As I have previously written about and dealt with, the Muslim world is in a crisis, and the responsibility for that lies largely with the Muslims themselves. They have to get their act together to ideologically defeat the extremism, and begin a period of Islamic renaissance. But, the West has been a crucial part of this ongoing crisis and does have a significant contribution to it as well, especially with its wrongheaded Mid-East policies.
My thesis is this: By effectively supporting or conniving coups d'etat or such attempts against democratically elected governments in the Islamic world, or unjustly interfering with or invading otherwise stable Muslim countries, the West is inadvertently helping to produce and prolong the unhealthy conditions that eventually become hotbeds of despicable and heinous extremism coming out of that part of the world.
They did this numerous times, and don’t seem to have learned from the past mistakes: They did this in Iran in 1953; they did this in the latest Egyptian coup; and in the recent Turkish coup attempt, they initially seemed almost supportive of the attempt, until it became clear that the coup was not to be tolerated by the people of Turkey.
Is the West serious about really defeating the Islamic extremism or not?
It seems to me as though there is a huge disconnect between their desires and their actions concerning this matter. You can defeat ISIS militarily, but if you don’t change your flawed policies, and don’t address the problem at its roots, I am afraid, you will not be successful in your “crusade.”
In the immediate aftermath of the recent coup attempt in Turkey, in July 15, 2016, Some Western politicians, pundits and commentators were fast to display a familiar tone of brazen hypocrisy and anti-democratic stance regarding the said attempt.
Some were openly celebrating the would-be putsch and some were effectively justifying it by “buts” and “ifs,” just like they have done with the coup in Egypt by el-Sisi, and yet others were shamelessly dabbling in conspiracy theories. Some of them even seem to be dejected that coup did not pan out.
Since when is a coup a recipe/formula that leads to “democracy”? Since when is democracy a top-down endeavor? If there is such a democratic-reset button, why don’t we use it more often successfully?
No. A coup puts a prolonged stranglehold on a nation’s (vital) experiments with democracy, and does nothing but delay, worsen, and sweep the problems under the rug. The justifications that are summoned for such coups are never commensurate with, and worthy of, the brutal carnage and the grave consequences they bring about for millions of people for decades to come.
Contrary to the wishes and desires of some in the West, the Turkish people courageously and admirably defended their democracy against a tacitly-Western supported coup, organized by a very deceitful but ambitious cult in Turkey called the Gulen movement (whose leader is residing in the US!). The West does not really know what they are dealing with here. This is a secretive “Islamist” cult which constantly recruits students, brainwashes and cultivates them to eventually infiltrate government offices, the judiciary, the police and the army, which they did to a good extent in the last three or four decades in Turkey.
To perhaps make an analogy, this cult is like Opus Dei-Scientology combined, and on a steroid, when it comes to how ambitious and secretive they are in their actions and secret goals of obtaining power and world domination by opening up hundreds of schools in various countries around the world, and brainwashing the kids therein who will become the future cadre of elite in these countries.
They don't shy away from lying (a practice called taqiyya) as Gulen has very recently done by denying any involvement with the attempted coup. Turkish people, however, know better. As former chief of staff of Turkey, Ilker Basbug, who is a Kemalist by idealogy and definitely not a fan of Erdogan, did recently state, it is the Gulenist fifth column who is behind this coup attempt.
Gulen has done such denials in many instances in the past. This group did everything to infiltrate the said offices in Turkey, by stealing test-questions-answers for admission tests for government offices, and many other illegal and unethical actions.
The so-called Western analysts are either not genuinely knowledgeable about what the main problem in Turkey is or misleading their readers on purpose by not providing the relevant and wider context of what is happening in Turkey. For example in a recent piece featured in New York times titled “Erdogan Emerges Strong After Coup Attempt, but Turkey Awaits Next Steps,” the authors write: “Alongside the military, the government also dismissed thousands of judges, who seemingly had no role to play in a military revolt.” But it is well known in Turkey that the elected government has been struggling against the elements of the Gulen movement, judges included, who had infiltrated into government offices not to serve the people but the Gulen movement’s interests.
The West drags its feet to acknowledge this.
The golden rule comes to mind: What would the West do if a religious cult purposefully infiltrates their government posts with an ultimate goal of absolute domination?
In spite of all that, the Western media presents him as an ascetic “peaceful Sufi,” and Erdogan’s “legitimate rival” and “scapegoat,” as if one is not just a cleric of a secretive and suspect cult with no more than perhaps 1% of the support of Turkish people, and Erdogan is not a legitimately elected political leader of the Turkish Republic with 52% of the vote.
Why would Erdogan blaim a “peaceful Sufi” who is living in Pennsylvania, and that to the point of straining American-Turkish relations? And why is the West so gung-ho about this shady organization? And why don’t they campaign with the same vehemence for the release of democratically elected leader of Egypt, President Morsi, and his cabinet from the dungeons of Egypt?
The level of anti-Muslim sentiment is so much in the West that the victim of the Turkish coup attempt is portrayed as the guilty party in many an opinion piece.
Further, everyone who professes to be a conservative democratic Muslim (Erdogan) becomes an “Islamist,” but they do call deranged ISIS members and even the Gulenists “Islamists” as well. So how are normal Muslims supposed to make sense of this? Is the West against Islam and Muslims or just the extremist groups and their fringe ideologies?
Erdogan is unjustly demonized, again, just like was done to Morsi, in the Western media. The West has good relations with bloody and brutal dictators and countries of the Middle East such as el-Sisi and Saudi Arabia, but creates huge hue and cry when Erdogan, as President, uses his law-given right in Turkey to prosecute journalists for defamation, not that I agree with every such action Erdogan takes. I would in fact grant that in some of his actions, Erdogan does go overboard a bit, but does that in any way justify demonization or even a coup against him?
Regarding the claim that Erdogan has been amassing power for himself. This is in accord with a legitimate political proposal to shift the Turkish political system from parliamentarian democracy to presidential democracy, and if people support this paradigm, why can’t Turkey do it?
Another point the mainstream media puts a spin on is to make this to be just about one person, Erdogan. The coup attempt was not done just against Erdogan, it was done against the democratic rights of Turkish people. That is the reason these people took it to their hands to resist this illegal act at the risk of getting crushed under the tanks. This also shows the democratic maturity of Turkish people. This resistance to an unjust and undemocratic putsch will also be an example to other “oppressable” peoples of the world.
Is Turkey a mature democracy, and Erdogan a mature democrat? Of course, not. However, some people criticize Erdogan in such a way as to imply that the pre-Erdogan Turkey was this proverbial Switzerland, or that it is an easy thing to just make perfect democracy out of a country like Turkey---whose realities are much more humble than presumed---and that Erdogan took all that away. But we have to look at a country in its political context, culture, and recent history.
Turkey under Erdogan extended democratic rights much more widely than ever before. Yes, he needs to resume extending democratic rights and reenact further reforms, and try to achieve some sort of consensus and harmony with the legal opposition elements.
But we should also be cognizant of Turkey’s rugged political landscape: as Erdogan set out to introduce reforms in his early tenure, he did not find co-operating and willing partners in this endeavor: there was an unruly coup-prone military, a fatal enemy (the Kurdish PKK), a secretive and invidious cult (Gulenists) in the guts of the Turkish State, and sclerotic opposition political parties.
It must be admitted that Erdogan’s party was responsible, and carries part of the blame, for helping and promoting the Gulen movement, not suspecting the possibility that one day this movement was going to also try to bring down the whole country to its knees.
However, it must be recognized that Erdogan and his cabinet are currently the only hope toward establishing a model of a viable democratic Muslim country, and not the dictators that the West has no problems being friends with. A second hope was Egypt's Morsi but they quashed this democratically elected leader and his party (with tacit Western support), killing thousands of protestors and dissenters, and jailing many more, and suspending Egypt’s chance to experiment with democracy.
And then we wonder why ‘Ayman al-Zawahiri’s come out of such toxic environments. If the West does not start realizing this, they will not be successful against the horrendous extremism coming out of this part of the world.
We have to give Muslim-democracies (not an American version or European version) room, and a break, and stop messing with the Islamic world by practicing undemocratic actions and supporting dictators.