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.

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


Key words: President Erdoğan, call to resist, Devlet Bahçeli, CHP

Although the essential targets of military coups are governments, it is not a rare instance that the entire political structure is redesigned by military coups. The July 15 military action was among such attempts, and Turkish politics, giving a good account of itself, did not hand over the nation’s will to the putschists. A closer look at the July 15 coup attempt shows that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli played a significant role in the prevention of the coup attempt and that the main opposition party did not assist the coup plotters.

Erdoğan won all the elections he ran in since 1994 without exception. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which Erdoğan co-founded, won the Nov. 1, 2015 elections with almost half of the vote. Recently, Erdoğan’s policies fell apart with the U.S. on American support for the Democratic Union Party (PYD) terrorist organization in Syria. He was also struggling hard to neutralize the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which is lead by a cleric who lives in the U.S., and which had infiltrated critical branches of the state such as the military, police, judiciary and education for decades. These conditions made him the main target for a FETÖ-lead coup attempt, which was put into action when it was understood that the military side of FETÖ would be dismissed in the August 2016 Supreme Military Council meeting.1 The putschists were aware of the strength of Erdoğan in mobilizing society, so the plotters planned to take him into custody at 3 a.m. on July 16, which was the time the coup would start. However, as the putschists panicked after the revelation of their plan, they shifted the attempt six hours earlier, which allowed Erdoğan to cut his holiday short and mobilize the crowds against the plotters.

Erdoğan was informed about the attempt around 9:30 p.m., and then took the control in Marmaris where he was taking a vacation. When he realized he had no control over the military, one of the things he could do was to call on the nation to resist the coup attempt. Nevertheless, accessing media was a challenge. After a set of phone calls with officials, he first tried making a statement via Periscope, but no national TV channel could publish the stream.2 Then he was called by CNN Türk via FaceTime at 12:25 a.m. His live statements were communicated to the nation through many TVs at the same time. In this historic speech, he called on the nation to pour into the streets to defend their will.

This invitation had direct consequences in preventing the coup. The man who attempted the overthrow was standing strong, the coup was not successful yet, and it was possible to stop the coup attempt. People who were unsure about what to do at home became aware of what was expected from them. If we accept the civilian martyrs and wounded from that night as the representative of the population who were on the streets to defend democracy, it is apparent in the interviews conducted with martyrs’ families and the wounded that the majority of people poured into the streets with this call to defend their will.3 With his call, people dutifully threw themselves before the tanks. The people being in the streets had many important consequences in sealing the coup attempt’s failure. It gave support to the armed forces fighting against the putschists who were confronted by their own nation and severely constrained their movement. Putschists were firing on the crowds in some places, boosting the hatred against themselves, and retreated or surrendered in many other places when they saw the crowds.

Tim Marshall best captured the importance of Erdoğan’s call in his obtrusive commentary on the BBC when he attributed the coup’s failure to the inability of neutralizing Erdoğan.4 Erdoğan’s impact on the public was such an important threat for the plotters and their allies that they even resorted to propaganda to weaken his connection to the public, claiming he had sought asylum in Germany.5 Realizing that Erdoğan was on duty, the putschists started to lose their hope for success. While the pledged commanders witnessed the impact of Erdoğan’s speech on the putschists,6 Kerim Balcı, who was a journalist at the FETÖ-affiliated Zaman newspaper, was clearly astounded during a live interview when he learned Erdoğan was alive and calling people to the streets.7

Although Erdoğan had the most prevalent impact on defeating the coup, other members of the government, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ were also especially influential. When the public was not sure about what had been going on, Yıldırım was first to reach various TV channels to say that it was a coup attempt. Later in the night, he made around 600 phone calls to organize the state against the putschists, including orders to target aircraft under putschist control.8 Bozdağ’s speech on the airstrike on Parliament was clearly one of the heroic incidents of the night. When Parliament targeted in an airstrike, he suggested to keep it open even until death, and said that the operation of Parliament would motivate the crowds resisting against the coup attempt.9

The bombing of Parliament clearly showed that the Gülenist putschists threatened all of Turkey’s politics. The opposition seemed to be aware of this objective. MHP Chairman Bahçeli’s immediate and strong support for the government against the coup attempt was especially important. When he made his support explicit, the result of the coup attempt was far from clear, and it motivated the supporters of his party to join the crowds in the streets.10 His early action gave the impression that not only the government, but also the entire country was in danger, stimulating a reaction from wider communities. The Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) impact was limited. Although the party announced its rejection of the coup attempt, the party co-chair interestingly accused the civilian coup protestors of being Daesh supporters two days after the coup attempt.11

As for the CHP, which has been the main opposition party during the AK Party’s rule, in some areas where the party has a strong presence, there were limited and disjunctive actions in support of the putschists such as cheering for the tanks, firing on coup supporters and beating the muezzins calling on the crowds to protest the coup by using words reminiscent of the party’s politics. However, the CHP did not support the coup attempt. Although its messages were a bit weak and late, and the CHP did not appear as strong as the AK Party or the MHP on the field in protest of the coup. The party did not support the coup attempt and worked to prevent the risk of clashes between coup protesters and its supporters.

July 15, 2016 will be recorded as a date in which Turkish people made history by defeating tanks with their own bodies. As Turkish people protected their will, Turkish politics also won a victory in keeping the honor of democracy with Erdoğan’s extraordinary leadership. Politicians and the public standing hand-in-hand constitute a stunning lesson for such incidents anywhere in the world.

1. Mete Yarar & Ceyhun Bozkurt, Darbenin Kayip Saatleri, Destek Yayinlari, 30th ed., pp. 376, 457, 458
2. ibid, pp. 185-186.
3. In the interviews with martyrs’ families or the wounded, Erdoğan’s call is an apparent theme. For a selection of such interviews, http://15temmuzdosyasi.com/category/kahramanlar/
4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx3AP1SPXI8
5. https://www.stratfor.com/situation-report/turkey-president-reportedly-seeking-asylum-germany
6. http://www.milliyet.com.tr/orgeneral-hulusi-akar-in-gundem-2283595/
7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYCMTJ_IYgk
8. http://www.ntv.com.tr/turkiye/binali-yildirim-11-saatte-600-civarinda-telefon-gorusmesi-yapmisim,AgFWpKfqzEmb2cpKcDaFOg
9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPY34r89dSI
10. Hande Firat, 24 Saat: 15 Temmuz’un Kamera Arkasi, Dogan Kitap, 15th ed. pp. 65-66
11. http://www.yeniozgurpolitika.org/index.php?rupel=nuce&id=57701

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.


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

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The Second Coming


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