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Is Erdogan Trying to Stop a US-Backed Coup?

Erdogan is cracking down on the press, but is he wrong to believe that a coup is in the works?


This post first appeared on Russia Insider


It seems that every week, Erdogan finds a new way to exhibit his authoritarian leanings: Turkey's largest newspaper, Zaman, was raided by authorities on Friday, resulting in demonstrations in Istanbul which were broken up (violently) by police.

Ankara has never been particularly kind to journalists. But this is perhaps the boldest attempt yet to crack down on the press. Turkey's western partners have expressed concern, but how genuine are they really being?

<figcaption>Time for a 'color revolution'?</figcaption>
Time for a 'color revolution'?

The EU's diplomatic service said that Turkey "needs to respect and promote high democratic standards and practices, including freedom of the media", while the US described the move as "troubling".

The Saturday edition of the newspaper was printed before the government-backed administrators had taken control.

"The Constitution is suspended," a headline in large font on a black background reads on the front page.

"The Turkish press has experienced one of the darkest days in its history," the paper adds.

But Erdogan has good reason to believe that the west is cooking up trouble in Turkey. When you factor in Erdogan's "refugee blackmail" scam (which of course received support from elements within Europe and the US), as well as his documented ties to ISIS and other extremist groups, it could be argued that Erdogan is now a serious liability for NATO and Europe. Simply put, Erdogan is an easy scapegoat who has little left to offer his western masters. Here's how one journalist describes the situation in Turkey:

"Everybody who opposes them [the government], every journalist who is against the government is being framed. I was framed as a terrorist supporter and Zaman is linked to the Gulen movement – which is a movement of a religious Turkish leader [Sunni cleric Fethullah Gulen] who is based in the US, and they say he is trying to stage a coup against the government. So now Zaman journalists and people who read Zaman are being framed as coup supporters, that's how the government is doing it," Frederike Geerdink, Dutch freelance journalist who was deported from Turkey last year, told RT.

Erdogan is definitely suppressing journalists in an attempt to keep Ankara's ties to ISIS (and its crimes against the Syrian Kurds) under wraps. But here's the thing: The Gulen movement is a serious threat to his rule. There may very well be legitimate reasons to raid Zaman, but who's going to believe Erdogan? Ankara says it's foiling a coup attempt -- but of course, given Erdogan's long history of lies and bullshit, nobody believes him. As Reuters reports:

A court on Friday appointed an administrator to run the flagship Zaman, English-language Today's Zaman and Cihan agency, linked to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who President Tayyip Erdogan says was plotting a coup.

Turkey has the right to question those who take part in a clear coup attempt, whether economic or journalistic, against an elected government," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said while on a trip to Tehran.

...

"There is a legal process examining charges of political operations, including funnelling illegal monies. We have never intervened in the legal process," he said.

Yes, Erdogan is a wannabe sultan. Yes, his attacks on the press are despicable. But the threat of a coup seems very real to us -- and you can bet that such a coup would have the full support of the west.

Did the west just backstab Erdogan?


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