"Erdogan is now in a stronger position than he might have imagined early on Friday night"by Tahir Abbas / July 18, 2016 / Leave a comment
Since Turkey’s failed coup d’état ended prematurely on Saturday morning, over 6,000 military personnel and judges have been arrested or detained. There has been a massive sweep of the “plotters” at the behest of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party, the AKP. These people will face the President’s fury, along with immense public indignation. It is apparent now that only a minor fragment of the military carried out this rather insubstantial coup.
Moderate Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, was once a close ally of the AKP and a supporter of its policies. But since 2013, when relations soured, Gulen and his liberal socio-religious movement have been blamed every time something doesn’t go according to plan in Turkey. True to form, Erdogan accused Gulen of being behind the coup attempt, though the government has been unable to put forward any evidence for this. Meanwhile, Gulen and his followers vehemently deny any wrongdoing.
Turkey had military coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980. The so-called “post-modern” coup of 1997, in which the military issued “recommendations” without deploying forces, led to the resignation of the then Prime Minister and the incumbent government. Many of the generals involved in that coup were imprisoned in 2013 and then freed in 2014. Some commentators had recently observed that the military had begun to reorganise itself after their release. Yet few predicted the events of the last few days.
Such was the resistance to the idea of the military in charge that opposition groups and vast swathes of the population came together in a tremendous show of will. The people of Turkey clearly felt the status quo was more favourable than the prospect of the suppression that often characterises military rule. The reluctant recruits of the coup were at the mercy of angry mobs who were maddened by accounts of soldiers firing at civilians. By the end, the death toll had reached 265 people.