‘Astonishing NATO nations did not come to aid of Erdogan govt’

Afshin Rattansi
Afshin Rattansi is a journalist, author of “The Dream of the Decade – the London Novels” and an RT Contributor. Afshin Rattansi began his journalism career on The (London) Guardian in the late 1980s as one of the newspaper’s youngest ever columnists. He went on to work for Britain’s Channel 4, BBC, Al Jazeera Arabic, CNN International and Bloomberg Television and many other media. In the run-up to the Lehman Brothers crash of 2008, he published a collection of four of his novels as “The Dream of the Decade – The London Novels.” As US pressure increased on Iran, Afshin moved to Tehran to anchor the news on the new satellite TV channel, Press TV which was later banned in Britain. He set up Alternate Reality Productions in London in 2010 making Double Standards, a comedy satire show as well as other TV news commissions. His writing has also appeared in the New Statesman; Counterpunch; The Oldie; Plays and Players; Mitchell Beazley’s Encyclopaedia of 21st Century; The Journal of the British Astronomical Association; Association of Lloyd's Members Journal; Critical Quarterly; Makers of Modern Culture (Routledge, 2007); “Brought To Book” (Penguin, 1994); Flaunt; Attitude. He is a founder member of the Frontline Club in London and he won the Sony Award for outstanding contribution to international media in 2002.
People take cover near a bridge during an attempted coup in Istanbul, Turkey July 16, 2016. © Yagiz Karahan
It is surprising that the reaction of the NATO member states to a coup attempt in Turkey was rather modest, Afshin Rattansi, an RT contributor and the host of RT's Going Underground said, adding that some years ago they would have rushed to aid their ally.

RT: This coup has given Erdogan a perfect chance to tighten his grip on alleged enemies within the army. What could this lead to?

Afshin Rattansi: Yes, very worrying to hear. But possible reintroduction of the death penalty and thousands are being arrested. We have got to remember that the CIA backed the coup in 1980, 36 years ago – half a million people were arrested. We can’t be sure whether it is going to be that number this time round. It’s interesting that the Prime Minister so quickly blamed the Gulen movement. Now, who is this movement? The cleric lives in the US. Well, that is the movement that reportedly funds the Hillary Clinton campaign. Certainly there will be people in Ankara not wishing for a Clinton presidency anytime soon given that so many supporters right now are being arrested. There are ties here that show how complex the events of the past 12 hours are.

RT: How would it impact relations with the EU? Would the union now discuss the membership of a country that is weighing bringing back the death penalty?

AR: As we hear in London during the referendum debate, it was repeatedly told to the British people that there is no chance whatsoever Turkish accession to the EU – that was before the referendum. So Britain does not really have a say in that today. But I think obviously critical to the whole situation in the past few hours is the Incirlik Air Base. Turkey is a NATO country. Astonishing that just a couple of years ago we would have expected NATO nations to have come to the aid of the Erdogan government, which was elected in November. This time? Nothing.

Also astonishing is John Kerry in Moscow looking to evaluate the situation, not [offering] immediate support for this linchpin of NATO supremacy, as they see it in terms of world security - this critical country in terms of their domination of the Middle East. Well, the reason why they are not going to be joining the EU any time soon is the flip-flopping of Erdogan.

He went from being a hero of the Arab world, when he championed the cause of Palestinians, [then] suddenly he switched to being – along with Britain and the US – pro-the overthrow of the secular government of Syria and supporting de facto ISIS/ISIL/DAESH and al-Qaeda linked groups.

RT: As you said, Turkey is an ally of the US in the region. But today it is saying it doesn’t want to be friends with country that allegedly protects its enemy, Fethullah Gulen, who has actually denied being a part of this plot. The man is in self-imposed exile in America. Can Ankara afford such aggressive rhetoric against Washington?

AR: We know very well in this country [the UK] that one intelligence side doesn’t know what the other is doing – when I’m thinking of MI5 and MI6. So it has to be noted that while Erdogan has been supporting Anglo-American policy in destabilizing Syria, just in the past few days, and I think that is what a lot of analysts and observers have noted, sudden rapprochement with Russia – Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft, there have been very frosty relation between the two countries – just in the past few days sudden rapprochement; rapprochements with China and then revelations of back channels with President Assad himself – the man that Britain and the US have been trying to overthrow now for five or six years. Coincidence that suddenly there is a coup; maybe there are forces within the US that were expecting this.

It is no surprise that there would be great instability in Turkey. It is not just Erdogan’s foreign policies, it is the brutal economic policies he has. But let’s not forget: Ever since this CIA-backed coup of 1980, the economic policies of Turkey have been determined by big multinationals, by big powerful forces to the detriment of millions of working-class Turks.

RT: Is Erdogan capable of getting complete control over all of the military in the country? There is huge discontent in the military, isn’t there?

AR: In NATO nations, militaries just as in Britain, as in Turkey, are not controlled by sovereign governments after all – it is up to NATO command, which is answerable to Washington as to what the military does, which is why in the initial reports of the military coup attempt one wondered immediately by the American connections to these military forces in the US, which is presumably what the President Erdogan is alluding to as regards the future relations between Ankara and Washington.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.