15.10.2016. Turkey. The goal is to set up a tailor-made political system that will suit him.
The Turkish people took to the streets and defeated the military forces involved in the coup, who had been masterminded by imam Fetullah Gülen with the underlying complicity of a “superior spirit”, that is, the United States. Once the period of emergency rule is over, after having made it possible to get dissidents out of the way, Erdogan’s government is now going to restore the democracy that the coup makers wished to destroy.
Such is the summary of the official narrative as set into words and pictures in the speeches and glossy magazines that are generously distributed to the Turkish people and foreign visitors.
Yet, at first sight, Erdogan’s decisions look legitimate and legal. He is responsible for defending democracy and fighting the men and organizations that are threatening it.
But what if behind the official narrative there was another coup, led by the Turkish head of state? That is, a real good old “civil coup”, carried out by a series of measures that could never have been taken under normal circumstances. A coup that is enforcing a violent breakup upon the whole country, in order to set up a new political system.
Yet, at first sight, Erdogan’s decisions look legitimate and legal. He is responsible for defending democracy and fighting the men and organizations that are threatening it. What’s more, he is acting within the boundaries of the law: the Turkish Constitution allows for a state of emergency that can be declared in circumstances alike to those that prevailed last 15th July.
But these exceptional prerogatives only exist in order to allow the authorities to put an end to any public threat (Article 15 of the Turkish Constitution), and they must not violate the requirements imposed by international law, nor infringe too drastically upon fundamental liberties. Yet, over the past 3 months, repressive measures have been reaching far beyond what was necessary to get rid of the authors of the coup. And the executive decrees that implemented those measures cannot be appealed in a court of law.
A new political system
With the declaration of the renewal of the state of emergency, one realizes that something else is implicitly at stake, that can already be felt in practice: we are talking about the new political system that President Erdogan wants to implement.
A bit like what happened after the military coup in 1980, purges are now reaching dissidents who have nothing to do with the military coup attempt
In effect, a ruthless repression involving massive purges, with no limit and almost no control mechanisms, has been implemented: over 80 thousand civil servants and teachers have been either suspended or fired, over 40 thousand placements into custody and 20 thousand detentions have been pronounced, over 2000 magistrates have been excluded, just as doctors have been revoked and can no longer run their practices, dozens of faculty deans have been dismissed, hundreds of schools, universities, organizations and foundations have been shut down, and their belongings have often been seized, dozens of TV channels and newspapers have been gagged, and journalists, jailed, while more recently similar measures have targeted businesses and their executives.
The coup attempt is the opportunity to extend the work that started 3 years ago to get rid of these dissidents
Just a few hours after the attempted military coup, the Turkish Head of State publicly accused Imam Gülen’ movement of being its instigator. Without any convincing evidence, and more importantly, in the absence of any court ruling, what justifies the sanctions is the allegiance, real or presumed, to this movement, or even the involvement in some of its activities, be they educational or cultural, or even expressing sympathy for it. Veteran journalists Sahin Alpay and Nazli Iliçak who are still under arrest and jailed, as well as academic Mehmet Altan, for example, are not gülenist. On the contrary, after having supported RT Erdogan, they occasionally became very critical of him in gülenist daily Zaman’s columns. The coup attempt is the opportunity to extend the work that started 3 years ago to get rid of these dissidents – actually, former allies, some of whom even continue to exert influence within the ranks of the President’s own political party.
But the purges are spreading well beyond those circles. A bit like what happened after the military coup in 1980, they are now reaching dissidents who have nothing to do with the military coup attempt: for example, some islamist conservatives, some liberals, but also mayors and MPs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party HDP (Kurdish, socialist and leaning towards secularism), even academics, journalists, lawyers and writers who are in favour of Kurdish cultural and political demands, such as Asli Erdogan and recently Murat Özyasar.
A populist system of government
To top it all, there is a style of government that has tended to be applied ever since the attempted military coup, which is only remotely related to democracy. Admittedly, the rulers have been elected on a regular basis, and, by and large, the population, in its vast majority, supports their actions in those days of crisis. But the running of public affairs basically boils down to a dialogue between the head of state and the masses.
As he is ruling via executive decrees that cannot be opposed in a court of law, the Turkish president comes across as allpowerful. But, as he knows only too well, this is a de factopower that can crumble if the AKP, his political party, looses its majority. In order to avoid such a risk, and for a long time already, RT Erdogan has been trying to modify the Constitution in order to opt for a presidential type of regime.
All the ingredients for a successful coup are gathered
Ever since 2011, this has been an unrelenting issue. Circumstances never warranted for such a reform to be adopted. The military coup attempt might very well have provided the opportunity to achieve such goal, once the repression is completed. It even looks like the recent declarations of the President of the constitutional council might have already endorsed it.
All in all, we have a drastic crackdown carried out with utmost contempt for the state of law, a period of dictatorial type of emergency government, the implementation of an authoritarian regime – in short, all the ingredients for a successful coup are gathered – that is, a civil coup, just about to succeed.
Translation: Laurence Mazure
Photo : DR