Comparing the Arab Spring and coup attempts in Turkey - YASIN AKTAY

Comparing the Arab Spring and coup attempts in Turkey

The coups that were attempted in Turkey in December of 2013 and then again on July 15, 2016, which failed yet again, cannot be evaluated as isolated events that unfolded in Turkey’s history alone. Indeed, this was a movement whose origins in Turkey date back to the mid-1960s, a movement that has its own specific objectives, style, and religious understanding, a movement that infiltrated all levels of the state and society with the power it consolidated through networking, in efforts to fully take over the ruling government, which was formed via democratic means. As the perpetrator of these coup attempts, it is natural to both interpret and consider the story of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) within the lens of Turkey alone. However, taking these coup attempts into consideration with the simultaneous events in the region, it is easier to identify the specific roles distributed within the organization, their goals, and partners.

The Arab Spring was a process with sociological origins, which shattered and started to erode the centuries-old status quo, which is based on colonialism, a Zionist strategy and despotism. The conspiracy theories that immediately broke out following this process perceived these movements of unrest as the initiatives of a reform that emerged within the plan of the global mind, and tried to present them as such. However, the counter-revolutions that soon kicked in were sufficient to show that these conspiracy theories were nothing more than futile suspicions. While these counter-revolutions were an expression of an effort to restore the former order, it made the new tyrants of that order, which was reinstated, even more ruthless than before, more sensitive and ferocious towards democratic developments.

The sensitivities of this process also established a new cold war order, which includes many countries around the world. This cold war order developed new poles between a world that observes democracy, human rights, independence, welfare, rights, and a status quo that is resisting against this. Of course, Turkey was considered the primary hub between these poles, and became a target for all attacks. Hence, the series of attacks launched with the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) undersecretary’s summoning by the prosecutor’s office on Feb. 7, 2012, followed by the Gezi Park events, and the Dec. 17-25, June 5, and July 15 coup attempts, also formed a critical link in the counter-coup attempts launched against the Arab Spring first in Syria, then in Egypt.

The operation launched in Egypt against the country’s first democratically elected president by the Tamarod movement, and the Gezi Park events in Turkey were simultaneous. However, the timing was not their only connection. Let us also recall that the Gezi Park events were described by certain groups as the “Turkish Spring,” and that Tamarod’s style and discourse seemed to be prepared in and served from the same kitchen.

We had said that efforts were being made to extend the Gezi events from the Istanbul area of Taksim to Harbiye. However, there were those who considered this a conspiracy theory and said that the event was nothing but a democratic demonstration. Yet the very same groups did not see how a similar model, so-called democratic demonstration, in other words, the Tamarod movement in Egypt, turned into a coup that was finalized with a ruthless and savage massacre. This is simply the result of the exhilaration of revolution. Perfect for the role the coup-plotters cast for them in their scenarios.

The Turkey model had so far been an influence on the Muslims in the entire Islamic world regarding demands of democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, good governing, development and welfare. It was difficult for Arab autocracy regimes and the Western countries guiding them to deal with these demands. Thus, they had to start with Turkey, a country that had a provocative effect on democracy, human rights and welfare demands with its presence and practices alone.

In fact, the first counter-revolution initiative against the Arab Spring was taken in Syria. Regardless of the number of lives democracy and freedom demands cost in Syria, the fact that it was repelled once, that demands for change were subverted with weapons and bloodshed, played a determining role in turning the Arab Spring into winter. Then, as a result of the direct coups in Egypt and Yemen, the public virtually regretted demanding democracy and human rights in the aftermath.

Meanwhile, following the failed Gezi Park events, which were organized in Turkey simultaneously and with the same logic as Egypt’s Tamarod movement, this time round the coup attempts came on Dec. 17 to Dec.25 wearing an unexpected guise. The image that the government and all its ministers were involved in corruption was masterfully crafted in collaboration with the judiciary, police, and media.

It was almost impossible to stand against such a coup, dished up like this, with such justifications and through the hands of the judiciary. Everything was thought through meticulously, calculated, and staged step by step. Such a coup attempt would be much more effective and have higher legitimacy than an ordinary military coup attempt. Nobody would even classify this as a coup, because the judiciary, which has a virtually sacred identity worldwide, was behind it. The infraction, the immorality and corruption in these judicial members’ involvement in a coup against the judicial hierarchy through a junta-like organization, it seems, went unnoticed in all the turmoil.

Frankly, the Dec. 17-25 coup attempt, and such coups staged through the judiciary and the media are always more dangerous than normal military coups. It needs to make a great effort to establish its own legitimacy, because the only legitimizing point it relies on is its military power, and this power is not convincing – it is only suppressive and silencing.

Yet, if a judicial coup is additionally accompanied by an effective media campaign, which the Dec. 17 intervention had in spades and more, standing against it can only be possible through a leadership that possesses exceptional courage, foresight, skill and acumen. We much not forget that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership was not only fortified by such a sly coup attempt, but we were also able to overcome it thanks to that leadership.

Meanwhile, if we realize that numerous countries around the world are currently silently controlled by unnamed coup orders, thanks to the judiciary, we can imagine the nightmares we would be experiencing had the coup attempt in December 2013 been successful – God forbid.


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