainty to become soon a victim of an another imminent Turkish government purge. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that nor the army had the necessary will to shot the crowd (it was true the opposite), neither the loyal secret service could inform the president so early of what was happening against him. This is the way to understand many of the events linked to the Turkish foreign policy: Erdogan got in touch again with Israel and made official excuses to Putin’s Russia for shooting down the Mig in Syria. These are not coincidences. On the other hand, the United States are making a mistake because they give so many importance to the dissident Fetullah Gulen words. He exiled himself to US in 1999 and he had a part of culpability in convincing Washington that the coup would be successfully. This ambiguous role of US, connected to a passive role of the NATO, propose a possible approach by the Turkey to the Russian-Oriental axis. This fact will cause an enormous adjustment of many strategic and geopolitical balances in all the Middle East. We don’t have to forget an important factor: first of all Erdogan is obliged to re-take the nation under his control and he has to reinforce his leadership. The enormous “purge” system, that the Turkish president is managing nowadays, is stabilizing the presidential control on all the state structures, but on the other hand it promotes the growth of divisions inside of the community. Moreover, it increases the intensity of the International critics against the use of violent methods by the government. All these things caused the weakening of Erdogan’s charisma and decrease his political influence on the international policy. As PhD Arduino Paniccia (Executive Director of ASCE – School of Economy Competition of Venice) says: “The failed Turkish coup weakened Erdogan and may create the risk of some strategic and geopolitical imbalances in the Middle East”. We do not believe in the international propaganda: nowadays the sultan of Turkey is passing through his worst period ever since his presidential nomination; today Erdogan is more weak than ever. In order to climb back to the top he must order many arrest, sentence punishments and fire thousands of government employees. By the way, he needs to watch his back from the other governments, because by now Turkey is in the middle of the strategic interesting of the most powered nations in the world.


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