It remains to be seen, but if Erdogan’s recent claims are true then one of my initial interpretations of the coup may be correct. In my first post on the situation I lamented that if this coup has US backing then it may see Erdogan replaced by an even worse Islamist and even more pro-western client, Fathallah Gulen. As RT reports, “The Turkish government has indirectly criticized its NATO ally, the US, for harboring Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara blames for masterminding Friday’s military coup attempt. The cleric is currently living in self-imposed exile in the States” . While it may or may not be true, this was one of my fears from the beginning. I would be extremely pleased to see some form of anti-imperialist secular leadership replace Edrodgan.
But Fethullah Gülen, a cleric and former political ally of Erdogan who has been living in self-imposed exile in the US for years, is the anti-thesis of these and would arguably be far worse for Turkey and the region than Erdogan. When news of the coup first broke I had hopes that it was a genuine domestic coup by the secular anti-Erdogan factions within the military. But if indeed the western client and hard-line Islamist cleric is behind the attempted coup, then it is better that it fails, for Gulen would take Turkey from bad to worse.
The situation is still very fluid and we do not yet know if the US-backed Gulen is in fact linked to the coup. Could it be that the US is done with Erdogan—especially after he failed in his western sponsored mission to remove the secular Bashar Al Assad in Syria—and seeks to replace him with an even more malleable Islamist? Who knows? It’s still not clear. But one thing that has been historically evident is that the west seems keen to support Sunni Islamists in the Middle East—a situation that has led to increased global terrorism—despite it’s so called war on terror. I still hold out for hopes of an authentic domestic coup that would return Turkey to secular rule, but if it turns out that this coup attempt was at the behest of Gulen and the west, then its failure may be for the best.
As I write those words the tragic irony of the current state of the world weighs heavy. For these are times in which one would rather deal with the devil they know (i.e., Erdogan) than open the door for the devil they don’t know. Either way you look at is, it’s just bad.
More on this as the situation unfolds.