Leading up to the failed coup attempt in Turkey, military officers who were jailed as part of the Ergenekon trials, but later released, have been negotiating with the Assad regime on a Turkish-Syrian deal that would see the end of Kurdish autonomy forever. The deal seeks to stop all funding or military support of anti-Assad forces and militias in Syria, including the Kurds. Details of the ‘back channel’ negotiations and the main players involved are given below. Meanwhile, President Erdogan is expected to escalate the purge of his opponents and critics that began yesterday with the dismissal of almost 3000 judges. A statement by the Kurdish movement on the attempted coup and on Erdogan’s authoritarian aspirations is also given below.
A. The ‘deep state’ deal between Turkey and Syria
The Homeland Party is a nationalist movement, chaired by Dogu Perincek and its vice chair is Lieutenant General Ismail Hakki Pekin, the former head of the Turkish Armed Forces’ Military Intelligence. In 2007, a ruling by a Swiss court made Perincek the first person to receive a criminal conviction for denial of the Armenian genocide (he later successfully appealed the decision on grounds of free speech). In August 2013 he was sentenced to life imprisonment as part of Turkey’s Ergenekon trials, but was released in 2014 and in April this year all convictions were anulled after judges decided the original prosecutions were based on faulty evidence. Recently Perincek and Pekin were assigned to meet with Syrian officials in ‘back channel’ talks to discuss common interests between Syria and Turkey.
Perincek and Pekin met in prison in 2011 when caught up in the Ergenekon trials. The pair later met with Assad in Damascus in February 2015. At that meeting it was agreed that Syria and Turkey would co-operate in the fight against separatist groups, including the Kurds. Pekin and other former officers (all members of the Homeland Party) including Rear Admiral Soner Polat and Major General Beyazit Karatas, made further visits to Damascus on three more occasions – in January, April, and May of this year. These were all high-ranking meetings.
The Turkish delegation met with Mohammed Dib Zaitoun, head of the Syrian General Security Directorate; Ali Mamlouk, head of the National Security Bureau; Walid Muallem, Syria’s Foreign Minister; Faisal Mekdad, the Deputy Foreign Minister; and Abdullah al-Ahmar, Assistant Secretary-General of the Syrian Baath Party. President Assad tended to join in these discussions by telephone.
The negotiations between Syria and Turkey are continuing. If they suceed this may jeopardise the entire Coalition strategy, which currently depends on the Kurds and several anti-Assad militias as the only viable frontline force against ISIS in Syria. Any deal between Turkey and Assad would also not only benefit the latter, but threaten US strategic interests.
B. Erdogan readies for escalation in repression
Meanwhile, many of those who took to the streets in Istanbul or Ankara on Friday evening and in the early hours of Saturday and, in doing so, helped thwart the military coup, were Erdogan supporters; others who took to the streets had no illusions about Erdogan, though neither did they want to see change take place as a result of a military takeover.
But once it became clear that the coup had failed, Erdogan moved quickly to praise the thousands who took to the streets, saying what they did was nothing less than a triumph of democracy. It was about ‘people power’, but Erdogan knows how to milk this for all it is worth and immediately ordered a purge of his political rivals, starting with the judiciary and the sacking and detention of almost 3000 judges in revenge for previous rulings he did not agree with. The purge is expected to widen and there will be further erosion of civil liberties.
In short, the failed coup resulted not in a triumph of democracy, but the exact opposite. In post-coup Turkey, none of Erdogan’s political opponents – on the left, or liberals, or, of course, Kurds – will be safe in the aftermath.
Yesterday, for example, three of the regional headquarters of the pro-Kurd, left-centre HDP – the main opposition party in Turkey, were attacked by Erdogan supporters. Journalists also are the target of repression. And, of course, many Kurds fear the attacks on their cities will escalate.
The latest coup attempt has its roots, to some extent with power politics that saw, in 2008, Erdogan’s AKP, with the support of Fethullah Gülen, commence a series of show trials that resulted in over 500 mostly military officers convicted of being members of Egenekon and plotting a coup. But in late 2013, Gülen’s own organisation began to investigate corruption in the AKP and the Erdogan family. Erdogan then sought support from his former enemies and arranged the release of all those accused of being part of Ergenekon.
If Gulen was behind the latest coup attempt, that would not be surprising, though there is no evidence for this. Indeed, there has been widespread disquiet in all political circles, as well as in the military, with almost everything Erdogan has been responsible for over the years he has been in power.
- The Turkish Government under Erdogan committed an act of genocide against the Kurdish population. It imposed curfews and bombed Kurd cities and towns to the extent that those cities and towns are now in ruins.
- There has been ample evidence that Erdogan covertly supported, financed and armed ISIS from the very beginning. It has done so via anti-Assad militias and also directly by trading with ISIS and its oil supplies
- Erdogan’s family has personally benefited from oil sales to ISIS.
- Erdogan used the refugee crisis – the biggest since World War 2 – as leverage to try and obtain visa-free roaming across Europe for Turks and also to get up to six billion euros from the EU as reward for holding back more refugees. But when the EU queried these arrangements, Erdogan threatened to bus in thousands of refugees to Europe.
- The Erdogan government also closed down Zaman, a leading newspaper that was critical of his politics and later took over the running of another newspaper, Sabah.
- The Erdogan government also prosecuted leading liberal journalists for revealing how the Government had been supplying arms to ISIS. (Journalists Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of “Cumhuriyet”, and Erdem Gilwere, Ankara bureau chief, were subsequently jailed for more than five years for merely reporting on evidence that the Erdogan government had, via the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), been secretly ferrying arms from Turkey across the Syrian border.).
Erdogan presents himself as a moderniser, but his political roots were with the right-wing, Islamist Welfare Party – reborn after the 1997 coup as the Virtue Party and which was opposed to secularism. Now Erdogan will exploit the failed coup to consolidate his power further. There will be attacks on Kurds and anyone who opposes Erdogan. Most likely these attacks will be carried out by Grey Wolves or JITEM operatives. There will also be more bombing of Kurd towns and cities.
C. Statement from Kurdish movement on attempted coup:
The umbrella organisation of the Kurdish movement, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Co-Presidency, has released a statement about last night’s coup attempt in Turkey.
The statement said; “There has been a coup attempt by persons whose identity and purpose is yet not clear. This attempt comes just before the military council meeting, where Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was reportedly going to assign generals close to himself to the army’s top tier. Another striking dimension of the coup attempt is that it comes at a time when discussions about the fascist AKP government’s foreign policy, were taking place.”
Coup attempt is proof of lack of democracy
The statement by KCK reads; “No matter within which internal and external political factors and focuses, and for what reasons a power struggle is waged, this case is not a matter of defending or being against democracy. On the contrary, this situation is the proof of lack of democracy in Turkey. Such power struggles and attempts to seize power are witnessed in undemocratic countries where an authoritarian power makes coup attempts to overthrow another authoritarian power when conditions are appropriate. This is what has happened in Turkey.
A coup was staged on 7 June
A year ago, Erdoğan and the Palace Gladio (Erdoğan’s secret force), alongside the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), all fascist circles, nationalist military powers (Ergenekon) and a part of the army, staged a coup. This was a palace (Erdoğan) coup against the democratic will of the people [which voted in the HDP and left the AKP short of a majority]. AKP fascism allied itself with all the fascist powers and a part of the army including the Chief of Staff in order to suppress the Kurdish Freedom Movement and democratic forces. The AKP’s fascism drove the army into Kurdish cities and towns, made them burn cities to the ground and massacre hundreds of civilians. Recently it has passed new laws that have give immunity to state forces, preventing trial for the crimes they have committed. In this way the AKP has become a government that has legitimised and made legal the military’s tutelage over democratic politics and society.
Coup attempt from one military faction against another
There was already military tutelage in Turkey before yesterday’s coup attempt; which makes the attempt a coup by one military faction against the existing one. This is why a section of the military has taken sides with Erdoğan, because there is already military tutelage in Turkey.
The fact that the MHP and chauvinistic nationalist circles took sides with the Palace Gladio (Erdogan) and its fascist allies reveals quite clearly that this is not an incident of struggle between those siding with democracy and those standing against it.
Portraying Erdoğan democratic is dangerous
Portraying Erdoğan and the fascist AKP dictatorship as if they were democratic after this coup attempt is an approach even more dangerous than the coup attempt itself. Portraying the fight for power among authoritarian, despotic and anti-democratic forces as a fight between the supporters and enemies of democracy will only serve to legitimise the existing fascist and despotic government.
Democracy forces do not side with either camp
Turkey does not have a civilian group in power, nor is this a struggle between democracy forces and putschists. The current fight is about who should lead the current political system, which is the enemy of democracy and the Kurdish people. Therefore, democracy forces do not side with either camp during these clashes.
The coup against democracy is the one carried out by the fascist AKP
If there is a coup against democracy, it is the one carried out by the fascist AKP government. The political power’s control over the judiciary, the implementation of fascist laws and policies through a parliamentarian majority, the removal of parliamentarians’ immunities, the arrest of co-mayors, the removal of co-mayors from their positions, and the imprisonment of thousands of politicians from the HDP and DBP constitute more of an actual coup. Kurdish people are under unprecedented genocidal, fascist, and colonialist attacks in Kurdistan.
AKP dragging Turkey into clashes
What has brought Turkey to this stage is the AKP government, which has transformed into a government of war against Kurdish people and the forces of democracy. With its monistic, hegemonic and anti-democratic character, it has kept Turkey in chaos and conflict. With its war against the Kurdish people and the forces of democracy, it has kept Turkey in a state of civil war. The latest coup attempt shows that Turkey needs to get rid of the fascist AKP government and have a democratic government. The recent developments make it urgent for Turkey to democratise and get rid of its monist, hegemonic and fascist government.
To sum up, the forces of democracy should confront the legitimisation of the fascist AKP government’s policies under the disguise of democracy, and create a democratic alliance that truly would democratise Turkey. This coup attempt makes it necessary for us to not slow down the struggle against the AKP’s fascism but to enhance it so that chaos and clashes in Turkey come to an end and a new and democratic Turkey emerges.”