Turkey’s military coup: a result of failed intelligence

Comment: written by Mauro Orrù.

Turkey’s military coup is further evidence of the country’s failed intelligence services and the vulnerability of Erdogan’s Islamic government – who need to achieve democratic power, in turn avoiding the mass killings of innocent people. 

The fourth attempted coup in the history of modern Turkey consumed last night, when 2,839 military personnel occupied the two Bosphorus bridges, Taksim Square and Atatürk Airport in Istanbul while fighting broke out near government compounds in the capital Ankara.

The breakaway faction of the military seized control of state-run TRT network, forcing President Erdogan to address the nation via FaceTime, a shameful but ironic display of concern from a president who exerted extreme pressure – even in the form of raids – to control and twist the media in his favour.

Having invoked the help of the Turkish people, countless flooded onto the streets and squares of Istanbul and Ankara against the military in support of Mr Erdogan’s Islamist government, democratically elected in November 2015 following an inconclusive round in June. Bloodshed was in the agenda: at least 265 died amid fire exchanges across Turkey, including civilians, police forces and the military, according to Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Mr Yildirim – who replaced Ahmet Davutoglu in May, when he resigned from his post due to political friction between himself and President Erdogan – dubbed the coup a “black stain on Turkish democracy,” speaking at a news conference in Ankara early on Saturday.

Upon landing in Istanbul early this morning, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pointed his finger at Fethullah Gulen for plotting the coup, a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania for nearly three years since falling out with Mr Erdogan. However, Mr Gulen brushed off the allegations.

Turkish intelligence has once again shown its incompetence: it’s clear that 2,839 is too big a number for other ranks in the military, government officials and security services to be completely unaware of arrangements to seize control of Turkey’s major hubs and cities within hours.

The fallacy within Turkish intelligence – much greater than its failure to detect the string of IS and PKK attacks throughout 2016 conducted by few individuals – will inflict further damage to Erdogan’s aspired but unrealistic accession to the European Union.

The bloc is already grappling with terrorism at its core – in Paris, Brussels and now Nice – a surge in uncontrolled migration shifting from Turkey to North Africa and the rising support for nationalist parties since the UK voted to leave the EU in a June 23 referendum.

The latter is a rather poisonous issue as news of Turkey’s accession is a powerful weapon for such parties to foment malcontent across the EU.

In spite of Erdogan’s success in restoring order within hours, the occurrence of the coup is proof that his Islamist government is vulnerable to Turkey’s secular sentiment resonating in Turkey since the Ottoman era.

Mr Erdogan has the support of just over half of the electorate in Turkey, with many favouring a more lenient form of government with a clear dividing line between religion and the political establishment.

This latest coup has been a test which Turkish intelligence and model of government have miserably failed. Now it is down to Mr Erdogan to consolidate his grip to power in such a manner to accommodate more of his electorate and ensure that ‘black stain’ does not turn into unrest – or even bloodshed – in the months and years to come.

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