Turkey to Follow Egypt’s Lead?

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The government led by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan are living in an increased state of fear.  Rumors of a division in the ranks of police and military forces are circulating throughout the country.  Could Turkey follow Egypt’s lead?

Similarities between the two countries point to a definite possibility that Erdogan could lose control.  The riots in Taksim Square, and the continuation of plans to destroy Gezi Park, point to a country in a state of unrest.

In an interview with RT, Professor Mark Almond of Bilkent University outlined comparisons between the two countries and between Morsi and Erdogan.

What was termed as a ‘military coup’ was crushed by Erdogan’s AKP party, which is a direct relation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  Monday, a Turkish court handed down 17 life sentences for the insurrection.

The ‘plot’ was organized over the internet.  When Almond was asked why General Basburg, the head of the Turkish army, and a member of NATO forces, would attempt a coup without the support of the regular army, he said the following.  (He was one of those sentenced to life.)

“Well, it’s very strange, General Basbug himself said originally it was bizarre. If he wanted to organize a coup he was in a much better position to do so in charge of the armed forces than with this rather ragtag group of journalists, peculiar underworld figures and retired army officers. So that’s always been one of the problems with the plausibility of the accusations. And even the prime minister has said that he couldn’t really believe that General Basbug had been at the center of the plot, he may now have changed his mind.”

He said that Morsi was considered a protégé of Turkey’s administration led by Prime Minister Erdogan.  The events in Egypt, and the rising tension in Tunisia, are making the government nervous about the loyalty of the army.

“So I think if we can talk about conspiracy theories and debates, on the one hand you have the charge that there’s a deep state military intelligence conspiracy against the prime minister, but the prime minister’s supporters certainly seem to feel that there’s a deep plot against them organized by secularist forces not just in Turkey.”

Almond says that interesting events may be in the works.  He forecasts the possibility of increased demonstrations by the people of Turkey in several weeks.  He said that so far the army has remained in their barracks.

“What now is the question is what will happen if on the one hand, renewed street protests once Ramadan has passed, once the hot month of August has passed, and the government come under pressure on the streets, there are again rumors in Turkey last week of splits inside even the police force, between police units of very loyal to the government and others who feel the government has been too heavy-handed with protesters. So we could be seeing a kind of crisis with parts of the state that in the past all fitted together as a single unit — army, police and so on — beginning perhaps to divide on secular versus religious party political lines. That, of course, would be very dangerous.”

The protests in Taksim square began in May.  A sit-in began protesting the destruction of the last green area in Istanbul, Gezi Park.  When demonstrators were violently removed, a larger crowd developed.  The sit-in turned into a protest aimed at the policies of Prime Minister Erdogan.

As did Morsi, Erdogan had begun efforts to establish sharia law.  Although the majority of Turkish citizens are followers of Islam, they are against the extremism of Erdogan’s policies.  And, as in Egypt, many women were involved in the demonstrations.

Erdogan has been arrogant about his policies, calling the protesters ‘hoodlums.’

Will Turkey follow Egypt’s lead?  Only time will tell.

James Turnage

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