Turkey is still reeling from the effects of the failed coup attempt on July 16.
What unfolded on that Friday evening made clear to the world that some military personal were acting out of the chain of command, as opposed to the military as a whole.
Suspicion as to who was responsible for the attempted coup has touched President Obama, who recently publicly denied prior knowledge of the coup. The Turkish president himself has also been accused of staging the coup to revamp his government. However, president Erdogan is keen to pursue U.S.-based cleric Fetullah Gulen,who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, as the mastermind behind the attempted coup. Since then, hundreds of arrests have been made to rid the government of accused Gulen infiltrators from within the judiciary, military and media.
However what remains apparent to most people is how the western media and politicians responded and reacted to what galvanized Turkey into such chaos that evening.
The failed coup resonated with the military takeover of Egypt in 2013, however many who had secretly hoped Erdogan would be defeated would be dismayed at the final results. Western leaders were slow to make clear statements, and it was not until a later stage when they condemned the coup despite reiterating Turkey’s authoritarian narrative. President Obama declared that he would “support the democratically elected government of Turkey” while U.S. right –wingers like Lieutenant Colonel Peters affirmed on Fox News that “if the coup succeeds, Islamists lose and we win.”
However, the colonel got it wrong, like many analysts whose outlook on the situation was simply a binary of the “military vs Islamists,” overlooking the social dynamics deeply rooted within Turkish society.
This may be due to the fact that comparisons were made with the Egyptian military coup but this was not Egypt. Opposition parties in Turkey knew that any coup would destroy their country, like a now-disillusioned Egypt, therefore, they resisted the coup and defended democracy to protect the future of their country and not necessarily because they supported Erdogan.
As explosions erupted in a chaotic Istanbul, Western media outlets were quick to report. Some newspapers stated that the coup plotters had taken power without analyzing what was actually going on the ground. There was also a failure to mention earlier on that the military was not unified against taking such actions. The Daily Beast reported that Erdogan was denied asylum in Germany when in fact he was holidaying in Marmaris and flew into Istanbul later that evening to address the crowd on TV.
Additionally, a commentator from the British Sunday Times referred to the coup plotters as “the guardians of secularism” and “a force for progress.” This shows a lack of respect to a society that decided its own fate and is united with secularists, liberals and Islamists in its decision. It does not need the judgment or approval of others.
Certainly, this coup attempt exposed some Western media outlets and politicians to an unexpected ugly spectacle. The democracy-human rights-loving individuals have been exposed as fake democrats and liberals whose love for democracy was only ever superficial.
Furthermore, Western leaders and media outlets were not the only ones stealthily watching what was unfolding in Turkey. Egypt’s President Sisi was quick to defy President Erdogan’s legitimacy as the democratically elected leader of Turkey. This has been conflated by the fact that Egypt-Turkey relations had turned sour since Sisi ousted Egypt’s only democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, whom Erdogan’s government supports. Therefore, it is not too surprising to hear that Egypt’s popular newspapers, Al-Ahram and Al-Watan, had reported that the coup succeeded and president Erdogan had been overthrown as tweeted by Fact-Checking Turkey.
The politicians, public and press underestimated the nation’s solidarity and only gave credit to the Turkish society after they emerged victorious. Undoubtedly, had it not been for the civilian institutions and segments of society, Erdogan would not have overcome this ordeal.
This teaches a valuable lesson to the West, which is that even Islamist governments can win the hearts of the people who are willing to protect their democracy despite interference by fake “liberals” who’s hatred for Islamists takes precedence over democracy. It is also a lesson for Western media to respect the will of the people and report credible and accurate information without a political agenda.
Let’s understand that the solidarity and unity the Turks displayed in the iconic Taksim Square was not about politics or supporting a political party. Rather, the Turkish nation gave every protector of democracy a gleam of hope to protect the tenets of democracy everywhere and not just in Turkey, a lesson which we in the West were tested in and have hopefully learnt something from it. This is what united Turks as a nation whose governmet would not be meddled with by domestic or foreign forces, including those who were quick to weaken its position.
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