Despite failure of the military coup, Turkey remains a deeply divided country and bringing back unity must become president Erdogan’s top priority, Valdai Club experts believe.
The coup attempt resulted from a series of strategic mistakes of Erdogan’s government, including the policy on Syria, open support for Islamists and the course vis-à-vis Turkish Kurds, said Veniamin Popov, Director of the Centre for the Partnership of Civilizations at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). According to him, after the failed coup Erdogan urgently needs to change his course or the situation will continue to be very strained.
“There are signs that something is changing in the Turkish authorities’ consciousness,” Popov said, referring to the improvement of relations with Russia and changes in Turkey’s Syria policy.
The biggest challenge for Erdogan now is to avoid revenge on his political opponents, which can aggravate the polarization of society, Popov said.
He was echoed by Mustafa El-Labbad, Director of the Cairo-based Al Sharq Centre for Regional and Strategic Studies. “The failed coup attempt enforces two scenarios now for Erdogan. The first is to take revenge on his opponents and to widen his authorities under the cover of the failed attempt. Here the failed coup attempt will succeed in polarizing Turkey more and more with heavy consequences for Turkey and Erdogan himself. The second and better alternative: Erdogan will see that the Turkish opposition opposed the coup and will try to reconcile with them in order to calm the situation.”
Erdogan is able to adjust his course, El-Labbad believes. “Shortly before the failed attempt Erdogan changed his regional policy to take Turkey out of isolation, now it is time for another brave move internally. The near future will show which scenario is favoured by Erdogan,” he said.