The first rule of staging a coup d’etat is to make sure you succeed, because if you don’t and you survive, you will be facing a firing squad. The aborted army coup in Turkey is a case in point. Having tried and apparently failed, the army, or rather a small part of the army,. has let itself in for a blood-letting that will change Turkey forever. The Turkish Army was the instrument used by Gen. Kemal Ataturk to initially secularize Turkey. He not only changed the society, but he abolished the Caliphate, and declared Turkey a Republic. Then he defeated the Greek invasion and because he was victorious, the Allies who had recently defeated the Turkish Empire in WWI left him alone (see Blog: “Modern Turkey” Feb 16, 2016).
But, now with Pres. Erdogan, Turkey has returned to its roots as a Muslim state, and this last gasp of the army to overthrow him will lead to a change in Turkey away from secularism and towards Islam that cannot be reversed. Everywhere the leaders of the world have sided with the democratically elected government of Erdogan. But, nevertheless the defeat of this coup gives him the opportunity to finally crush the army and remove all possibility of a continuation of Ataturk’s secular vision for Turkey. It has been reported that he was planning such a further action against the Army and this is what prompted the plotters to act now. He has also now removed nearly 3,000 lawyers and judges.
According to reports, during the coup attempt 161 civilians were killed, 104 soldiers were killed and nearly 3,000 soldiers have been arrested. The Parliament was also bombed by Air Force jets. A helicopter with army officers aboard has reportedly landed in northern Greece and they have asked for asylum, and this puts the Greek government in a difficult position, since to hand them back to the Turkish authorities would almost certainly mean their execution, and yet Greece has been trying to improve ties with Turkey during its current very difficult economic situation.
Ironically in some sense it is a shame this coup did not succeed, because Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian and Islamic and there were reports that he was going to change course and support the Syrian Government against the insurgents in the Syrian Civil War. He is becoming a dictator in Turkey because a majority of the Turks prefer a strong authoritarian Muslim leader to a secular democratic one.