Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

Turkey coup Ozan Kose/Stringer

Turkey’s Baffling Coup

No one expected a military-led putsch attempt, much less the seeming amateurishness with which it was carried out. What is certain is that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will use the episode to tighten his grip on power.

GRANADA – Military coups – successful or otherwise – follow a predictable pattern in Turkey. Political groups – typically Islamists – deemed by soldiers to be antagonistic to Kemal Atatürk’s vision of a secular Turkey gain increasing power. Tensions rise, often accompanied by violence on the streets. Then the military steps in, exercising what the soldiers claim is their constitutional power to restore order and secular principles.

This time, it was very different. Thanks to a series of sham trials targeting secularist officers, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had managed to reconfigure the military hierarchy and place his own people at the top. While the country has been rocked by a series of terrorist attacks and faces a souring economy, there was no inkling of unrest in the military or opposition to Erdoğan. On the contrary, Erdoğan’s recent reconciliation with Russia and Israel, together with his apparent desire to pull back from an active role in the Syrian civil war, must have been a relief to Turkey’s top brass.

No less baffling was the almost amateurish behavior of the putschists, who managed to capture the chief of the general staff but apparently made no meaningful attempt to detain Erdoğan or any senior politicians. Major television channels were allowed to continue to operate for hours, and when soldiers showed up in the studios, their incompetence was almost comical.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/shzzjTd;
  1. haass107_JUNG YEON-JEAFP via Getty Images_northkoreanuclearmissile Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images

    The Coming Nuclear Crises

    Richard N. Haass

    We are entering a new and dangerous period in which nuclear competition or even use of nuclear weapons could again become the greatest threat to global stability. Less certain is whether today’s leaders are up to meeting this emerging challenge.

    0