The main purpose of the proposed Turkish military action against Syrian is to keep President Erdogan in power so the president can keep himself and his family out of jail.
Imagine events in 2003 had the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff responded to the order to invade Iraq by suggesting that President George W. Bush needed to exhaust all diplomatic options before any action by the military. That's exactly what's happening right now in Turkey.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu used the National Security Board to order an invasion of Syrian territory. Erdogan fears that Syrian Kurds are creating an autonomous Kurdish state in the section of northeastern Syria under their control. The president claims that Kurdish fighters are forcing Arabs and Turkmens to leave the region in a form of ethnic cleansing.
Turkish sources report that the military received "written orders" from Turkey's prime minister to begin operations on Turkey's southern border. This would put the military in direct conflict with Kurdish forces and expose the military to a major conflict with the Syrian Arab Army. The military balked:
"In the face of Davutoglu's written orders, the Turkish military was reported to have asked the government to lay the diplomatic groundwork to facilitate its pending operation along the Syrian border." Today's Zaman, June 29
In 2008, the AKP government (AKP is Erdogan's party) asserted its power by indicting over 100 military officers for conspiring against the state. In 2015, the government's response to the military's clear refusal to follow orders for action in Syria is, on the surface, passive and deferential. A Turkish commentator described the new reality clearly:
"Under normal circumstances, Chief of General Staff General Necdet Ozel would be removed from office and tried for not abiding by the political will of the government." Murat Yetkin, Hurriyet Daily News, June 30
The Real Reason Behind the Order to Attack
President Erdogan fears that he and his cronies will be indicted for corruption and jailed for their acts.
After 13 years of increasingly absolute rule, President Erdogan stumbled badly in the June national elections. He needed AKP to maintain its strong majority in parliament to push through changes to the constitution that would turn the politically weak president into a true chief executive. With that power, Erdogan could continue to do what he did as prime minister: stop any serious investigations into corruption.
AKP failed to get a majority of seats in parliament. In fact, opposition parties out polled the AK Party (AKP) 60% to 40%. The election results are seen as an outright rejection of the plan for a strong chief executive.
Lacking a majority in parliament, AKP must form a coalition with at least one of the three opposition parties. The three opposing parties demand a reopening of the corruption investigations as the price for a coalition. If the coalition efforts fail, President Erdogan can call for "snap elections," a rerun of elections just completed on June 7.
Investigations are a Threat to ErdoÄŸan and AKP
Various Erdogan appointees and cronies were caught on audiotape arranging payoffs and bribes in December 2013. Numerous audiotapes released to the public revealed an elaborate structure of government corruption by AKP supporters.
The audiotapes also included two damning conversations involving Erdogan. In one, he instructed his son to hide cash in an Istanbul apartment before investigators arrived. In the other, he spoke with a senior justice insisting that a pending court case had to be fixed to deter any further corruption probes.
Since the publication of the damning tapes, Erdogan has fixed court cases and fired judges, police and prosecutors to avoid being subject to investigation. That was during a time when the AK Party had an overwhelming majority in parliament. Now, as the minority party with the largest share of votes, AKP is tasked with forming a coalition government. If coalition negotiations fail, as president, ErdoÄŸan can call for new elections.
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