At NATO facilities around the world, 221 colonels, majors, and other mid-ranking officers were given orders that they had three days to get back to Turkey in response to July 15th’s coup d’état in Ankara. Many circumstances surrounding the unrest are still unclear. President Erdogan claims that Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher and businessman living in self-imposed exile in the U.S., is responsible for directing the coup from his sick-bed. On the other hand, per Gulen, the coup may have been staged by the government. At the very least, according to Bruno Kahl, the head of the German Federal Intelligence Service, the uprising “was probably a welcome pretext.”
Surprisingly, after a self-conducted survey, 52.1% of people are unaware of the current purge and another 39% are unaware of the coup at all , though there has been significant coverage surrounding the plight of those who have had their lives turned upside down by the government that they had faithfully served for years. As circumstances have it, I managed to get into contact with three people who are victims of Erdogan’s regime. One was a little girl playing in the room who hadn’t seen her father in five months. Another was a man whose wife and child were practically being held hostage in his hometown. And the last was a man who’s brother had told him not to come home because he would not be given a fair trial if he did.
President Erdogan’s rise to power is one that should have sent up red flags long ago when he started slowly peeling back any political opposition. In fact, EU intelligence sources indicate that Erdogan planned to purge opposition forces in the military before July’s attempted coup, leading to a theory that the coup itself may have been a response to rumours of said purge. The actual involvement was relatively small, with only (per the military’s official statement) 1.5% (8,651) of the military estimated to have participated. Despite this, more than 150 generals and almost 20,000 military officials have been dismissed and/or arrested, not including educators, journalists, or countless family members deemed guilty by association without official accusation or explanation .
A unifying factor for those arrested is “Western influence.” People with ties to the West—especially the U.S. or NATO—were targeted for their devotion to rule of law. Those reading or writing about this issue, could now be considered a terrorist under Erdogan’s definition of the term. In addition, just over 2/3rds of Turks approve of the way Erdogan is handling his duties, based on a survey by Ankara-based MetroPOLL conducted about two weeks after the coup d’état. Most Turks would believe that our meeting was a deliberate attempt to dismantle their constitutional system. The propaganda delved out by government funded media furthers this twisted belief.
Where is this going? As they sadly shake their heads, the three interviewees address this question. They claim there’s doubt that the current regime will remain for long, and they predict violence in the coming days, saying, “The way things are, isn’t sustainable.” Civil war seems imminent. In his quest for power, Erdogan has taken a huge risk in leaving his country unstable both economically and militarily. In addition, it appears that there will be a conflict of interest between the pro-Russian and pro-ISIS. One of the AKP Istanbul district heads maintains a long barrel gun in his office. The situation, it seems as stated by one of the men interviewed, “is headed for darker days”.
Those replacing the purged at NATO are either pro-Russia or pro-ISIS, in any case they’re pro-Erdogan. U.S. Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, stated in an interview with Reuters, “I had talented, capable people here and I’m taking a degradation on my staff for the skill, the expertise, and the work that they had produced”. The statement perfectly sums up the feeling of many of their colleagues, many who consider those purged to be friends.
There’s significant encouragement towards Turks abroad to direct violence toward any of those accused of insurgency. The men I interviewed are concerned about the possibility of being tracked down by Russian co-operators. Allegations of European nations addicting the Turkish youth to drugs as well as other Western countries being vehemently anti-Erdogan been made by a famous Turkish mafia leader Sedat Peker, a large Erdogan supporter. He further claims that he and his supporters can bring extreme violence to Europe. Turkish pro government media outlets refer to KU Leuven as a pro-Gulen “spy-school” with their Rektor (dean) on the cover. The interviewees added, “Erdogan affiliated media is mentioning NATO as a terrorist organization, but the NATO membership is a strong anchor for our country to remain in the civilised Western port. If this anchor is withdrawn, it’s unclear whether our country will be dragged into the dark waters, whose end is invisible.”
As for their future, the two interviewees hope to be granted asylum in Belgium, and the third is trying to get a hold of a student visa in the United States. What must happen for them to be able to return to Turkey? They define two preliminary conditions for being able to go home is the restoration of rule of law or the belief that they could return to defend themselves in court—at the very least if Erdogan steps down. One final question: do they still love their country? “Of course,” is the response I received and is exactly the one I had expected.
 Of over 100 people surveyed of varying age, nationality, and socio-economic background.
 For a fantastic overview of Erdogan’s career, see CNN article http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/18/europe/turkey-erdogan-power-bill/