Why Democratic West is Not Pleased With Turkey’s Failed Coup

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People stand atop a military tank defying the military coup in Turkey on July 15.
People stand atop a military tank defying the military coup in Turkey on July 15.

The West should shed its fear and apprehension of Turkey. Erdogan is building a new Turkey on the foundations of what was once one of the most tolerant societies in the world. The Ottoman sultans patronized multicultural societies. People of diverse origins and heritages shared responsible government and civil offices

SYED QAMAR HASAN | Caravan Daily

                           “In the fountains they no longer wash. In the mosques

                              they no longer pray. The places that prospered are

                               now desolate. The Austrian has taken our beautiful

                               Buda.”

–By an unknown Ottoman poet, at the loss of what is Budpest-Hungary.

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s over a month since the democratically elected President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, survived a military coup, apparently much to the dismay of the US, Europe and their traditional allies. Initially expressing  a kind of subdued “good to hear” as early news and TV grabs showed a section of the armed forces taking control of vantage points in Istanbul and Ankara.

Their pre–dawn delight, however, was cut short spoiling the rest of the day, (Erdogan was back in power within 12 hours of the putsch) as the coup failed to rally the common Turk. And as senior officers of the Armed Forces came out in support of Erdogan and his government it was evident that the Turkish people have decided to keep the armed forces where they belonged — in their barracks.

Not comfortable with the survival of a government with Islamic bent of mind, but with tremendous mass support, including that of the armed forces, made obvious by the brave and courageous men and women who on that fateful early morning of July 15th came out on the streets at the beck and hem of Erdogan defying tanks, armored vehicles and overhead screaming fighter jets forcing the rebel soldiers to lay down their arms.

As many as 265 people were killed by rebel soldiers, perhaps more than people killed by Mustafa Kemal’s men in ousting and exiling Abdul Majeed, the last Caliph from the magnificent Dolmabache Palace in Istanbul.

The western media and governments wishfully oblivious to reality continue their tirade against a democratically elected President and his government pontificating concessions for the rebels. Democracies and hard won democratic governing systems do not treat rebels and insurgents with kid gloves.

In recent times Bangladesh’s government sent doddering old septuagenarians and octogenarian to the gallows on trumped up charges of treason committed four decades from now. India also hanged two offenders on treason charges and working against the state in the recent past. Western societies claiming to be epitome of rationalism and tolerance as they believe themselves to be, are far away from being so.

It’s variegated system where freedom of thought and tight regulated speech exist with deep resentment to violence and at the same time clandestine torture cells operating simultaneously. Those who are now calling for restrain in dealing with the coup leaders, seem to have forgotten that Adnan Menderes, elected Prime Minister representing the Democratic Party was hanged by the military Junta following the 1960 coup.

The junta gave a damn to the plea by international leaders including American President Kennedy and carried out the hanging.  Had the July 15th coup succeeded Erdogan would have met the same fate as Adnan Menderes in all probability.

Here is a man whose success and popularity graph in the country of 80 million is constantly on the rise. Erdogan perhaps is the first political leader of modern Turkey after its founder Mustafa Kemal Pasha to be in power for more than thirteen years through widespread public support, not just by the religious minded Turks, as the west thinks, but equally from other circles that support his political skills in diluting the military’s hold on the country.

A three time elected Prime Minister from 2004 to 2011, who became the 12th President of the country getting elected to the office in a direct election in 2014. Erdogan, by the admission of his own critics has steered the country on strong economic recovery path. Turkey’s economy is one of the world’s strongest today. He has been able to carve out a bold new foreign policy, coming out of the shadow of US and building respect and an identity of own for  the Turkish people, is being called names, tyrant, autocrat, dictator, Sultan etc., etc.

Christian Europe has never been kind and sympathetic to Turkey. Whether it was modern Turkey, salvaged from the once mighty Ottoman Empire in its dying days by the sheer brilliance, military genius and nationalistic fervor of Mustafa Kemal Pasha and his dedicated band of officers or Erdogan today.

US President Barack Obama with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
US President Barack Obama with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

And as to the glorious past of Turkey, when it was the fountain head of Caliphate as the great Ottoman Empire, the longest reigning dynasty in history, extending into the east and the west stretching into three continents. Britain, France and Russia known as great powers never missed an opportunity to destroy the unity and harmony of multi-religious society of people with diverse ethnic origins and heritage that was the hall mark of unique characteristic of Ottoman rule.

The West should shed its fear and apprehension of Turkey slipping into their modern day interpretation of fundamentalism and fundamentalist, or turn into what the West wrongfully describes as radicalized Islam.

Erdogan is building a new Turkey on the foundations of what was once one of the most tolerant societies. The Ottoman sultans patronized multi-religious and multi-cultural societies. People of diverse origins and heritages shared responsible government and civil offices. Even at its worse the last Caliph Sultan Abdul Majeed, a pale shadow of his powerful predecessors, gave important offices in his government, court and army to non –Turks, mostly Armenian and Albanians.

Mustafa Kemal Pasha, rightfully acknowledged as ‘Ataturk’, father of the nation was no doubt the savior of today’s Turkey. But for him, the great powers would have knifed Turkey into bits and pieces, as they did Arab lands after freeing them from Ottoman on deceitful assurances of justice and freedom.   

But like all revolutionaries Ataturk showed haste in turning Turkey into a modern nation. Perhaps his disillusionment with the corrupt and crumbling regime and the disrespect and humiliation being heaped on his country and countrymen by the European countries was so deep and resentful that he destroyed all connections to Islam and East blindly cloning Europe. He abolished whatever little of Shariah and Islamic traditions remained.

Madrassas and Islamic courts were shut. Sartorial fiats banned the characteristic fez cap, replacing it with European hats, the veil and hijab changed for European attire. Even the Islamic call for prayer (Adhan) was banned. It was in 1959-60 that Prime Minister Adnan Menderes revived it.

But the deadliest of assault on the heritage of the Ottoman Caliphate was the complete replacement of Arabic and Persian script with Latin alphabets, closing the doors on the past to new generation.

Yet so deeply etched was the centuries old culture in the Turks, that despite it being shattered, the fragments remained within the masses. What is happening today is not dissent against Erdogan whom the West is projecting as an autocrat, but a struggle within the society to regain their identity.

1 COMMENT

  1. This is no analysis of the social divisions that are ripping up Turkey from inside. What the author is celebrating, exclusively, is the consolidation of power by an Islam-identified AK party and its now absolute leader, Erdogan. The grievances held by the Islam-inspired electorate against the secularism fanatics may be well grounded — the secularist regimes couldn’t care less for democracy, and wanted to crush the Muslims. (The secularists were mostly Alavis, who loathed the Sunni majority.)

    This article, however, completely ignores the brutal war against the Kurds and their aspirations. This relentless war has been going on for more than 30 years. This war is more important to Erdogan than the murderous actions of the phoney caliphate of al-Boghdadi / Daesh. Erdogan’s Turkey supplied war materiel and safe passage to the Daesh killers just to inflict pain on the Kurds.

    Just as the Saudi fanatics wanted America to fight their religious wars against the Shi’a and Iran, Erdogan’s Turkey wanted NATO to fight its nationalist war against the Kurds. It calls ALL Kurds terrorists. America and the West said no, thank you. You are on your own.

    Nationalism at its core is a worship of the state, in which borders are sacrosanct. By definition, this worship of the state, by Saudis as much as the Qataris, Turkey, Pakistan and every other country, would be seen by traditionalists as what is called “bid’a”, or forbidden innovation, that commits shirk, the worst of all violations in Islam. It equates State with Allah.

    As for the glorification of the Ottoman Raj, yes it had millet system which allowed every ethnic minority to regulate its own religious and social affairs. The Erdogan regime is little different from its secularist predecessors.

    This article also ignores Erdogan’s megalomania in refusing to tolerate the friendly crticism of the Gueln movement. This highly enlightened movement led by its leader Fetehullah Gulen believes in preaching the most progressive ideas of Islam through its educational network. It has high schools all across the globe, especially in India and Pakistan. Erdogan’s blaming Gulen for the failed coup, attempted by secularists, is a blatant lie, unworthy of a decent leader.

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