Can a Post-Coup Turkey Get Along with Europe?
The patriotic brochure foreshadowed much of what I was to hear from government ministers, independent journalists and opposition leaders during my visit in the country. These very different individuals, often coming from opposite political camps, were in lock step on one thing: The July 15 coup attempt was completely unexpected (in a country that had endured four coups in recent decades), and for that reason deeply traumatic. And to a person, they blamed the Gulenists.
That sense of surprise helps to explain how an ill-managed coup that seemed to end as soon as it began could nevertheless send shock waves through the country. For a brief frightening moment, Turks confronted the possibility of being drawn into a bloody civil war. What’s more, the West responded with a combination of halfhearted condemnation of the coup plotters and a wait-and-see realpolitik.
But while Turks have reason to be angry with the Western reaction, Ankara’s official narrative suffers from its own tendentious blinders. It has blamed the malicious influence of the religious leader Fethullah Gulen, although support for the coup was much broader. To hear the ruling Justice and Development Party tell it, the Gulenists are to blame for the government’s crackdown on protesters in Gezi Park in Istanbul in 2013 and the shooting down of a Russian plane on the Turkish-Syrian border last fall. Some even accuse them of masterminding Turkey’s resistance to a joint American-Turkey military operation against the Islamic State in Syria.
Nor has the government bothered to explain why, even as it began its split with the Gulenists, it ignored warnings by journalists and opposition leaders that the movement was infiltrating state institutions, taking control over large sections of the judicial system and fabricating false evidence in order to discredit and imprison its enemies.
None of this has stopped the government from undertaking a huge, self-destructive purge, with around 10,000 people arrested, 100,000 people dismissed, and the seizure of assets of more than $4 billion, numbers that worry not just human rights activists but foreign investors as well. Read More at NYTimes.