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New challenges ahead after Turkey's failed coup

Seda SerdarJuly 17, 2016

Following the failed revolt, Turkey is going through another democracy test. The initial solidarity among political parties looks hopeful, but will it last? Further crackdowns are a serious concern says DW's Seda Serdar.

Türkei Istanbul Demonstration gegen Gülen Bewegung Solidarität Erdogan
Image: picture-alliance/AA/E. Ozturk

Thousands took to the streets in Turkey Saturday night following the failed coup attempt just a day before. The people that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had called upon to stop the military on Friday were called out again to the streets. This was more a demonstration of power rather than solidarity.

President Erdogan, who prides himself on being able to bring thousands to the streets if he wishes to do so, showed that this was truly possible. But is this a real sign of unity? The deep polarization within society that has been deepening over the years will not disappear overnight. Nevertheless, the call for unity and the ability of all the political parties to act in unity in the aftermath of July 15 gives a little sign of hope.

New waves of arrests

However, the following days will be critical. After the failed revolt not only military personnel were arrested but also more than 2700 judges and prosecutors. They all are said to be affiliated with the Gulen Movement, which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) considers a terrorist organization.

Erdogan has long been going after Gulen's affiliates but now, with the failed coup attempt, he will be able to do this more bluntly in the name of democracy. This is all very ironic. According to the Turkish government, a former ally of the AKP government that helped weaken the secular military has now attempted a coup to overthrow it.

Bildkombo Fethullah Gülen / Tayyip Erdogan
Former allies: Gulen (left) and ErdoganImage: picture-alliance/Zaman/AA/B. Ozkan

What is even more interesting is that the Turkish government, with all its known faults, is trying to come out of this as the biggest supporter of democracy. It may not deceive the international community but there is no doubt that this will be a strong card in Erdogan's hand for domestic politics. It is worrisome that not only those affiliated with Gulen but also people that are critical of the AKP could also be in the next wave of arrests.

Extraditing Gulen

There are now two questions that come to mind. Will Turkey be able to get Fethullah Gulen back? It is clear that Turkey will insist on the extradition of Gulen. Even though the first reaction of the US government has shown that this isn't likely, Erdogan will not give up easily. At the same time, the implication from Turkey's labor and social security minister Suleyman Soylu that the US was behind this attempted coup isn't bringing the allies closer. The coming days could witness more tension between the two countries.

Second, could the failed coup attempt bring Erdogan one step closer to his desired presidential system? Even though Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that there would be no early elections only a few days before the July 15 revolt, could this once again come into the picture? This would be a dreadful scenario for the election-weary population and the weak opposition.

Turkey has been going through some very dark days over the past few years. The failed coup attempt added to the problems the country is facing. Even though it was unsuccessful, the damage it has caused is far from being over.

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