“Who is behind the Turkey coup attempt? Gülen, certainly”

WASHINGTON, DC - After the dramatic night between last Friday and Saturday, Turkey remains in a very unstable situation. At least 6,000 people are detained over failed coup, as Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said. In addition, 265 people were killed in clashes and riots during Friday’s night. Now, the question is: what will be the future of Turkey? We interviewed Ms. Zeynep Jane Louise Kandur, vice president of the AKP’s Istanbul Women’s Branch and responsible for the Foreign Affairs Department. And she has very clear ideas: “The coup? It was undoubtedly plotted by Muhammed Fethullah Gülen.” Despite this statement, made also by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, uncertainties remains, according to US government officials.

A portrait of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hangs on a building near Taksim Square as Erdogan supporters wave Turkish flags in Istanbul, Turkey, July 17, 2016. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan

Ms. Kandur, first of all: what’s going on in Turkey now? We have only partial news at this stage. And the coup seems to be totally out of the blue. Is it true or it was a premeditated action?

The coup was not totally out of the blue. In fact, in today’s Hürriyet - which is a left-wing paper, not known for supporting the government - there is an article that mentions how a colonel from the army stated in an interview that there were still many Gulenists in the army. He states that if these were not removed, they could easily stage a coup. The original interview with the colonel was April 2015. A military council will be held l in August. Members of the military who had Gulenist affiliation were to be removed. So, although no one expected this coup, it was not really a surprise. And this explains why the government was able to so quickly react.

Turkey’s government appears to be purging the judiciary following the coup. Why?

The Gulenists infiltrated the military, the police and the judiciary. Over the past three years the police has been rearranged to remove Gulenists from positions of power, which they were abusing to create unrest in Turkey, the police brutality during Gezi protests for example. The military has been discussed above. The judiciary, public prosecutors, public defenders and judges, also needed to be rearranged. Those people removed are those people who have caused great damage to the justice system in Turkey.

Who is behind the coup?

Gulenists. There is no question about this. Gülen can deny it. He can try to place blame on Erdogan, saying he created the coup himself. But such a ridiculous statement just points the finger back at Gülen. If there was the slightest possibility that it was not Gulenists behind this coup, MHP, CHP and even HDP would not stand against it. They would be the first on the tanks to bring down the government. The fact that all political parties, that all religious communities have stood together against this coup - all except the known Gulenists in this country - is also significant. The fact that known Gulenists are still trying to pervert what is going on to serve their own ends is evidence of this.

Plus, why a coup? It could look like a strange question, but the are several other ways in order to protest against a political party.

The Gulenists are not protesting against the government. The coup was staged to bring "peace" to the country. If you read between the lines, the coup was not staged to remove AK Party. It was staged to place a strangle hold on any future government in Turkey. Gülen does not want political position. He wants to control whichever government comes into power. Thus the four parties, all members of parliament, standing together.

What will be the impact in Turkey, also regarding the international relations?

Turkey will continue on its path in international relations. There are efforts to re-establish relationships (Israel, Russia, Egypt). Turkey will continue the path that it has continued since 2002. However, the hesitation by NATO, the EU and the US to condemn the coup has angered the people of Turkey. It feels to many that there was hesitation to see which way things went. A more immediate reaction would have been appreciated.

What are the causes of the coup? Is this pressure from refugees? Missteps from Erdogan? Economic unrest?

The coup was not caused by any unrest in the country. The coup was caused by the Gulenists panic that they would be removed from power and the approaching military council in August.  If this had not been the case the coup would not have failed as it had. It would have been supported by sections of the public. It was not supported by anyone, anywhere.

Why would the military (well, part of...) intervene in government?

Because of the above reasons.

What at do Turks think about their military?

The Turks love their soldiers. They love the sacrifices they make to protect their country. They do not see the coup makers as soldiers. They are referring to them as “traitors wearing the military uniform.” Nobody refers to them as the military or the soldiers.

What do you see as the range of plausible outcomes from this point?

For the first time for a long time - longer than my memory - Turkey has been able to come together to fight for something that is dear to them. This has not been a defense of AK Party or Erdogan. This is a defense of democracy of freedom. The struggle that started on July 15 is as great as the French or American revolution. It is a revolution of the Turkish people to keep (Ms. Kandur emphasises this point) their elected government in place. People who did not support AK Party are out on the streets. They openly say “We did not vote for you. We will not vote for you. But we will fight to keep democracy in this country.” To reduce this event to Erdogan or AK Party is wrong. It belittles the importance of what the Turkish people have done.

Last but not least: how, as someone who doesn't follow Turkish politics closely, should we understand what's going here and what will be for the country?

The Gulenists, a pseudo-religious cult like group, have worked for years to train people to join the police military and judiciary. Over the past ten years it has become obvious that they have infiltrated these institutions, not to establish a good, working body, but to control it. There have been gradual attempts to rectify this imbalance. The coup was a last-gasp attempt by this group - whom we can now safely call terrorists - to grasp power. You may ask why I call them terrorists. Any group that holds television reporters at gun point to report "their side of the story" is a terrorist. Any group that opens fire on unarmed civilians, or drops bombs , or shoots at them from helicopters, is a terrorist group - especially if it is doing it to bring down the government. Any group that kidnaps military leaders and holds them prisoners is a terrorist group. The people of Turkey have stepped up to protect democracy. It is not a question of this party or that party. It is a question of Democracy and human rights.

@FGoria

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