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US think tank: Concerns over new military coup in Turkey

A US think tank report on Turkey’s foreign policy has caused controversy in the country after it suggested a new military coup attempt was plausible and that the Turkish defense minister was extremely close to the US military.

The report by prominent think tank RAND Corporation alleges that the Turkish government’s decision to expel hundreds of officers after a failed coup attempt in 2016 caused huge discontent in the Turkish military.

“Mid-level officers are reported to be extremely frustrated with the military leadership and concerned about being removed in the continuing post-coup purges,” the report said.

“This discontent could even lead to another coup attempt at some point, and [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan] appears to take the threat seriously.”

The report also put Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar in an awkward spot by describing him as the go-to person for US-Turkey relations in a country where around 90 percent of the population currently hold anti-American views.

“Throughout this turmoil, Hulusi Akar has remained a key interlocutor for the US and other foreign militaries,” the report said.

“His retention of his position as TGS (Turkish General Staff) chief in 2017 and subsequent appointment as minister of defense in July 2018 in the first presidential decree under the new executive presidential system suggest that he will continue to be the leading figure in Turkish defence affairs for some time.”

The report also claimed that the Erdogan government had established the National Defense University as the ultimate educational body for the military after the coup attempt  in 2016 in order “to break down the Turkish military’s insular culture as guardians of secularism”.

Reactions in Turkey

Since the report’s release in January, several officials have deliberated in closed-door meetings on the possibility of such a coup, but the overwhelming feeling in Ankara was that it was just a rumor, nothing more.

President Erdogan delved into the issue over the weekend. Without directly talking about the report, the president said that the Turkish people’s resistance to the 2016 coup attempt should be a lesson for everyone.

“Our people have earned a great and serious experience,” he told journalists. “Next time they won’t even question whether to go out [to resist]. Everyone will pour out to the squares.”

AKP spokesperson Omer Celik said “The state apparatus is on the alert and has proven to be loyal to democracy.”

Erdogan’s nationalist partner Devlet Bahseli, said “The rumor of the coup is ingratitude to the people. If there are some who are planning a coup and want to turn their guns on the people they should know that they will not succeed unless they shed the blood of the 82 million Turks!”

After several weeks of silence, the Turkish defence ministry said the report was unreasonably ambiguous and the comments referring to the Turkish military were baseless and unserious.

“We are saddened to see that some expressions in the report have been consciously, or unconsciously, twisted and used in the country,” the statement said.

Hulusi Akar told newspaper Hurriyet last week “I received the [RAND] report with sadness that the statements [in the report] about myself, the Turkish military and the National Defense University were scripted disingenuously to be used by circles to put a wedge between us.”

However, several pro-government columnists reportedly have taken the report’s findings seriously and fired off articles saying that a coup might be in the making.

Hasan Basri Yalcin, an academic columnist at Turkey’s Sabah newspaper, wrote on Monday that everyone needed to take the report seriously because Rand was working directly for the US Defense Department.

“No one should look at this issue as a conspiracy theory,” he said. “If you don’t see how all of these are finely scripted and coordinated from one single centre, I have nothing to add. Don’t get surprised if a coup attempt emerges.”

Yusuf Kaplan, a conservative writer at Turkey’s Yeni Safak newspaper, predicted on Monday that instead of being undertaken by followers of the Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, the next coup would be perpetrated by Kemalist and secularist groups within the military.

Gulen is accused of masterminding the coup on 15 July 2016, a charge he denies. Kemalists uphold the values of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the secularist Turkish republic and was the country’s first president.

Police still routinely carry out raids targeting coup suspects. On Tuesday, Turkish prosecutors ordered the arrest of nearly 700 people, including military and justice ministry personnel.

sources: middleeasteye and agencies

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One comment

  1. Given that the opposition is even more nationalistic, it is hard to believe that it can be even worst.

    It is he who replaces Erdogan as a last chance that will determine the fate of Turkey’s 82 million people. The fact that 90% of them detest the US does not bode well.

    The EU and US have to stop being suckers in fear of this Muslim dictator terrorist than wait for someone even worst. There will come a point its geography or ability to stem immigration will cease to be as important given their exhaustive provocative, illegal, or counterproductive actions.

    Bad enough we have Trump and an even worst far right in Germany with everything going from bad to worst. The next Turkish government, after a real than staged coup, might be even worst. Imagin if this is why this dictator was warned.