The apocryphal Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times“, springs to mind when reviewing the turbulent events of the last week. From the improvised violence of a lone terrorist inspired by an aberrant form of radical Islam to the planned overthrow of an authoritarian, Islamist-leaning government by supposedly secularist militarists, Europe – in its broadest sense – seems to be lurching from one crisis to the next. The failure of the would-be coup in Turkey may well lead to the very thing the generals claimed they were opposing. The transformation of the Turkish Republic into a quasi-Islamist dictatorship under the iron grip of president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AKP party seems closer than ever. While one can dismiss the allegations that the authorities in Ankara sought and encouraged the coup, the possibility remains that some senior officials were aware of the plotting and chose not to intervene before the conspiracy reached fruition for their own selfish reasons. Given the news that hundreds of law officials, including several leading judges, have now been sacked from their jobs by Erdoğan it is not difficult to discern the future shape of the country’s precarious democracy. In the increasingly Machiavellian world of contemporary Turkish politics almost anything seems possible.
Interesting times indeed.