Jafar Haghpanah

What Turkey's Bungled Putsch Had for Iran and the Middle East?

Date of publication : July 19, 2016 08:35 am
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greets the crowd who gathered in front of his residence in Kisikli to protest against Parallel State/Gulenist Terrorist Organization
 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greets the crowd who gathered in front of his residence in Kisikli to protest against Parallel State/Gulenist Terrorist Organization's failed military coup attempt in Istanbul, Turkey on July 19, 2016.

Analysis of Turkey’s botched coup attempt is very important not simply because of geographical and spiritual propinquity of this incident to Iran as well as cultural, social, political, economic and security ties between the two nations, but also because of its regional consequences and its effects on Iran's interests and national security. The following points must be taken into consideration in this regard:
 
I) Of utmost importance is analysis of this incident with regard to its cause, trends, and outcomes on the basis of objective realities and while avoiding illusional speculations like considering the coup attempt as a conspiracy designed by the government of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or any other government. Turkey, like other modern societies, is too complicated to be able to resort to such naïve social engineering attempts.
 
II) In the absence of governmental media, which had come under control of coup plotters, social networks and civil institutions played an effective role in the failure of the coup plot. Through dissemination of information as well as enlightenment, organization and encouragement of people to put up their unique resistance against the coup attempt, such media turned the massive presence of people on the streets, which could have led to intensification of chaos, into a social network consisting of citizens, who were aware of conditions and their own demands.
 
III) Of course, the failed attempt by the military in Turkey is also reflexive of fragility of political stability and democracy in a country, which once had a claim to turning into an ideal model of development and governance for the entire region. However, mention should be made of the effective role played by the civil society in this country, which for the first time in the past five decades, foiled the fifth attempt by the military to interfere in the field of politics. Comparative study of the recent bungled coup attempt in Turkey with the successful coup d’état, which took place in Egypt just two years ago, would be didactic.
 
IV) Factors, which despite some imbalanced economic and scientific advances, ushered Turkey toward serious instability included the country’s adventurous behavior in foreign policy, especially with regard to the crisis in Syria, on the one hand, and emergence of political blockage, reduced solidarity inside the country and intensification of social gaps, especially ethnic and religious gaps, on the other hand, which finally pushed the Turkish society toward polarization and prompted some marginalized groups and elites to embark on the coup.
 
V) Iran's governmental and nongovernmental media as well as social media paid good attention to this incident. Although Turkey’s coup attempt coincided with the catastrophic terrorist attack in France and while Iran's people and the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran were sympathizing with survivors of the terrorist attack in the French city of Nice, the principle of propinquity and close relations between the two countries’ issues and concerns stirred extensive and rapid reactions to this incident in our country. At the same time, it must be noted that due to weakness of direct communications between the two neighboring countries, the regular problem of being fed by Western media was quite evident in this case as well.
 
VI) Existence of instability and unrest in neighboring regions and neighboring countries, such as Turkey, could be of no benefit to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The experience gained through regional developments, which unraveled in the past few decades, shows that regardless of some costly opportunities, which have been ephemeral, instability in the region has in most cases led to increased intervention by foreign forces and has only increased political and national costs for our country in the long run.
 
VII) The timely reaction shown by Iran's state officials and media, along with expression of concern combined with condemnation of the coup attempt and announcement of support for restoration of order and stability to the neighboring country of Turkey, was a necessary step, which was taken. Rapid action in this case not only elucidated our country’s basic position in the face of such unprincipled and antidemocratic measures, but also striped hostile currents and rival government of the opportunity to take advantage of this incident and attribute it to the Islamic Republic of Iran in any way.

All in all, it must be noted that despite Iran’s clear and basic criticism of Turkey’s regional approaches and in spite of the rivalry between the two countries in Iraq and Syria and also regardless of recent reestablishment of relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv, it was proven that such issues are not taken as a basis for the regulation of our country’s relations with neighboring governments.

During recent months and following appointment of the country’s new prime minister, Binali Yildirim, Ankara has taken a U-turn in its foreign policy, which has raised hopes about Turkey coming up with new regional initiatives and promoting bilateral cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to reduce tensions in the region, especially with regard to the current crisis in Syria.

NOTE: This article first appeared in Iran Daily.

Jafar Haghpanah, an Assistant Professor at University of Tehran, is the senior fellow at IRAS.




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