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Category 6

The Attitudes of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Parliament, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Other Politicians in the Suppression of the July 15, 2016 Coup Attempt.

The July 15 Coup Attempt In Turkey And The Government’s Response

Amdia MAHAMADU

Key words: coup, Gülenist, tanks, junta, Bosporus Bridge, FETÖ-affiliated rogue soldiers

Friday, July 15, 2016 was a historical day for Turkey in so many ways. On the night of July 15, 2016, a violent coup attempted to depose President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government. Soldiers attempted to seize control of several key places in Ankara, Istanbul and elsewhere, but failed to do so after forces loyal to the state defeated them. A rogue faction within Turkey’s military attempted to suspend the Constitution, impose martial laws and enforce a nationwide curfew. As troops and tanks blocked traffic crossing from Asia to Europe over the Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul, a number of government buildings, including Parliament, the Presidential Palace and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) headquarters were heavily assaulted. The rogue faction seized the public broadcaster and forced an anchorwoman held at gunpoint to announce they were now in charge. Senior officers who refused to submit were taken hostage, including Chief of the General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar.1 The military council cited an alleged erosion of secularism, the elimination of democratic rule, a disregard for human rights and Turkey’s loss of credibility in the international arena as reasons for the coup.2 The unsuccessful attempt lead to over 300 deaths, with more than 2,000 injured. Many government buildings, including Parliament and the Presidential Palace were purposely damaged. The country closed down all military academies and other public sectors, leading to an initial 66,000 people being dismissed. The state shut down about 142 media outlets and detained journalist. An initial three-month state of emergency was also declared.3

The coup attempt, which occurred despite the many recent steps in the democratization of Turkey, was thwarted with the strong reaction from Turkish society, media and government. Although many people lost their lives and the society was deeply traumatized during the coup attempt, Western politicians and media outlets focused on the operations on the junta carried out by the government rather than the background of the coup attempt.4 On that night, Erdoğan ordered the police and the other security forces to stop the coup plotters. Soon afterward, he appeared on television to call on the people to resist the illegal power grab. When Erdoğan’s message was aired live, the putschist soldiers invaded the premises of the station channel. However, millions had heard the call and started to defy the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) affiliated soldiers. In the meantime, an elite military squad was sent to the hotel where Erdoğan was vacationing in a southern resort town to kill him and his family. Having barely escaped the assassination attempt, Erdoğan left the hotel on his official jet, which reached Istanbul safely after the pilot deceived rogue F-16s patrolling the airspace. On his arrival at the airport, he once again called the nation to resist the coup attempt.1 The mayor of Ankara, Melih Gökçek of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), also encouraged people to go out to the city’s streets in defiance despite the military-imposed curfew.5 The people took to the streets to protest the coup attempt after the call from Erdoğan and religious centers. Hundreds of thousands of Turks gathered in Istanbul as part of a pro-democracy rally protesting the coup attempt. The city’s Yenikapı Square was filled with Turkish flags on Sunday, Aug. 17, as people joined the Democracy and Martyrs Rally for unity, marking a climax after many weeks of demonstrations in support of Erdoğan. Supporters of Erdoğan’s AK Party had taken to the streets every night since the attempted coup in which more than 249 people were killed.6

Government allegations

Erdoğan accused U.S.-based cleric Fetullah Gülen of being behind the coup attempt. Gülen, however, was quick to deny responsibility, but confessions from military officers involved in the putsch and several remarkable testimonies indicate that Gülenists were directly responsible for the attempted coup.7 Testimonies and evidence obtained from coup plotters point to Gülen as the leader of the coup attempt, which was planned and staged by his followers in the military. Levent Türkkan, aide-de-camp to Akar, confessed to being a Gülenist after he was arrested, adding that he executed orders from his Gülenist superiors. In his statement, Türkkan, who said he was a member of FETÖ, said that there was an elder codenamed “Murat” who was in charge of him. Adding that he was the child of a poor family and met with Gülenist elders while he was in junior high school, Türkkan said that he had been given the exam questions before he entered the Işıklar Military High School admission exams in 1989. Generals leading the coup had also urged Akar to speak directly to Gülen, hoping to persuade him to join in their rebellion, according to Akar.8 The botched coup was not the first attempt of the Gülenists on the state and legitimate government, but the last and most daring. Considering itself strong enough to overtake the system, FETÖ made its first coup attempt in February 2012. Gülenist prosecutors tried to arrest the head of MİT Hakan Fidan, due to his involvement in efforts to peacefully resolve the violence with the outlawed PKK. The real reason behind this attempt was to prevent the settlement of Turkish’s long-lasting Kurdish issue through dialogue and negotiation. Their attempt failed, but the government had to postpone what was called the reconciliation process for another year.

One cannot talk about the attempted coup without mentioning its impact on the economy. According to the World Bank, Turkey’s performance since 2000 has been impressive. Macroeconomic and fiscal stability were at the heart of its performance, enabling increased employment and incomes, making Turkey an upper-middle income country.9

A GDP growth rate of 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2016 made Turkey the fourth-fastest growing economy among G20 members. However, this is intrinsically a case of moderate growth under conditions of increasing structural and political risks.10 The failed coup undoubtedly impacted the Turkish lira negatively, risks remain and uncertainties abound.

References:

1. Ali O. M. 15 July Coup Attempt and the Parallel State Structure, Department Of Corporate Communications, page 18, 2nd edition: October 2006, aomert@tccb.gov.com.

2. Robert P. “What Caused the Turkish Coup Attempt” Politico. Retrieved 2016 July 22.

3. Ömer Ç. “Bugün YÜCE MECLİS’e saldıranlar hainlere ders verme günüdür” 2016 July 15. (Tweet) – Via Twitter.

4. SETA, Repercussions of 15 July Coup Attempt in Turkey on Foreign Policy, London School of Economics and Political Sciences, Oct 2016

5. “Turkey ‘coup’: Live updates as explosion and gunfire reported in capital Ankara – Mirror Online”.

6. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/turkey-coup-attempt-huge-crowds-gather-in-istanbul-for-historic-anti-coup-rally-a7177721.html.

7. www.nbcnews.com/...coup/who-u-s-based-cleric-fethullah-gulen-blamed-turkey-coup.

8. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/26/opinion/fethullah-Gulen-j-condemn-all-threats-to-turkeys-democracy.htm

9. www.worldbank.org/en/country/turkey/overview

10. Altay A. Asia Times. The Brief, Turkey seeks damage control for economy after failed coup attempt, middle east, July 22, 2016 6:42 AM (UTC+8).

Category 6

The Attitudes of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Parliament, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Other Politicians in the Suppression of the July 15, 2016 Coup Attempt.

1. Ahmet YILDIRIM

How Turkish Politicians Determined The Result Of The July 15 Coup Attempt?

2. Faruk TEMUR

The Second Coming

3. Amdia MAHAMADU

The July 15 Coup Attempt In Turkey And The Government’s Response