Will Erdoğan declare extraordinary measures?
As President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced late on July 18, the government is set to take a series of important measures to prevent a repetition of what Turkey experienced on July 15 and also increase security conditions throughout the country. To this end, the National Security Council (MGK) will convene today and afterward a cabinet meeting will take place. Both will be chaired by Erdoğan.
There is a lot of speculation in Ankara about what these measures will be. Some claim that the MGK will advise the government to overhaul the military structure as a whole and dissolve the gendarmerie force by transferring its personnel to the police department.
The MGK will also conduct damage control in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) following the coup attempt and will look over the state of security in the country, given the fact that the fight against both the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is ongoing. With so many high-ranking officers who have been actively commanding troops in the fight against the PKK detained, the MGK will surely make the necessary assignments from other military units to undertake the terror fight.
But the MGK’s main task will be to ensure the full cleansing of the state’s bodies of Gülenists. More than 8,000 policemen, 6,000 officers, around 3,000 judges and prosecutors, 20,000 teachers, 1,500 university deans and many more civil servants have already been dismissed in the last two days, on the grounds that they allegedly posed a big danger to Turkey’s security. A comprehensive change on the law on civil servants should also be expected, as the government has long been working on one.
This purge has already created discomfort abroad, particularly in the United States and European Union, which have urged Ankara that the coup attempt was not a blank check for the government to bypass the rule of law and democratic norms. The Turkish government is unlikely to give an ear to this, as it considers the process we are going through a matter of life or death.
The concern is that Erdoğan will use this process to further crack down on his opponents and consolidate his power in a more efficient way. The picture of unity between all four political parties in parliament against the coup attempt is thought to be temporary, as a continued purge and sustained pressure on the opposition would heighten tension.
The reason why all political parties have come together, and why the media and the people resisted the coup plotters was the need to keep democracy as the main element for a hopeful future for Turkey. That is why the government’s measures in cleansing all Gülenists from the state apparatus and providing security to the country should be proportional and should not harm our democracy. In short, the decisions to be taken today should not approach proclaimations of martial law.