According to the latest information I am receiving from my contacts in Turkey, the attempted coup by elements of the armed forces is failing, thanks in part to a strong showing of rejection from citizens taking to the streets, as well as declarations of support for the elected government from most of the major political parties, including opposition, forcing the coup plotters to retreat from key positions across the country.
The situation is obviously still unfolding, and we have yet to get a complete picture of what is happening. As we await further details, hoping and praying for the people of Turkey for the quick and peaceful restoration of civilian rule, I cannot help but feel completely disheartened by the delayed and meek response statements of the U.S. government thus far.
According to Turkish intelligence sources I have spoken with, there are indications of direct involvement by the powerful fugitive cleric Fethullah Gülen, who has lived in self-exile in the United States since 1999, and who had previously been involved in a separate attempted coup in 2013.
For months, my firm has been engaged in a global investigation of Gülen’s criminal conduct and his extensive political lobbying. We have attempted repeatedly to warn the U.S. government of the threat posed by this organization, however, at the same time, the Gülenists have been waging their own campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the elected Turkish government.
These efforts may have culminated just two days ago with a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing featuring much grandstanding and lobbyist-drafted talking points, attacking Turkey’s democracy. Is it possible that Turkey’s putschists in the military saw this hearing as the final sign they were waiting for to move forward with their plans to stage the coup? What seems clear is that they were expecting acceptance, if not a warm welcome from Washington in their overthrow of a sovereign elected government.
It appears that it is now an unspoken U.S. policy to tolerate and even encourage coup attempts against democratically elected governments so long as said government isn’t a vassal of Washington’s interests.
After Thailand, after Egypt, and now, in the months leading up to the events taking place in Turkey today, we are seeing a pattern of conduct of recklessly self-interested relativism. Some democracies are “good,” while others are disposable. The rationale that divides the two is surprisingly flexible and unburdened by any allegiance to principle. We often hear our leaders express lofty sentiment that the only legitimacy that exists is that which is chosen by the majority in a free and fair democratic process. However, when tested like today, we see another calculus taking place.
Turkey has experienced at least six military coups since 1913, and there is a long memory of the informal power of the so-called Deep State of military elites which sat above and within the democratic system. Whereas in years past, Gülen’s massively powerful organization eventually succeeded in purging these military elements through trumped up trials and false arrests, they were only replaced by his own agents belonging to his religious sect – which turned out to be even more dangerous, more abusive than the military-led Deep State. The fact that now there are signs that Gülen is working closely with certain members of military leadership against the elected civilian government is indeed a very alarming sign – and the people of Turkey, as demonstrated by the massive outpouring of anti-military protesters tonight – will not stand for any more of this repeating history.
Whether or not one agrees or disagrees with the policies of the Turkish government is irrelevant. What is irrefutable is that the process to resolve disputes through civil, democratic non-violent means is held sacred. This refusal by the military to compete at the ballot box and seek democratic resolutions to disputes and instead engage in the illegal use of military force to advance the interests of a minority against the democratic will of the majority that poses the greatest threat to the world order.
Let us be exceptionally clear: Turkey under military rule would represent a catastrophic setback for democracy. However, just like the putschists in Thailand, these military coup leaders claim they are “restoring” democracy and rights by first abrogating them.
It is time for us to come together and show a firm, resolute, and complete rejection of coups in any form, against any democratically elected leadership.
The above statement was issued by Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Partners LLP. Amsterdam & Partners LLP acts on behalf of the Republic of Turkey.