David Gardner writes: The size of the cull suggests the putschists precipitated a showdown they knew was coming anyway, above all at the annual meeting of the Supreme Military Council at the beginning of August. President Erdogan was then expected to purge the army of anyone suspected of supporting Fethullah Gulen, a US-based imam who, though once his ally, has become a bitter rival in an intra-Islamist struggle.
The Gulen network, most visible through its international franchise of schools, had spent decades building up invisible clusters of power in Turkey’s police, judiciary, army and security services.
It was invaluable to Mr Erdogan in defanging the military, by fair means or foul, but once the Kemalist generals were out of the picture the former allies turned on each other with a ferocity that buckled Turkey’s institutions. One erstwhile ruling party supporter likens the witch-hunt against the Gulenists to “the hunt for Trotskyists under Stalin”. [Continue reading…]