What we know about last night's attempted coup—and what is likely to come nextby David Barchard / July 16, 2016 / Leave a comment
A midnight awakening to news of a coup attempt was probably the last thing that anyone expected in Turkey on Friday evening. Yes, the country is generally agreed to be in a dire way politically, facing armed challenges from the Islamic State, Kurdish militants, and (the government claims) a little-known Sufi movement led by an exiled clergyman living since 1999 on the east coast of the United States. Moreover the drift towards an Islamist-flavoured authoritarian political system still carries on and several opposition parliamentarians seem poised to face court proceedings, if not prison, for things they have said in speeches.
But when around 11 pm on Friday evening, the prime minister, Binali Yildirim, announced that an attempted coup was apparently under way, there was general incredulity. Turkey’s military once dominated the country’s life, a praetorian force which civilian party politicians were unable (or perhaps unwilling) to stand up to. But when Islamists came to power in 2002, the military despite obvious unhappiness did not step in—and between 2008 and 2012 their power was broken by a series of arrests and trials on trumped up conspiracy charges which President Erdoğan himself eventually moved to quash.
I witnessed Turkey’s last full scale military coup on 12th September 1980. It was announced just before dawn and had been carried out with careful planning and forethought. The…