Failed Turkey coup deepens conundrum of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power

And so another cot-case nation is born. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan already has begun consolidating in the wake of Friday’s failed coup, with a vengeful purge of the military and the judiciary to help drive home a ruthless bid to package virtually all power in his strongman presidency.

Critics argue that his Putin-like shift from the office of Prime Minister to the presidency is a threat to democracy in Turkey. But the failure of the coup likely will cause Erdoğan to redouble his efforts, which he will parse as an essential antidote to instability.

And for all its criticism of Erdoğan’s conduct, the West probably will turn a blind eye or pay lip service to the crackdown because the Turkish leader has it over a barrel – the Europeans, because he has taken $US6 billion of their lucre to stem the flood of Syrian and Iraqi refugees to the Continent; and Washington, because Turkey is strategically vital in the war against the so-called Islamic State in the region, which has spawned a new wave of terrorist attacks globally.

But as world capitals focus on their own national interests, divisions in Turkey will deepen.

Even before the attempted coup there was rising secular anger over Erdoğan’s abuses of human rights – purging the judiciary, jailing journalists and forcing media proprietors to toe his line in the wake of sensational corruption scandals and his ferocious response to the Gezi Park protests of 2013.

But in the midst of this new crisis, supporters in neighbourhoods like Kasimpasa, his birthplace in sprawling Istanbul, were chanting: “Erdogan is the honor of Turkey! Revenge! We will take our revenge!”

In two national elections in 2015, Erdoğan failed to win the parliamentary support necessary to ram through the constitutional changes necessary to formalise a grab for power that the president had already executed unilaterally.

But what now? Predicting that Erdoğan now will have the political capital to crash through, Dogu Ergil, a political scientist at Ankara University, warned: “[His] ambition to create a one-man government with a union of the executive and legislative, is now much easier to accomplish.”

Erdogan and his supporters quickly accused the followers of the self-exiled and hermit-like Fethullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania in the US, of masterminding both the protests and the bribery scandal.

Given what’s at stake for Washington in roiling Middle East conflicts and it’s need for access to Turkish bases to keep pressure on IS, Washington will probably see handing over Gülen as the price of keeping the truculent Erdoğan on side.

The stakes were raised in the struggle to repatriate Gülen when Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned that any country, by which he meant the US, that that stood by Gülen, would be considered an enemy of Turkey.

Full article: Failed Turkey coup deepens conundrum of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power (The Age)

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