A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Coup that Couldn't Shoot Straight: Whatever Really Happened, Erdoğan Can Now Consolidate Control

It's no surprise that yesterday's failed coup (if that's what it was) in Turkey is being used by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as an excuse to purge not only the Army but the judiciary as well, perhaps clearing the way to achieve the strengthened Presidency he has been seeking. Given the haphazard execution of the coup, it is hardly a surprise that some have speculated it was staged, a burning-the-Reichstag moment. That may be overly conspiratorial, but it could hardly have worked so well for Erdoğan if he had scripted it. (One person suggesting it might have been staged is Fethullah Gülen on whom Erdoğan is blaming the coup.)

If we reject the idea it was staged, then we're left with having to explain the incompetence of the plot. The plotters seized the state television station according to the classic coup playbook, but neglected to seize private TV stations or cut social media for several hours, allowing  Erdoğan to rally support and retake the airport. It was a 1960s coup in 2016. The plotters seem to have been unaware of  Erdoğan's whereabouts, and lacked the support of most of the general staff. It's been suggested that the authorities knew it was coming and were prepared for it. Was this just a classic case of incompetence and military fuckup? Whatever it was, Erdoğan seems intent on capitalizing on it.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

U.S. Government responded appropriately. Some of the U.S. media seemed to be hoping for a successful coup. Like they had not learned from the overthrow of the Mursi government in Egypt? Turkish public responded with far more maturity than had been the case in some Arab countries. Turks now have a long history of elected governments, and memories of the abuses that followed the 1980 coup are still fresh.