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Turkey: Three Years After the Coup

July 14, 2019 in Economics

By Mustafa Akyol

Mustafa Akyol

On the night of July 15, 2016, millions of Turks (myself
included) found themselves in the middle of a sort of drama – one
they thought they had left behind in the past century: a military
coup. Around 10 p.m. local time, a faction within the armed forces
began arresting top commanders, taking over strategic positions
such as the Bosporus Bridge and the Istanbul Ataturk airport. Soon
they forced the state TV, TRT, to read a declaration that the
“Peace at Home Council” had taken control of the state.
Around midnight, one could have thought that a military coup had
really happened and the government of then-Prime Minister Tayyip
Erdogan was gone.

However, in just a few hours, the coup attempt was overturned.
Other factions of the military and the police force proved loyal to
the government. Perhaps most decisively, civilians took to the
streets, partly after a televised call from Erdogan calling on all
Turks to resist the attempt to topple his government. About 248 of
these civilians paid with their lives, as the putschist soldiers
opened fire on crowds and crushed some with tanks. Today, they are
commemorated in Turkey as “July 15 Martyrs.”

July 15 was a major trauma for the people of Turkey — a
point which, I believe, has not yet been quite understood outside
of Turkey, especially in the West. Meanwhile, the ferocious
post-coup crackdown — one of the darkest eras in the history
of the Turkish republic — triggered a wave of anti-Western,
particularly anti-American, nationalism that threatens
Turkey’s at least 150-years-old Western orientation. Here is
a brief overview of why this has been the case, and what U.S.
policy makers would be advised to do.

July 15 was a major
trauma for the people of Turkey — a point which, I believe,
has not yet been quite understood outside of Turkey, especially in
the West.

Was This A Real Attempt?

I believe so. Because the alternative theory — that this
was a “theater” set up by Erdogan to make use of it
later — is too fantastical. (It is like claiming that 9/11
was an inside job, because it was later utilized by the
neoconservatives in the Bush administration to occupy Iraq.)
Hundreds of officers put their lives into this attempt, only to end
up with jail sentences for life. It is hard to imagine that they
hoped to achieve anything other than a real takeover.

Yet it was a shabby attempt. Turks well know the first rule of a
successful coup: It begins when most everybody is asleep, not when
everyone is awake and probably watching TV. But …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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