Fear of Change and the Turkish Coup
17 July 2016
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
When the streets of Cairo were filled with huge crowds that came out to
protest against poor public services and the bad security situation during
Mohamed Morsi's presidency in July 2013, the atmosphere was more fearful than
when the people came out onto Tahrir Square two years earlier.
There is a big difference between the two events that took place in the same
capital. Fears increased as a result of clashes in and outside the protest
areas, and for the first time, it seemed that the Egyptian January 25
revolution could head in the same direction as the revolutions that we saw in
Libya, Syria and Yemen. The months following Morsi's deposal were not easy and
were full of clashes and threats to the stability of the country.
Regardless of differing opinions concerning the legitimacy of Morsi's rule,
stabilising Egypt and preventing it from being exposed to security crises that
divide it is considered an acceptable justification to depose him. Likewise,
Morsi remaining in office was not an acceptable option for a large country
like Egypt because of the chaos that accompanied his presidency.
The situation in Turkey is different. Turkey is a stable country and its
regime has democratically evolved over three decades. The current government
was elected by a large majority and there aren't any huge popular movements
that call for a regime change. The coup attempt suddenly occurred in this
politically stable situation a week ago, and aimed to disrupt civil order and
seize power. It felt like the world had suddenly stopped in those three
I do not deny the existence of people who are angry with Recep Tayyib
Erdogan's government and are at odds with it. This is part of the reality of
the region that is filled with differences and alliances. However, almost all
regional governments and politicians must have been worried that night. They
knew that splits, confrontations and chaos would accompany the coup if it was
successful. Would the Middle East be able to cope with a fifth state that was
afflicted with chaos? No world powers are able to control or contain the
ongoing wars in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria so that they do not spill into
the surrounding region and affect it. The world is no longer preoccupied with
the ongoing Syrian tragedy because it has become accustomed to it and is bored
of watching news about Syria every night. However, the situation in Syria is
heart-breaking. The most recent disaster took place two days ago when the
regime bombed four hospitals and a blood donation centre in Aleppo.
We do not know the number of victims, and the bombings were hardly covered by
news channels and newspapers. The world was preoccupied with a crime committed
by a German of Iranian origin who opened fire on civilians at a shopping
centre in Munich. Less than two days after the incident occurred, a Syrian
immigrant killed a woman with a machete.
What would the state of the region be if another large country like Turkey was
afflicted with a similar situation and it was thrown into disarray because of
the coup? It's a very scary prospect for the world, not just for the Turks and
the region. Even if the coup succeeded, Turkey would have been plagued by
unrest as a result of the change and its society would have been split.
No one in the region wants to see Turkey, or any other country, join the group
of countries afflicted with disaster. No one in Europe wants Turkey to become
a gateway for terrorists, millions of immigrants and the anarchy that
threatens their area. Despite the differences between the countries, the
politicians are aware of the consequences of uncalculated adventures, and they
know very well that any attempt to change the situation in the region will
threaten them all.
This applies to everyone, and I imagine that Iran and Russia are also afraid
of the consequences of change in Turkey. From the preliminary investigation
and the pictures taken that night, those behind the coup are a small faction
of the army and are linked to a religious group. If the coup was successful,
there is no doubt that divisions in the army would have appeared, and perhaps
even dangerous confrontations.
All the possibilities that politicians can expect from change in Turkey
confirms it is an adventure that no one wishes for. Some of the region's
governments are making major concessions in order to put out the fires raging
in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and to some extent Libya. God alone knows what would
have happened to Turkey had the coup been successful and the country was
divided; something that we cannot imagine.
Al Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the
former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly
magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of
Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass
communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is
currently based in Dubai.