Why provoke anti-Western sentiments?

Published 10.08.2016 00:25

A number of surveys conducted during the democracy watch gatherings have sought to find out why people took to the streets on the night of the failed coup attempt. Those people did not hesitate to resist the coup, not just when the president asked them to do so, but even before his call. It is of obvious importance for political analysts to find out why.

People say they resisted to save the future of their children. When they learned that a coup plot was unfolding, they instantly understood that if it succeeds, they could lose everything. The Turkish people know through bitter experience that military coups bring only political instability, economic crises and social unrest.

Some people claim that those who participated in the democracy watch gatherings have little to do with democracy. They do not understand however that ordinary people noticed they are equal as individuals and thus they are determined to defend their future, their incomes and lifestyles. They have a political identity of course and they positively responded to the calls of their political leader to stay in the city squares. But let's not forget that they are the ones who stopped the coup by instantly flooding the streets and standing up against the tanks.

Surveys show that most Turks believe the Gülenist Terror Cult (FETÖ) led by Fethullah Gülen was not alone in organizing the plot, with 80 percent convinced that Western powers contributed to this coup attempt. When one asks them to name this Western power, people point fingers at the United States along with a number of European countries.

The negative perception of the Western world is mostly the result of the attitude shown by the Western media toward the coup attempt and the aftermath. People in Turkey believe, as they do about PKK terrorism or about past coups, that Westerners are somehow involved in the creation of Turkey's problems.

I'm not sure that Westerners are aware of how they are perceived by Turks and for what reasons.

A number of journalists and scholars in the United States and Europe believe that the current government is acting to distance Turkey from the West. We know that a number of Western leaders dislike Turkey's current government very much. Oddly, they don't see that their criticism towards the Turkish government is precisely what provokes anti-Western feelings among the population.

When they hear criticism directed towards their government, the Turkish people don't doubt their government but they doubt the good-will of those foreigners who engage in criticism. The West in both action as well as rhetoric provokes anti-Western feelings in Turkey, then they are surprised when Turkish people express negative feelings about them.

One wonders who would benefit from an anti-Western Turkey. Does the West want to win Turkey or to lose it?

Perhaps this is intentional. Perhaps there are a number of Western countries who have calculated that an anti-Western Turkey would be preferable for them. Perhaps they imagine that Turkey will renounce its EU accession bid or that it will leave the NATO alliance. Perhaps they imagine that thanks to an anti-Western Turkey, they would be free of many obligations and will be able to look for new partners. Perhaps they imagine the creation of a relationship like the one between Iran and Europe: economically close, but politically distant.

An anti-Western Turkey would not be great for those European countries that have always worked for close U.S.-EU relations. They have probably noticed that an anti-Western Turkey is not such a good idea, strategically speaking. They know perfectly that even if Turkey cannot impose its own games on them, it is perfectly capable of blocking the games of others.

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