L-R: Prof. ZM Khan, Secretary General, IOS; Dr. M. Manzoor Alam, Chairman, IOS; Prof. Arshi Khan, Department of Political Science, AMU, Aligarh, Prof. M. Afzal Wani, School of Law & Legal Studies, G. G. Singh Indraprastha University and Asstt. Secretary General, IOS
Lecture by Professor Dr. Arshi Khan—(Topic): “The Republic of Turkey in the Midst of Crisis—Military Coup or Terrorism in Uniforms: An Overview” delivered at the Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi on the occasion of the General Assembly Meeting, 6 August 2016
The Chairman of the IOS introduced Professor Arshi Khan who started his lecture by recalling the golden chapters of the history of India Turkey relations particularly during the period of the First World War when 800,000 out of 100,000 Indian armed forces under the British colonial administration were deployed in the Muslim world to fight against the Osmanli Devlet (Ottoman State). He said that during 1870s-1923, Indians particularly Muslims sent heavy amount of money to the Devlet on five occasions as financial help. Muslim loyalists like Justice Syed Ameer Ali and Sir Agha Khan who were open supporters of the British Empire, made a lot of efforts to persuade the British to avoid hurting the Devlet. So-called conservative Muslim leader like Maulana Mohammed Ali criticised and condemned the British policies against the Devlet. Hindu leaders and Mahatma Gandhi also sided with Maulana against the British culminating in the Khilafat Movement. Prof. Khan said that Turkey has historically been very important country in the world which emerged as a Republic in 1923 after a long battle against the invading forces of the West soon after the First World War.
On 15 July 2016 night, the Republic faced ‘unthinkable’ violence and destruction caused by fewer sections of the Turkish armed forces which never happened before. The so-called coup plotters could not take over the country for more than four hours after the fearless Turkish people surfaced on the roads to block the movement of the tanks and marching of the armed forces. More than 270 citizens lost their lives fighting against the plotters and the common masses forced the plotters to wind up and reverse the ‘take over’. Professor Arshi Khan said that this should not be called ‘coup d’ etat’ or coup or plotters’ coup. He said it was basically a new kind of terrorism in uniforms sponsored by the ‘script-writers and directors’. This violent act was very different from the earlier version of military take-over in 1960, 1971, 1980, 1997 (soft coup) and 2003 because the top military commander did not participate in it. The chain of command was not involved. It was different because earlier military was Kemalist-Secularist but it always acted against the Turkish government with the support of the CIA.
On the contrary, the military is not Kemalist as they were replaced and transformed after 2007 mainly after the Gulenist elements within the AK party government became instrumental in purging them through their followers within the army, judiciary, bureaucracy, police and media. It was only after 2010 and more after 2012, the Turkish national government led by the AK Party became alarmed by the Gulents working as ‘Parallel State’ within the Turkish State. What threatened the government and the party was the aggressive efforts made by the Gulenists to envelop AK Party members, ministers and important players into corruption scandal in 2012 -2014. They started calling Recep Tayyip Erdogan as authoritarian, corrupt and Islamist supporting the ISIS in Syria. In reality, the government foreign policy was much compromised by the Gulenist deeply involved hiding into AK Party cover.
After the government took control in the late mid-night of July 16, many of the detained generals were those who had been controlling, monitoring and managing the Turkey-Syria border and the Turkey-Kurdish region. This is why the areas under their control became the free passage for the so-called Muslim militants. After the detention of the generals, terrorists are losing grounds in Syria and Iraq. After July 15, cases of bomb blasts and military operations have decreased significantly in the south-eastern parts of Turkey creating space again for Turkish-Kurdish reconciliation as it had begun in 2002-2003. Prof. Khan said that in the last twelve months, there were at least 14 bomb explosions killing civilians, police and armed forces. Irresponsible Turkish attack on Russian pilots in November 2015 was done deliberately to create tensions between Russia and Turkey. The purging of the traitors and criminals would certainly reduce the destabilising factors in Turkey to a great extent.
Terrorism in uniforms appeared like a military coup but it was like an internal aggression made by 1.5 % armed forces with 74 tanks, 34 helicopters, F-16 jets, three naval warships. The plotters not only rolled tanks on the roads but also took them to the Istanbul International Airport, Bosphorus Bridge, bombed the national Parliament (TBMM). Ankara Police Headquarter building, Intelligence Building (MIT), and the complex of the Turkish Special Police force at the outskirt of Ankara. The plotters’ actions were full-fledged war against the Turkish State, Turkish People, Turkish values and Turkish military tradition. Moreover, the deployment of 25 special commandos to capture or kill the Turkish President Erdogan in the hotel in Marmaris in the night of July 15 and the hostile movement of the plotters’ F-16 jets in the air following the President’ plane—Gulfstream IV are some of those designs which seem to be scripted and directed by hidden forces.
Erdogan directly accused Fethullah Gueln and his group for staging this coup and playing in the hands of ‘masterminds’. Fethullah Gulen is directly identified with Zionists and Zionist elements within the CIA. AK Party Deputy, Labour Minister, a Russian member of Duma (Mr. Vyaceslav Nikonov) and the Turkish Daily—Yenisafak, have directly accused US General F. Campbell, former CIA official Henry J. Berkey and Gulenists for terrorism in uniforms. The Daily’s story, based on deep investigation and police intelligence, found Campbell working with the plotters for eight and a half months. US General Joseph Votel is also one of the accused in it. The US Administration, US Army, Gulen and the American Embassy in Ankara have rejected such accusations. Statements and confessions of aid of the Turkish Army chief—Hulusi AKAR, Levent Turkkan, Brig. Gen. Ozkan AYDOGDU, Kemal ISIKLI, Maj. Gen. Erhan KARADAG, capt. Ramadan, Ebubekir BASEL (investigating judge of the Supreme Administrative Court), Mustafa KOCYIGIT (Prime Minister Official), Sergent Oguz HASKAL, former police chief Gursel AKTEPE, etc., provide evidences against Gulen and his masterminds.
Prof. Khan said that the western denial does not seem to be credible because the NATO has a base in Incirlik, Turkey where 25 % of the Nuclear weapons of the NATO are deployed. Up to 3000 US forces are stationed there. This Incirlik base was the place from where the plane had flown for refuelling plotters’ jets in the Turkish airspace. He said that security of Turkey is linked with the security of NATO. How it is possible for NATO members particularly the US, UK, France and Germany to be unaware of plotter’s conspiracy? Such a huge assault on Turkey by men in uniforms of the Turkish State involving so many generals and war machines cannot remain unknown to NATO intelligence or the CIA. Their innocence can be understood only when they themselves are part of this conspiracy or they maintain benign neglect of this aggression on Turkey. Earlier the US intelligence informed Indian agencies on terrorist attacks on several occasions but it fails to inform Turkey of this terrorist attack on July 15 despite the fact that Turkey is a part of the military alliance under the leadership of the US. It is just impossible for the CIA to be unknown to the preparations for July 15 attacks in Ankara and Istanbul.
Turkish government has been taking tough action against the Gulenist elements within Turkish armed forces, judiciary, bureaucracy, media, intelligence, foreign affairs ministry, educational institutions, publication houses, banking and business houses. The government says that these measures like detention, investigation, dismissal, suspension, and take-over are meant for keeping democracy intact and ensuring security and peace in the country. On the contrary, the western countries have condemned these measures as anti-democractic. The Austrian branch of International Amnesty is making money collection to fight cases for the plotters. The European Union has threatened Turkey to stop accession negotiations with Turkey for EU membership. Moreover, the western leaders did not condemn the killings, violence and bombings of national institutions of Turkey done by the plotters. None of the western leaders visited Turkey to express solidarity with the Turkish government. Us Secretary of State will visit Turkey on August 24. Turkish people have observed these type of responses of the West towards their government and open sympathy for the plotters.. this is why, the common citizens have protested against the American base in Turkey. Erdogan accused the West siding with terrorist.
The plan of the script-writers was to convert Erdogan into Morsi failed. The Gulenists spread the rumour that Erdogan had himself planned the coup to strengthen himself. Reality is getting exposed gradually validating the concerns of the government. The western media has been targeting Erdogan as dictator violating human rights and democracy while they know that it is turkey and not Europe which host 3 million Syrian refugees. The EU countries have shown their colour on the refugee issue. Erdogan is also being called Islamist and pulling the country towards anarchy. Erdogan is certainly a Muslim but his policies are focused on democratic and developmental issues in Turkey. The AK Party government is accredited with constitutional and legal reforms in harmony with the EU laws and had abolished death penalty in 2004. Erdogan expanded and developed infrastructures addressing the needs of the common people. Earlier the governments were relatively elitist. Erdogan increased the share of education in GDP to a large extent. This is why the Turkish people flooded the roads and streets to reject and resist the false call for democracy by plotters. Western and Arab media also look at Erdogan pursuing Neo-Ottomanism but Turkey seems to be interested in maximising connectivity and engagements in education, culture, technology and economic domains.
Prof. Khan said that Republic of Turkey took re-birth on July 16, 2016 (morning) after its first birth in 1923. The first one created by Mustafa Kemal Pasha (Ataturk) and his associates which created a strong Turkish modern State while this re-birth was made possible by the common people strengthening democracy in Turkey. The first birth was protected by the army but the recent one was protected by the people. Therefore, the plotters’ failure shows dialectics in the domain of political advancement in Turkey. Massive support of the people for protecting the Turkish State and Democracy against the NATO army was never experienced or witnessed earlier except in the cases of revolutions.
This Turkish resistance may look like a revolution but it did not change the system but maintained the status-quo. This development should not be confused with the weakening of the Turkish army. The army which believes in the constitution and protecting the country is now more powerful due to the massive supports of the people. The plotters’ activities were rejected by all political parties in Turkey who voluntarily extended support to AK Party and Erdogan. Majority of the high ranking and senior members of armed forces also sided with Erdogan. New relations among the Kemalists (opposition led by the Republican People’s Party), Nationalist represented by the National Action Party, Kurdish Party (HADEP) and Muslim party like Sadet Party, Armed forces, and the people are strongest factors for deepening democracy in Turkey.
The western rejections of the actions and approach of the Turkish government will enhance ‘trust deficit’ within the NATO. Turkey’s approach to the West is bound to change in the light of the NATO and EU’s responses to Turkey. Prof. Khan said that Erdogan will visit Russia on 9 August 2016 to revive and promote relations with Russia. Turkey is very important for the West while the West is not so much fundamental to Turkey’s national interests. Turkeys’ relations with the NATO and the EU did not address the problem of Turkey in cases like the Cyprus issue, Kurdish militancy, Gulenists’ lobbies in the west, Armenian issue, Gezi park, corruption issue and the July aggression. Turkey has submitted two dossiers to the US to get Gulen extradited to Turkey.
In his concluding remark, he said that Turkish friendship with Russia does not mean the collapse of Turkey-West relations. Post-15 July Turkey is in relatively better position to make political bargaining with the US, the NATO and the EU. Turkey seems to be more confident and independent in foreign policy domain. Turkey will remain a big partner with the west in defence and economy. Post-July Turkey is a New Turkey, a New Republic supported and defended by the people. Turkey will remain more democratic and less Kemalist State. It will never be a threat to the west. Lastly Prof. Khan said that stable, peaceful, democratic and powerful Turkey is pre-requisite to the future of Europe. Turkey’s role in the region and the world would increase. Politics and governance in Turkey will be more inclusive, sharing and harmonious. The lecture was followed by a question and answer session.