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Fear of change and the Turkish coup attempt

Had the coup succeeded, Turkey would have been doomed to unrest. No one in the region wants the list of stricken countries to grow

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

When Cairo’s streets overflowed in July 2013 with people protesting against then-President Mohammad Mursi, there were more fears than when people filled Tahrir Square two years earlier. There is a huge difference between the two events in the same capital. Fears increased due to clashes in and outside the protest area, and for the first time it seemed that Egypt’s Jan. 2011 revolution could go the same way as Libya, Syria and Yemen.

The months following Mursi’s ouster were full of clashes and threats to Egypt’s stability. Regardless of the debate over his legitimacy, maintaining stability - especially in such a large country - is considered an acceptable justification for his overthrow.

In Turkey the situation is different. The country is stable, its regime democratically developed over three decades. The current government was elected by a huge majority. There are no large movements demanding regime-change. It is amid this political stability that the coup attempt suddenly took place a week ago. The attempt aimed to obstruct the civil system and take power. We felt like the world suddenly stopped during these dangerous hours.

Regional repercussions

I do not deny that some are angry at the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. However, almost all regional governments and politicians must have been worried that night about possible chaos, given that the wars in Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Syria are bigger than any power’s ability to control them or prevent them spilling over.

People have become used to Syria’s tragedy, and are tired of watching news of it every night. However, the situation there pains the heart. The most recent tragedy there was two days ago, when the regime shelled four hospitals and a blood-donation center in Aleppo.

Had the coup succeeded, Turkey would have been doomed to unrest. No one in the region wants the list of stricken countries to grow

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

We do not know the number of victims, and few details have emerged. The world was busy with the crime of a German of Iranian descent, who opened fire on civilians in a mall in Munich. Less than two days later, a Syrian migrant killed a woman with a machete.

Who can imagine how the region would have been affected if another big country such as Turkey suffered from a similar situation? It is a very scary prospect for the world. Had the coup succeeded, Turkey would have been doomed to unrest. No one in the region wants the list of stricken countries to grow. No one in Europe wants Turkey to become a gateway for terrorists, immigrants and chaos.

Regardless of disputes between countries, politicians realize the wide-ranging consequences of uncalculated adventures. I think even Iran, which is igniting the region with problems, is afraid of the repercussions of change in Turkey. The same applies to Russia. Meanwhile, some of the region’s governments are working on major concessions to put out the fires raging in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and to a certain extent Libya.

God alone knows what would have happened to Turkey had the coup succeeded and the country been divided.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July 26, 2016.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.