On July 15, a faction of the military attempted to seize power from the elected AKP government. The attempted coup was defeated within 24 hours, and a jubilant President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared the attempt to overthrow the government to be “a gift from God,” a clear indication that he intended to use accusations of complicity in the coup plot to crack down on his political enemies.
An estimated 65,000 civil servants, judges, prosecutors, academics, and members of the military have been summarily dismissed from their jobs, and more than 30,000 have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in plotting the coup attempt, most of them alleged to be followers of Fetullah Gülen, the US-resident leader of Hizmet, an international socio-religious movement that Erdoğan claims has formed a “parallel state” bent on bringing down the AKP government.
For the time being, it appears that the government intends to maintain a steady course in terms of its economic policy, which has been guided for more than a decade by the goal of joining the EU. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek has taken pains to assure foreign investors that the resolution of the domestic political troubles will not produce any unexpected strategic shifts that adversely affect the climate for investment. Nevertheless, the campaign against alleged supporters of Gülen, many of whom are members of the business community, cannot help but put investors on edge. The government was applying pressure on businesses connected to Gülen even before the coup attempt, and will undoubtedly do so with greater intensity going forward, in the form of unannounced tax investigations, the reallocation of public tenders, and possibly even the nationalization of private firms. Under such circumstances, any foreign investors with financial ties to Turkish partners implicated in plotting the coup—or alleged to have such ties—could be vulnerable to government harassment, or worse.