Saturday, July 16, 2016

Turkey's Decadal Coups

Kamel Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. Buca, Turkey.
When you strike at a king, you must kill him. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Turkish coup failed in its first moments when they didn't capture or kill President Erdogan. Since he is extremely popular in his country, a free Erdogan was able to rally the people against the coup plotters.

Americans on the 24-hour news channels were prattling for hours yesterday how unprecedented a military coup in a NATO country was. Poppycock. Turkey averages a coup every decade. Kamel Ataturk founded Turkey in 1922 (in a coup) as a secular democracy and since then the army has seen itself as defender of secularism.

1960 - The army stages a coup in reaction to lessened restrictions on Islam and a deep economic recession. The prime minister is arrested and executed. The army rewrote the constitution and held power for 16 months.

1971 - The army chief of staff announced a coup via a memo sent to the civilian government. This was a time of global unrest and violence (picture now times 100) and the army sought to restore order. For two years the army controlled the government, repeatedly installing brief periods of martial law to quell turmoil.

1980 - In the preceding years the civilian government would call for martial law because of clashed between right and left wing gangs and political assassinations at a rate of ten per day. This coup has a violent aftermath with hundreds of thousand of people arrested and tortured by the military government. Officially, the military returned governance to civilians in 1983 but they kept the government on a tight leash long afterwards.

1997 - Another memo coup. The army sent a memo to the prime minister ordering him to resign or face a coup. He resigned and the army, having reasserted its control, did not bother dissolving the rest of the government.

2010 - The first failed coup against then Prime Minister Erdogan. The coup plot, Operation Sledgehammer, was discovered before it could be implemented and the plotters arrested.

There you have it. A coup a decade for over sixty years. Mark your calendars, you can expect another Turkish coup sometime after the year 2025.

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