Turkey, Opposing the Coup, Surviving Erdogan

Joseph Daher,
Peace News.

On the night of Friday to Saturday, July 15-16, a fraction of the Turkish army attempted a military coup against the AKP government. It was a complete failure. The death toll is more than 290, including over 100 plotters, and 1,400 people were injured.

police in Turkey wrestling a soldier

The plotters claim to defend ‘democracy and human rights’ was actually far from the truth. Gunfire and explosions rocked both Istanbul and Ankara through Friday night, as some sections of the army strafed the headquarters of Turkish intelligence and parliament in the capital. At one point it ordered state television to read out a statement declaring a nationwide curfew. They also tried to attack Erdogan in the resort town of Marmaris and had bombed places he had been at shortly after he left. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was also directly targeted in Istanbul during the coup bid and narrowly escaped. Yet the coup plotters overestimated the support they would find within the military ranks. They were outside the chain of command, which the highest hierarchy has been domesticated by the regime for the past few years. That was the biggest handicap for the coup plotters. They were also grossly under-equipped to achieve their strategic objectives. Most probably that coup plotters appeared to have launched their attempt prematurely because they realized they were under surveillance. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said there had been periodic intelligence about a grouping within the military that could attempt “some sort of an uprising” and that the plan had been to remove them at an August meeting of the High Military Council (YAS), the top body overseeing the armed forces.

They also underestimated Erdogan’s ability to rally his supporters to take to the streets and bringing them out in Istanbul, Ankara and elsewhere even as tanks took to the streets and jets screamed overhead. In addition, the plotters had no popular support of any kind among the population and the society and all parliamentarian parties opposed the coup, including the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) despite the severe and violent repression it suffered from the AKP government. It was also opposed by the leading business groups such as the representative of the leading factions of Turkish finance capital, the TÜSIAD.

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