Monday, July 25, 2016

Coup In Turkey - And Why It's Important

Coup In Turkey And Fragility of Governments
The recent coup in Turkey speaks volumes as to the fragility of Governments and should be viewed as a warning to investors on just how vulnerable governments can be, this can have a big effect on your investments. News broke last weekend that for the first time in more than 35 years that tanks were in the streets as members of Turkey’s military were trying to forcibly overthrow their government. It is now clear the attempt to overthrow President Erdogan and his government failed, however, it is a clear reminder that governments can be very fragile. Unless a government is overwhelming popular, and even then, it risks the possibility that at any time an effort might take pace to remove it from power.

One concern growing in many countries is the source of Erdogan's support, much of it was from the young but one thing that is very troubling was the streets were filled with men and very few women. This indicates his support is largely derived from those fueling the trend towards nationalism and growing Islamist fervor. The fear is the secular Turkey where all religions live together in peace is slowly being brushed aside. As an example of the level of concern the direction Turkey is moving I point to the following quote from an article appearing in the Telegraph
In an ideal world, it would be in everyone’s interests for Mr. Erdogan to cease his efforts to turn Turkey into an Iranian-style Islamic republic, thereby allowing Turkey to retain its place at Nato’s top table. But if he really is determined to pursue his radical Islamist agenda, then Nato will have no option but to rid itself of its troublesome Turkish ally.
Turkey's New Presidential  Palace Has 1150 Rooms
Many people have come to see the Turkish leader as a deeply corrupt radical Islamist dictator. Turkey ’s President has been accused of behaving like a “sultan” after he built himself the biggest residential palace in the world. Over 30 times the size of the White House and four times the size of Versailles, the lavish palace cost Turkey $615 million. This makes it easy to understand why following his prosecutions of academics and steps to constrain critical media, opponents have accused Erdogan of transforming Turkey into an autocracy. 

 Even before the failed coup, Erdogan’s administration had been taken on the ambitious political project to change the Turkish state from a parliamentary system to a presidential system. Erdogan claims the change is necessary to update the constitution and bring about a more stable government. This would allow Erdogan to expand the powers of his current office, in June Erdogan approved a measure to strip legal immunity from members of parliament, a step that could pave the way for prosecutions of opposition pro-Kurdish lawmakers that the government sees linked to terrorist.

The message "if people within your country oppose your government they are terrorist" is not new and is embraced by leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama. This attitude tends to create a violent reaction. Worsening political violence have deepened divisions within Turkey during the last few years. The Turkish state has engaged in a massive confrontation with Kurdish separatists that left hundreds dead and displaced more than 350,000 Turks in the southeastern part of the country. Turkey was shaken by an escalating series of militant attacks, by both militant Kurdish groups and ISIS, culminating with a suicide assault on Istanbul’s main airport in June which killed 44 people.

Some Observers Suspect Coup Was Staged
It is under the cover of the failed coup that Erdogan  is now moving to purge the state of what he claims are the participants and perpetrators of the coup. At the moment the clampdown is focused on the plotters and the followers of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government blames for the coup. Gulen currently resides in self-exile in the U.S. and denies involvement.

The BBC reports that at least 50,000 people have been rounded up or stripped of their positions since the coup and this does not include 15,200 education workers and 1,577 University Deans that were fired, below is a list of his targets. It appears that Erdogan like the infamous Saddam Hussein who spilled so much blood in Iraq has busied himself with the task to become a Turkish version of Adolf Hitler. In many cases, Erdogan is pushing not just to jail these people but for the death penalty for what he sees as acts of treason. Conspiracy theories abound that Turkish President Erdogan may have even staged the coup himself as a way to cleanse the system of his enemies because it was so poorly executed.
  • 6,000 military personnel have been arrested, with more than two dozen generals awaiting trial
  • Nearly 9,000 police officers have been sacked
  • Close to 3,000 judges have been suspended
  • Some 1,500 employees of Turkey’s finance ministry have been dismissed
  • 492 have been fired from the Religious Affairs Directorate
  • More than 250 staff in Mr. Yildirim’s office have been removed
Part of the suspicion Erdogan staged the coup is based on facts Fox News was quick to point out, such as not a single high-level member of government was killed or detained. Only yesterday I read an article making the case that a badly flawed Erdogan and his small "d" democratic government represented the people of Turkey far better than those behind the coup, this is debatable. Too many observers Turkey, a member of NATO and was supposed to become a member of the European Union is rapidly becoming a hardcore radical Islamic dictatorship. One thing is clear, the direction Turkey takes will ultimately  have tremendous implications and profound impact on Europe and the entire Middle East in coming years.

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