Who Will Be First to Start Covert Action in Turkey to Remove Erdogan, USA or Russia?

  • According to the Rand Report, Turkish officers are disappointed with the Turkish military upper brass and concerned with loosing their rank.
  • The key players in the coup could be covertly Russia's social engineering attempts.
  • The US could be tired of Erdogan running back and forth between West and East.
  • The Turkish CHP Party does not support Erdogan's operation in Syria.

A voluminous 300-page report released last month by the RAND Corporation released titled “Turkey’s Nationalist Path-Implications For The US-Turkish Cooperation Strategy And The US Army” indicates that the Turkish government’s decision to dismiss hundreds of army officers after the failed 2016 coup in Ankara caused widespread discontent in the country’s armed forces.

RAND Corporation is an American nonprofit global policy think tank created in 1948 by Douglas Aircraft Company to offer research and analysis to the United States Armed Forces. It is financed by the U.S. government and private endowment, corporations, universities and private individuals. 

According to the Rand Report, the Turkish officers are disappointed with the Turkish military upper brass and concerned with loosing their rank. Since ongoing purges have been happening since the failed coup against Erdogan in 2016, the discontent would lead to possible another coup.

Rand analysts note that after the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, 46% of top Air, Army and Navy officers in Turkey were deported or dismissed; 16,409 people were dismissed from aviation, naval and army schools. It is also noted that the government wants to recruit 43,000 new officers to meet the needs of the armed forces. The situation in Turkish aviation is particularly difficult. Before the coup attempt, there were two pilots for each of the Turkish fighters. In September 2017, after the expulsion of 280 pilots, there is an average of less than one pilot per aircraft.

The key players in any coup could be, covertly, Russia’s social engineering attempts, since Erdogan is causing an unsavory situation in Syria against the Russian-backed Assad regime. The US could be tired of Erdogan running back and forth between West and East. Yet, Turkey is a member of NATO. Another player that would be interested in a coup is the Turkish CHP party. CHP (Republican People’s Party) is the second largest party in Turkey. The party is against Erdogan and the action in Syria.  It also secured a majority of seats during municipal elections in the largest cities of Istanbul and Ankara. The party is considered Kemalists and secular social democrats. A poll last month of the Turkish parties could signal the same and covert action by the Kremlin.

The Rand report provides four hypothetical scenarios for Turkey:

1) Turkey will maintain NATO membership and trade relations with the EU and the US without any conflicts.

2) Erdogan looses the 2023 elections to CHP party aided by Russian trolling and a cyber warfare narrative. The US could back the opposition financially, the same way it is doing in Venezuela and in other nations with dangerous regimes. Turkey would then embrace a pro-Western style democracy and have fewer projects with Russia, embracing European Union deals.

3) Turkey tries an eloquent balancing act in Eurasia (Russia, China, Iran).

4)  Turkey officially withdraws from NATO and embraces Putin and the Kremlin.

Overall, Erdogan is close to being in the corner. The question is how the situation will play out. Will it be the US or Russia who launches a covert operation in Turkey or will Erdogan pick a side and drop his interests in Syria?

Russia could use this report to its advantage, as well. One thing is for certain, the report caused a lot of fear in the Turkish government and should not be taken lightly.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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