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Turkey turning into an Islamic autocracy

Kudascheff Alexander Kommentarbild App
Alexander Kudascheff
July 22, 2016

The events unfolding in Turkey since the failed coup pose countless questions. DW Editor-in-Chief Alexander Kudascheff suspects that the events also served as a welcome pretext for premeditated 'reforms.'

Türken in Berlin gegen den Putsch
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Zinken

The unease is growing and so are the doubts over events in Turkey.

The amateurish coup attempt in Turkey was swiftly put down, and President Erdogan's fury towards his opponents, whom he was quick to label enemies, has been becoming more and more extreme.

The Turkish President's reactions seem out of proportion. And precisely because he is lashing out so wildly now and because the whole coup was thwarted so swiftly, more and more people ares calling into question the course of the coup itself.

No one's talking about victory for the people or for democracy here any more. The coup attempt seems to have served only one purpose: For Erdogan to have a good reason to do away with anyone standing in his way.

Many more detentions to come

Thousands of public officials have been sacked or arrested, thousands more suspended. Under Erdogan, Turkey has devolved from democracy to rubber-stamp autocracy, where even a re-introduction of the death penalty seemed possible.

Erdogan claims he doesn't need a parliament; he has the people behind him. Or so he thinks. For sure, he has the imams on his side. Atatürk's secular republic is at risk of becoming an Islamic autocracy. Admitting Turkey into the EU has now become unthinkable. Even its place in NATO is in doubt.

Kudascheff Alexander
DW Editor-in-Chief Alexander Kudascheff

In retrospect the coup is laughable: The air force bombed parliament but couldn't find its way to the president's vacation spot. The coup leaders took over public broadcasting, but not private channels. They failed to cut communications. They carried out the coup in the early evening hours at the beginning of the weekend, when Istanbul's streets are full, rather than the early morning when most are asleep. Although the coup was led by the air force, the supposedly ousted president was able to fly back to Istanbul, while the coup's soldiers were under the belief that it was merely a military exercise.

This was a military coup? Hardly.

Departure from Turkey's fundamental secularism

There's no need for conspiracy theories. After 12 years with Erdogan as prime minister and president, it's hard to believe that the military leadership isn't awash with AKP allies. It's even harder to believe that Turkish intelligence would have overlooked the plot forming. It can't be a coincidence that Erdogan, on the morning after the coup, already had a list ready of 3,000 judges to oust.

Erdogan may not have staged the coup, but he is instrumentalising it to rid himself of anyone who dares to criticize his political direction: judges, journalists and others holding onto the country's fundamental secular values.

"Cleansing" the country - we see a terrible analogy to Stalin's purges in the 1930s, we clearly see that Turkey is no longer a democracy abiding by its constitution. That Erdogan introduced a state of emergency to bypass parliament was a logical step.

Quo vadis, Turkey? It looks like an Islamic autocracy is in the making. Erdogan's omnipotent fantasy has both domestic and international dimensions, challenging his allies, including the United States. He'll allow the U.S. Air Force's continued use of its Incirlik base in operations against IS only in exchange for the extradition of his archenemy, Muhammed Fethullah Gülen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania. The charges he makes against Gülen may not be based on facts at all. But Erdogan feels strong and powerful, almighty even. He fears no one -- except perhaps Vladimir Putin, to whom he's already apologized.

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