Many things have been said and written about the coup attempt that took place on July 15, and there will be many more things said about that fateful and tragic night in the future. Some of those dealt with what would have happened if the coup attempt had been successful. Of course, some so-called analysts while the coup attempt was still taking place had already made judgments about the possible consequences of the coup attempt. Some welcomed it as a good step taken by the military that had supposedly said, “Enough is enough.” And some others considered it as “the last chance for Turkey.” These analysts were calling the coup plotters the “good guys” who were on the side of democracy. Believe or not, while the wishful thinking from the Egyptian coup and its tragic consequences were still very much alive, some analysts were expecting the coup makers in Turkey to be democratic. After bombing Parliament, which houses the democratically elected representatives of the Turkish people, it should be understood that the intention of the plotters was not to bring democracy or the rule of law to the country.
On Sunday, Aug. 14, it was the anniversary of the massacres of anti-coup protestors in the main squares of Cairo. Almost a thousand people were killed by the military in these protests against the unlawful intervention of the military and overthrow of the democratically elected government. While remembering this massacre, the events in Cairo a few years ago allow us to shed light on what could have happened in Turkey and in the region if the coup attempt had been successful.
First of all, judging by the resistance of the people in the first hours of the attempt and considering the number of people killed and injured in the failed coup attempt, we can guess that if the coup attempt was successful, the thousands of Turkish people on the streets would have been targeted with the use of force by the new junta. Taking into account the demonstrations against the coup attempt on the streets, we could reasonably expect a major massacre in different cities across Turkey. From their use of force and missile attacks on Parliament and police stations, it also became apparent that the putschists would be ready to eliminate every possible political and security institution in Turkey. This would have generated a major weakness in dealing with security affairs in the country, which is fighting two terrorist organizations at the moment.
After the failure of the coup attempt, it was revealed that the coup makers already had a list of people that they planned to assassinate or execute. The list shows that the real intention was the total decapitation of the state and the elimination of the political leadership. This would have led to a period of political uncertainty and internal unrest. With the absence of any support for a military junta from the people of Turkey, the period would have started serious internal instability in the country, which would further weaken the security of the country as a whole.
In fact, although some think that the success of the coup would have led to better relations between Turkey and some Western countries, a Turkey that was ruled by a junta that had destroyed every major state institution and killed thousands of the people would have had a hard time protecting and preserving state authority, territorial integrity and national unity. The destabilization of Turkey and its security apparatus would make Turkey more vulnerable to terrorist groups and significantly weaken the fight against DAESH, especially after the bombing of National Intelligence Agency headquarters. The Turkish state would have lost many of its intelligence assets and intelligence cooperation capabilities with the Western world. The assets that help Western states find and track terrorists would have disappeared. This instability and vulnerability might have generated significant challenges for the security of European countries as well.
This significant risk for international security was stopped by the Turkish people, its democratically elected government, its leaders and security personnel. The recognition of this and understanding of the possible risks that the coup could have brought to Turkey and the region would be the first step to end the disappointment of the Turkish public and politicians about the Western world. The “good guys” could have brought many unwanted consequences to regional stability and international security.
This article was first published in Daily Sabah on August 15, 2016.