Attempted Military Coup In Turkey: The Speculation
The dust is settling on Saturday night’s failed military coup in Turkey, and as 6,000 people have been arrested in the aftermath, speculation as to what is really happening is surfacing from respected commentators to internet conspiracy theorists. We take a look at the ideas gaining the most traction.
The coup was organised by exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen. This is the line being taken by Erdoğan and his regime. Gülen and the President fell out in 2013 during the mostly-forgotten ‘gold for gas’ corruption scandal that threatened to engulf Erdoğan’s AK Party. Gülen remains in self-imposed exile in the US, and the Turkish government has called for his extradition. Secretary of State John Kerry has invited Turkey to present “any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny,” before his department would consider the extradition request. Additionally, the orchestrators of the failed coup have themselves said they were trying to protect Turkey’s secular traditions, not in keeping with the Islamist ideals of Gülen and his followers in the Hizmet organisation.
The coup is a ‘false flag’ operation, instigated by Erdoğan. Unsurprisingly Gülen hit straight back at his former ally, hosting the international press live for the first time since 2014 at the Golden Generation Worship & Retreat Center in Pennsylvania, where he has lived a modest existence since 1999. He told reporters on Saturday, “I don’t believe that the world believes the accusations made by President Erdoğan. There is a possibility that it could be a staged coup and it could be meant for further accusations.”
Gülen is not alone in this assertion. Social media commentators have jumped on Erdoğan’s Saturday speech, in which he called the failed coup “a gift from God” that would allow him to rid the military of “members of the gang [Hizmet]”.
A senior reporter from Politico Tweeted a Turkish source who said Friday’s action was a “fake coup” intended to help the President. Erdoğan’s reaction will have the effect, the source claims, of an even greater Parliamentary majority for the AK Party should a snap election be called, paving the way for his long-desired constitutional reforms that will give the office of President “10-15 years of authoritarian, elected dictatorship.”
Erdoğan knew about the coup, but surmised it was too weak to succeed, giving him greater stature. Slightly different to having been organised by the President himself, this popular Twitter theory claims that he was aware that it was likely to take place, but knew he could defeat it – and in doing so present himself as a strong leader who should take even tighter control. One Twitter user wrote, “Most probably a real coup attempt that was vaguely known about beforehand, and was allowed to proceed, because they are disorganised and weak. This means it will be followed by a real coup by Erdoğan himself, and the last remnants of democracy will be lost.”
Very few Turkish soldiers knew they were involved in a coup attempt. During interrogations of arrested soldiers on Friday night and Saturday morning, several claimed that they had no idea they were involved in what Erdoğan has described as “treason”. Many said they were told that they were merely taking part in military exercises.
What’s the craziest theory you’ve heard about the attempted coup?