(Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan)
Turkey faces an uncertain future following a failed coup attempt last week. World leaders denounced the attempted overthrow of the government, launched by dissident elements of the country’s military against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Amidst appeals for faith in the democratic process and a return to dialogue, however, is the specter of Erdoğan’s increasingly totalitarian regime. Critics fear that the coup – which lacked a strong ideological basis and included some soldiers who were not even fully aware of what they were participating in – has laid the groundwork for a speedy consolidation of power.
Events over the past few days may prove those critics correct. Following the arrest and detention of 6,000 people allegedly involved in the coup attempt, the government initiated a mass purge of government and education workers. More than 1,500 university professors have been asked to resign and authorities have revoked the licenses of 21,000 teachers. As many as 35,000 public servants have now been removed as part of the government’s aggressive turn.
To top all of this off, the government has banned all academics from travel in a nod to polices practiced by the Soviet Union.
The perpetrators of the coup attempt certainly have blood on their hands. At least 161 individuals – including many police officers – were killed, with thousands more wounded. Furthermore, these numbers do not include civilians killed in clashes with renegade military forces. But Erdoğan’s overreaction is morphing into a general round up of dissidents, which is in total contravention with the supposedly pro-democratic rationale for defying the attempted coup.
A statement from Amnesty International called for justice relating to unlawful killings stemming from the coup, but warned against the extreme reaction currently underway:
The sheer number of arrests and suspensions since Friday is alarming and we are monitoring the situation very closely. The coup attempt unleashed appalling violence and those responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses must be brought to justice, but cracking down on dissent and threatening to bring back the death penalty are not justice.
Turkey’s actions may lead to greater isolation from Western bloc countries, and further dampen its prospects at EU membership. The nation, a NATO member, has long been considered an invaluable ally and asset in a region fraught with war and strife. Indeed, the US has nuclear weapons strategically placed in Turkey, which now pose a big question: how secure are these weapons with view to Turkey’s worsening political crisis, happening concurrently with the intransigent conflict in neighboring Syria? How does all this factor into the increasingly visible terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIS throughout the world?
The political, economic, and security implications are immense. The Tap will continue covering events in Turkey as they relate to the social good.