IT was hard to watch the events of the last few months without a feeling of dark foreboding. The coup attempt in Turkey was no ordinary event. Even in a Third World country, it would have been a spectacular event. How could thousands of military men, including senior officers, hatch a plot of this magnitude without being discovered? And what forces has the failed attempt unleashed, as Erdogan goes on a rampage mercilessly routing out all enemies — perceived and real — emboldened by his success in surviving the plot while shaken by the sheer breadth and audacity of it?
The eclipse of the Kemalist old guard in Turkey has opened the door to a power struggle between two visions of Islamist rule — the AKP vs the Gulenists.
Europe is battling its own ghosts, with random killings becoming almost a daily occurrence, and claiming more than 100 lives in less than a fortnight. The perpetrators are found in almost all cases to be young Muslim men with a history of mental disturbance, who have somehow latched on to the headlines of the moment to infuse their personal anguish with geopolitical significance.
There may or may not be any geopolitical context to the actions of the lone wolf attacks being witnessed in Europe. One thing that comes out from the profile of each of the attackers is that these are lonely young men, with a troubled past, and lives torn by conflict. This is not grounds for empathy — after all thousands if not millions of others share their fate without resorting to such deeds — but it is the closest that we can come to putting their actions in any kind of geopolitical context.
The actions of these individuals are fuelling a further rightward shift in European politics. With both Germany and France — the two countries where the attacks are occurring — due for general elections next year, there is a strong likelihood that right-wing parties could come to power.
If this trend keeps up 2017 could be a grim year indeed.