Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Fear of Change and the Turkish Coup | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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When the streets of Cairo were filled with huge crowds that came out to protest against poor public services and the bad security situation during Mohamed Morsi’s presidency in July 2013, the atmosphere was more fearful than when the people came out onto Tahrir Square two years earlier.

There is a big difference between the two events that took place in the same capital. Fears increased as a result of clashes in and outside the protest areas, and for the first time, it seemed that the Egyptian January 25 revolution could head in the same direction as the revolutions that we saw in Libya, Syria and Yemen. The months following Morsi’s deposal were not easy and were full of clashes and threats to the stability of the country.

Regardless of differing opinions concerning the legitimacy of Morsi’s rule, stabilising Egypt and preventing it from being exposed to security crises that divide it is considered an acceptable justification to depose him. Likewise, Morsi remaining in office was not an acceptable option for a large country like Egypt because of the chaos that accompanied his presidency.

The situation in Turkey is different. Turkey is a stable country and its regime has democratically evolved over three decades. The current government was elected by a large majority and there aren’t any huge popular movements that call for a regime change. The coup attempt suddenly occurred in this politically stable situation a week ago, and aimed to disrupt civil order and seize power. It felt like the world had suddenly stopped in those three dangerous hours.

I do not deny the existence of people who are angry with Recep Tayyib Erdogan’s government and are at odds with it. This is part of the reality of the region that is filled with differences and alliances. However, almost all regional governments and politicians must have been worried that night. They knew that splits, confrontations and chaos would accompany the coup if it was successful. Would the Middle East be able to cope with a fifth state that was afflicted with chaos? No world powers are able to control or contain the ongoing wars in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria so that they do not spill into the surrounding region and affect it. The world is no longer preoccupied with the ongoing Syrian tragedy because it has become accustomed to it and is bored of watching news about Syria every night. However, the situation in Syria is heart-breaking. The most recent disaster took place two days ago when the regime bombed four hospitals and a blood donation centre in Aleppo.

We do not know the number of victims, and the bombings were hardly covered by news channels and newspapers. The world was preoccupied with a crime committed by a German of Iranian origin who opened fire on civilians at a shopping centre in Munich. Less than two days after the incident occurred, a Syrian immigrant killed a woman with a machete.

What would the state of the region be if another large country like Turkey was afflicted with a similar situation and it was thrown into disarray because of the coup? It’s a very scary prospect for the world, not just for the Turks and the region. Even if the coup succeeded, Turkey would have been plagued by unrest as a result of the change and its society would have been split.

No one in the region wants to see Turkey, or any other country, join the group of countries afflicted with disaster. No one in Europe wants Turkey to become a gateway for terrorists, millions of immigrants and the anarchy that threatens their area. Despite the differences between the countries, the politicians are aware of the consequences of uncalculated adventures, and they know very well that any attempt to change the situation in the region will threaten them all.

This applies to everyone, and I imagine that Iran and Russia are also afraid of the consequences of change in Turkey. From the preliminary investigation and the pictures taken that night, those behind the coup are a small faction of the army and are linked to a religious group. If the coup was successful, there is no doubt that divisions in the army would have appeared, and perhaps even dangerous confrontations.

All the possibilities that politicians can expect from change in Turkey confirms it is an adventure that no one wishes for. Some of the region’s governments are making major concessions in order to put out the fires raging in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and to some extent Libya. God alone knows what would have happened to Turkey had the coup been successful and the country was divided; something that we cannot imagine.