Turkey’s Stewardship of U.S. Nukes Troublesome; Whose Coup?
• Will U.S. nuclear arsenal be safe under Erdogan’s new Turkey?
By Richard Walker —
There are growing concerns that the ongoing purge of Turkey’s military, judiciary, and education system will last for months, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exploits the failed coup against him to rid his nation of secularists and transform it into a radical Islamic state.
He has already declared a three-month state of emergency in which his intelligence service will root out his enemies and hold show trials before newly appointed radical Islamic judges. Meanwhile the streets of Istanbul and other centers are being controlled by extreme Islamic elements. Academics from across the world are expected to return immediately to Turkey for screening, and academics in the country have been banned from leaving. He has also shut many private schools.
On the bright side, Turkey’s likely drift away from secularism will erode its relations with the European Union and weaken its ties to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). However, there could be a new political alignment between Turkey and Russia and possibly the Assad government in Syria, which Turkey has been trying to overthrow.
Recently, Erdogan has made secret overtures to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in what he hopes will be a reset of relations, something which is sure to place Turkey at odds with Washington.
While all of this can be linked to a failed military coup on July 15, it has to be acknowledged that Erdogan’s ambition has always been to make Turkey a deeply religious Islamic nation towering over the Middle East.
This raises an important question.
What is the U.S. going to do about the dozens of nuclear weapons it has stored in an underground facility at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base close to the Syrian border? These weapons, part of NATO’s Cold War arsenal intended to be used against Russia, are guarded by Turkish soldiers.
A European diplomat who preferred to remain anonymous told AMERICAN FREE PRESS that he believes, as do others in NATO, that in an ever-changing political environment in Turkey the nukes present a nightmare scenario for Washington.
“What if Turkey, or radical Islamists in the Turkish military, seized some of those nukes? What would Washington do?” he asked.
According to United States intelligence sources, the nuclear devices have been deactivated and specialist knowledge, as well as secret codes, would be required to make them operational. The diplomat said he did not find that kind of reasoning especially comforting.
This writer was in Turkey when the latest coup was launched. Thankfully I managed to drive through a small border crossing into Greece before Turkey sealed its borders with Bulgaria, Greece, and Russia. The next day, I was in Alexandroupolis, a village on the sea in Greece, close to the Turkish border, when a Black Hawk helicopter carrying six Turkish coup plotters seeking asylum in Greece passed overhead. It was escorted into Greek airspace by two jet fighters and landed at a tiny airport.
It could be argued that the political turmoil and terror attacks Turkey has suffered this year owe much to the West’s exploitation of its geographical proximity to Syria and Iraq. For years the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its Arab allies have used Turkey as a gateway to train, support, and transport terror groups into Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The process has corrupted Turkey and destabilized its military.
But on a more fundamental level, Turkey’s internal battles between secularists and Islamists, and between the military and Erdogan, have created the fractures that led to the latest coup, an amateurish one by any standards because it lacked the backing of the entire senior military leadership.
Some have suggested it was a false-flag operation run by Erdogan since many of the soldiers who took part thought they were participating in an anti-terrorist operation. What struck this writer as particularly strange was how Erdogan within 24 hours of the coup was able to round up thousands of members of the judiciary and military. That showed he had lists of his enemies ready to pass to police and intelligence services in the event of such a scenario. He was so singularly well prepared that he called on the imams of mosques throughout the country to order people onto the streets. The call was answered by radical elements.
Gulen was once an ally of Erdogan, but they have been adversaries since 2008. Gulen runs a global organization with deep roots in Turkish society. According to Erdogan, those roots lead to the military, the judiciary, and the education system.
In the wake of the coup, many media outlets in the U.S. portrayed Gulen as a moderate imam, but when he and Erdogan were political buddies, they united in purging the Turkish military of its secular leaders.
The two later fell out over tactics rather than fundamentals.
Some believe Gulen has close ties to the CIA and has cultivated his moderate Muslim image for the benefit of Washington. It has even been reported that Gulen donated money to the Clinton Foundation.
As AFP goes to press, Turkey is a political mess. There are allegations that hundreds of Turkish citizens have been imprisoned, tortured, raped, and starved.
Should Erdogan succeed in his purge, secularism will likely die in Turkey. Of course, one cannot rule out another military coup since coups are in Turkey’s DNA.
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.
Who, What Behind Military Coup in Turkey?
• Failed coup offers Erdogan opportunity to purge critics, tighten grip on power
By Dr. Matthew Johnson
The July 2016 military coup in Turkey ended in failure, but a failure that seemed to exclusively benefit the ruling party. While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long kept a list of his political enemies to use at an expeditious time, this coup was, at least for now, a godsend for the beleaguered Turkish leader. That it was his own creation is a difficult argument to make only in the immense risks such a strategy entails.
That the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was in part behind this coup is highly unlikely, also, since a risky strategy with the main linchpin to a United States war footing in the Middle East is dependent on Turkish support. Excluding Turkey from NATO would be suicidal and would never happen voluntarily.
Erdogan is aware of his country’s immense strategic importance. The coup did not succeed in winning any significant portion of the huge Turkish military, which begs the question as to why it began in the first place. Usually, this is decided beforehand.
Within a few hours after seizing parts of the capital, Erdogan, who just a year ago dealt with an attempted “color revolution” in those same streets, called on his supporters to “pour into the streets.” They obediently did so, fully confident in victory. Military coups, if serious, come into existence precisely to avoid this occurrence. No one stands in the way of tanks unless they’re certain they will not immediately be crushed.
Turkey is in a disastrous position internationally. Erdogan’s allies have alienated every major world power. NATO said the Turks were on their own against Russia after the infamous downing of the Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber aircraft. Relations with Russia have been disastrous since then. Turkey has also angered Iran due to its continuing support for the anti-Assad forces in Syria. Making matters worse, the U.S. backs the Kurds, which is a major area of disagreement with Turkey.
Russian sanctions on Turkey have been harsh. What was recently the world’s fastest growing economy is now shrinking. As Germany, Russia, and Iran are Turkey’s three largest trading partners, the coup does have legitimate foundations.
It is strange that the communications of the military during the coup itself never mentioned these issues. Erdogan’s blaming of the Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen for this coup diplomatically overlooks the more serious reasons for the desire for a radical change in government.
The president, in 2015, expressed some harsh words against Zionism. He stated in the opening of the 25th legislature: “I would like to mention that Israel’s ongoing practices in Jerusalem based on pressure, violence, and disrespect are dragging the region as well as the whole world into a dangerous situation. Israel pursues a very wrong policy by continuously violating the holiness of Al-Aqsa Mosque which is the first kiblah and Harem-I Sharif of Muslims.”
Given that Turkey is so essential to the U.S. and a long-time Israel supporter, such words certainly did not go unnoticed in Washington.
One of the strangest elements of this failed coup was the message sent by the plotters. Given that a coup entails tremendous risks to the conspirators, it is highly unlikely that they would issue such a bland, uninteresting statement.
The Syrian Free Press, a pro-Assad journal published in English, reprinted the Turkish conspirators’ “manifesto.” They aimed to “maintain all democratic rights and freedoms” while “honoring all present foreign commitments.” The purpose was to “ensure the rule of law” in Turkey. This is almost the entirety of the brief message, saying absolutely nothing and giving no indication as to why anyone would risk life and limb to support this coup.
Weakening Turkey could only benefit Russia and Syria. Overthrowing the present Turkish government would mean the possible restoration of relations with Russia and Iran. It would help rebuild the economy that Russian sanctions have harmed.
Dr. Matthew Raphael Johnson, an Orthodox priest and the author of several books, is a scholar of Russian Orthodox history and philosophy, whose research focuses on ethnic nationalism, Eurasianism and the Orthodox tradition as forms of rebellion against globalism. He is a former professor of both history and political science at the University of Nebraska, Penn State University and Mount St. Mary’s University. The massive increase in writing on Russian politics over the last few years has granted him the honor of being one the most plagiarized men on the Internet.