Just a year before, the social and political fabric of Turkey was perturbed, jostled and went through various ripple effects. There was a threat to its democracy—though not its democratic values and the events of 15th July 2016 are a proof of it. There was a faction who had stood up against the working government and tried to take over Erdoğan’s post and his Turkey.
Some of the key buildings like the Parliament were besieged and certain other places were bombed. It was then that the civilians came out on the streets to protect their government from an undemocratic force. It was the people who braved the challenges of the night and set a very exceptional example—perhaps the first of its kind for every other state.
Some of the key buildings like the Parliament were besieged and certain other places were bombed. It was then that the civilians came out on the streets to protect their government from an undemocratic force. It was the people who braved the challenges of the night and set a very exceptional example—perhaps the first of its kind for every other state.
Very soon the working government took things under their wing and the coup attempt came to an end. With this end was a new beginning for Turkey—a state and a people for whom coups and coup attempts are nothing new. It ushered a new era of politics in Turkey which changed the course of history for the state. This change occurred in both the domestic and the foreign front.
This was largely due to the Purge which followed afterward which resulted in the detaining of several Army officers, government officials, beaurocrats, and academics. This happened because of the allegation on Gullen and his Movement for promoting this coup attempt and since the fore-mentioned personnel belonged to, or were aligned to it, they were captured and detained. This not only puts the social fabric at unrest but also the foreign fabric in a flux.
There was an inherent antagonism between Gullen and Erdoğan which had now become so strong that Turkey became a swerve and a ground for a certain insatiable variability. As the Purge was going on—so was Erdoğan’s idea of expanding on his powers since it was his power and his position which was threatened. Thus the idea of a Presidential Referendum was floated which would result in the seat of the President having more powers than before. Of course, it was not as smooth because on the political turf, there was a certain hushed resistance but it was a silent one and because of that, he came out stronger than 2016.
With the ‘Yes; vote winning there was to be a tightening of the noose for ISIL and the PKK and it became a rabid point in the Turkish policy. But regardless of this, there was a sheer amount of insecurity because Turkey became a state of heinous terrorist activities from being the land of subtle peace in the course of 2016 because of the various suicide bombs which occurred there. This put a question mark on whether Turkey will now become a new land of terrorism or will things recede to normalcy in both the political and social foyer.
And now—Turkey has once again come up to surface for instability within the political side as it is known to have a certain amount of friction as the government put an MP in prison for 25 years on the account of leaked information. The aftermath was the opposition coming out in mass protests against Erdoğan and his government.
On the foreign front—things also took swings because the state had been allied with the US and was on good terms, if not the best, with the EU states. Moreover, it had a fluctuating relationship with Russia and not only that its position in the Middle East had been prone to a lot of damage. Following this coup attempt the West that is, the US and the EU-began looking upon Turkey with suspicion and certain antagonism because of the Purge and the Referendum which was deemed an undemocratic feature for the international realm. The Referendum was looked up as a forced superseding by Erdoğan and the method for the campaign was unfavorable to Germany, Netherlands, and other European states. Thus, cracks emerged and they broadened.
In this course of time, Turkey grew closer with Russia and Iran and changed some of its tactics in the ongoing Syrian crisis. Russia and Turkey broadened their relationship and they became a formidable front in the Middle East as the trifecta of Turkey, Iran, and Russia sat together and excluded the US in the Syrian Peace Talks.
Moreover, Turkey came to be a rather important state in terms of the Gulf Crisis between Qatar and other Arab states when it supported Qatar which meant certain reservations by the KSA towards Turkey. It also opened up a new wave of partnership with the Pakistani political elite, though it is also a swindling one. Ruling elites come and go—state is what stays and perhaps Erdoğan needs to realize this as soon as it can.
Yet in the July 2017 G-20 meeting Erdoğan was seen lingering, in contempt and looking for a solid ally. This was not because of the flailing relationship dynamics but a strong alliance with any state which would otherwise mean that Turkey’s insecurity and its position has been safeguarded in the realm.
A year ahead of the failed coup it seems that Turkey has changed and there is still need for it to further this change. Turkey needs to think diplomatically and rationally if it wishes to not become isolated. The internal division between the Conservatives and the Seculars is now easily visible and could grow. This along with the ISIS threat and its looming existence is a cause for alarm. Turkey needs to realize that if there are visible cracks present then it becomes easy for outside forces to strike at its roots. Turkey is not ready for something like this, nor should it be. This is due to the fact that Turkey is a responsible state as of now and if there is a rocking instability than the Middle East and the Muslim World will become stymied
It needs a balancing act internally as well as externally because this will cast a shadow of prosperity or isolation on its economics, military and strategic placement. It needs to realize whether it still needs to move forward and join EU, for which it will have to make certain adjustments and that is it willing to make them. How close does Erdoğan want to get to the simmering US of Trump—and not get burned by its stakes or does it, for that matter continue to partner up with Russia especially in terms of Syria. The latter would mean consistency but it would also mean that it might have to sidetrack certain of its own interests.
It was today, a year ago when Turkey stood in a chasm of wilderness and a cauldron of instability. A year ahead of that time, Turkey is now stuck in a bewildering position wherein in needs to be able to gain momentum and break away insecurity and the clutches of conflict and confusion which might make it weak. It needs more than anything to regain not just its strength but also its political morality and constancy, not just in the external but also in the internal foyer. It has to come out clean to make sure that the Empire which once was and then the State under Kemal and then the one which became economically prosperous and politically sane—must somehow make a comeback.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.
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Amna Javed is PhD Scholar at School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. She is an expert on Middle Eastern politics with a focus on Turkey.