On Friday night, Americans tuned in to the news to find the nation of Turkey in turmoil. Military coups are often thought of as being staged by the “bad guys,” but in this case, the military staged the coup to stop the continued shift to an Islamist government by President Erdogan. After all, the military of any country is duty-bound to protect the constitution, right? Friday night’s coup unfortunately failed, with many Western leaders, including Obama and Hillary Clinton, rushing to judgment to support Erdogan by the mere fact that he was “democratically-elected,” and condemning a coup attempt that they did not understand.
Shortly after the failed coup, Fox News strategic analyst and retired US Army officer Ralph Peters discussed Turkey’s history, saying that Turkish armed forces have long been the guardians of the country’s secular state. The military has intervened at least three times since 1960 to keep the country from collapsing, and each time, the military returned the country to civilian rule as soon as stability was ensured. For the last century, Turkey has been a strong advocate of modernization and Westernization, and has demonstrated that with actions such as suppressing religious fanatics, abolishing the caliphate, providing legal rights and social protections to women, and promoting a secular education for all Turkish citizens. Now that this coup has failed, President Erdogan will likely speed up the Islamization of his country.
Leaders of the coup made several key errors, including launching the coup when President Erdogan was away from the capital of Ankara. Instead, they should have seized the leader they meant to overthrow. Unfortunately, Erdogan’s supporters were able to usher him back into the country where he quickly squelched the effort. Furthermore, the coup leaders did not seize control of the media.
So who is President Erdogan? Who is the man our own president rushed to support because he was “democratically elected”? First, he is openly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, referred to by President Obama as the best hope for the Middle East. Peters describes ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood as all having the same purpose, but the Brotherhood has more manners. Erdogan has appointed pro-Islamist generals and admirals, and has filled the courts with them, too. To gain media attention, he has created mock trials to get rid of Turkish opposition, and he has greatly reduced the freedoms of women. There is no longer separation of church and state; Friday night, he used loudspeakers in the mosques to urge supporters into the streets. And most damaging and dangerous of all, he has long allowed foreign fighters to freely travel across the borders of Turkey to join ISIS, and has aggressively backed other extremists.
Secondly, Erdogan is openly Islamist, but what does that mean? A recent Newsweek article explained the difference between Islam and Islamist very well: “Islamist movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab world, do not represent Islam. These Islamist parties, even when not using violence, stand for an ideology that is illiberal to its core—for instance, its refusal to recognize gender equality. In the same way that communism once claimed to speak for the working class, Islamism claims to represent Muslims. The crimes of Al Qaeda, Hizbullah, and other groups are rooted in jihadist Islamism, which advocates violence to impose extremist dogma on Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”
This is the man President Obama supports.