July 23 — Since the abortive coup of July 15 collapsed in Turkey, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Development and Justice Party (AKP), having defeated the coup attempt, has opened an extensive purge of its perceived enemies and opponents.
This purge has included about 100,000 civilian state and educational employees, who have been removed from their jobs, including 21,000 teachers and 1,500 college deans. It also includes closing hundreds of educational institutions.
Of the state repressive apparatus, it includes the arrests of 8,000 police and nearly as many ordinary soldiers, along with 1,600 military midlevel officers and more than one-third of the generals and admirals of Turkey’s massive armed forces — the second largest of all the NATO armies next to the United States military.
The Erdoğan regime has also declared a three-month “state of emergency” that allows it to take other repressive actions. As of July 23, the regime has not yet taken action against the opponent political parties in Parliament, all of which took stands against the coup makers before the coup collapsed. Workers World publishes here the analysis of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkey, released on July 18:
CP of Turkey statement
The Central Committee of the Communist Party gathered on the 17th of July and deeply assessed the latest developments in the country and also discussed the state of the Party and its tasks at hand.
- The July 15th coup attempt was not a confrontation between ideologically conflicting centers, but involved at least two and even more state cliques with identical class identities and ideologies. It is not possible that these cliques would be totally unaware of each other’s plans and actions, just as it is not possible to tell one clique from the other. However the 15th of July attempt was not a bloody scenario planned by Erdoğan as some claimed. It was a real coup attempt.
- The process that led to the coup has two dimensions. First is what could be described as the fight for “power” in the general sense between Erdoğan supporters and the Gülen movement, which has acquired a new dimension by the recent widespread purges of Gülenists. While the economic and political weight of this fight is increasing, the fight also has an international dimension, and imperialist centers are supporting these fractions.
- That most of the officers who participated in the coup attempt are mostly Gülenists and that the Gülen movement has close connections within the U.S. are facts. The thought that a coup will not take place in Turkey without U.S. approval, as Turkey as a NATO member is a close military partner of the U.S., is correct to a large extent. The main reason behind most of high ranking officers of the Turkish Armed Forces who are frustrated with AKP not attempting a coup is due to the support the U.S. administration has lent AKP.
- This support has been reduced recently because of various reasons. Some elements with influence in the USA and some European countries have even started preparing for Erdoğan’s purge. The uprising of the people in 2013 with the participation of millions, the damage to the interests of the system due to the tension created by Erdoğan in large sectors of the society, and finally the total fiasco of the Syrian policy deeply affected the relations between Erdoğan and some imperialist countries. It is not possible to consider the 15th July coup attempt without taking into account this tension.
- That the coup plotters have connections abroad does not make Erdoğan a patriot or anti-imperialist. As a politician, Erdoğan has served the interests of the USA and international monopolies. At the moment, as a politician who has lost favor among the forces that had lent him support for years, he is maneuvering, entering into new alliances in an effort to save himself. The fact that Erdoğan is now approaching this or that international axis does not change his class character and his ideological preferences. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a bourgeois politician, he is an enemy of the working class, he is a counterrevolutionary, and he is no different from the coup plotters who wanted to topple him.
- The coup attempt, the powers behind it, the methods used and its ideological basis do not have anything to do with the interests of the people. The opinion that the country would see better days if the coup had been successful is baseless. It is obvious what a pro-American, anti-people coup would mean.
- It is also nonsense to present the suppression of the coup as a victory for the people and/or to celebrate it as the “festival of democracy” in the wake of the AKP. This is an approach which does not question the legitimacy of the AKP regime and which ignores the class fundamentals of what is going on in the country.
- The thesis claiming that Erdoğan gained more power after this coup attempt is true to a certain extent. Without doubt, Erdoğan got a chance to inflict a heavy blow on the Gülen Community; he got the opportunity to play the victim once again, consolidated his mass base and tested the power of some organizations under his control. However, he ended up with a seriously damaged state apparatus, and he also had to face the fact that there is not any safe bureaucracy any more because of the clashes between the interwoven factions.
- Under these circumstances, Erdoğan may try a purge of not only Gülenists but the “Kemalist” elements [the CHP] that he has an alliance with in the two most critical state institutions, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the judiciary, and rely solely on his own resources. While it may be relatively easier to achieve this in various sectors of the bureaucracy, there are serious challenges in relying on his own resources within the military and judiciary. Without engaging in an absolute and final showdown at the social plane, Erdoğan cannot make this move, which would essentially mean an attempt to establish an Islamic state. On the other hand, Erdoğan does not have any other way out to be able to consolidate his own masses under tension.
- It is also possible that Erdoğan will make an effort to mend relations with the USA and reduce the internal tension after a short period of terror and intimidation, and there are already some signals indicating that he is preparing to take those steps. Additionally, the expectations of CHP and HDP [Kurdish and social democratic coalition] are also in this direction. This option is difficult because it is not possible for Erdoğan to continue without politics of escalating tension, clearing the field for his radical elements. Otherwise, the opposition in the Parliament does not actually have any problem with Erdoğan and his AKP.
- In any case, there is a disillusion and a multidimensional crisis regarding the hegemony of the capital. It’s not this disillusion, but the unorganized state of the working class which is actually dangerous.
- Another danger is the potential for the belief to become widespread that Erdoğan is invincible following the coup. This belief is accompanied by “scary” scenarios that spread like a virus and news stories, a large chunk of which are not based on truth, that create a state of panic. The AKP government has always been dangerous, and it is clear that those in the government are even more dangerous now. However, the panic environment is helping legitimize AKP’s aggression. In fact, neither AKP nor Erdoğan is as strong as claimed nor is Turkey a country whose future can be thrown into darkness overnight. For example, in the so-called “celebrations” following the coup, despite all the calls, the number of AKP supporters in the streets was limited. The correct position is to be aware of the pending danger but not to create panic, on the contrary, to attempt to utilize the disintegration for the benefit of the working class.
- The AKP and fundamentalist threat should not be underestimated at all. It is clear that the period that opened with the assertion “Secularism is not under threat” carried the country to the edge of the abyss. However, there is the task of organizing a popular movement that is more potent and more “ready” to face this considerable threat. This task cannot be accomplished by whipping up panic after long years of dormancy. That the opposition within the system is crowning its past inaction with the creation of panic now is unacceptable.
- Under these conditions, the main source of power for AKP and Erdoğan continues to be his opponents in the political system. The political establishment based all its plans on normalizing, transforming and getting AKP to fall in line. The attitude of some politicians who claim to be representatives of the “left” in the Parliament is truly remarkable and worrisome.
- Experiences during and after the 15th of July exposed how ruthless the factions within the state can be. We all watched how the coup plotters knew no limits in cruelty. Then, we witnessed the barbarism of the government. All these cannot be handled by the approach of “let them kill one another.” Undetermined number of civilians have been killed and rank-and-file soldiers who had no idea of what was going on have been lynched. People will ultimately bring to justice the perpetrators of all these lawless actions, lynchings and torture of suspects and soldiers who had surrendered, and the rulers of those two factions who had cooperated together for years but are now fighting each other will eventually have to face the justice of the people.
- It is not correct to explain all these cruelties as a sign of “power.” On the contrary there is disillusion, fear and confusion on the side of the government. The widespread fear can only be overcome by strong, solid and consistent moves, not by unorganized, foolish actions. And this disillusion can be turned into an opportunity for the people.
- As we have always emphasized, Turkey can only be liberated by the unified struggle of the working class against the class hegemony presented by dark powers, not as a result of the clashes between dark powers. We refuse all kind of analysis and positions ignoring this reality. It is obvious that Communists will not give credit to quackery of the “victory of democratic powers” and the “cunning” calls to unite everyone against Erdoğan. Among the people who are uttering the words “the victory of democratic power” are some who are also creating panic with rhetoric of “followers of sharia will cut our heads off” — this is a testimony to the level of confusion. We repeat: We will never cross paths with the representatives of the capitalist class, the USA- and NATO-supported coups or agents of color revolutions. This wouldn’t weaken us. An unorganized working class that is lured by fake solutions is what would weaken us.
- The scale of the vacuum among the ranks of the people created as a result of the animosity toward organizing must be clear for everyone to see once again in a country where the Gülen movement, gangs in the government, interest groups, hit men and even the mafia have the ability to act in an “organized” way. We can go even further to say that everyone who is for a classless society free of exploitation has to strive and work together for a state of organization that is persistent, continuous and has a collective mind. Not embarking on this task, while legitimizing the inertia and indifference to this point, is equivalent to being an enemy of the people. It is a must to strengthen the organization of the class, independent of the religious sects, Gülen movements, capitalist and imperialist centers. The ones who idolized the apolitical popular reactions, spontaneous mass actions that did not get organized, the ones that turned aimlessness and formlessness into an aim under the rhetoric of “Gezi pluralism” must have hopefully learned their lesson.
- The only objective of the Communist Party is to become an independent revolutionary organization that can change the balance of forces in the country by mobilizing during the coups or the reactionary campaigns. In order to achieve this objective all together, our only call to our working people is to mobilize, trusting only their own power, and take initiative instead of watching this nightmare unfold.