Hintz agrees that Erdogan is “taking advantage” of the situation by using his far-reaching powers under the state of emergency decree to do as he pleases. Hintz, who has spent much time in Turkey, points out that conspiracy theorizing is a bit of a national pastime there, so it’s no surprise that many wonder whether Erdogan was behind the coup attempt. But that is of no consequence now. “Who is behind it right now is less important because accusations are being hurled back and forth,” she says. (10:42) “What is suspicious, to say the least, is how quickly thousands and thousands of people in the opposition were rounded up. Rather than who did it, I think the way in which Erdogan is taking advantage of the coup so quickly, so forcefully … he’s really using it to his advantage to clean house.”
Also at issue is Turkey’s larger role in the religious turmoil of the Middle East. The conservative Erdogan is seen as soft on the Islamic State, and questions about what will happen in neighboring Syria linger. Sculley points out the Erdogan was always against keeping Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in power, but he’s now backing away from that sentiment. Erdogan could emerge as a leader in getting others to come to the table to negotiate a short-term or long-term plan for Syria, he said. “Nobody wants to own Syria,” Sculley said. “The crisis in Syria affects all of the countries in the Middle East, particularly Turkey.” (18:45). Following the coup, Erdogan has also made overtures to Russia and Iran, which could also be good for Turkey’s role in the region, Sculley said.
“I think the way in which Erdogan is taking advantage of the coup so quickly, so forcefully…he’s really using it to his advantage to clean house.”–Lisel Hintz
“Erdogan is concerned about Turkish education and he wants greater control over it,” Sculley explains. “He particularly wants to introduce more Islamic subjects into the schools. I’m not saying turn this into an Islamic state, but certainly have a greater emphasis on religion, and that is his way of getting control. I think he’s very suspicious of Gulen supporters.”
With no forces on the horizon to stop Erdogan from consolidating power, it is highly likely that the last strings tying Turkey to traditional democracy will be cut.