Ony six weeks after the July 15 coup attempt, Turkey launched a major offensive against DAESH terrorists in Syria and opened the third bridge over the magical Bosporus. Aug. 30, i.e., today, is celebrated across the country as it marks the 94th anniversary of a major battle during Turkey’s war of independence in 1922 whereby the country had gained its independence against the occupying forces. This combination of present reality, history and symbolism underscores Turkey’s surprising resilience.
While the Western world still fails to see the magnitude and severity of the bloody coup attempt by the Gülenists on July 15, people in Turkey celebrate their victory against the putschists in numerous ways. The state of emergency has not damaged the economy or hampered the daily course of life. The new consensus that emerged after the coup has brought diverse political groups closer to one another. From politics to economy, Turkey is stronger and more united than ever before.
Turkey, one of the world’s fastest growing economies, quickly recovered from the initial shock of the coup. Since July 15, the Turkish lira and stock markets became more valuable as foreign direct investment continued unabated. As an almost conscious and coordinated response to the coup, ordinary citizens sold more than $10 billion to invest in the lira and helped the economy as if taking revenge from the coup plotters on the economic front.
Despite the bloody coup attempt and the instability that was expected to follow, Turkey continued to implement its foreign policy initiatives as planned. The process of normalization with Russia and Israel moved to the next stage with the visit of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to St. Petersburg on Aug. 9 and the ratification of the Turkey-Israel agreement at the Turkish Parliament on Aug. 20. As of Aug. 28, charter flights between Turkey and Russia have resumed to carry tens of thousands of tourists and businesspeople. Normalization with Israel is also underway. After the families of those who died in the Mavi Marmara raid are paid their compensation as part of the Turkey-Israel agreement, Turkey and Israel will appoint their new ambassadors to begin full diplomatic relations. President Erdoğan will attend the G20 summit in China on Sept. 4-5.
In less than six weeks after the coup was foiled, Turkey launched “Operation Euphrates Shield” to liberate the city of Jarablus in Syria from DAESH terrorists. The operation aims to clear Turkey’s border from all terrorist elements including DAESH and the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Despite the agreement that the YPG will leave the city of Manbij and retreat to the east of the Euphrates River, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the YPG, are seeking to move into areas fled by DAESH and create conditions on the ground to grab more land. Turkey defends Syria’s territorial integrity against the PKK propaganda and its supporters in the West and will not allow a PKK-led statelet along its border. It should be made clear that Turkey does not have any problems with the Kurds of Syria just as it has no problems with the Kurds of Turkey or Iraq. But we all have a PKK problem that oppresses and kills Kurds as much as it attacks and kills Turkish civilians and security forces. The PKK and PYD are shamelessly using the war in Syria to create a de facto terrorist state in Syria. Turkey will not allow that.
With the successful entry of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) into Jarablus and the clearance of the city from DAESH terrorists, the myth that the YPG is the only effective force fighting against DAESH has completely collapsed. Operation Euphrates Shield shows, among other things, that if moderate Syrian opposition groups such as the FSA are supported properly, they can fight against DAESH as well as Bashar Assad’s regime and clear Syrian territories of terrorism. Americans should revise their policy of supporting the PYD/YPG at all costs after the Jarablus operation and see the damage their support to the YPG is causing to the social and ethnic harmony of Syria.Back at home, Turkey is stronger than before the coup. People want justice and closure, not revenge against the Gülenist coup plotters. They want to see the principles of merit, accountability, transparency and trust established again as the foundations of governance and state-civilian relations – the principles which the Gülenist cult abused to take over the state. This is a necessary measure to make sure that Gülenists or similar groups do not attempt to infiltrate state institutions again. The measures are also necessary to prevent any future coup attempts.
From a comparative point of view, any coup attempt would have destabilized any country, ruin its economy and divide the society. What happened in Turkey is just the opposite and goes to show the resilience of Turkey as a whole. Turkish people celebrate this as a source of strength and vitality. They should be joined by Turkey’s friends everywhere.