Since the failed coup attempt of 15 July, there is a lingering suspicion that the United States was aware of the planned coup, may have been consulted before or during the events by some at least of the forces involved in the coup, or perhaps may even have been involved in the planning of the coup plot. This is, at least, very clearly what some major mass media outlets have said in so many words. Reading the pro-Erdogan press in particular, the ordinary Turkish citizen may well ask themselves when and how the Turkish government will break with NATO and the US and perhaps even the EU.
They would not be mistaken in thinking that way. There is not a shred of doubt that the tanker jets that refuelled the fighter jets that bombed many different spots in particular in Ankara, the capital city, that night, including the parliament buildings, took off all night from the Incirlik base near Adana, a base that the Turkish armed forces (TSK in its Turkish acronym) shares with the US military and where, reportedly, up to 60 nuclear warheads are stored. There are many other pieces of evidence that would at least raise suspicion.
However, having used this evidence demagogically for weeks, the Erdogan-AKP camp has now retreated to the position of taking these questions up, in the words of one AKP Member of Parliament, in “responsible” fashion. In all probability, the Turkish government will dwell on the question of possible American involvement in the coup attempt as a lever to have Fethullah Gulen, the imam who has resided in Pennsylvania for close to two decades and is accused of masterminding the coup, extradited by the US administration. Then all will be hushed up, until such time as the Islamist orientation of Erdogan and the AKP will once again come into clash with NATO and US strategic interests.
DIP action: “Turkey out of NATO! Shut down the Incirlik base!”
It is in this context that DIP (the Revolutionary Workers’ Party) organised on Saturday, 6 August 2016, an action on its own in Istanbul, pointing to the complicity of the US and NATO in the Turkish coup and demanding that Turkey get out of NATO and that the Incirlik base be shut down. It is not only a matter of NATO or US involvement in practical terms in the planning or the execution of the failed coup. It is also the case that the TSK is a NATO army through and through, from its weapons systems to its educational curriculum, from its command structure to its missions abroad. The officer corps is hence conditioned to serve NATO above all else. A constant theme in any pronunciamiento put out by any military coup or intervention in the post-war period, from 1960 all the way to the last coup attempt, has been the reassurance of the imperialists that the TSK will remain loyal to Turkey’s foreign and military commitments. As for the Incirlik base, this is the most important base from which the US Air Force has hit, since the 1950s, its targets all over the Middle East.
The action was held in the Dolmabahçe district of Istanbul. The choice has historic significance. In the late 1960s, in the heyday of working class, Kurdish and student struggles, the Turkish left displayed a healthy dose of anti-imperialism. Discarding NATO membership and shutting down all US bases were the primary objectives at that time, too. There was an additional demand: that the US 6th fleet, enemy of all Mediterranean peoples, stop visiting Turkish ports, in particular Istanbul. Dolmabahçe is the site where, one fine day in July 1968, university students, with the legendary Deniz Gezmiş in the forefront, drove US servicemen to the sea. That was the beginning of a process as a result of which the 6th Fleet never came back! “Mission accomplished”, as George W. Bush was to say so stupidly in another context!
Anti-imperialism on a class basis or secularism together with the Westernised forces of the bourgeoisie?
So DIP has really taken up the banner of anti-imperialism first raised by the generation of 1968, which provided the leading cadres of a new and revolutionary wing of the socialist-communist movement in opposition to the sclerotic, fossilized Stalinist Turkish Communist Party of the earlier years. It is symptomatic of the state of the Turkish left that, as opposed to DIP, which has decided to stand at the forefront of the struggle against imperialism in the aftermath of the failed coup, the great majority of the movement has opted for “secularism/laicism” as its distinctive position. A great number of parties and movements (including, one might add, some who come from the Trotskyist tradition) participated in the rally organised by the CHP (the Republican People’s Party, the supposedly social-democratic, semi-Kemalist party of the Westernised wing of the bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeoisie) a fortnight ago. (Representatives of a workers' collective that have set up a resistance tent and have been picketing a local municipality for weeks because they were laid off when they joined a trade union also attended the DIP action. One of the workers addressed the gathering, supporting the political platform of the action and calling for support to their cause, see above picture. Very significantly the municipality is controlled by none other than... the CHP!)
The DIP warned days before that rally (see http://gercekgazetesi.net/dip-bildirisi/dip-bildirisi-turkiyenin-milli-mutabakata-degil-anti-emperyalist-mucadeleye-ihtiyaci) that what was needed was not a kind of union sacrée, a “national consensus” in Turkish political terminology, but an anti-imperialist and class unity that will fight both the prospect of a recurrent coup and the creeping establishment of a despotic regime by the Erdogan-AKP camp, an enemy of the working class. To point out that the CHP rally was the gate opening to “national consensus”, a setup that implied the support of the CHP and the MHP (fascists) to Erdogan, DIP reminded the comrades of the left that the CHP leadership had invited the AKP leaders to the rally, that in return the AKP had responded positively to this offer and that the AKP-controlled municipality of Istanbul had waived transportation fees in order to support the rally etc. Notwithstanding this warning, the majority went. And the only condition that some of them posed to the CHP for a rally to be attended by AKP leaders was that the platform include “secularism/laicism”! This to CHP, which has, all throughout the republican period, made secularism its trade mark!
The next day, the leader of the CHP, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, with the unwilling support of that majority of the socialist left in his pocket, went sheepishly to the new presidential palace, which he had boycotted until then, to promise his support to Erdoğan! What we at DIP have called the National Consensus since was thus given its official seal! Some components of the left, unrepentant, also participated on 4 August in the Izmir rally organised by the CHP along the same lines.
That whole series of events has now turned out to be the route that ended in Sunday’s (7 August) monstrous rally at Yenikapı in Istanbul, where the whole parliamentary opposition, excepting the pro-Kurdish HDP, which has been avoided by the AKP since 15 July, lined up behind Erdoğan. The left has now seen where things have come to! With the speed of lightning, in the space of two weeks, everything has become clear for all to see. Yesterday the leader of the CHP lined up behind Erdoğan, the great victor of the day, and only two weeks ago they, socialists and communists and Trotskyists, had lined up behind that very same CHP leader!
These are two different political orientations in response to the “war of two coups”. The DIP is now getting prepared to press for the extension of its correct class line to the class struggle trade unions and also to the rest of the socialist-communist movement, in a spirit of non-sectarianism.