TURKEY’S President Erdogan has called the just concluded coup attempt that saw parliament bombed and 250 people killed ‘a gift from God… because this will be a reason to cleanse our army’.
This is what is now happening with 6,000 people detained including 3,000 soldiers arrested (among them 50 senior officers). The whole of the state apparatus is now being purged with 2,700 judges sacked in the last 24 hours.
Major General Ozhan Ozbakir, commander of the Denizli garrison and the 11th Commando Brigade, was among the senior military figures arrested on Sunday. Other top-ranking arrests include Gen Erdal Ozturk, commander of the Third Army; Gen Adem Huduti, commander of the Second Army; and Akin Ozturk, the former Chief of Air Staff.
The partial nature of the coup, with the main body of the army standing by, with Erdogan out of the capital, and therefore out of danger of being immediately arrested and shot, but available to make a call to arms indicates that the many Turkish intelligence agencies could well have had information about what was on hand, or even had a hand in organising it.
Now Erdogan, thanks to God, has been gifted an opportunity to strengthen his dictatorship, and eject from the army and the police elements that are ‘doubtful’ and then to shut down newspapers and workers’ organisations that were held to have sympathies with those attempting to overthrow him and his regime.
In fact, the history of the Turkish republic is littered with army coups and coup attempts, made as the army sought to preserve Turkey’s status as a secular, modern state, turned decisively towards the West and Europe, and sought to push back the various Islamist movements.
These coups, their history and their failures prove that the army cannot resolve the crisis of Turkish society. Only the working class can do this through carrying out a socialist revolution that puts the working class into power, roots out the remnants of pre-capitalist societies, and expropriates the capitalist class and the landlords by introducing a planned socialist economy – with production planned to satisfy the needs of the people, not to produce super-profits for a handful of capitalists, turning everybody else into paupers.
In a similar way that young Russian officers brought back the ideas of the French revolution to Tsarist Russia after the defeat of Napoleon, Turkish army officers learnt from their ultimate defeat at the hands of Anglo-French imperialism during the First World War and its aftermath the advantages that a modern society had over it.
They did not lack courage. In fact Kamal Ataturk made his name by defeating the British and Empire forces on the beaches of Gallipolli in 1914, when he smashed them, making them leave like thieves in the night, and ending Winston Churchill’s plan to take Turkey out of the First World War by seizing Constantinople.
Ataturk then led Turkey’s war of independence after the allied occupation of Constantinople in 1918, when the Ottoman empire was demolished by the Sykes Picot agreement, and Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the other Gulf states were created. In 1924 Ataturk abolished the Caliphate, and set about forcing Turkey into the modern world by completely changing its alphabet, its education system its legal system and its form of rule, to construct a modern state, with the army as its guardian.
Today, Turkey is in the grip of Erdogan, who plans to turn it into one big prison by breaking the trade unions and imposing censorship, at the same time as he sets about with his plans to smash Syria, break the Kurds, take back Mosul, which Turkey still claims from Iraq, make new deals with Israel, and blackmail the EU to pass him billions, less he unleash a new wave of Syrian refugees.
The only really revolutionary force in Turkey is the working class, its trade unions and its revolutionary youth. It must complete the revolution that was begun in 1924. The task of the hour is for building a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International in Turkey to provide the necessary revolutionary leadership to organise the working class to take the power and to put an end to the rule of the capitalist class and its Islamist allies.