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Op-Ed: Did Turkish President Erdogan Stage His Own Coup Attempt?

Reports are surfacing that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan staged the Turkey coup attempt on his government and country in an attempt to crackdown on those who oppose him, whether they live inside Turkey’s borders or not.  One man in particular, Fethullah Gulen, who resides in the United States, is directly in Erdogan’s sights and he wants nothing more than to bring Mr. Gulen back to Turkey to face trial as well as purge Turkey of those were allegedly behind this coup attempt.  Erdogan has a long history of forcing his will among the Turkish people and one prime example of that was his actions during the Gezi Park protests in 2013.   


When the Gezi Park protests started heating up, social media platforms used in Turkey were shut down and internet traffic slowed to a crawl, thus causing a virtual media blackout.  I happened to be on a Skype call with a Turkish friend of mine at the time this was going on and as he was telling me of the protests, the call completely cut out and I lost communication with him for several hours.  Before he was cut off, he warned me that a media blackout would happen, to include the social media platforms that Turkish citizens use to keep in contact with the world.  Erdogan not only ordered the media blackout, he also chose to use violence to quell the protesters regardless if they were peaceful protesters or not.  The Turkish Ministry of the Interior said 4,900 people had been detained and Amnesty International reported that 8,000 were injured, and five killed during the protests.

Watching the coup attempt unfold was surreal to say the least, I was glued to the live updates that were coming in on the hash tag, #TurkeyCoup and I on the edge of my seat when the updates came in that the Turkish military reported they had seized control of Turkey and the government.  Then things began to get sloppy with this coup attempt and as my friend Hadi Elis pointed out, the Turkish military started making a series of missteps and looked quite unprofessional.  So why would Erdogan stage his own coup attempt? For several reasons and since the world is very aware of his crackdown on the press and social media platforms ; his ordering attacks on the Kurds, most notably in the town of Cizre where Kurdish women and children were brutally murdered and coupled with that is the United Nations Human Rights Council severely admonishing Erdogan for atrocities against the Kurds; his ties to Islamic State that he denies having; and lastly, his desire to have and maintain absolute power and cement his position in Turkey by ridding his opposition either by silence or being jailed.  

Erdogan had drawn up a list of 3,000 judges to be arrested before the soldiers took to the streets in this so-called coup attempt, which can be equated to being prepared for the “aftermath” of this ‘coup attempt’ – I guarantee most on that list were arrested within minutes if not hours after Erdogan claimed victory over the coup attempt.  Additionally, Erdogan has laid blame for this coup attempt on exiled cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who currently lives in Pennsylvania which leads me to believe that Erdogan blocked access to Incirlik Air Base and basically held U.S. service members ‘hostage’ for a time as an illustration of the power he has over the U.S. in regards to this strategic air base; Erdogan wants Mr. Gulen and what better way to get him back on Turkish soil than to hold ‘hostage’ U.S. service members and the air base on which they reside (Incirlik Air Base is once again operational regarding the coalition fight against Islamic State).  

What better way for Erdogan to garner complete control of his country than to stage a coup attempt and blame it on an exiled Turkish cleric so that he may excise his will among the Turkish people without fear of dissident uprising?  Whether it’s the Gezi Park protests or an ‘attempted coup,’ he’s already proven he can control and shut down the media/social media platforms, order attacks on his own citizens, engage in several human rights violations, and do business with Islamic State with virtually no reprisals, so it makes perfect sense that he would be the chief architect of this coup attempt to weed out the last of the opposition.  A megalomaniac like Erdogan will stop at nothing to quench his everlasting thirst for power; that includes staging a coup attempt on his own people and country.