I don’t have much patience for conspiracy theories, but the one incontrovertible fact about all coups is that, by definition, coups involve conspiracies.
A conspiracy of some kind has been unfolding in Turkey over the last 24 hours. What is unclear is who was involved, what exactly they had planned, and what was the basis of their expectations.
President Tayyip Erdogan now says: “This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.”
Indeed. Turkey’s president comes out of this event the big winner. He can present himself as a man of the people strong enough to withstand any domestic challengers.
The Telegraph reports:
When he arrived in Istanbul in the early hours of the morning, Mr Erdogan, grave and ashen-faced, warned that his foes would “pay a heavy price” for their “treason and rebellion”.
The deputy leader of his AK party demanded the return of the death penalty so that putschists could be “executed”. Meanwhile, the deputy prime minister promised to rid the government of all enemies. “Even if they went into the tiniest veins of the state, they will be purged,” he declared.
Whatever steps he now takes to consolidate and expand his power, he can do so in the name of defending peace and stability — Erdogan, the guardian of democracy, dedicated to preventing Turkey ever again coming under military rule.
As soon as news broke about the coup attempt, the first question everyone had was about the president’s whereabouts. In any coup, typically one of the first steps is to kill or capture the head of state. In this case, Erdogan was away on vacation in the resort town of Marmaris, but he claims to have eluded several assassination attempts last night.
When Erdogan made his first television appearance via Facetime, it would be hard to say he looked presidential, but then again, he didn’t have a gun pointed at his head.
Erdogan making statement on Facetime. TV broadcasts live. pic.twitter.com/UYoe5Loob9
— Gilgo (@agirecudi) July 15, 2016
Meanwhile, shutting down some bridges and sending some tanks into the streets is an effective way of creating news footage for television and social media, but it would have taken a much larger show of force to convince the residents of any of Turkey’s major cities that the military had really taken control. There’s a big difference between ordering a curfew and having the ability to impose one.
If the plan devised for carrying out this coup seems to have been poorly conceived and poorly executed, the plan for handling the outcome seems stunningly detailed and is being implemented faster than the coup itself.
2,839 soldiers, including high-ranking officers, have been arrested and 2,745 judges have also been dismissed today.
The investigative procedures in Turkey are either extraordinarily efficient, or, more likely, a lot of decisions about how to deal with this coup were made well before the coup itself took place.
The purge of Ergodan’s enemies hasn’t just begun, but it will now move forward with a dramatic advance in pace.