Istanbul Analyst: Turkish Jewry in Same Danger as Rest of Populace in Wake of Failed Coup, But Anti-US Conspiracy Theories Mean Jews, Israel May Be Next Target (INTERVIEW)
An Istanbul-based political analyst told The Algmeiner on Monday that Turkey’s Jews are not in any greater danger than the rest of the populace in the wake of Friday night’s failed coup d’etat.
However, said Karel Valansi — a columnist at the Turkish-Jewish weekly, Şalom — all synagogues were initially closed on Saturday morning, amid general security concerns surrounding the attempt by a purported small segment of the military to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “But by 11 am, they were re-opened.”
Nevertheless, she added, “As always, conspiracy theories against the United States are circulating, which means that the Jews and Israel may soon become targets of similar accusations.”
Valansi was referring to Erdogan’s declaration that Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric living in exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, was behind the foiled putsch. Gülen, who fiercely denied these claims, suggested that the whole episode might have been a maneuver on Erdoğan’s part to consolidate his power over any and all internal opposition.
“I do not know who was behind the attempted coup, but I don’t think it was staged,” Valansi told The Algemeiner. “Every August, there is a supreme military council meeting at which appointments and retirements are decided. I think some of the brass sped up their plans for the coup, to pull it off before next month’s meeting — and were therefore not sufficiently prepared.”
Evidence of this, said Valansi, lies in the fact that there did not appear to be a clear chain of command, as there was during the successful coups carried out in Turkey in the past. “Even the soldiers at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, it is said, had no idea they were involved in a coup, believing they were there to conduct an anti-ISIS drill.”
In addition, she said, “It is extremely difficult to control the narrative – a requirement for a successful coup — with so many networks and social media platforms. The appearance of President Erdoğan on TV Friday night via FaceTime, while the military was broadcasting its statement that it had taken charge, is but one example.”
Furthermore, Valansi added, “There is little support in Turkish society for a military coup, due to our long history with coups. We thought that the phenomenon was a thing of the past.”
Calling the events of the weekend “sad for Turkey,” Valansi said, “We already suffer from the war in Syria, the refugee crisis, terrorist attacks and now this, with a high death toll… In an already polarized society – in a country suffering from the outcomes of the war in its vicinity – the economic, security and sociological effects of the failed coup will resonate for a very long time.”
The attempted coup left more than 160 dead and nearly 1,500 wounded. Upon his return from a seaside vacation spot on Saturday, Erdogan declared victory over the perpetrators.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called the event a “black stain on Turkish democracy.”
In the last two days, the government has arrested more than 6,000 suspects, including soldiers, officers and judges – and Erdoğan has called on the US to extradite Gülen to Turkey.
Though world leaders came out in support of the quelling of the coup, many have since warned Erdoğan not to use it as a “carte blanche to do whatever he wants.”
In the past 56 years, since 1960, there have been four coups led by the military in Turkey, which regards itself as the defender of the secular democratic principles of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish Republic.