President Erdogan, continuing to utilize the failed coup attempt of 18 days ago, has ended the historic division between the army and government that has existed for nearly a century.
Wiping the last visages military independence, Erdogan’s government made statutory decree as par of the three-month emergence decree that the prime minister, chief of General Staff, the deputy prime ministers, justice minister, foreign minister, interior minister, defense minister and force commanders would join to the Supreme Military Council.
This injection of “civilian” governance into the military would be fine in any other country, but in Turkey the Supreme Military Council was designed to remain separate in order to ensure that Turkey would remain secular in its institutions. In a strange sense it is the military that was built to hold up democracy.
Turkey’s war academies, military high schools, and high schools that train non-commissioned officers have been closed.
As the counter coup continues to rage, Erdogan is gaining more and more power by the day. The dream of a resurgent Ottoman Empire is not just a fantasy anymore. Whether the coup was a false flag event or a poorly executed attempt orchestrated by Fetullah Gulen, Erdogan’s nemesis, the counter coup is already changing the dynamic of Turkey and its relationship with NATO.
“The President pledged any needed assistance to the Turkish government as they conduct an investigation to determine exactly what happened,” Josh Earnest, White House spokesman told reporters.
Although the statement appears to be positive, the following caveat on the investigation holds within it a powerful message and hint to where things will go. Earnest continued with the following: “[Obama] believes that investigation should be conducted consistent with the democratic principles that are enshrined in Turkey’s constitution.”
What is clear, is that Erdogan is ignoring Turkey’s constitution. He has arrested and purged thousands. He has shut down opposition media and is on his way to becoming the 21st century sultan redux.
The Obama administration knows this. Despite Obama’s early bromance with Erdogan, he and his advisors have grown to despise his continued power grabs and meddling in the Middle East. The challenge for the West is that Turkey is no pushover, they have the second largest military in NATO, second only to the USA.
Erdogan has been using NATO as cover throughout his tenure, knowing that eventually he would either leave or be jettisoned out of the alliance. The problem is that NATO needs Turkey far more than Turkey need NATO right now. NATO membership was always a moderating force on Turkey’s actions. Whether or not Turkey formally leaves, from here on out Erdogan will not take NATO membership into consideration as he moves to rebuild the lost Ottoman empire. At its peak it reached from Greece to Iraq. Erdogan won’t get it all back, but he will try to uncover areas that are weak and if successful he will push on.
At one point and time NATO will have to stop their east most neighbor member. The conflict will be fought through economics and proxies, but it will be fought. Afterall, Erdogan is a believer and is determined to see his dreams through. Ironically the schism in NATO reminds one of the last time Europe split into two, between the Western and Roman Empires. History repeats itself, sometimes in the most brutal ways.