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Daily News Analysis

Reflecting on the failed Turkish coup attempt of July 15, 2016

Dr Mustafa Bothwell Mheta

July 15 marks the fifth anniversary of an attempted coup in Turkey aimed at toppling the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Soldiers and tanks had stormed the streets amid a number of explosions in Ankara and Istanbul.

Fighter jets dropped bombs on their own parliament, while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Hulusi Akar, was kidnapped by his own security detail.

For several hours, it looked like Turkey was going to face the fourth devastating military coup in its 95-year political history.

As news of the coup attempt spread via social media, thousands of ordinary citizens, armed with nothing more than kitchen utensils, gathered in streets and squares to oppose it.

The crowds resisted tank fire and air bombardments, and, with the help of loyalist soldiers and police forces, defeated the coup attempt in a matter of hours.

The government swiftly declared victory and scores of troops that had taken part in the coup surrendered on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul.

Yet the overall price of victory was high: 241 people were martyred, and 2,194 injured.

The Turkish government blamed the failed coup attempt on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher and businessman who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999.

The death of Turkish citizens lies squarely on the shoulders of Gulen and his Hizmet movement.

How dare one masquerading as a religious scholar perpetrate such evil?

Surely, the Turkish government is right to designate this organization a terrorist outfit.

Gulen is the leader of a religious movement called Hizmet, meaning ‘Service’ in Turkish language.

It owns foundations, associations, media organisations and schools in Turkey and abroad.

For those of us in Africa who experience coups almost every other year, know all too well the repercussions of such actions.

Coups only seek to derail a country’s development and loss of life is almost certain.

In most instances, innocent blood is spilled just for one person’s ambition to ascend to power.

No human life should be lost merely to enable someone to grab power.

Let it come through the ballot box.

People must vote for a person based on his/her plan of action on how they intend to steer the country to greater heights.

The South African government and the ruling party the “African National Congress” (ANC), all condemned the coup attempt immediately.

So did many Muslim organizations in South Africa including the myriad ulama bodies.

They called on the Muslims of South Africa to stand in solidarity with their Muslim brothers in Turkey.

Examining the July 15 coup closely, the western world’s duplicity was clearly evident.

When asked to comment on the coup, former US president Barack Obama said: “I am monitoring the situation.”

He did not condemn the coup plotters, let alone call for the return to civilian order.

Fast forward to today and compare the western world’s reaction to what recently happened in Myanmar.

There is the false assertion that the West stands for democracy and the rule of law.

It is clearly applied selectively.

Instead of condemning the coup plotters, the west chose to remain quiet and tried to paint a picture as if there was a crackdown perpetrated by the Turkish government against security personnel who were innocent.

Some even called it “a purge of the security services” directed against elements of the gulenists.

Immediately after the coup attempt, President Erdoğan and the AKP government initiated a comprehensive restoration process.

Many people feared that Erdogan will embark on spilling the blood of his opponents.

He did not; instead, he left it to the courts to handle cases.

His government arrested and purged the traitors in the ranks of the security services.

Such steps are necessary for the safety and security of the country.

Further, political developments that followed the coup, have paved the way for reinforcing Turkish democracy.

It has also ensured a strong parliamentary system.

Every year the Turkish people commemorate July 15 as “democracy day”.

On this day, the people saved democracy by offering lives and blood.

As for the coup plotters, Turkish law has taken its course.

Arraigned before the courts, those found not guilty have been released while the guilty were punished according to law.

On the economic front, before President Erdogan came to power, Turkey was called the “Sick Man of Europe”.

Upon assuming power, he steered the country to phenomenal economic success.

Despite recent setbacks suffered by its currency, Turkey is considered an economic giant in the region.

Discussions are underway for Turkey to join “BRICS”.

Will it be “BRICST” soon?

The target of the coup attempt was also to destabilize the Turkish economy.

In fact, economic sabotage had been set in motion by some powerful western countries before the coup was launched.

Studying fluctuations in the exchange rate of the Turkish Lira before and after the coup reveal a pattern that shows well-orchestrated plans to sink the Turkish currency.

By Dr. Mustafa Mheta, Senior researcher/Head of Africa Desk, Media Review Network, Johannesburg, South Africa

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