7.19.2016 In Depth Look

ON THE SURFACE, A GALLOWS; BENEATH A PIT OF COBRAS
http://www.vox.com/2016/7/19/12225564/conspiracy-turkey-military-coup – From the estimable denizens of reportage at Vox Media, an historical overview of what’s been transpiring in Turkey, and as such a sine qua non of finding a scrappy scribe’s or a stalwart citizen’s pathway to understanding, a massive cluster fuck of hidden agendas and underhanded skullduggery and imperial butchery all blended together, something that multiple outlets have chosen to report on with multiple stories day after day, such as one set of items  from the establishment operatives at Global Security, an almost unimaginably complex mixture of story elements and conspiratorial components that, happenstantially, in reporting on a different set of recent occurrences, the ever-incisive Paul Craig Roberts provides readers with a much-needed orientation  about how–with a little assistance from James Jesus Angleton–to approach such situations in general, an overview that then helps to contextualize an analysis   from TeleSur that posits that an understanding of the imbroglio requires examining the collaboration and competition, the joining and factionalizing between Fetullah Gulen and Recip Erdogan, and that then makes much greater sense of a World Socialist Website examination  of how the U.S. ambassador in Ankara and other key players have responded to the crisis, which in turn makes at once more daunting and more uncertain the worrisome tone of Consortium News material that focuses on some scores of Hydrogen Bombs that the U.S. has stored in Turkey for decades now–all of which raises vastly more questions than are answerable, a point that practically mandates that folks ponder a fifty minute video segment   of the Corbett Report in which silver-tongued James Corbett defers to the staccato delivery of Newsbud‘s Turkish correspondent, who knows her country and its machinations like Paul Ryan or Bernie Sanders know parliamentary procedure; the aggregation of which then permits a listing, in three categories, of a fraction of a fraction of the reporting and commentary about the Turkish mayhem that has come down the pike of late
One Key Fact
To start, that might offer up a Mint Press News brief that points out, ineluctably, that Erdogan’s cohorts knew of the coup in advance;
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Estimations of Opportunism
To continue, a triptych that includes first a Global Research perspective  that considers the outcome willy nilly a move toward fascism no matter who comes out atop the heap, second an essay from The HIndu in which a Turkish correspondent of Indian origin concludes that Erdogan will ‘further his authoritarian agenda’ come what may, and third a dour warning  from The Conversation that agrees with the Indian POV and foresees trouble ahead for NATO;
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General Political Analysis
Moving along, another trio that presents initially a second summary  from World Socialist Website that argues that both Washington and NATO are likely behind-the-scene ‘combatants’ in the arena of battle, whatever their protestations to the contrary, then a ‘mainstream’ SOP summation from Foreign Policy that contends that ‘messy’ engagement lies ahead for all sorts of reasons, including nuclear weapons, and last, a personal opinion from DanielPipes.org about his openly favoring the plotters in the event, on the part of a powerful voice that generally reflects Israeli and American concerns;
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A Pair of Media Pointers
To finish up, a pair of pieces, to begin another briefing from MintPressNews about a significant WikiLeaks document dump of Turkish cables, to end a Buzzfeed on-the-ground breaking news story about what happened in the crucial first six hours of the coup attempt inside a middle-of-the-road Turkish newsroom;
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& This Just In!
From IanWelsh, a guest post  that is thorough and intelligent from someone who has begun to assemble the pieces of the puzzle, and from Atlantic the announcement  of three months of martial law and ’emergency;’
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the gathering together of all of which, even if it all does still open more issues than it closes down with dispositive delineation, proffers quite a bit of useful ideas and analyses for anyone who wants to be able to fulfill the citizen’s role in these brutal and troubling times: “It’s hard to puzzle out the truth amid the events of what Kerem Öktem, a professor of Southeast European studies and modern Turkey at the University of Graz, described to me as a ‘hyperreal coup,’ where both Erdoğan and some of his opponents are ‘blurring the line between reality and fabrication.’  On the surface, the coup was the most recent exchange of fire between popularly elected leaders and a military that believes it, not the voters, knows best how to guard the country’s democratic legacy.  But behind that, there’s a morass of conspiracy accusations, deep-rooted paranoia, and real plots that goes back decades.

Before Turkey, there was the Ottoman Empire, which by World War I was a crumbling, failed power trying desperately to reform.  When the Ottomans picked the losing side in the war, it proved the final blow to the imperial system.  Atatürk, one of the few successful Ottoman generals, carved the new, modern Turkish state out of the ruined body of the empire, establishing Turkey as we know it today.  He did so in the teeth of opposition from the victors, who had planned to split the Ottoman territories up between them, dividing up the fallen empire in a treaty signed in Sevres, France, in 1920.  Brilliant resistance by Atatürk, including successful campaigning against an invading Greek army and others, produced the new nation.  That gave the army the most respected place in the new Turkey, but it also created a permanent military-political anxiety: ‘Sevres syndrome,’ the belief that the rest of the world was always conspiring to split up Turkey.  Outside forces weren’t the only enemy, however: Atatürk was determined to drag his country kicking and screaming into the modern world, and he saw religion as one of the chief obstacles to that.

Atatürk borrowed a French idea, laïcité, the control of religion by the state.  He brought religious bodies under the hand of the government, suppressed religious courts, changed the weekend from Friday and Saturday(the custom in most Muslim countries, since Friday is Islam’s holy day) to the Western style of Saturday and Sunday, and banned religious headgear for all but a select few.  The religious reforms were just one part of a much wider modernization program that included banning the traditional Turkish hat (called a fez) and switching from Arabic to Roman script, as well as visionary plans to promote women’s education, work, and political involvement.  But while nobody was that attached to the fez, religious feeling would prove much harder to root out.

While Turkey was a one-party state, it was easy for the military to directly retain control.  But as the country democratized after World War II, the growing power of the civilian government and a revival in religious practice increasingly worried military elites who saw themselves as the guardians of Atatürk’s legacy — especially against Islamic influence.  The army still enjoyed plenty of privileges, including separate military courts that made its members virtually immune from civilian oversight or prosecution.  Yet that wasn’t enough.  The military intervened repeatedly to keep Turkish democracy on what it thought was the right course in times of instability, staging forceful coups in 1960 and 1980 and effectively dismissing prime ministers from office in 1971 and 1997.

But it’s the 1997 coup that perhaps most typified Kemalist fears.   Instead of being triggered by generalized instability, it targeted the power of the Islamic parties.  These parties were riding a wave of renewed popularity — in large part because the military’s earlier actions had repressed more secular opposition groups and nearly shattered the left.  The army’s thuggish excesses had ended up creating the very thing Kemalists most feared: a widely popular Islamic opposition.  It was this atmosphere that created the massive success of Erdoğan, a former mayor of Istanbul.  His four-month prison sentence for reading an aggressively Islamist poem in 1997 only served to give him extra credibility to a public fed up with the military’s controls.  Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (more commonly known by its Turkish acronym, AKP) won a sweeping electoral victory against a divided opposition in 2002.  Combined with a sudden economic boom in the early 2000s, this gave Erdoğan the mandate he needed to fight off Kemalist resistance.

(In such environs, conspiratorial ideation is rampant).  You know your friend on Facebook who posts about how 9/11 was a CIA plot, Sandy Hook a false flag operation, and that Obama secretly conspired with Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden?  Imagine that everything he said was, if not true, at least plausible, and you have some idea of what the deep background of Turkish politics looks like.  Attempting to map out the relationships between the powerful ends up looking like one of those crazy boards full of string where the Illuminati control the Boy Scouts.”—Vox News

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        “(Though addressing 9/11 and the Saudi role, Roberts’ concepts obviously apply to Turkey).  James Jesus Angleton, head of CIA counterintelligence for three decades, long ago explained to me that intelligence services create stories inside stories, each with its carefully constructed trail of evidence, in order to create false trails as diversions.  Such painstaking work can serve a variety of purposes.   It can be used to embarrass or discredit an innocent person or organization that has an unhelpful position on an important issue and is in the way of an agenda.  It can be used as a red herring to draw attention away from a failing explanation of an event by producing an alternative false explanation.rect3336 space
I forget what Angleton called them, but the strategy is to have within a false story other stories that are there but withheld because of ‘national security’ or ‘politically sensitive issues’ or some such.  Then if the official story gets into trouble, the backup story can be released in order to deflect attention into a new false story or to support the original story.  Angleton said that intelligence services protect their necessary misdeeds by burying the misdeed in competing explanations.

(In a fashion that could easily be analogous to competing narratives about Turkey), (t)o hype the Saudi story is to support the official story.  A number of commentators who are usually suspicious of government are practically jumping up and down for joy that now they have something to pin on Bush.  They haven’t noticed that what they are pinning on him supports the official 9/11 story.  Moreover, they have not explained why the Saudi government would finance an attack on the country that protects it.  Saudi Arabia is a long-time partner.  They accept pieces of paper for their oil and then use the paper to finance the US Treasury’s debt and to purchase US weapons systems, purchases that lead to larger weapons sales, thus spreading R&D costs over larger volume.

Are we being deceived again with a story inside a story?  Will it succeed along the lines that Angleton explained?  Or will it possibly backfire?  If the US government will hide some of the truth from us for 13 years, why not all of the truth?  What else in the official story is false?”—Paul Craig Roberts
        “Following the ending of the attempted putsch Turkish Labor Minister Suleyman Soylu directly charged that ‘The United States is behind the coup.’  President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has insisted that the coup was the work of the pro-American Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen.  Directly taunting US President Barack Obama, he has demanded Gülen–widely believed to be a CIA ‘asse’”–be extradited from his sanctuary in Pennsylvania. Erdoğan has charged that he made the request before, warning Obama that a coup was threatened, but the American government failed to act.  While less direct than his minister’s statement, Erdoğan’s charges likewise lay blame for the military revolt at Washington’s doorstep.

(The deflection of such imputation and outright blame has been the message from Washington, and from ‘our man in Ankara), “John Bass, …a US ambassador who is no stranger to dirty operations mounted by US imperialism. …In the days following the coup attempt, the fire of both the Obama administration and the major US corporate media outlets has been directed almost entirely at Erdoğan and his use of the events to carry out a wholesale purge of his opponents from the state apparatus.  Little breath has been wasted over the significance of a military coup against the elected government of a key NATO ally.rect3336 space
Ambassador Bass waded into this situation with a statement claiming that ‘false words’ had been attributed to him personally, describing them as ‘an absolute fabrication that appears designed to heighten tension between the United States and Turkey and undermine Turkey’s security.’  Bass continued: ‘Some news reports–and, unfortunately, some public figures–have speculated that the United States in some way supported the coup attempt.  This is categorically untrue, and such speculation is harmful to the decades-long friendship between two great nations.’  If the ‘decades-long friendship’ between Washington and Ankara proves anything it is that the job of the American ambassador is to deny the US government’s responsibility for military coups, whether it is true or not.rect3336 space
This was the case with James Spain, the ambassador to Turkey in 1980 when the Turkish military last carried out a direct seizure of power.  Spain was one of a large number of ‘diplomats’ sent to Ankara after having first passed through a period of service in the Central Intelligence Agency.  As the US media reported at the time, Spain ‘denied charges that the United States was behind Friday’s military coup or knew about it in advance.’  Spain’s denials were quickly exposed as a pack of lies.  The Turkish military gave the US embassy in Ankara advance notice of the coup, which was launched just hours after Turkey’s air force chief returned to the country from consultations in Washington.  The US State Department publicly announced the coup before anyone in the Turkish government (did so).

(The butchery against Turkish workers and common people that followed now makes up the nation’s modern history.  As for Bass, his preparations for his role included State Department policy postings and being Dick Cheney’s advisor).  Significantly, this career path precisely matches that of Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state who played a key part in the orchestration of the fascist spear-headed 2014 coup that ousted the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine.  Bass worked closely with Nuland over the course of three administrations and was presumably groomed to play a similar role.  Before being posted to Turkey, Bass’s sole previous assignment as a US ambassador was to Georgia, where he was sent in 2009 to coordinate anti-Russian operations with the right-wing regime of President Mikheil Saakashvili.  Also a top priority was securing Georgian logistical assistance for the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Before he was replaced three years later, the country had also become a focal point for the funneling of Islamist ‘foreign fighters’ into the war for regime change in Syria.”—World Socialist Website
        “Last Friday’s botched putsch was not the first coup attempt in Turkish history—and nor will it be the last.  What happened over the weekend, with the army’s desperate bid to seize control of the state, should be seen as a form of inter-elite blowback to Erdoğan’s quasi-messianic quest for absolute power; a coup within a coup.  The defeat of the former now appears to have cleared the way for the latter.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. … is ‘different’ (from standard ideologues).  Doggedly determined to press on with his megalomaniacal vision for the wholesale transformation of Turkey into an authoritarian neoliberal-Islamic regional powerhouse, with himself at the helm as the uncontested leader and almighty heir of the Ottoman Sultans, the prime minister will not allow anyone to stand in his way—neither his long-time allies, nor his traditional enemies.rect3336 space
Moreover, he is in too deep.  Aided by an enormous credit bubble and the privileges of state power, Erdoğan has already gotten himself, his family and his inner circle deeply wound up in a massive construction boom that dramatically changed the face of Istanbul over the course of the 2000s.  Skyscrapers mushroomed across the city’s skyline while hundreds of mega-malls began to dot the urban landscape.  Spiffy new mosques and state-of-the-art metro-lines were completed and plans for a third bridge over the Bosphorus and a third airport for Istanbul are already in the making. In this context of explosive economic growth, many in Turkey are swayed into drunken oblivion by the ruling AKP’s potent mix of religious rhetoric and credit-fueled consumerism.  But not everyone is equally happy.

(An ‘Occupy’ Movement springs up that the state crushes absolutely, killing dozens and wounding hundreds).  Erdoğan is adamant: he will not stand down in the face of ‘a few looters.’  But not all of his political allies are entirely convinced by this ham-fisted approach.  President Abdullah Gül and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç take a considerably more moderate position, emphasizing the right to peaceful protest and calling for a mutually acceptable resolution to the standoff.  Erdoğan, of course, will have none of it—and tensions with the moderates begin to rise over the course of the protests.rect3336 space
Then, suddenly, a major crack opens up in the ruling elite: Fetullah Gülen, a reclusive and self-exiled Muslim cleric who as leader of the sect-like Hizmet movement had long been Erdoğan’s most important strategic and ideological ally, openly criticizes the prime minister’s heavy-handed suppression of the protests.  Erdoğan, unable to tolerate such insolence, immediately strikes back.  Several months later, in November 2013, he begins to shut down Gülen’s main source of income and recruitment: his powerful network of university prep-schools that extends across the nation.rect3336 space
From here on out, things will rapidly spiral out of control.  A month later, on December 17, an Istanbul prosecutor rumored to be a follower of Gülen orders a raid on some of the AKP’s leading figures and their business associates.  Revealing shoe boxes packed with wads of cash worth many millions of dollars, the prosecutors claim to have unravelled a massive corruption ring around Erdoğan’s inner circle—centered on a gold-for-oil scheme to circumvent sanctions against Iran and, more tellingly, the very construction permits that enabled Erdoğan’s ‘success story’ of the Istanbul real estate boom in the first place.

(The split between Gulen and Erdogan goes back to different organizing strategies, the upshot of which was that the President was in a stronger position and could force Gulen to flee for his life, despite his deeply rooted military networks.  The planned sacking of officers was quite likely behind the timing of the attempted insurrection).  We may never know to what extent Erdoğan’s conspiratorial accusations about a Gülenist plot against him are true.  What is clear, however, is that Erdoğan is already using the failed putsch as a pretext to purge the army, judiciary and state bureaucracy of all Gülen supporters; and indeed of any political opponent alleged to be a Gülen supporter.  This move marks a dramatic escalation of the long-standing power struggle between the two men and their respective circles of influence—and quite possibly lauds the bloody final chapter in the dramatic low-intensity civil war between them.  If so, whoever was really behind it and whatever their immediate motivations may have been, Friday’s failed coup attempt may well be remembered as the last spasm of the organized anti-democratic opposition within the Turkish state, before the equally anti-democratic Erdoğan finally seizes the prize he has craved for himself all along: the absolute power of a Sultan and the undivided loyalty of his subjects.”—TeleSur
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        “The Incirlik air base in southeast Turkey — from which U.S. pilots launch bombing raids on ISIS forces in Syria — is home to about 50 B-61 hydrogen bombs.  That makes it NATO’s largest nuclear storage facility, with about a quarter of all theater nuclear weapons in the alliance’s stockpiles. (Though rigorously protected), Eric Schlosser, author of a 2014 book on the perils of nuclear accidents, observed recently, ‘With a few hours and the right tools and training, you could open one of NATO’s nuclear-weapons storage vaults, remove a weapon, and bypass the [protective switches] inside it.  Within seconds, you could place an explosive device on top of a storage vault, destroy the weapon, and release a lethal radioactive cloud.’

In addition, the security of the bombs is premised on them being defended by loyal NATO forces.  In the case of Incirlik, that loyalty proved uncertain at best.  Power to the base was cut after mutinous troops used a tanker plane from the base to refuel F-16s that menaced Ankara and Istanbul.  After the coup, the Turkish commander of Incirlik was arrested for complicity and marched off in handcuffs.  One can easily imagine a clique of Islamist officers in a future coup seizing the nukes as a bargaining chip with Ankara and Washington — or, worse yet, to support radical insurgents in the region.

(Among those who express profound concern), Hans Kristensen, a nuclear expert with the Federation of American Scientists, declared that ‘the security situation in Turkey and in the base area no longer meet the safety requirements that the United States should have for storage of nuclear weapons.  You only get so many warnings before something goes terribly wrong.  It’s time to withdraw the weapons.’

(Such worries are not an adequate response though). The questioning should go beyond the obvious security risks of loose nukes falling into unfriendly hands, however.  No one has ever explained what enemy the hydrogen bombs stored in Turkey might be used against, a quarter century after the fall of the Soviet Union.  No doubt there are plenty of neocons in Washington who would delight in dropping them on Iran, as advocated by Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson, but one hopes that most Americans do not share his fondness for gambling outside of casinos.rect3336 space
Nor has anyone explained how the bombs might be used if an appropriate enemy were found, since NATO has no nuclear-certified aircraft stationed in Turkey.  But in Washington and in Brussels, the inability to answer such basic questions is rarely cause to rethink old policies.  After all, how many priests give up their incantations just because the chants don’t work?  Although Turkey offers an egregious case of nuclear risks, questions about nuclear weapons deployment should go well beyond that country.  Security is also notoriously lax at NATO bases in Belgium and the Netherlands where nuclear weapons are stored.”—Consortium News