Obviously it was normal for the nationalist party leader of the country to declare “Turks have no friends but Turks.” That obsessive belief has been perhaps the cornerstone of nationalist politics. Such an obsession, however, cannot be rhetoric frequently visited by a serious government.
The nation has been suffering from the psychological condition that it was plunged into with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the shrinking of Turkish territories from a large geography spanning three continents to the Anatolian peninsula; the so-called Balkan Syndrome produced not only by the Balkan section of the empire seceding into independent states but more so by the Turkish military units fighting each other rather than defending the homeland.
Plot theories have been rather popular in Turkey, as well as throughout this geography. The great successes of the British Empire, the Germans, Russians, Italians and French, as well as the Americans, not only in the previous centuries but also in the messy situation around today, provide legitimacy to such perceptions. Well, there might be a gross exaggeration in evaluations leading to such perceptions among the Turkish as well as other nations of the region, but as a fact perceptions often outweigh realities.
Turks have been rather proud of their independence struggle, as they believed Mustafa Kemal Atatürk foiled plans of a global coalition of adversaries of the Turkish nation and managed to build a modern republic on the ashes of an empire which they assert collapsed by the same coalition. The nation, obviously, remembers the occupation of Anatolia and Istanbul by foreign armies. Turks have an obsessive fear that very much like the secret French-British Sykes–Picot Agreement for the sharing of the territory of the Ottoman Empire (joined by Russia later) that shaped the present-day borders of the Middle East, there might be a new conspiracy, this time to divide the remaining territory of the Turkish state.
Not only in the first quarter of the previous century or in the neighboring Middle Eastern and North African lands today, a perception continues that the Christian West has been a “problem maker,” or to say the least capricious foreigners love to stir up a hornet’s nest. Considering what has happened in Libya, Egypt, Syria and of course Iraq over the past decade and the traumatic journey Turkey sailed through over the past 60 years, there have been more than enough reasons to believe how successful “our good boys” - that is, local collaborators - have been at helping out foreign conspiracies.
Naturally, it is rather easy and comfortable to sit back and blame foreigners for all the mishaps that have happened in these lands.
Today, Turkey was once again subjected to a very intense and painful trauma. For the first time in the history of the Turkish nation the Turkish parliament was hit by fighter jets. Worse, those planes that hit the Turkish parliament were fighter jets of this nation. Even the advancing occupation troops – which came as close as 40 kilometers to Ankara – did not “succeed” in bombarding Turkish parliament, but Turkish planes hit it. This was a psychological shock that made it possible for the president – known for his arrogant and very much opinionated leadership style – and the leader of the ruling party to come together with the leaders of the two big opposition parties for the first time ever. That is, something good has emerged from the dreadful days the country has been pulled into by the attempted coup. While the president, prime minister and two opposition leaders came together, there was a missing person, the leader of the Kurdish party.
This new atmosphere of national unity in the country might help leave behind some obsessive hallucinations and phobias. Assuming that the July 15 coup attempt was indeed a foreign occupation attempt might help soothe our bleeding wounds that our soldiers killed our people. Continuing the rhetoric that the attempted coup was an American CIA-designed conspiracy may comfort domestic audience but does Turkey has concrete evidence to prove such a claim? To claim that Fethullah Gülen – the Islamist scholar claimed to be the head of the “FETÖ Terrorist Gang” – himself was affiliated with the CIA requires substantiation.
It cannot be a healthy attitude conducive to EU vocation to continue talking about reintroducing the death penalty while everyone from the president to the lowest clerk in the state apparatus knows well that abolition of the death penalty was among the political conditions of the accession talks. It is a fact that the Western media and governments were all against Turkey and did not show sympathy after the attempted coup. Were they all anti-Turkish? Or, could the Anatolia Agency serviced photographs showing scores of apparently tortured generals, half naked, humiliated, waiting in line to be interrogated, be found disgusting? French and Belgium emergency rule was no problem for Europe but the Turkish one raised eyebrows. Why? Was it because Europeans don’t like Turks or because this country has a very bad track record? Shall we be realistic?
The “Turks have no friends but Turks” obsession should be abandoned. The mistakes of the past must be left in history. Without forgetting that every nation’s own interests come first, Turkey must learn to build mutually beneficial networks. Could the CIA be behind the coup attempt? Perhaps. Can Turkey prove it? If it can, how can we be allies, friends? If not, how can a country make such claims against an ally, a friend?