The situation in Turkey is bad and getting worse. It’s not just the deterioration in security amidst a wave of terrorism. Public debt might be stable, but private debt is out-of-control, the tourism sector is in free-fall, and the decline in the currency has impacted every citizen’s buying power. There is a broad sense, election results notwithstanding, that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is out-of-control. He is imprisoning opponents, seizing newspapers left and right, and building palaces at the rate of a mad sultan or aspiring caliph. In recent weeks, he has once again threatened to dissolve the constitutional court. Corruption is rife. His son Bilal reportedly fled Italy on a forged Saudi diplomatic passport as the Italian police closed in on him in an alleged money laundering scandal. His outbursts are raising eyebrows both in Turkey and abroad. Even members of his ruling party whisper about his increasing paranoia which, according to some Turkish officials, has gotten so bad that he seeks to install anti-aircraft missiles at his palace to prevent airborne men-in-black from targeting him in a snatch-and-grab operation.
Turks — and the Turkish military — increasingly recognize that Erdoğan is taking Turkey to the precipice. By first bestowing legitimacy upon imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan with renewed negotiations and then precipitating renewed conflict, he has taken Turkey down a path in which there is no chance of victory and a high chance of de facto partition. After all, if civil war renews as in the 1980s and early 1990s, Turkey’s Kurds will be hard-pressed to settle for anything less, all the more so given the precedent now established by their brethren in Iraq and Syria.
Erdoğan long ago sought to kneecap the Turkish military. For the first decade of his rule, both the US government and European Union cheered him on. But that was before even Erdoğan’s most ardent foreign apologists recognized the depth of his descent into madness and autocracy. So if the Turkish military moves to oust Erdoğan and place his inner circle behind bars, could they get away with it?
In the realm of analysis rather than advocacy, the answer is yes. At this point in election season, it is doubtful that the Obama administration would do more than castigate any coup leaders, especially if they immediately laid out a clear path to the restoration of democracy. Nor would Erdoğan engender the type of sympathy that Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi did. When Morsi was ousted, his commitment to democracy was still subject to debate; that debate is now moot when it comes to the Turkish strongman. Neither the Republican nor Democratic frontrunners would put US prestige on the line to seek a return to the status quo ante; they might offer lip service against a coup, but they would work with the new regime.
Well, the half-assed coup attempt was made and it was squashed. And Barky gave his usual lame-assed spiel. Now what? Mass executions, more crackdowns, and oppression from an emboldened dictator.
Or civil war.