When we described the aftermath of Turkey’s failed, and painfully disorganized military coup attempt, we asked rhetorically, “Who wins?” To which we answered: “Why Erdogan of course. As he said during a press conference upon his arrival back in Istanbul in the early Saturday morning hours, the coup is an opportunity to “to purge the military.” Erdogan also vowed to exact “the highest price” from the perpetrators. Or, to summarize, the military said Erdogan’s power consolidation justifies the attempted coup; Erdogan said the coup justifies further consolidation of power.”
Overnight, when analyzing the market’s take of the coup, Renaissance Capital’s Michael Harris said that “for markets to respond positively, we think Erdogan must go the reconciliation route, pledging not to hold elections for the coming year and committing to a consensus approach to constitutional change. More likely, though, Erdogan will seek to leverage this into a constitutional super-majority via a snap election.”
Their conclusion: “A military coup has failed, but if Erdogan responds to this historic moment the wrong way, a democratic coup could be the result.“
Not surprisingly, as of this morning, Erdogan is indeed responding to this historic moment the “wrong way.” But before we get to that point, there are questions whether this coup was even that.
As a NYT analyst on the ground pointed out, confirming what we said last night, the planning, organization and implementation of the attempted military overthrow were suspect at best and outright laughable at worst:
Major point people are missing. Very few tanks out there compared to a full military chain-of-command coup. https://t.co/UGJHWwPMh5
— Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) July 16, 2016
We don’t have to remind readers that when military coups take place in the middle-east, they are i) ruthless, ii) extremely well-organized and planned, and iii) succeed on virtually every occasion. But not this one. The question why is what the media (or at least its fringes) will be pondering over the next few days and weeks.
What there is no question about, however, is Erdogan’s response, which as he warned last night, would begin with a quick crackdown against the army. As of this moment, hundreds of soldiers have already been arrested.
Hundreds of soldiers have been arrested following coup attempt in Turkey. pic.twitter.com/e1I9QEGxRG
— Jon Brain (@JonBrainNews) July 16, 2016
As AP adds, local NTV television has shown footage of a Turkish colonel and other soldiers being taken into custody at military headquarters. The video shows them being hand-searched by special forces police, their hands behind their heads. Some are later seen kneeling on the ground, their hands still held behind their heads.
According to Hurriyet newspaper’s online edition, some of the privates who were detained told interrogators they were not aware that they were part of a coup attempt. They had been told by commanders they were taking part in military maneuvers. Some said they understood that it was a coup attempt when they saw civilians climb on tanks.
The pro-Erdogan, state-run Anadolu Agency added all soldiers involved in the attempted coup at the military headquarters in the capital, Ankara, have been taken into custody. The report says anti-terrorism police will now conduct a “detailed search” at the headquarters.
However, the real punchline was revealed moments ago when Anadolu said a top body overseeing judges and prosecutors has dismissed 2,745 judges across the country. Anadolu Agency says the emergency meeting of the Judges and Prosecutors High Council was held Saturday, mere hours after Turkish forces quashed an attempted coup, and promptly purged the slate clean of anyone in the judicial branch who was seen as even remotely opposed to Erdogan.
HSYK 2. Dairesi toplam 2 bin 745 hakimi aç??a ald?. pic.twitter.com/Ek3iVH1EF1
— ANADOLU AJANSI (@anadoluajansi) July 16, 2016
Not just that, both moments ago NTV added that Turkey has issued arrest warrants for 140 appeals court members, as if they also had something to do with the army’s failed putsch.
The report said the meeting was called to discuss disciplinary measures against members suspected of links to the movement led by the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. The government says the attempted coup was carried out by a clique within the military loyal to Gulen’s movement.
However, as we reported last night, the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is currently residing in the US, said he condemned the coup “in the strongest terms.” Gulen, as those who have followed recent Turkish history know, is Erdogan’s quasi-imaginary bogeyman nemesis; Erdogan has repeatedly accused Gulen of plotting a “parallel state” whose intention is to overthrow Erdogan, and has used that strawman narrative as justification to expand his powers and to push for a shift from a parliamentary to a presidential regime.
Gulen wrote in his blog that “As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations.”
Was Gulen behind the coup? Hardly. But as over the past several years, the spectre of a Gulen “coup” – now culminating with last night’s events – is all that Erdogan will need to further cement his ruthelss, authoritarian grasp over the country, which this morning, with gun shots still heard in Turkey, began with the cleansing of all judges and prosecutors even remotely critical of the “president.” Recall that just two months ago, we reported that “Erdogan Nears Absolute Power With Appointment Of Puppet Premier, Stripping MPs Of Immunity.”
As of right now, Erdogan has removed the two last hurdles on his way to absolute, supreme power: holdouts in Turkey’s judicial branch and in the army.
As such, the path forward for Erdogan – now left with no domestic opposition whatsoever – is all too clear.