Turkey’s Coup that Failed

The exposure of senior military officials’ plan – called “Operation Sledgehammer” – to destabilize Turkey’s government, and the subsequent arrest of high-ranking officers, demonstrates the growing strength of Turkey’s democracy. Yet some observers still insist on reducing the latest coup plot to the simplistic formula of "secularists" versus "Islamists."

ANKARA – The exposure of the plan hatched by senior military officials – called “Operation Sledgehammer” – to destabilize Turkey’s government, and the subsequent arrest of high-ranking officers, demonstrates the growing strength of Turkey’s democracy. Moreover, prosecutors’ efforts to uncover the truth are not a campaign to discredit the Turkish army, as some allege; nor has the exposure of “Sledgehammer” led to an emerging showdown between “secularists” and “Islamists.”

Turkish society and politics are too complicated to be reduced to such simplistic formulae. Nevertheless, this is a very serious moment for Turkey, because it may mark the country’s transit from decades of military tutelage of its civilian politicians – and thus complete its transition to full-fledged democracy.

“Sledgehammer” is, sad to say, yet another alleged coup plot in a series of attempts to topple the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which was first elected in 2002. According to the Turkish constitution, it is illegal for any agency, even the military, to try to overthrow a democratically elected government. Had such a coup attempt taken place, much less succeeded, it also would have put an end to Turkey’s aspirations to become a full member of the European Union.

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