By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Most Armenians became ecstatic last Friday upon hearing that a military coup was in progress to topple Turkey’s President Erdogan.
Even I was caught up in a momentary euphoria, until I recalled that while Erdogan is a fascist leader, the Turkish military is far worse! During the past four military coups d’état in Turkey -- 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997 -- when generals shot their way to power, wholesale jailing, torture, and killings ensued. By no means is Erdogan a democratic leader, but his military opponents could be far more vicious! This is the reason why none of the opposition parties in Turkey, not even the oppressed Kurds, have supported the coup plotters, realizing their dreadful fate under a military regime!
Rather than rushing to welcome the attempted coup, Armenians should have hailed the Turkish leader’s survival! One should consider that Erdogan is primarily an Islamist, whereas the military officers are rabid nationalists. Erdogan, of course, is no friend of Kurds, Armenians, Turkish human rights activists, journalists, and political rivals. Military rule, on the other hand, would have been an absolute nightmare for everyone in and out of Turkey, particularly for next door Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno Karabagh). One does not have to go all the way back to 1915 to remember the murderous acts of the Turkish army against 1.5 million innocent Armenian men, women and children! As recently as the 1974 Cyprus invasion, the Turkish military committed despicable war crimes against thousands of Greek civilians!
Erdogan's continued hold on power may be the greatest gift for all those who wish Turkey to remain the laughing stock of the world. His extremist views on social, political and religious issues appeal only to his radical followers, but antagonize all people of compassion and common sense.
When the initial news of Erdogan’s downfall turned out to be false, those celebrating his presumed departure turned to rumor-mongering, insisting that the Turkish President had staged the coup himself to get rid of his opponents. To believe such a far-fetched notion, one has to ignore that the coup was staged by a considerably weakened group of senior officers after Erdogan had spent the better part of a decade purging the military. It is a miracle that after being threatened, prosecuted, jailed or forced into early retirement, there are still putschists left in the Turkish military! Experienced commanders were replaced by amateurs whose only skill was total submission to Sultan Erdogan’s every wish and whim!
Furthermore, the coup d’état was poorly organized, allowing Erdogan to avoid arrest after getting wind of the plot, and going on TV to incite his fanatical followers to confront the tanks in the streets!
The American mass media, as usual, misled the public by repeatedly calling Erdogan a ‘democratically elected leader’ who supposedly has a ‘massive public following’, and is an ‘important U.S. ally in fighting ISIS’! All of these statements are untrue. The Turkish President is a fascist; his followers, albeit more vocal, are barely half of the voting public; and his regime has been an enabler of ISIS terrorists!
What will happen next? Erdogan will now exploit this golden opportunity to tighten his grip on power by becoming even more vengeful and autocratic than before, and smashing with an iron fist anyone who dares to disagree with him!
The Turkish leader is now aggressively eliminating all suspected opponents by arresting thousands of military officers, including 102 Generals, dismissing over 10,000 security officials and 3,000 members of the judiciary who had nothing to do with the attempted coup! They will certainly be replaced by Erdogan’s obedient servants to ensure that his political rivals would receive the harshest court verdicts, most probably the death penalty, which would preclude Turkey from ever joining the European Union!
Erdogan’s only out of his reach adversary is Islamic Cleric Fethullah Gulen, an erstwhile ally, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania! The Turkish President is falsely accusing the Muslim cleric of orchestrating last week’s attempted coup to eliminate his major opponent! It remains to be seen if Erdogan will succeed in bullying Pres. Obama to extradite Gulen to Turkey!
Contrary to the Turkish government deceptive reports, the coup has not been fully crushed. As of the printing deadline of this column, four days after the start of the insurrection, Erdogan is still cooped up in Istanbul, unable to return to his colossal empty Palace in Ankara!
All those fed up with Turkey's meddling in the neighboring countries’ affairs would certainly prefer prolonged internecine clashes between the coup plotters and the regime’s autocratic leadership. This would keep Turkey preoccupied with its own domestic troubles, diminishing its ability to threaten the security of Armenia, Artsakh, Cyprus, Greece, Iran, Iraq, and Syria!