CLAIRE BERLINSKI: A Report from Turkey.

Erdoğan’s attempts to forge an all-powerful, one-man regime may have led [Fethullah Gülen supporters] to try to stage a coup in desperation. However, looking at how Erdoğan has responded to the coup attempt with a virtual counter-coup of his own, targeting not just the Gülenists but the opposition in general, suggests two more possibilities:

1. Erdoğan and the AKP undertook a fake coup to revitalize his Islamist base as well as other party members and their extensions. There is a lot of evidence that goes against this possibility: Gülenist names appear to be involved, and there were casualties among AKP people and their supporters.

2. Erdoğan and the AKP government knew about the plot in advance (some statements, like that of the general who spoke on TV after the initial coup attempt was thwarted, suggest there was advance intelligence; also, it has now been revealed that the President received the first notification of the plot at around 3:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon). They allowed it to happen. We cannot know yet, but the possibility is there. How else could they have been prepared to call their members (via means that include text messages) to confront the military? Once it was time to put on a show, the AKP took the main stage and turned it into a sham people’s resistance against the coup attempt, leading eventually to calls to keep invading the streets — with the pro-government media covering it only from the perspective of, “The Turkish people stopped the coup attempt.” It was mostly AKP members and ardent supporters called upon to go out via text messages, first by the party, and then via announcements by the president and the prime minister, as well AKP mayors and other state officials.

The purge of nearly all government institutions immediately afterward indicates the lists may have been prepared way in advance.

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