23.07.2016 Author: Yuriy Zinin

Turkey Coup: After the Dust Settles

3545345345The sultan’s image has been shaken, ‘The coup’s failed, however that won’t help Erdogan’, ‘Where will the bleeding tiger escape’ –Middle East newsmakers have been excelling in offering eye-catching headlines to cover the recent military takeover in Turkey that ended in failure.

Local political and media actors see the coup in the context of Ankara’s political, economic and military involvement in the events in its regional neighbours after the onset of the ‘Arab Spring’.

Some believe the Turkish leader is more likely to weaken after the coup, rather than strengthen his position. It is quite obvious that the reputation of the domestic leadership, namely Erdogan, has been severely damaged as well as the political stability that he had claimed to be the basis for his governance.

UAE newspaper Al-Khadij reported that the failed coup marked the end of the military’s significant influence over Turkish society. The army’s spirit and reputation will be in tatters following the images of the dozens of soldiers, holding their hands up in surrender being led through the streets and diminished by the furious crowds.

Arab analysts also express doubts regarding the army’s capability to fight the Kurds inside the country or to promote Ankara’s policy across neighbouring states.

At the same time, the analysts note the outburst of religious sentiment among those who are taking part in pro-Erdogan demonstrations. There are mass chants of ‘Allah akbar’ calling out to followers from the mosques.

Some authors, however, predict that the failure of the coup will see Erdogan’s authority go through the roof. Their major argument is the President’s call to the nation to resist the military takeover and go through fire and ice to save democracy.

Professor M.Nureddin, a Libyan turkologist, however, argues with this opinion. He says that ‘they were the armed proponents of the ruling Justice and Development Party’ who are often called a ‘parallel army’. The Turkish Commander-in-Chief will make use of the conflict with the defeated coup participants to get rid of his enemies both within the army, and in certain other government agencies – justice, education etc. Such measures are likely to result in the social divide which may provoke people’s discontent and become the basis for the new rebellions.

Some Arab media point out that before the coup the Turkish President had taken significant steps to de-escalate tension in its relations with Russia and Israel, and alluded to progress in relations with Syria, Egypt etc.

As A.Atwan, an Arab publicist, says, Erdogan had accepted the weak points of his domestic and international policy, thus he decided to return to the previous policy of ‘zero problems with the neighbours’, and open channels for dialogue with Russia, Israel and other neighbouring states.

Ash-Shark Al-Avsat, a respected Arab newspaper, wrote that while Erdogan has the chance to take decisive steps to settle scores with his enemies domestically, he has far fewer opportunities to do so in the international scene. Ash-Shark Al-Avsat added that the recent events will significantly influence the way Erdogan now sees the world and his international relations. His hands are tied by economic problems and Turkey’s interests and relations – including those with Russia and Iran. He cannot disregard the economy for it was economic growth that brought his governance such dividends. One should also remember that income from foreign tourists was around USD 30bn annually. Now Erdogan is prepared to revise his approach to the conflict with Moscow.

According to the media and Middle East analysts, the most exciting events are yet to come and are likely to happen when the Turkish people recover from the coup-related disturbances and become less emotional when reacting to the events.

The country’s leadership together with Erdogan are now under multi-faceted pressure. This is forcing him away from previously-held pro-Ottoman illusions to more realistic perspectives.

Yury Zinin, Leading Research Fellow at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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