Turkish Coup Attempt Fails

Raeesa Ashique - 2N Electrical
Posted on: July 17, 2016

Turkey’s latest military coup attempt began on the evening of Friday, July 15, followed by several hours where it appeared that troops were in control as they occupied several important strategic locations in Ankara and Istanbul. There were tanks outside the Atatürk airport, jets and helicopters flying over the capital, and troops blocking the bridge over the Bosphorus strait, which connects the European and Asian sides of the country. They also took over media outlets, announcing that the “Peace at Home Council” was now in charge and would be enforcing a curfew and martial law. It was a violent night of shooting and explosions, resulting in at least 232 deaths at the time of writing, and 1400 others wounded.

At the time, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was vacationing at the seaside resort of Marmaris, from where he dialed into CNN Türk via Facetime, saying “I urge the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports. I never believed in a power higher than the power of the people.” He later flew into Atatürk, giving a press conference wherein he promised that traitors would “pay a heavy price”. From the time of his arrival, it became clear that the government was regaining control and that important military leaders were on the side of the democracy. Groups of soldiers began to surrender Saturday morning, key locations were regained, and it was over by Saturday evening.

Turkey has a history of coups: there have been four since 1960. In order to be successful, the plotters needed the support of the general public or the military, neither of whom came on board. The Turkish foreign ministry’s statement said that the coup attempt “was foiled by the Turkish people in unity and solidarity. Our president and government are in charge.”

Hulusi Akar, the army’s chief of staff, has been released from the base where he had been held hostage. The navy chief and special forces commander also spoke out against the attempt. Apparently, those involved made up a small minority of the army.

Around 6000 people have been arrested to root out the problem: Mr Erdoğan promises to “cleanse the virus from all state institutions, because this virus has spread. Unfortunately, like a cancer, this virus has enveloped the state.”

It is still unclear who is responsible, although Mr Erdoğan has blamed the Gülenists. The Gülen movement is led by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is on a self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the AKP (Justice and Development Party) Government. The Gülenists have denied any affiliation with the attempt, and violence is not their usual path of action.

At the time of writing, there have been conflicting reports about a former air force commander’s alleged confession. Anadolu news agency quoted General Akin Ozturk claiming to have “acted with intention to stage a coup”, but his statement to prosecutors denied having any part in it.

Either way, the country’s instability is already more than accounted for, between Syria, IS, and Kurdish insurgency. A military coup is not exactly what Turkey or the EU need.