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Five Reasons This Turkey Coup Bid Failed

  • Abbas Djavadi

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking to the country via FaceTime on an iPhone during the coup attempt.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking to the country via FaceTime on an iPhone during the coup attempt.

Turkey’s military has managed to seize power directly three times since 1960 (and forced another government from power in 1997). So why did this latest coup attempt fail

Here's my take:

1. Lack Of Public Support

Three previous coups were fairly well received by a public yearning for “peace and order” to be restored after periods of social strife or violence. No such public support existed this time for the coup plotters, and few people came out to cheer them on.

In fact, far larger crowds answered President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s dramatic call -- made to a television news channel via a mobile-phone video link -- to come out onto the streets to show their rejection of the coup.

2. This Time (It Seems) It Wasn’t The Secularists

Turkey’s military has long considered itself as the guardian of the country’s secular constitution. In past coups, it has seized power from civilian governments it cast as a danger to the secular order.

This time, authorities blamed not ardent secularists but a religious figure -- Fethullah Gulen, a critic of Erdogan in self-imposed exile in the United States. (He denies being behind the attempt.) The two biggest opposition parties also came out in clear support of the government, saying the bitter experience of past military coups must not be allowed to be repeated.

3. Police, Coup Plotters Were On Different Sides

On previous occasions, the police fell into line behind Turkey’s new rulers after the army’s takeover. Nowadays, the police are seen as closely aligned to the government. Police officers went after the group inside the military who staged the coup bid, arresting scores of suspected rebel soldiers and officers.

4. Coup Plotters Were A Small Part Of Army

Both the government, as well as the opposition, estimated the strength of the mutineers as a maximum of 10 to 20 percent of the army. In the past, it was the military as a whole that intervened.

5. Shutting Down The Media Is Harder These Days

As on previous occasions, coup plotters took over state television and radio, taking them off the air. But news still managed to spread thanks to nonstate TV outlets, primarily CNN Turk, and social networks, mainly Twitter and WhatsApp, which provided a platform for voices of resistance.

About This Blog

Turkey Notebook is a blog written by Abbas Djavadi, regional director of programming at RFE/RL and a longtime Turkey specialist. The blog presents Djavadi’s personal take on events and is designed for Turkey-watchers and all who want to get the most relevant news, views, issues, and insights on the country that you might not find in the daily news stream. Also check out Turkey Notebook on Facebook or Twitter.

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