Coup d´Etat in Turkey. Erdogan and AKP Dismantle Turkish Republic
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc),- On Saturday Turkey´s Prime Minister R. Tayyip Erdogan and the Freedom and Justice Party passed legislation in Turkey´s parliament that significantly changed the status of Turkey´s armed forces. Law changes, endowing police and intelligence services with sweeping powers over protesters are expected. The law changes constitute part of a soft-power, but de facto coup d´etat and prepare the dismantling of the Turkish Republic.
On Saturday, the Turkish parliament amended a regulation for Turkey´s armed forces, which ended the military´s role as guardian of Turkey´s constitution and the status of Turkey as a secular republic.
Likewise, legislation is being prepared to endow Turkey´s police and national intelligence service with sweeping powers. The legislative changes constitute additional steps in years of use of Turkey´s democratic institutions by the Muslim Brotherhood or Freedom and Justice Party government, to rein in the power of the army, that was once prone to staging coups when the national integrity or the secular status of Turkey´s constitution was threatened, and an additional step to endow Turkey´s police with sweeping powers as instrument of political control.
Amendment of Armed Forces Regulation Part of de facto Coup d´Etat. Prior to the amendment of the armed forces regulation, article 35 specified, that it was among the duties of Turkey´s Armed Forces to protect and preserve the Turkish Republic.
After Saturday´s amendment of article 35, the article states, that it is the duty of the Armed Forces of Turkey to defend the nation against external threats and dangers. The amendment thus reduces the military´s function to that of an instrument, solely for the protection of the boundaries of the nation, but not the protection of the republic.
Large parts of Turkey´s secular opposition perceive the amendment as an additional step in a sweeping power grab by the Muslim Brotherhood, which much like the administration of Egypt´s President Mohammed Morsi was, is misusing democratic institutions to institute Islamic rule and to dismantle the the secular constitution.
The amendment of Turkey´s army regulation comes shortly after Egypt´s army prevented a similar de facto Islamist coup d´etat by a people-powered coup d´etat. Also Turkey has been shaken by popular uprisings and heavy clashes between protesters and Turkey´s police forces. While the protests in Turkey focus on Gezi Park and Taksim Square, the protests oppose a “sneaking erosion of Turkey´s secular constitution”. Large parts of Turkey´s opposition and a large percentage of the general population, are also accusing R. Tayyip Erdogan of participation in a US-backed plan to dismantle the Turkish Republic to create smaller states.
As late as 2007, Turkey´s army had issued a warning to the administration of Prime Minister R. Tayyip Erdogan, stating that Turkey´s Armed Forces are taking their obligation to protect the constitutionality and integrity of the Turkish Republic as a secular state with political and religious freedom seriously.
The amendment is, according to several analysts, also tied to the final trial hearings and sentencing in the controversial Ergenkon trials, in which 300 military officers stand accused for espionage, and another 300 officers as well as dozens of civilians, including the chairman of one of Turkey´s opposition parties, Dr. Dogu Perencik from the Workers´Party – Turkey, stand accused of passing on secret information.
According to many international lawyers as well as independent analysts, the Ergenkon arrests constituted a de facto coup d´etat already. The amendment of the Armed Forces Regulations consolidates the coup, and is, according to analysts, a move to prevent a similar situation as that in Egypt, where President Mohammed Morsi was ousted after illegally amending Egypt´s constitution so as to favor his own and other Islamist parties, while making it all but impossible for secular parties to register for elections.
Amendment of Armed Forces Regulation preparing Turkey´s Military for Regional NATO War. Additionally, the regulation was amended, so that it has become the duty of Turkey´s armed forces to help ensure international peace. Turkey´s opposition warns, that this could be interpreted so, that the Turkish Armed Forces are being transformed into a regional striking power for NATO.
This part of the amendment is particularly causing concern because it has become known that the Erdogan administration has been taking part in preparing the illegal aggression against its neighbor Syria, long before the first protests in Syria erupted in 2011.
Turkey is the primary front-line state in the war against Syria, and the vast majority of weapons shipments and fresh mercenaries are coming into Syria via Turkey.
Journalists as well as the Syrian government have numerous times reported about the presence of Turkish military officers inside Syria. In some incidents Turkish troops as well as pilots were directly involved in combat operations, where they were fighting alongside al-Qaeda associated mercenaries, against Syrian Armed Forces.
In two incidents, the Turkish armed forces have been directly implicated in the use of chemical weapons. During a chemical weapons attack that killed 25 and injured more than 100 in Khan al-Assal, Aleppo, the chemical laden missile was fired from a “rebel”held position. The Syrian government claimed, that members of Turkey´s military intelligence were present in that area. Likewise, Turkish troops and pilots were reportedly taking part in battles for the Ming air field. A chemical laden missile was fired from the region where the Turkish troops were reported to be.
According to recently disclosed intelligence, the anti-Syrian political and military opposition as well as the international alliance that supports them, are planning a major political and military campaign against Syria in August and September, and part of the strategy is reportedly, to justify calls for an international military intervention and the establishment of a no-fly-zone by using chemical weapons. Also because of these facts, the amendment is causing gravest concerns among members of Turkey´s opposition and among international analysts.
Turkey´s Opposition Split. Turkey´s opposition is split with regard to the amendment. While the M.P.s of the Republican People´s Party, CPH, and those of the Peace and Democracy Party, BNP voted concurrently with the Freedom and Justice Party, AKP, the Nationalist Movement Party, MHP, voted against the amendment. Although many members of parliament have voted concurrently, in favor of the amendment, their endorsement of the amendment elicits a disconnect between the Members of Parliament and the parties basis as well as the majority of the general population.
The AKP and Erdogan Administration are reportedly also strengthening Turkey´s police force as well as Turkey´s National Intelligence Service by militarizing the police forces and by endowing the police and intelligence services with far reaching new powers over protesters, whom Prime Minister Erdogan described as terrorists last month, when he threatened that protesters who refused to leave Taksim Square would be charged and treated as terrorists.
Egyptian Pattern Repeated in Turkey. Protests in Turkey erupted on 31 May, after a violent crack down on peaceful protesters who had occupied the historically significant Gezi Park to protest again the destruction of the Park and Taksim Square. The protesters compared the destruction of historical sites, which are representing the Turkish Revolution and the establishment of the Turkish Republic with a secular constitution, and plans to substitute the historical sites by building a shopping mall and by re-erecting military barracks from Turkey´s Ottoman period as direct affront against the constitution and as an attempt to re-write history.
Protests have continued on a daily basis ever since 31 May, and analysts expect that mass protests will reoccur in September during the last phases of the Ergenkon trial. Like the ousted Mohammed Morsi, R. Tayyip Erdogan uses democratic institutions in a soft-power and sneaking, but never the less de facto coup d´etat. Like Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, R. Tayyip Erdogan has to fear that the military ultimately will side with the people. The difference between Turkey and Egypt is, that the Erdogan administration has started its coup d´etat by weakening the military with the arrest of 600 officers. Whether his strategy will succeed or not remains an open question which may be answered in September.