25/07/2016 by socialistfight
No political support for Erdoğan’s reactionary government!
Self-determination for Kurdistan!
LCFI Statement 23/7/2016
Mass resistance to the coup on Friday night, 15 June. Not just AKP supporters.
On 16 July at 00:15 Gerry Downing of Socialist Fight Britain wrote in his Facebook wall:
“Absolutely no support for this coup. As reactionary as Erdoğan is we cannot support a coup by the military in the ridiculous name of ‘democracy’ against an elected government. They don’t call it a revolution as they did in Egypt but this can only benefit the US and NATO in the region. Images seems to indicate that the masses and the left are resisting the coup and it will fail. If it does it will also undermine the autocracy of Erdoğan. Down with the coup! Victory to the popular masses!”
It is likely that this coup attempt was assisted, encouraged if not actually directed by US imperialism in response to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s moves to seek rapprochement with Russia (he apologised at last for shooting down the Russian jet)  and with Syria’s Assad.  He also sought to mend relations with Israel all in the past few weeks. As The Economist reported on 5 July:
“Mr Yildirim (the prime minister) has got off to a good start. In a single day last month, Turkey agreed to restore ties with Israel, with which it has been at odds since 2010, and apologised to Russia for bringing down a jet that veered into its airspace in November after a bombing run over Syria. Officials from the ruling party have since raised hopes of progress in peace talks in Cyprus, divided since 1974 between an internationally recognised Greek south and a Turkish-occupied north. They have also floated a cautious opening with Egypt and a rethink of Turkey’s botched Syria policy.” 
The Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey is still without grid power at the time of writing (22 July) since the coup attempt on the 15th. CCN reported “several US defence officials” saying that the military were doing “prudent planning” in case it needs to move its anti-ISIS operations from the base. The base commander Gen. Bekir Ercan Van and several pilots who were actively involved in the coup were arrested. This gives credence to claims that the US were actively involved in the coup. Erdoğan had to circle Ataturk airport for two hours before landing, the parliament was bombed as was Erdoğan’s holiday resort hotel in Marmaris, which he had just evacuated.
There were popular celebrations by the masses as the news of the attempted coup in Turkey spread in cities controlled by Assad. These were spontaneous outburst at the hoped-for end of a government which has supplied all their enemies, including ISIS until recently, with all the weapons and fighters that could cross the border that had inflicted such death and destruction on their communities. Also lending urgency to the CIA/coup plotters was the knowledge that the long proclaimed imminent fall of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, is at hand. The Castello highway, the last supply route from Turkey into the city for the rebels, has been cut since 7 July in Assad’s Northern Aleppo Offensive which began in June 2016 involving some 40,000 troops. Significantly it was cut in cooperation between Russian bombing, government troops from the south and by Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) forces from the north.
Erdoğan has finally lost patience with the US, who are using the YPG as ground troops to attack ISIS. He fears that they want bases in Rojova, Kurdish Syria, to use against Russia and they will guarantee a Kurdish state to get them. Erdoğan fears this will encourage the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey to join with them in creating a Greater Kurdistan. Because of the situation in Iraq that Kurdish region is also independent. But all Kurdish leaderships, Abdullah Öcalan’s PKK, the Democratic Union Party (PYD/YPG) in Rojova and Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Iraqi Kurdistan are, to a greater or lesser extent, clients of the USA – Barzani is by far the most reliable US ally, the other two maintain only a relative independence. But he is also a close and economically dependent ally of Turkey, who assisted him greatly in the civil war of the mid-1990s
Only a 60 mile stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border between Afrin and Kobane now remains in Turkish hands. Turkey is vehemently opposed to members of the YPG crossing west of the Euphrates river fearing they will link up the two Kurdish cantons around Kobane in the east and Afrin (Efrin) in the west in their fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). Although The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have crossed the Euphrates they have asserted that only the non-Kurdish elements of the alliance; the Arab, Assyrian, Armenian, Turkmen and Circassian militias have crossed and that the YPG have not. Turkey has been bombed several time now by ISIS, the most recent was Istanbul’s Atatürk airport on 29 June which took 41 lives, in revenge for Turkey’s volte face in supporting the US attacks on them in Iraq and Syria. So stopping supplies to ISIS is now more acceptable to Erdoğan (though he still supplies his other Syrian ‘rebel’ allies); he has allowed several breaches of his ‘red line’, the Euphrates. But any real attempt to join the two Kurdish cantons would surely meet with immediate military intervention. The SDF is 60% YPG/Kurdish and claims to be fighting to create a secular, democratic and federal Syria, similar to the PKK’s stated goals for Turkey.
Moreover, Counterpunch has an article on 20 July The Coup in Turkey has Thrown a Wrench in Uncle Sam’s “Pivot” Plan which backs up this analysis and points to the central importance for Russia and the US of “critical resources and pipeline corridors from Qatar to Europe”:
A failed coup in Turkey has changed the geopolitical landscape overnight realigning Ankara with Moscow while shattering Washington’s plan to redraw the map of the Middle East. Whether Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan staged the coup or not is of little importance in the bigger scheme of things. The fact is, the incident has consolidated his power domestically while derailing Washington’s plan to control critical resources and pipeline corridors from Qatar to Europe. The fact is, the incident has consolidated his power domestically while derailing Washington’s plan to control critical resources and pipeline corridors from Qatar to Europe. The Obama administrations disregard for the national security interests of its allies, has pushed the Turkish president into Moscow’s camp, removing the crucial landbridge between Europe and Asia that Washington needs to maintain its global hegemony into the new century. Washington’s plan to pivot to Asia, surround and break up Russia, control China’s growth and maintain its iron grip on global power is now in a shambles. The events of the last few days have changed everything. 
Erdoğan’s proposed alliance with Assad is undoubtedly aimed at a joint assault on the YPG in Rojova as soon as the other non-ISIS rebels are defeated, which may come very quickly now. So a large part of the motivation for the coup was to prevent the Turkish/Russian/Assad front developing. Just as important were domestic counter-revolutionary considerations, equally held by both the Army and Erdoğan, to prevent the marrying of the struggles of the western Turkish working class and oppressed with the Kurdish struggle in the south east for self-determination as signified in the emergence of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in the elections in 2015, as we discuss below. Israel apparently has bought into the plan as its concern in the region is always to ensure that no regional power gains hegemony and so becomes able to threaten Israel itself. Currently its target is Iran, allowing Turkey to became a stronger power in order to counter that seems to be their game for now. Israel is not simply the US dog’s tail.
Erdoğan has charged the Muslim cleric and Islamist leader Fethullah Gülen with prime responsibility for the coup and is demanding his extradition from the US to face trial. Secretary of State John Kerry has not outrightly refused, saying it can be discussed if evidence is produced. The US is now desperate to limit the damage from the debacle of the failed coup and Gülen’s head on a plate may be a price they are prepared to pay. Gülen was an ally of Erdoğan until 2013. He runs an international Islamist movement with upwards of 12 million supporters in many countries. His is apparently a different orm of Islam than Erdoğan’s, whom he accused of running a corrupt system, forcing the break. He describes himself and his movement as non-denominational Sufi Muslim. But it is also clearly more pro-US imperialist. His charter schools in the US get generous funding from the government:
“The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story on 20 March 2011, entitled “U.S. charter-school network with Turkish link draws federal attention”, in which it was suggested that certain schools had not been acting in the best interest of the public. The article describes concerns over whether the Gülen charter schools provide adequate and equal education, funded by American taxpayers, and whether using staffers employed under the H1B visa program might be misusing taxpayer money.” 
And he has connections with Obama and the Clinton Foundation:
“In 2016, an email revealed during the Hillary Clinton email controversy indicated that Gülen follower Gökhan Özkök had had direct access to Clinton’s staff member, Huma Abedin, and asked for a 15-minute meeting for Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (an ally of Gülen who lost to Erdoğan in 2014) with President Obama in 2009. The meeting with Obama took place in Istanbul, several days after the email. Gülen followers have reportedly donated between $500,000 and $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.” 
The Daily Mail Online reported on 19 July that as well as the arresting up to 20,000 soldiers, police, judges and civil servants for complicity in the coup:
“15,200 education staff have been suspended by the Turkish government for alleged ties to exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen … More than 1,500 university deans have also been ordered to resign by Turkey’s High Education board, state media reports.” 
It is clear that Erdoğan is using the excuse to eliminate all his opponents right and left. The Economist reported on 23 July:
The purge is so deep and so wide—affecting at least 60,000 people—that some compare it to America’s disastrous de-Baathification of Iraq. It goes far beyond the need to preserve the security of the state. Mr Erdogan conflates dissent with treachery; he is staging his own coup against Turkish pluralism. Unrestrained, he will lead his country to more conflict and chaos. And that, in turn, poses a serious danger to Turkey’s neighbours, to Europe and to the West. 
All these arrests and suspensions has been condemned by the USA and Germany in particular but we can be sure that it is the agents of western imperialism that concerns them and not the fate of the left. Erdoğan can scarcely be expected to act with leniency to the coup plotters. Almost all leading government figures were executed in the coups of 1960 and 1980. Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, Minister of Foreign Affairs Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and Minister of Finance Hasan Polatkan were executed on İmralı island on 16 September 1961 and in 1980 50 people were executed, 500,000 were arrested and hundreds died in prison, according to Wikipedia. In the ‘constitutional coups’ of 1971 and 1997 political parties were disbanded and elected governments overthrown by the decree of the army, backed up by the knowledge of the certain fate defiance would produce. Çevik Bir, one of the generals who planned the 1997 coup which only required that infamous Turkish ‘military memorandum’, made the following chilling threat:
“In Turkey we have a marriage of Islam and democracy. (…) The child of this marriage is secularism. Now this child gets sick from time to time. The Turkish Armed Forces is the doctor which saves the child. Depending on how sick the kid is, we administer the necessary medicine to make sure the child recuperates”. 
Erdoğan has been moving against the supporters of Gülen in the army in recent years as Gülen consolidated his relationship with US imperialism via the CIA and other agencies. The Ergenekon conspiracy in 2008 resulted in very long and complicated trials with indifferent results for him. In the “Sledgehammer” plot in 2010 charges of attempting to overthrow the civilian government were made against four admirals, a general and two colonels and was more successful. In September 2012:
Some 300 of the 365 suspects were sentenced to prison terms, while 34 suspects were acquitted. Three retired generals were sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment: Çetin Doğan (retired 1st Army Cmdr. General), İbrahim Fırtına (Air Force Cmdr. retired General) and Özden Örnek (retired Navy Cmdr. Adm.) on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government by force” but the terms were later reduced to 20 years’ because of the “incomplete attempt at staging a coup”. 
The close alliance between the army and the judiciary led to challenges from the accused over the impartiality of the judges and demands for their removal and implicitly the appointment of judges more favourable to them. There is no jury system in Turkey. Erdoğan has removed a whole swath of the judiciary now in this crackdown primarily because the failure of the Ergenekon trial highlighted the close links between the tops of the Army the judiciary. 
Erdoğan had strengthened his hold of certain parts of the state forces in preparation for the coup he knew was bound to come and that is partially why he survived. Esen Usulu details these in Weekly Worker, 21 July:
The paramilitary Special Operations Police force under the control of the ministry of interior was strengthened to such a degree that the government believed it would be able to fend off an insurrection and if necessary challenge the military. They had been battle-hardened by their role in the Kurdish campaign side by side with the commando forces of the gendarmerie.
The Special Forces Command was created within the army as a brigade of highly skilled, well equipped and mobile solders detached from the chief of staff. In that way they were able to operate independently of other main branches of the armed forces.
The SOP and SFC were based near Ankara, the capital, within self-sufficient compounds, and in numbers believed to be sufficient to meet any contingencies.
The intelligence services were also separated into military and police units, and each was run under the close supervision of the government itself. The traditional control of the national intelligence agency by the military was broken, and a civilian management team occupied the top positions.
Great emphasis was placed on developing signal and image intelligence capabilities independent of the US, and in 2011 military-dominated signal intelligence was placed under the control of the national intelligence agency .
Esen tells us that then “Erdogan distanced himself from the Gülen movement and started to demonise them. He sought support from the military top brass by letting them loose on the Kurds, and reversing the previous policy of seeking a solution to the ‘Kurdish problem’ through negotiations”. Was the Suruç bombing on 20 July, which killed 33 young PKK socialist destined for Kobane, not the immediate cause? ISIS sent a message to Erdoğan that he needed to halt assistance to the Syrian Kurds from the PKK and he responded. Was the attack on Gülen and the sudden reversal of the policy of seeking rapprochement with the Öcalan and the PKK really part of a struggle within the state? Operation Martyr Yalçın began on 24 July and it was surely due to Erdoğan’s increasing concern about the success of the YPG in Syria with the backing of the US. The targets were overwhelmingly PKK strongholds, very few ISIS positions were hit. But the tables have now been turned and he has to seek a new ally in Assad against the Kurds, calculating that it is no longer possible to ally with the ISIS. Remember this is the land of ancient Byzantine intrigues and modern Turkish politics fully lives up to that heritage.
The 1925 Hat Law, secularism and religion
To understand modern Turkey, we must examine the political character of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, its founder. He led the Turkish War of Independence from May 19, 1919 – July 24, 1923 against the occupation of Turkey by the wartime Allies, Greece on the Western front, Armenia on the Eastern, France on the Southern and with them, the United Kingdom and Italy in Constantinople (now Istanbul) – after Turkey was occupied and partitioned following the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in World War I. The Treaty of Lausanne in July 1923 ended the war. 
Atatürk abolished the Sultanate and was determined to modernise and westernise the country, in the reforming tradition of the Young Turks, who also carried out the Armenian Genocide in 1915, to illustrate the political character of Turkish ‘reformers’. On 25 November 1925 Atatürk passed “The Hat Act”, which decreed that only western-style hats could be worn (Oxford shoes and removable collars were also recommended), outlawing the traditional Turkish fez, the wearing of which earned a three-year prison sentence. The law, still on the Turkish statute books though not ienforced now, resulted in huge opposition, riots and dozens of executions, including a woman. The Islamic scholar İskilipli Mehmed Âtıf Hodja, was arrested, tried under the law, sentenced to death (by a judge obviously sent in by Atatürk at the last minute as he had only been given the three-year sentence earlier) and hanged on 4 February 1926 for refusing to renounce his defence of wearing the fez. He and his supporters had also defended the British Mandate and the Greek invasion of Turkey and strongly opposed the new national government, to illustrate the political character of these “representatives of the oppressed”. 
The quote by General Çevik Bir in 1997 above shows that the 1926 Atatürk attitude of religious intolerance and repression lives on in Turkey. And that reactionary religious antimodernism is partially behind the rise of Erdoğan’s AKP, which the coups of 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997 strove to crush. That they also, and even more viciously, crushed the workers’ movement more effectively than the religious Islamists could is an apparent contradiction which we will now strive to explain. In fact, the contempt of the Stalinist-led left has for the religious sensitives of the Turkish peasant and newly urbanised workers post WWII is one of the central political obstacle to socialist revolution.
In his article in 1997 Afghanistan: Marxist Method vs. Bureaucratic Method, Gerry Downing sought to defend the Marxist method of dealing with religious sensitivities and the domination of reactionary Mullahs and landowners over the poor peasants and oppressed women. This is the new 2014 short introduction to the piece:
“I have reposted this piece to shown that there is a Marxist revolutionary approach to religion and women’s oppression and that the early Soviet government of Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolsheviks attempted this in a serious way. This stands in contrast to the Menshevik methods when they were in power in southern republics like Georgia during the Civil War and in stark contrast to the brutally ignorant policies of Stalin and the bureaucracy after they triumphed in 1924. This is the method of Lenin as recounted by Dale Ross (D. L. Reissner), the first editor of the Spartacist League’s ‘Women and Revolution’:
‘The Bolsheviks viewed the extreme oppression of women as an indicator of the primitive level of the whole society, but their approach was based on materialism, not moralism. They understood that the fact that women were veiled and caged, bought and sold, was but the surface of the problem. Kalym (the bride price – GD) was not some sinister plot against womankind, but the institution which was central to the organisation of production, integrally connected to land and water rights. Payment of Kalym, often by the whole clan over a long period of time, committed those involved to an elaborate system of debt, duties and loyalties which ultimately led to participation in the private armies of the local beys (landowners and wholesale merchants). All commitments were thus backed up with the threat of feuds and blood vengeance.
‘… Lenin warned against prematurely confronting respected native institutions, even when these clearly violated communist principles and Soviet law. Instead he proposed to use the Soviet state power to systematically undermine them while simultaneously demonstrating the superiority of Soviet institutions, a policy which had worked well against the powerful Russian Orthodox Church.” 
So by 1925 Atatürk was carrying out a policy against the religious beliefs of the poor and oppressed that was a direct parallel with the policy of Stalin in the southern Muslim republics of the USSR. This is from the article by Dale Ross in the International Communist Leagues (Spartacist) Women and Revolution, No. 12, Summer 1976:
‘In an ominous prelude to the policies of the ‘third period’ such as the forced collectivisation of agriculture, the legal offensive against traditional practices in Central Asia was stepped up until the divorce rate assumed epidemic proportions. ‘…Then on 8 March 1927, in celebration of International Woman’s Day, mass meetings were held at which thousands of frenzied participants, chanting ‘down with the paranja!’ tore off their veils which were drenched in paraffin and burned. Poems were recited and plays with names such as ‘Away with the Veil’ and ‘Never again Kalym’ were performed. Zhenotdel agitators led marches of unveiled women through the streets, instigating the forced desegregation of public quarters and sanctified religious sites. Women suing for divorce became the targets of murderous vigilante squads, and lynchings of party cadres annihilated the ranks of the Zhenotdel. The Party was forced to mobilise the militia, then the Komsomolsk and finally the general party membership and the Red Army to protect the women, but it refused to alter its suicidal policies. The debacle of International Woman’s Day was repeated in 1928 and 1929 with the same disastrous consequences, exacting an extremely high toll on party cadre.’ 
There were no attempts to separate the poor peasants and oppressed women from the religious domination of the reactionary clerics like İskilipli Mehmed Âtıf Hodja, whose execution made him the martyr hero he remains today. Such undifferentiated acts of brutal oppression only strengthened the hold of the Islamacist over the poor and reinforced women’s oppression amongst the poorest of the masses, even if it pleased the middle class of the cities, who were almost all secular Kemalists, relatively well off and often despise the backward religious poor. It was to that Kemalist group the army always appealed to in its coups and they largely welcomed them, if they were nor politically active leftists. As Afghanistan: Marxist Method vs. Bureaucratic Method points out in relation to the Stalinist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) methods in Afghanistan:
“Moreover they attempted to impose the ‘revolution’ from above in such a bureaucratic, heavy handed fashions that it stood no chance. They rode rough-shod over tribal customs and religious sensitivities and prejudices alike. For examples they granted land to the landless peasants without the provision of bank credit to fertilise it or buy seed. In consequence the peasants were forced back to the very landlords who had been expropriated when it was presented to the peasants by the ‘revolution’ in the first place. In many cases they had to accept the most humiliating terms and punishments from these reactionaries, including self- mutilations, for their ‘anti-Islamic actions’.
The PDPA failed to conduct any preparatory campaign against all the other reactionary customs like women’s oppression, e.g., the selling of daughters in forced marriages – the Kalym (bride price) -, etc. They issued ‘binding’ decrees but did not provide any viable alternative. They naturally did not expropriate the landowners by mobilising the peasants.” 
In fact, the Army begat the APK to counter the rise of trade unions and leftist workers’ movements. The whole history of Kemalism is manoeuvring between imperialisms, European and German in particular and increasingly since WWII, the USA. In domestic politics it manoeuvred between the Islamacists, some pro-imperialist in many ways, and the working class since industrialisation particularly since the middle 1950s. Anti-imperialist Islamacists tended to be by far the most socially repressive of women’s rights and all aspects of modernism which, of course, includes trade union rights, the right to strike and rejecting the influence of the clerics. The excessive rise of the APK, to the point of forming majority governments with real power, was an unwanted consequence of the Army’s attempts to stymie the rise of the trade unions, the Turkish revolutionary left and communists. The army was prepared to sacrifice aspects of secularism like women’s rights and trade union rights to cripple the rising workers’ movement:
“The military junta played a role in the mid-1980s in laying the ground for the entrance of Islamist political discourse into the fiercely secular Turkish political scene. As part of its attempt to combat the rise of left-wing politics, it introduced ‘Islamisation from above’ policies which included compulsory religious education, and the reopening of religious schools and institutions. More profoundly, it fused Islamic symbols with nationalism in the hope of combating the revolutionary Islamic thought emanating from post-revolutionary Iran. It also introduced deregulation reforms which strengthened the emergence of an Anatolian bourgeoisie which had strong roots in Islamic culture. This, together with the elitism of Kemalist parties, resulted in the emergence of the Welfare Party, the Islamist precursor to the AKP. 
The child of Islam and democracy had become very ill again and was in desperate need of the blood-purge medicine to be administered by the army by 15 July, the coupists reasoned.
The rights of the Kurdish nation to self-determination
The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) are the main representatives of the Kurds in parliament but they have also appealed to all the poor and oppressed:
“By 2007 Kurdish political leaders regarded the hegemonic Kurdish nationalist discourse as the cause for poor performance at the polls, and for consistent legislative attacks from the state. In order to address this, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) aligned with twenty socialist parties to form the People’s Democratic Congress (HDK); it won thirty-six seats in the 2011 general elections. In 2013 HDK was given a historic opportunity to push its pluralist agenda to an even broader audience after the Gezi Park protest movement erupted in central Istanbul, driven by objections to gentrification in Istanbul and deteriorating press freedoms. The Gezi Park movement offered the HDK a mouthpiece within Turkish urban centres. In October 2013 the HDK established the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the most inclusive Kurdish-led political party thus far, which appealed to anti-austerity, socialist and progressive Turks who had found a platform at Gezi.”
In the 7 June 2015 general election the HDP won 16.3% and 80 in the 550-seat parliament but its vote fell to 10.75% in the November 2015 and they were left with 59 seats. A falling out with the PKK following the collapse of their ceasefire with Erdoğan in late July 2015 and a consequent shift of the more conservative Kurdish voters to the AKP and the leftist youth to the PKK are blamed for this.
We have nothing to withdraw from this extract of our LCFI statement on 13-7-2015 with the addition of the new situation Turkey is in as observed above:
What ISIS are creating cannot be described as a nation or indeed any modern version of a state; the Islamic State is a vile reactionary utopia and has no legitimate right to self-determination. And the US proxy nations, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey and even Israel still support and supply them, because, though the US is at war with them now, they are an insurance policy for US imperialism and they may come in useful later in deposing Assad and even the Iranian regime. Both regimes in Syria and Iran still reflects the anti-imperialism of the Syrian and Iranian masses, the working class and poor peasants, in however distorted a way. Regime change in Syria, Iran and then Russia and China remains the geo-political strategic goals of US imperialism and its European and Japanese allies, whatever temporary diversions may occur and however reluctant these allies might be at times.
Therefore, we must oppose the US bombing of ISIS but we cannot blame the Kurds for taking advantage of the bombing to defend Kobane and other territories that are a legitimate part of a real nation without a state, in fact the largest such entity in the whole world, Kurdistan. Moreover, the Iraqi Kurds, both Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), are puppets of the US/Israel. Also even Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who were the most leftist opponents of Barzani in the 1994 -97 civil war have been attempting to accommodate with Turkey and imperialism at the expense of the Kurdish nation. He now puts forward as his models Gerry Adams and Nelson Mandela, who have succeeded in betraying their own followers and nations and has abandoned the majority of the anti-imperialism of his Marxism-Leninism and has become a type of anarchist, advocating local autonomy as if imperialism did not exist at all. 
Since that statement over a year ago the YPG in Syrian Kurdistan has become even more the foot soldiers for the US against ISIS in the region and, after the rapprochement with Russia and Syria by the Turkish government and the failed coup of 15-16 July, may pay a heavy price for that alliance with the US; a joint assault on them by both Assad and Turkey is now in the offing which Russia will be obliged to support or at least ignore to prevent the setting up of permanent bases against themselves in Rojova. The conflict in the region seems to have no end, but it is changing form rapidly.
The Reaction of the Turkish and international left to the coup
The statement of Turkish Communist Party (TCP) is very slippery with something for everybody, so in the end we are left wondering if they really opposed the coup, if they really did take into account the geopolitical context and really understood why it had to be defeated:
Take the first thesis of the statement:
July 15th coup attempt was not a confrontation between ideologically conflicting centres, but involved at least two and even more state cliques with identical class identities and ideologies. It is not possible that these cliques would be totally unaware of each other’s plans and actions just as it is not possible to tell one clique from the other.
This is simply political gibberish. Far from having ‘identical class identities and ideologies’ and it not being possible ‘to tell one clique from the other’ they were and still are intent on slaughtering each other, surely some indication of divergence, even the most naïve of Marxists would have concluded? And then that Marxist would seek to explain what these were, as we have attempted to do above. The rest of the statement is on a similar abysmal theoretical level, but there are some gems:
- That most of the officers who participated in the coup attempt are mostly Gülenists and that Gülen movements has close connections within the US are facts. The thought that a coup will not take place in Turkey without U.S.’s approval as Turkey is a close military partner of U.S. as a NATO member is correct to a large extent. The main reason behind most of high ranking officers of the Turkish Armed Forces who are frustrated with AKP not attempting a coup is due to the support US administration has lent AKP.
So the US supported both the coup (‘to a large extent’ i.e. maintaining deniability if the coup should fail) but also supported the APK against it we might speculate at least to the extent of encouraging some senior officers not to join. So is the US guilty or innocent? You pays your money and takes your choice.
And points 6 and 7:
- The coup attempt, the powers behind it, the methods used and its ideological basis, do not have anything to do with the interests of the people. The opinion that the country would have seen better days if the coup had been successful is baseless. It is obvious what a pro-American, anti-people coup would mean. 7. It is also nonsense to present the suppression of the coupe as a victory for the people and/or celebrate it is the “festival of democracy” in the tail of AKP. This is an approach which does not question the legitimacy of the AKP regime and which ignores the class fundamentals of what is going on in the country. 
Of course the “interests of the people” is the traditional Stalinist abandonment of class politics; the cross-class fudge that obscures the specific interests of the global working class since the adoption of the theory of the Popular Front by Georgi Dimitrov at the Seventh Congress of the Comintern in 1935. Obviously the coup, if successful, would have been in the interests of some “people” and to the detriment of other “people” else why go to such trouble? And then to speak of “class fundamentals” having totally obscured them in the statement is simply hilarious.
The defeat of the coup is of course a victory of sorts because it was defeated essentially by mass mobilisation. Of course Erdoğan, taking a leaf from the book of Joe Stalin, has now cracked down on “all who oppose us” right and left. The lynching of hapless young conscript soldiers by enraged Islamacist mobs is a very dangerous development for the left and civil society in general but they were not the only ones mobilised and that mass movement will be turned against Erdoğan in the medium to longer term. Certainly the left in Turkey are now in a better place than if the coup succeeded. The statement of the TCP casts doubt on that to appeal to the liberal Kemalists.
However, keeping these points in mind, we have to concur with the main thrust of TCP’s thesis 18; the class must discipline itself in its basic organisations, the trade unions, and it must sort out the politics of its political parties of the left if it is to achieve a “classless society without exploitation”. The Turkish version of the Occupy Movement, whilst a progressive uprising in many ways, contained those very anti-working class notions we saw in Greece, Spain, the USA and in countless other centres globally in that period.  The “Gezi Pluralism” that inspired foolish aspiration of the popular frontist “the 99% vs. the 1%”, “all together now” etc. in Gezi Park in the Summer of 2013 without understanding the basic class structures of Turkish and international society was a big mistake and we must learn those lessons. For these illusions see Emiliano Alessandri, 12 June 2013. In Gezi Park, the Seeds of a More Pluralistic Turkey Have Been Planted.  That was never going to happen in that way. This is thesis 18:
- It needed to be understood one more time that how the enmity of “organising” created a gap at the people’s side, where the Gülen Community gangs which placed into the government, the interest groups, the triggers and even the mafia have been very well organised in the country. If we go further, we can say that everybody who are side with the humanitarian ideals, a classless society without exploitation must work together on the common minded, sustainable organisation. It is called as being an enemy to the people not doing it, legalising the carelessness and laziness. It is the necessity to organise, improve, and empower the class organisation which is free from the religious sects, fundamentalism, capital and imperialist centres. The ones who blessed the people’s not politicised reactions, unorganised masses, and the ones who aimed aimlessness and formlessness together with the expression of “Gezi pluralism” must have been learnt their lesson.
If a common theme runs through the analysis of the non-traditional Stalinist left, including some Maoist, left nationalists and some revolutionary socialist/Trotskyist forces, it is a tendency not to put the coup in the context of the geopolitical struggle in the region and a consequent downplaying of the role of US imperialism or an outright denial of it. This is most pronounced in the Kurdish left, some of whom deny it entirely and refuse to oppose the coup, obviously to seek out the accommodation with imperialism that PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan has long sought.  
If traditional Stalinism is based on Georgi Dimitrov’s Popular Frontism proclaimed in 1935 the more leftist version is based on the Third Period, that immediately preceded it. At the Sixth Congress of the Comintern in 1928 Stalin assured us the whole world was moving into a revolutionary situation with global economic collapse and mass radicalisation. This would force the masses to turn to the communists everywhere. Gone now was the need for the Leninist United Front tactic, now communist-led red revolutionary trade unions were to be formed opposed to the existing reformist ones and the useless tactic of “boring from within” was to be abandoned in Socialism Democratic reformist workers’ organisations, now mass revolutionary parties would quickly be built in direct opposition to these. All forces other that the communists were just one variety or another of fascism; the Tory fascists, the Liberal fascists, the Labour fascists, the trade union fascists, the Trotskyist fascists, etc. The KPD’s refusal to recognise Hitler as the main danger and allying with his Nazi Brownshirts against the Social Democrats, whom they insisted were the main danger, was the crucial political diversion that ensured Hitler’s victory. This anti-theoretical religious child’s catechism rubbish is still visible today.
On 16/07/2016, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), claiming to be “the umbrella organisation of the Kurdish movement”, made their statement on the coup in the website Kurdish Question. It is a typical Third Period statement, leftist and r-r-r-revolutionary sounding in many ways but simply childish in the end. They insist in the beginning that the army was not the main danger in the coup but both are as bad as each other:
“Such power struggles and attempts to seize power are witnessed in undemocratic countries where an authoritarian power makes coup attempts to overthrow another authoritarian power when conditions are appropriate.”
As in 1928-34 all Turkish opponents are equally fascists:
“Democracy forces do not side with either camp. Turkey does not have a civilian group in power, nor is this a struggle between democracy forces and putschists. The current fight is about who should lead the current political system, which is the enemy of democracy and the Kurdish people. Therefore, democracy forces do not side with either camp during these clashes.”
But, emboldened by their own rhetoric, they let slip their real position. We are not neural as we mistakenly said at the start of our statement, it seems, the main enemy really is the APK and not the Army:
“If there is a coup against democracy, it is the one carried out by the fascist AKP government. The political power’s control over the judiciary, the implementation of fascist laws and policies through a parliamentarian majority, the removal of parliamentarians’ immunities, the arrest of co-mayors, the removal of co-mayors from their positions, and the imprisonment of thousands of politicians from the HDP and DBP constitute more of an actual coup. Kurdish people are under unprecedented genocidal, fascist, and colonialist attacks in Kurdistan.” 
Of course the APK are not fascists; there are real fascists in Turkey, the Grey Wolves, linked to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). They inflicted some 5,000 casualties on the left in the political violence from 1976 that led up to the 1980 coup. Neither is the MHP a fascist party, but a far right nationalist one with fascists within it. A fascist movement’s main goal is entirely to destroy the independent organisations of the working class, not simply to repress and harasses and kill. Leon Trotsky defined it thus: “The historic function of fascism is to smash the working class, destroy its organizations, and stifle political liberties when the capitalists find themselves unable to govern and dominate with the help of democratic machinery.” Mussolini did that in 1920, Hitler did it in 1933. Erdoğan has not done it and it is not his aim to do so.
Georgi Dimitrov finished his speech on fascism at the Seventh Congress in 1935 with a list of how to prevent the rise and victory of fascism. He made a passing reference to the mistakes made in Germany a few years before but made no attempt to say what those mistakes were. He signalled that these unanalysed mistakes were now behind us and overcome and spoke only of how to combat the rise of fascism by militant reformist defence of ‘democracy’ i.e. capitalist bourgeois democracy. This ruled out socialist revolution, the direct appeal to the class interests of the class, the only real way to defeat the fascists, whose emergence signals the blood poisoning of the capitalist system itself. This concluding section of the speech in fact signals a turn to the right in rejecting the programme for socialist revolution, a thing that the Third Period adherents, despite all their ultra-left stupidity, never did then and do not today:
Comrades, it is not simply because we want to dig up the past that we speak of the causes of the victory of fascism, that we point to the historical responsibility of the Social Democrats for the defeat of the working class, and that we also point out our own mistakes in the fight against fascism. We are not historians divorced from living reality; we, active fighters of the working class, are obliged to answer the question that is tormenting millions of workers: Can the victory of fascism be prevented, and how? And we reply to these millions of workers: Yes, comrades, the road to fascism can be blocked. It is quite possible. It depends on ourselves-on the workers, the peasants and all working people.
… Fourth, it depends on the vigilance and timely action of the revolutionary proletariat. The latter must not allow fascism to take it unawares, it must not surrender the initiative to fascism, but must inflict decisive blows on it before it can gather its forces, it must not allow fascism to consolidate its position, it must repel fascism wherever and whenever it rears its head, it must not allow fascism to gain new positions. This is what the French proletariat is so successfully trying to do. 
PKK Executive Committee member and founder Duran Kalkan made his position known on 17 July 2016. The website assures us that it can be read as the official stance of the PKK. It is much better than the Kurdistan Communities Union statement, standing unequivocally against the coup. The website put up the following disclaimer to distance themselves from the article:
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of KurdishQuestion.com
This may be because they regard his position as non-revolutionary compared to their own naive revolutionary one. He correctly identified what was progressive about the popular resistance to the coup which was the central element in defeating it:
The coup’s failure did not only come about due to the AKP’s resistance. Opposition parties CHP, MHP, HDP; all civil society institutions, the press and society itself stood against the military coup and resisted it. An extraordinary Parliamentary meeting on 16 July made a stand against the coup and gained control over the situation … The vast majority of public opinion in Turkey opposed the coup and condemned it. It is meaningful and understandable that a society, which has suffered heavily due to coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980 acts like this. International public opinion also stood by the elected government and against the coup. The Kurdish population living under daily military persecution uniformly opposed the military coup and showed that they are against all forms of military intervention.
And he also makes the link with the Kurdish question:
Turkey is a country, which has serious problems regarding its democracy, in particular regarding the Kurdish question. Since 24 July 2015, the Republic of Turkey and the AKP government have waged a full-scale war against the Kurdish Freedom Movement and the Kurdish people. Analysing the coup attempt without taking this into account is not possible. In brief, this coup took place in a state, which for the past year has been constantly carrying out brutal attacks, most of which are war crimes, against the Kurdish people. The Turkish Army, which the putschist group was born out of, has been fighting the biggest war of its 95-year history and carrying out genocidal attacks against the Kurds. Therefore, the coup attempt grew out of an army that is currently waging a very unjust war against innocent people.
He attempts to show he is not a Stalinist dogmatist of the Third Period nor yet a reformist Stalinist of the Popular Front, however he still maintains that mindset of the latter. What is his solution to this crisis? ‘Democracy’, that old Stalinist bulwark against socialist revolution:
“It cannot be any clearer; a democratic resolution of the Kurdish question, with recognition of all Kurds’ national-democratic rights, is needed. The change in mentality and politics that will bring this about will also make Turkey a real democracy. A truly democratic Turkey will mean an end to military coups. There is no other way of preventing another coup. Having defeated it today does not save the country from possible future coups. So, while it is important that the recent coup was defeated, it is more important to democratise and change the conditions to prevent another one. This means turning the anti-coup alliance into an alliance and practice that can realise democratisation, which in turn means that the AKP must surpass its anti-Kurdish and dictatorial mindset. The Kurds have always said they are ready for democratisation. The HDP and Kurdish people have displayed a clear attitude against the coup. Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan warned the AKP government of a coup 15 months ago and stated that the Kurdish people were ready for a democratic solution to the Kurdish question. If the internal and external reactions against the coup are really sincere then they must pressure the AKP for democratisation. After all, a democratic Turkey is good for everyone except a handful of fascist mobs.” 
But capitalist ‘democracy’ keeps capitalist exploitation in place, it allows more or less the penetration of transnational corporations from the US and Europe in to exploit the masses, and together with the oppression meted out by native capitalists provokes mass resistance, the very reasons for the coups of 1960 and 1980. We don’t think the current failed coup was caused by the war against the Kurds or geopolitical considerations alone but also by the perception of US and German imperialism that the advance of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in the 2015 elections, which raised the prospect of uniting the rights of the Kurdish people to self-determination with the struggles of the poor, oppressed and marginalised led by the working class in their trade unions threatened socialist revolution. Whatever the inadequacies of the HPD leadership, and they are many, raising the prospect of that united struggle brought into focus the prospect of the Trotskyist Permanent Revolution being implemented with all its revolutionary consequences. And that was also very much part of the reason for the coup, as well as the international geopolitical goals of US and German imperialism and its agents in Turkey, discussed above.
The Dördüncü Blok and the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency
The two joint statements of Dördüncü Blok (Turkey) and the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT/DKUE) came in the early morning and late evening of 16/7/2016.   One puzzling thing for those not familiar with the politics of the RCIT is the use of the phrase ‘Great Powers’. This is a quaint term from the epoch of colonialism so we had to look up its modern application. It is the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and Japan; China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and Japan. Why not say ‘imperialism’, the modern Marxist term?
The LCFI has always identified the global hegemon, US imperialism, as humanity’s main enemy in this region, as it is in every other. Its subordinate imperialist powers in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan etc. cooperate in exploiting the globe under its leadership still, however grudgingly and unwillingly for some. Neither Russia nor China or any of the other BRICS states, Brazil, India and South Africa, are imperialist in that Marxist sense of dominating the globe via their finance capital and forcing compliance via military superiority and its CIA-organised coups, though they are all advanced capitalist states with clear imperialist ambitions, Russia and China in the first place. These ambitions cannot be satisfied while the US remains the global hegemon. On the contrary the US is continually planning and manoeuvring to reverse its relative decline over the past several decades. The details of how the CIA and MI6 organised the 1953 Anglo-American coup that overthrew the democratically-elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh on 19 August 1953 (codenamed TPAJAX by the CIA and Operation Boot by the MI6) were published in 2013 illustrating how they still operate today. 
On the other hand, the RCIT designates Russia and China as imperialist powers;  the LCFI are of the opposite opinion.  We will not go further into the arguments here except to note that neither statement examines the geo-political significance of the attempted coup as a possible explanation of why it was attempted. In fact, point 2 of the first statement makes the following claim:
2.The reason for this coup is that Erdoğan has not sufficiently served the interests of the western Great Powers and the Turkish capitalists. He tried to keep some independence while establishing a presidential police state with him in power. However, the coup is in the first line not directed against Erdoğan, but against the popular masses and the Kurdish people and their already limited democratic and social rights. Revolutionaries still have to consistently politically oppose the bourgeois-reactionary AKP which tried in the last years to undermine democratic rights and oppress our Kurdish brothers and sisters. But we oppose any military persecution of the AKP. This expresses not our political sympathy but underlines that the main enemy of the workers, peasants and poor is the military!
Would it not be better to say that the coup was directed against Erdogan in order to have the power to more immediately defeat “the popular masses and the Kurdish people”? And keeping the whole thing as a Turkish affair means we do not have to examine the geo-political manoeuvrings of the ‘western Great Powers’ i.e. imperialism proper in its wars in Libya, Syria Afghanistan and Iraq and whether this was another one of those attacks. And the use of the term suggests that the ‘eastern Great Powers’ are just as bad in their warmongering and global oppression, a manifestly false notion. Whilst the RCIT are close to the LCFI in many ways we have sharply differed with all those who seek to apologise for the crimes of US imperialism or to minimise them in any way. We have made our differences known on Libya and on Syria very stridently. 
The RCIT and the al-Sisi coup in Egypt
The RCIT are not so good on coups which involve reactionary mass mobilisations. On 2 July 2013 they issued a statement on the situation in Egypt. On the following day al-Sisi launched his coup. This statement was full of wild enthusiasm for the revolution then unfolding in Egypt, which was victorious the following day with the accession of the revolutionary General al-Sisi!! Under the heading ‘A New Revolutionary Wave’ counterrevolution was mistaken for revolution because the mobilisation was reportedly 15-17 million strong. The fact that these demonstrations were sponsored and/or supported by Egyptian billionaires, by the Army, by Israel and the CIA counted for nothing against such numbers:
The current revolutionary wave is the largest mobilization of the workers and the poor so far. Not tens of thousands as the supporters of Morsi hoped, not one million as the organizers hoped, but 15-17 millions took to the streets in different cities on 30th June! These cities did not only include Cairo, Alexandria or Suez but also for example the industrial proletarian stronghold of Mahalla where hundreds of thousands of workers were gathered at Al-Shoun Square.
Before, Morsi said that there would not be a second revolution in Egypt, but by the end of the day he was hiding while anger against Morsi swept the streets. At least seven people were killed and more than 600 wounded in clashes between the pro and anti-Morsi groups. Former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Tharwat Kherbawi said that President Mohamed Morsi is hiding now in an undisclosed location, in preparation for his escape out of the country. While Morsi declares no revolution will take place five Ministers deserted him. The rats are leaving the sinking boat. One year in power has been sufficient to expose the nature of Morsi regime. It showed to be a bourgeois regime in religious cloth, serving the imperialists and the local capitalists as well as an ally of Israel (as was Mubarak before Morsi). On June 30 different marches met in Tharir Square. The fact that the revolutionary masses took over Tahrir square is by itself an indicator of the relationship of forces in favour of the revolution. The march from Giza was led by Nasserite presidential candidate Hamdeen Sa-bahi and the Kamal Abou Eita, the leader of the newly formed Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions. This march merged with another one led by liberal opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei. 
It did note a few political problems with these demonstrations but nevertheless it was almost certain, we felt, that these problems would be overcome in the course of the ‘revolution’. Certainly the Revolutionary Socialists had crossed the line by joining an actual bourgeois alliance rather than by only collapsing politically to it as the RCIT did:
The lack of such a party is clearly visibly if one looks to those forces which claim to be revolutionary and pro-working class. The Revolutionary Socialists (sister organization of the British SWP) is part of the bourgeois-dominated alliance National Salvation Front. The RCIT is of the opinion that while it is necessary to take part in joint actions with those forces – even if they are bourgeois – who lead sectors of the rebellious masses against the Morsi regime, it is a betrayal to the principles of working class independence to join a political alliance with them.
So while it is correct to march with the June 30 coordination committee – including the forces of the Nasserite Hamdeen Sabahi and the bourgeois-liberal ElBaradei – as part of a united front, the question is which class will lead this revolution. This magnificent show of the power of the masses must not be wasted by the bourgeois leaders of the Salvation Front who simply want to take the place of Morsi in order to do the same-serving the imperialists and the local capitalist.
Surely it was not a united front it you allied with the likes of the “bourgeois-liberal ElBaradei”, unless you could portray him as some king of principled anti-imperialist, which clearly he was not. Such alliances are called Popular Fronts. Some six weeks later, on 14 August the RCIT defended its stance of 2 July:
The protests against the al-Sisi regime are currently led by the bourgeois-Islamist leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. The RCIT does not support in any way the politics of this party. Quite the opposite, the RCIT supported the mass protests against the Morsi government on 30th June and before. These protests were progressive because the workers and poor fought for bread and democratic freedom against the bourgeois-democratically elected Morsi government. However, the military coup created a completely new situation. The army command takeover was thoroughly counter-revolutionary albeit it claimed to be related to the 30th June demonstration. In fact this claim was nothing but a fig leaf for the army command, the imperialists and the fulool (remnant of the Mubarak regime) to take power directly in their hands and to start an anti-democratic rollback.
Oh dear! A good attempt as damage limitation but what a disastrous error! The ‘protests’ produced the coup, were part of the preparation for it, were consciously organised and orcastrated by the Army and the CIA and bankrolled by billionaire Naguib Sawiris to enable the coup. The claim that the coup and the protests were unrelated is nonsense on stilts. The fact that the counter-revolution encountered no resistance from the bogus ‘revolution’ shows that unquestionably they were the same thing!
Kudos to the RCIT for recognising it as a counter-revolutionary coup, others on the far left, like Rob Sewell, of Socialist Appeal/IMT and the Revolutionary Socialists/SWP and the WRP News Line refused to do even that; it was a stolen revolution!   But mistaking a counterrevolution for a revolution is as bad as you can get; being unable to correct the error means that the method that produced has not been reassessed and it will be repeated. They were also in good company on Libya and Syria but some on the left were more sensible, like the CWI, and rowed back on Syria when that ‘revolution’ proved to have no revolutionary programme, leadership or followers and was only a ‘revolution’ because Barak Obama and David Cameron said so. In an article on 12 June 2013 Syria threatens sectarian middle east war Peter Taaffe wrote:
Initially there was a popular uprising of “hundreds of communities” in Syria, inspired by the ‘Arab Spring’, against the monstrous police state of Assad. Previously, there had been movements of trade unions and workers against reductions in living standards and the privatisations carried out by Assad. It appeared in the first instance that a genuine movement had developed against a dictatorial regime and, moreover, one striving to bridge the divide between the majority Sunni population and the country’s minorities, including the biggest minority, the Alawites (a branch of the Shias) to which Assad belongs. But this changed with the outside intervention of the reactionary forces opposed to revolution in the region – notably the semi-feudal monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar – backed up by imperialist forces. They hoped to repeat their success in Bahrain and particularly in the derailing of the Libyan revolution. 
Of course the Benghazi rebels never led any kind of a revolution nor was any ‘revolution’ advancing in Syria, it was merely a legitimate struggle for democratic rights at the start, but such pragmatic accommodation to the facts from the CWI is the least we might expect from Marxists. The RCIT are even now supporting the ‘revolution’ in Syria.
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