THE COUP D'ETAT IN TURKEY: A COMMENT
"Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on his supporters to take to the streets and airports to fight off an ongoing attempted coup that’s left Turks unsure of who was in charge of the country. President Erdogan, whose location was unclear, used a video livestream on a mobile phone to respond to the military group which had two hours earlier seized key points in the capital Ankara and the main city of Istanbul. His appearance added to the confusion, without information on his whereabouts, and the reverberating counterclaims from the unidentified military officials who appeared to have taken control of television and radio stations and sent fighter jets into the skies and rolled tanks into the streets of Ankara, the capital.... He added that the “chain of command has been violated. This is a step against the higher ranks, and the judiciary will swiftly respond to this attack.” The military, which has toppled the government at least three times since 1960, said earlier that it had taken over the “administration of the country, to reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedoms, the rule of law and the general security that was damaged.” But the identity of those in the military who had issued the statement, and earlier ordered tanks into the streets and closed the major bridges connecting Istanbul’s Asian and European sides, remained unclear. Other statements read out on television channels were attributed to a previously unknown group called the Council for Peace in the Homeland.... “This looks like a well executed coup for the moment, though only by lower ranking military officials,” said Mujtaba Rahman, at the Eurasia Group. “The way Erdogan wants to resolve this is by getting civilians out to pressure the military, but this clearly risks seriously raising the stakes in the confrontation.” Mr Erdogan made his comments on CNN Turk, a private television channel, via the FaceTime video app on an iPhone held up by the newsreader. A journalist for the state broadcaster, who asked not to be named, said it had been “evacuated by the military” when its news broadcast was about to begin shortly before 8pm GMT. “They confiscated everyone’s phone on the way out,” the reporter said. “We all thought it was a hijacking of a plane at first [following rumours of an attack on Ataturk airport]. Everyone went home and as things unfolded, all TRT buildings were being taken over by the military at the same time.” As it took control of the state broadcaster, the military group announced a general curfew, and the highest level of security at ports, airports, borders. In Istanbul, Gazientep, and Erzurum, thousands of people were reported on the streets, but there were no credible reports of widespread violence. There were conflicting accounts of hostilities — the state-run newswire, which has been reportedly occupied by coup members, said a helicopter killed 17 police officers, while a source in the President’s office said a F16 had shot down a helicopter. Gunfire could be heard in the streets of Istanbul, with local mosques calling citizens on to the streets, and reports of raids on automatic teller machines amid the chaos."Mehul Srivastava, Laura Pitel, David O’Byrne, Funja Guler, Demetri Sevastopulo, Joe Rennison, "Turkey’s Erdogan calls citizens to streets." The Financial Times. 15 July 2016 in www.ft.com. The coup d'état in Turkey to-day is certainly a bit of a surprise. While there was in the past (circa 2006-2010) rumors of possible military plans for a takeover, there has not been anything resembling the same in the past five to six years. With the guiding assumption that the AK government of former premier, and now President Erdogan having in essence de-fanged the armed forces. Such now appears not to be the case. As far as one can make out, the coup leaders appear to be lower level officers (Brigadier Generals and below) rather than anyone in the upper reaches of the military hierarchy. In itself this appears to be at variance with the past history of Turkish coups, wherein the military as an institutional and coherent bloc, would intervene to overthrow a particular government. The other change from coups in the past, was that there is nothing resembling a societal wish for any such military intervention, per contra to both past examples in Turkey (especially those of 1960 and 1980) and more recent examples of both Egypt and Thailand. Without being anyway an 'expert' on Turkey, my own surmise for what it is worth is that this coup will fail. If not to-day then tomorrow, if not tomorrow then by no later than five to seven days. Turkey is (whatever else one may say of her, and I am the very opposite of a Turcophile to put it mildly), somewhat beyond the stage as a society wherein the armed forces can tout `a coup overthrow an existing government, which while semi-authoritarian and not wildly popular, has for the most part some degree of popular legitimacy. The example of Spain in 1981 immediately comes to mind. How matters will play out is of course unknowable at this time. It could be that some variant of 'people power' will force the armed forces back into its barracks and little or no blood will be shed. It is only if there is a sustained and consistent employment by either side of force that the chances that this unfortunate and unnecessary (whatever one thinks about the egregious President Erdogan and his hideous policies) coup will be foiled. The world has enough problems on is hands, especially Europe and its immediate neighborhood for the Turks to add to the mix.