News ID: 155160
Published: 0709 GMT July 17, 2016

Beyond Turkey's attempted coup

Beyond Turkey's attempted coup

By Mohammad Mehdi Mazaheri

Turkey's Army has orchestrated several coups since the World War II.

 In 1997, military forces overthrew the then prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan. The events of 1997 were dubbed the "post-modern coup" as the generals used pressure behind the scenes to force Erbakan step down, in contrast to the direct intervention of three outright military coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

Since toppling Erbakan, no coups had been staged in the Eurasian nation until the latest one against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Since 1997, the army has tried to depict a democratic image of itself. However, Saturday's coup has raised questions about motives behind it and what prompted the army to run out of patience and resort to military confrontation against the incumbent government.

A number of factors pushed the Turkish Army to decide to topple the Erdogan government.

The army sees itself as the guardian of Turkey's secular constitution. Hence, Erdogan has tried not to create any tension with the army. He has always stressed that his Justice and Development Party (AKP) will respect secularism.

Nonetheless, since the AKP — led by Erdogan — swept to power in November 2002, the army has seen gradual erosion in its clout. Scores of army officers have so far stood trial for attempting to engineer a coup. In 2010, the people of Turkey backed the government's package of constitutional amendments in a referendum which endorsed modifications to the country's constitution. The amendments made the military more accountable to civilian courts.

Besides, Erdogan's plan to lift a ban on wearing hijab in academic centers drew the ire of the army, which regards the issue against the spirits of the country's constitution.

Furthermore, Erdogan has tried to boost his power as the president. He has also followed up intrusive policies in the internal affairs of other countries, particularly in Syria. The army has construed these approaches in contrast to its principles.

Apart from these factors, the army presumed that insecurity, caused by recent bomb attacks in Turkey, has alienated people and they have a negative view of the government. However, such presumptions backfired as Turkish people voiced support for the Erdogan government. Consequently, Saturday's putsch fizzled as people proved that they do not want the rule of the army.

Saturday's attempted coup has bolstered Erdogan's immediate grip on power and boosted his popularity. The Turkish president can now state that he enjoys entire legitimacy and massive popular support.


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