AK Party’s Post-Coup Scenarios for Turkey

Monday, July 25, 2016

Mohammad Ali Dastmali
Expert on Turkey Affairs

Perhaps since Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan started his political and party career, nobody had seen his face so fear-stricken and distressed. Although Erdogan did his best to maintain his authoritative tone of voice, fear could be clearly seen in his face as he spoke to the famous anchor of the CNN Turk channel, raising that question that “what would happen after this?”

The military coup d'état in Turkey failed this time and supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party – which is known as AK Party by its Turkish acronym – poured into the streets in response to calls from the country’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They stood in the face of tanks and military personnel and without any exaggeration, people’s vote and democracy won over tanks and threat. But is this the end of the story? What will Erdogan, AK Party and millions of supporters of this conservative progressive party do after this? In answer to this question and with regard to possible scenarios about AK Party’s future behavior, the following points are worthy of mention:

1. Under the present circumstances, Turkey needs tranquility more than anything else. However, we see that Erdogan has launched a sweeping wave of score settlement and many people have been taken into custody. Of course, apprehension of military personnel related to the coup and those suspected of cooperating with coup plotters is acceptable and may even seem inevitable, but suspending about 3,000 prosecutors and judges is an iron fist and dangerous measure, which will have dire consequences. In addition, encouraging and inciting people to stay in the country’s squares and delivering continuous and fiery speeches about Fethullah Gulen and other opposition figures will certainly deepen the existing polarization in Turkey’s political and social environment.

2. Opposition parties supported the Turkish government and rule of democracy and all of them condemned the coup attempt, but Erdogan did not thank them appropriately. In addition, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim attended a ceremony at the studio of the state-run TRT television channel, which had been occupied by the military during the coup attempt, to thank and console its personnel, but did not visit the headquarters of Dogan Media Center (which houses CNN Turk and Dogan News Agency) while the latter media group played a great role in the failure of the coup plotters. It seems that the Turkish government and AK Party will continue to support their affiliated media while their distrust in opposition media will continue and at the same time, opposition parties will be ignored by the government as in the past.

3. The coup attempt showed that despite severe blows, which were dealt to them when generals related to the Ergenekon case were arrested and the two military bodies were brought under effective state control, Turkish army and gendarmerie still contain special security loopholes, which can be used as a tool to threaten the government. It is also probable that the government will plant teams formed by the country’s intelligence service, MIT, and special security forces that directly report to Erdogan, in security divisions of these two military bodies, both covertly and overtly. If this happens, considerable limitations and having to live under a repressive atmosphere would be the main outcome of the coup attempt for the country’s military personnel.

4. AK Party, as a major social and political current, which has served as a big machine building its own cadre in various fields during past years, will thereafter try to get more active in the military field as well and inject part of its young and Islamist supporters into the ranks of the army and gendarmerie in order to make these institutions more uniform and controllable in the future.

5. The Turkey’s military has lost its chance for snatching the government and it would be very unlikely that it would once again resort to coup d'état in order to change the status quo. However, this does not mean that the threat has reached its end and from now only, the military may probably put physical elimination of opponents on their agenda.

6. Erdogan will continue to put pressure on Washington to extradite Fethullah Gulen, but the United States is not likely to give in to Turkey’s demand and will probably go for a third alternative like transferring Gulen to Uganda or another African country. At any rate, Erdogan seeks to take control of Gulen’s huge international economic and educational cartel.

7. From now on, those forces that are committed to the government within the army, gendarmerie and the police force will see firm and serious confrontation with the militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a way of proving their loyalty to Erdogan and AK Party. Therefore, future conflicts between the two sides will most probably see more decisive attacks on the ground and from air against the PKK positions and, at any rate, it would be very unlikely and outlandish to think that negotiation with the PKK and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) would be put on the government’s agenda.

8. As for coordination and special relations that exist between Turkish generals and various institutions of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Turkey is sure to make revisions and impose special controls.

9. Repatriation of Turkish military personnel who have fled to Greece will have a positive impact on relations between Ankara and Athens.

10. In view of this victory and also given the situation of opposition parties in Turkey, AK Party is sure to remain in power for a long time to come and there is no serious alternative to challenge its rule.

11. This incident will have no effect on Turkey’s foreign policy and, at least with regard to Syria, it will not be logical to expect Turkey to back down on its previous positions.

Key WordsAK Party, Post-Coup Scenarios, Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, CNN Turk Channel, Justice and Development Party, Binali Yildirim, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Fethullah Gulen, Army, Gendarmerie, Opponents, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Military Personnel, Dastmali

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*Photo Credit: CNN