When I first heard that a coup was in progress in Turkey my first thought was that it was the USA’s way to punish Erdogan for his sudden apology to Russia. Yes, sure, I realized that there were many other possible explanations, but that was the one I was hoping for. I even told my family that if this was a US-backed coup and if Erdogan or his supporters said so, there would be hell to pay for the USA. Less than 24 hour later my hopes were fulfilled:
Erdogan was undeterred and he went on to publicly declare ““Dear President Obama, I told you this before, arrest Fethullah Gulen or return him to Turkey. You didn’t listen. I call you on you again, after the coup attempt – extradite this man from Pennsylvania to Turkey. If we are strategic partners, do what is necessary,” Erdogan said. He also explicitly called any nation supporting Gulen “an open enemy of Turkey.”
Now we need to remember that Erdogan has a history of zigs followed by zags, so I would not put it past him to warmly embrace Obama in the near future, but I find that unlikely. Why? Simply because there is a lot of indirect evidence that the USA was, indeed, behind this coup. Consider this:
The coup involved a very large number of people. We can get a sense of the magnitude of this coup by looking at the huge purge now taking place in Turkey. According to various sources it includes no less than 6’000 people, many senior officers (including 5 generals and 29 colonels), 2’745 judges and prosecutors. So the first thing we need to ask ourselves is how likely is it that the USA did not know what was being prepared by the coup plotters? I submit that in a country essentially at war, where US forces which are involved in combat operations in nearby Syria and Iraq are deployed and where the US reportedly keeps 50 tactical nuclear weapons, the notion that the USA did not see this coming is far fetched. Turkey is a NATO member state, which in practical terms means that the US has full control over the Turkish military, and we know thanks to Sibel Edmonds that the Turkish deep state has very close ties to the US deep state – and we are to believe that nobody in the USA saw this coming?
Furthermore, when Erdogan says that the USA did not hurry to condemn the coup, he is absolutely correct. In fact, it was rather amusing for me to see that all the western media was indicating that the coup had succeeded, while the Iranians and Russians reported that the coup had failed. If that was case of wishful thinking on both sides, what does it tell us about the wishes?
Now let’s look at the cui bono angle.
Some, including Fethullah Gulen, have suggested that this coup was an a false flag operation by Erdogan himself. And it is true that he declared that this coup was a “”gift from God… because this will be a reason to cleanse our army“. But the reality is that this coup is a huge embarrassment for Erdogan who had already purged the Turkish armed forces many times over and who could not take the risk of having a planned “false flag” turn into the real thing: even General Bekir Ercan Van, the commander of Turkey’s Incirlik airbase, has been detained by Turkish authorities accused of complicity in the attempted coup. So not only did this coup show that Erdogan was hated at the very top level of the Turkish armed forces, but the failure of the coup has now resulted in a huge purge which will tremendously weaken the Turkish armed forces who are involved not only in Syria but also in a bloody civil war against the Kurds. So the notion that Erdogan triggered this coup himself appears very far fetched to me.
Then, of course, there is Russia. And while I wholeheartedly agree that Russia will immensely benefit from this failed coup, I also am convinced that the Russians never had anywhere near the means needed to trigger a coup in Turkey. Neither the Kemalists nor the supporters of Gulen are pro-Russian and Russia simply does not have the kind of access in this major NATO country to trigger military coups.
As for the USA, had the coup succeeded, they could have placed a compliant, and probably far more reliable, military leader at the helm of power in Turkey. Now that the coup failed and now that Erdogan appears to be furious at the USA, the USA is the big loser in this outcome. But had the coup succeeded?
Keep in mind that the war in 08.08.08 and the case of the US “multiple personality disorder” over Syria have shown that there is no unified US foreign policy. There is a White House foreign policy, there is a CIA foreign policy, then there is a Foggy Bottom foreign policy and a Pentagon foreign policy. We even know that there is a separate Neocon foreign policy. Any one of them coup have pushed the coup plotters to take action just like the Neocons pushed Saakashvili to attacked South Ossetia.
Now that the coup has failed, however, the situation has the potential to strongly turned in Russia’s favor and even though the Russians will never trust Erdogan, they are also fully aware of the objective advantages Russian can reap from the current situation. The ultimate success would be to trigger a withdrawal of Turkey from NATO, but I personally doubt that this is possible. A more realistic goal could be to accept that Turkey will nominally remain in NATO, but that at least in Syria Erdogan will accept the Russian-created reality on the ground. The fact that Lavrov and Kerry have agreed to a joint long-term ceasefire whose exact terms are to remain secret indicates to me that the Russians forced the US into concessions which the latter don’t want to be made public (and not the other way around because Moscow holds all the cards now and Kerry has therefore no means to put pressure on Russia). In other words, now that even the USA has basically caved in, at least temporarily, the Turks have no reasons left to try to impose anything on Syria.
The current situation holds a tremendous potential for developments favorable to Russia. I hope that the Russians will apply some creative thinking and make maximal use of this new situation to create afait accompli on the ground in Syria. The best option for Russia would be to have a reliable and predictable partner in Turkey. Alas, this is not going to happen. The next best option is to have a weak Turkey wasting most of its resources and energy dealing with internal crises. This seems to be what will happen in the foreseeable future. By any measure, this is a good thing for Russia, Syria and, really, the entire region.