Rome–The good news is that the military coup in Turkey failed. The bad news is it left President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his authoritarian tendencies strengthened.
It certainly was one of the weirdest coup attempts I can remember anywhere. In the Internet age, the coupsters thought it still important to control a state television station? After Arab Spring, they thought Erdogan supports would be cowed by a simple declaration of martial law? Surrounding the parliament building? Wow, that would seal victory. And like, who were these self-style defenders of democracy anyway? Apparently some units in Istanbul.
You’ve got to hand it to Erdogan. He at least recognized the current value of mobile phone video. His first response made by video phone link up, his image via Smart phone broadcast on TV. And maybe the crowds that took to the streets on his behalf weren’t massive, but it was at least an effective popular muscle flexing display.
So the military, or at least one particular rebellious faction, was shown to be inept and toothless. Maybe that ends Turkey’s long history of coups. And on Turkish and foreign TV, some rivals of Erdogan hoped that he would take a lesson from the upheaval, end judicial persecution of political opponents and the independent media, ease off on his efforts to Islamize Turkish politics and society and stop crackdowns on peaceful protestors.
Turkey could certainly use a respite from unrest. It has become, along with France, a favorite target of Islamic State terror and best by revived Kurdish separatist activity. The ISIS issue is sadly ironic, since Erdogan, featuring himself the savior of Sunni Muslims in Syria, facilitated cross border travel of Islamic State militants.
I think it unlikely that Erdogan will see the democratic light. Rather, further efforts by him to concentrate power in the presidency is likely. For the West, that means government will celebrate the coup’s failure publicly. Privately, they will wish that someone else could challenge Erdogan successfully through democratic means.
A look at Turkey’s complex politics.
BBC‘ brief anatomy of failure.