Last year, the Turkish city of Ankara was the center of an attempted coup.
Military forces captured important government buildings and media outlets. President Erdogan, fearing for his political career, asked supporters to protest the coup.
A year later, Erdogan is firmly in command of the country and well over 100,000 individuals have been punished for their treasonous actions. Why was there a coup and why did it fail?
The Coup of 2016
Unrest in Turkey has been fermenting for a long while, and the coup was not the end of it.
Supporters of the coup believe President Erdogan has been increasingly authoritarian and implementing harsher Islamic laws. They believe he is driving Turkey away from the secular state it claims to be. Thus, a faction of the military attempted to gain power while Erdogan was on vacation. This is similar to the more successful Soviet coup in 1991.
The coup failed and over 40,000 people were instantly arrested. President Erdogan blamed Gulan, a Turkish-designated terrorist organization. Gulan has denied such claims and states the coup leaders acted independently. Some believe the coup was an inside job ordered by Erdogan to gain more power. The president has used the coup to solidify his supporters in the government and extend his presidential powers.
Why Did It Fail?
The coup failed for several reasons. The most important factor was the failure to gain public support. Many citizens took to the streets to protest the coup. Because the military was unsuccessful in controlling the media, they could not convince the public of the need for the coup.
A second important factor was the international community. The international community supported President Erdogan. They claimed the coup went against the ideals of democracy and that the will of the people must be respected. While some world leaders were hesitant to support a president they believe is threatening democracy, the pressure put on the coup plotters was strong enough to cut off any outside support.
Lastly, the coup was poorly executed. The plot was discovered early, thus forcing the leadership to begin preparations before they were entirely ready. Failure to properly execute the coup meant they were unable to capture or kill President Erdogan and other high-ranking Turkish officials.
The effects of the coup are still felt today. Recently, President Erdogan has touted his victory over the coup and has even said he would “behead the traitors.” The president has also continued to remove non-supporters from his government, and continues to ignore civil liberties in favor of laws aimed at protecting his government. The coup was supposed to defeat the grip Erdogan had, but ironically it appears to have only strengthened it.