Friday, July 15, 2016

Let's Talk Turkey

Coups and interventions by the military into Turkish politics aren't exactly new. It has been awhile since the military dipped its toe in the political pool- 1997, to be exact- but before that, 1993, 1980, 1971 and 1960 all saw interventions of one kind or another, so this wasn't exactly shocking- even though it seemed to catch everyone by surprise.

It's more or less over by now- CNN is still saying that it's 'unclear who has control' but President Erdogan is back in the country and it seems to be unraveling pretty quickly. But in terms of coup d'etats, this one seemed to have some momentum going for it- but rumors were rife from the word go that this was a 'faction of the military' and not universally supported by the military and there was word that there was fighting between Security Forces and soldiers almost right away.

I don't think we'll know for sure for awhile, but it seems like they didn't move fast enough. They needed to shutdown the internet quickly and control the media faster than they did (the internet/social media came back on after awhile.) Not sure how Facebook Live and Twitter did, but Periscope had a fantastic night. It actually made a comeback on my phone and man, did I wish I could speak Turkish! So much footage from right there in Turkey on the streets of Ankara and Istanbul. 

President Erdogan urging people to get out into the street was probably the smartest move of the night and flipped the script back to the government, because people responded. Even opposition parties condemned the coup and it placed the military squarely between a rock and a hard place. Even though Erdogan has spent his time in power whittling away at strong generals and centers of potential opposition in the military, they still have this institutional view of themselves as guardians of Turkey's secular democracy- which tends to become somewhat untenable if you have to start shooting civilians.

What happens next? Nothing good, I expect. There were worries about President Erdogan's creeping authoritarianism already and I imagine those worries will be realized as he cleans house. To be honest, he's not my favorite world leader*... I wouldn't have been crazy about the manner of his removal, has this coup succeeded- because in a democracy, the process is the most important thing, but I wouldn't have cried all that much to see him go. 

We continue to live in interesting times. I just wish they weren't quite so chaotic and awful. 

*Yes, I have favorite world leaders. Doesn't everyone?

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