Blogs: The Skeptics

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The Turkish Coup Wasn't an Inside Job

The Skeptics

All of these suppositions are plausible and conform to the historical pattern witnessed in Turkey. In addition to the coups of 1960, 1971 and 1980, the army has staged a “postmodern” coup in 1997 to remove an Islamist-led government. As late as 2007, the army high command sent a clear message through its website that it opposed the elevation of Abdullah Gül to the presidency because his wife wore a headscarf. This last attempt failed and, in fact, triggered a purge of leading military figures through the combined efforts of the AKP executive and Gülenist functionaries in the police and the judiciary. Additionally, the fact that Erdoğan has now made his peace with the military high command by blaming Gülen-affiliated members of the police and the judiciary for the trials and sentencing of high-ranking military officers (now reversed), in the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases, could have been read by secular officers as a sign of his weakness and thus tempted them to strike before he regained his stride.

This seems to be the most plausible explanation. The Gülenist elements in the military—and there are some, to be sure—most probably made common cause with dissatisfied secular officers against their common enemy. It is not surprising, therefore, that the government has been able to find enough Gülenists among the putschists to make the case that Fethullah Gülen was the chief architect of the coup attempt. This does not mean it was a Gülenist coup.

We know that the putschists’ calculations turned out to be wrong. The military high command stayed loyal to the civilian government, and the opposition parties were united in condemning the coup attempt. Above all, common citizens—both Islamists and secularists—turned out in their thousands to oppose the coup attempt. Although at this stage it is difficult to provide a definite answer as to who plotted the coup, and with what goals in mind, one can reasonably surmise on the basis of fragmentary evidence and the history of earlier coups in Turkey that the hard-core secular officers were most probably the dominant force in the attempted overthrow of the Erdoğan government, with some (one does not know how many) Gülenist officers acting in a supporting role.

Mohammed Ayoob is Senior Fellow, Center for Global Policy, and University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Relations, Michigan State University.

Image: Turkish police forces in Diyarbakır, Turkey. Wikimedia Commons/Voice of America

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The Democrats' Three-Way Split on Foreign Policy

The Skeptics

All of these suppositions are plausible and conform to the historical pattern witnessed in Turkey. In addition to the coups of 1960, 1971 and 1980, the army has staged a “postmodern” coup in 1997 to remove an Islamist-led government. As late as 2007, the army high command sent a clear message through its website that it opposed the elevation of Abdullah Gül to the presidency because his wife wore a headscarf. This last attempt failed and, in fact, triggered a purge of leading military figures through the combined efforts of the AKP executive and Gülenist functionaries in the police and the judiciary. Additionally, the fact that Erdoğan has now made his peace with the military high command by blaming Gülen-affiliated members of the police and the judiciary for the trials and sentencing of high-ranking military officers (now reversed), in the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases, could have been read by secular officers as a sign of his weakness and thus tempted them to strike before he regained his stride.

This seems to be the most plausible explanation. The Gülenist elements in the military—and there are some, to be sure—most probably made common cause with dissatisfied secular officers against their common enemy. It is not surprising, therefore, that the government has been able to find enough Gülenists among the putschists to make the case that Fethullah Gülen was the chief architect of the coup attempt. This does not mean it was a Gülenist coup.

We know that the putschists’ calculations turned out to be wrong. The military high command stayed loyal to the civilian government, and the opposition parties were united in condemning the coup attempt. Above all, common citizens—both Islamists and secularists—turned out in their thousands to oppose the coup attempt. Although at this stage it is difficult to provide a definite answer as to who plotted the coup, and with what goals in mind, one can reasonably surmise on the basis of fragmentary evidence and the history of earlier coups in Turkey that the hard-core secular officers were most probably the dominant force in the attempted overthrow of the Erdoğan government, with some (one does not know how many) Gülenist officers acting in a supporting role.

Mohammed Ayoob is Senior Fellow, Center for Global Policy, and University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Relations, Michigan State University.

Image: Turkish police forces in Diyarbakır, Turkey. Wikimedia Commons/Voice of America

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The One Thing No One Wants to Talk About in Philadelphia

The Skeptics

All of these suppositions are plausible and conform to the historical pattern witnessed in Turkey. In addition to the coups of 1960, 1971 and 1980, the army has staged a “postmodern” coup in 1997 to remove an Islamist-led government. As late as 2007, the army high command sent a clear message through its website that it opposed the elevation of Abdullah Gül to the presidency because his wife wore a headscarf. This last attempt failed and, in fact, triggered a purge of leading military figures through the combined efforts of the AKP executive and Gülenist functionaries in the police and the judiciary. Additionally, the fact that Erdoğan has now made his peace with the military high command by blaming Gülen-affiliated members of the police and the judiciary for the trials and sentencing of high-ranking military officers (now reversed), in the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases, could have been read by secular officers as a sign of his weakness and thus tempted them to strike before he regained his stride.

This seems to be the most plausible explanation. The Gülenist elements in the military—and there are some, to be sure—most probably made common cause with dissatisfied secular officers against their common enemy. It is not surprising, therefore, that the government has been able to find enough Gülenists among the putschists to make the case that Fethullah Gülen was the chief architect of the coup attempt. This does not mean it was a Gülenist coup.

We know that the putschists’ calculations turned out to be wrong. The military high command stayed loyal to the civilian government, and the opposition parties were united in condemning the coup attempt. Above all, common citizens—both Islamists and secularists—turned out in their thousands to oppose the coup attempt. Although at this stage it is difficult to provide a definite answer as to who plotted the coup, and with what goals in mind, one can reasonably surmise on the basis of fragmentary evidence and the history of earlier coups in Turkey that the hard-core secular officers were most probably the dominant force in the attempted overthrow of the Erdoğan government, with some (one does not know how many) Gülenist officers acting in a supporting role.

Mohammed Ayoob is Senior Fellow, Center for Global Policy, and University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Relations, Michigan State University.

Image: Turkish police forces in Diyarbakır, Turkey. Wikimedia Commons/Voice of America

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