On 15 July 2016, a coup d’état was attempted in Turkey against the government but ultimately failed. The attempt was carried out by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces that organized themselves under a council called the Peace at Home Council. As said council, the faction attempted to seize control of several key places in Ankara, Istanbul, and elsewhere, but failed to do so after forces loyal to the Turkish government defeated them.
The Turkish military sees itself as the guardian of Kemalism, and has overthrown four Turkish governments since 1960 in the name of protecting Turkey’s democracy from chaos and Islamic influence. Each time afterward, the military has returned the country to democracy — though in a degraded form.
Erdogan is clearly a threat to Turkish democracy and secularism. He leads the AKP, a moderate Islamist party that has “reformed” Turkish schools along Islamist lines. He’s cracked down on Turkey’s freedom of the press and pushed constitutional changes that would consolidate dangerous amounts of power in the president’s hands. The military had been shockingly quiet about these developments in recent years, leading many to believe that Erdogan had successfully cowed them into submission. But this coup attempt suggests — given the stated rationale of the coup launchers — that some in the military are taking up its traditional role as enforcers of Kemalist orthodoxy.
Yet it’s looking likely they’ll fail. According to Naunihal Singh, a political scientist at the Air War College, coups tend to succeed when their leaders convince other members of the military that they will inevitably succeed. If people think resistance is futile, even regime loyalists will just go with the flow.
That doesn’t appear to be happening. Reports on the ground in Turkey suggest that large portions of the military have sided with Erdogan. So, too, have street demonstrators and leading politicians — including Erdogan opponents. The New York Times reports that Erdogan has returned to Istanbul, which he wouldn’t do unless it was safe.It’s early still, but these are all signals that the coup hasn’t successfully created the perception of inevitability — which means the armed forces will remain divided and the coup will likely fail.
The Turk Populations Tremendous Response
What We learnt from this?
For Pakistanis, as discussions have revealed, the most exciting part in the coup episode is the stand taken by the civilians against the forces designated to usurp their rights.
Various segments of Pakistani society, including the media and officers in the military, initiated debate over the news. Pakistanis were more interested in the coup episode in Turkey as opposed to, say, the coups in Thailand two years ago, because Turley and Pakistan, although different, have a great deal in common.
The two countries have, historically, had weak democratic cultures with instability and repeated military interventions in democratic processes. In both countries, the military institutions happen to be stronger than civilian institutions and have a history of ousting democratic governments. Both nations are facing problems of terrorism and insurgency.
If Pakistan faced separatist elements in Balochistan, then Turkey faced the same in its military’s response in Kurdish areas. Both countries are strategically located, both are allies of the US in the war on terror but have bumpy relations with the superpower, filled with uncertainty and doubt over certain policies. The two countries face a lot of internal criticism of their foreign policies. Both are Muslim countries and have similarities in history and culture. Probably no other two countries in the world have as much in common as Turkey and Pakistan. This provides an opportunity to systematically learn from each other’s experiences.
The Turkish military can draw valuable lessons from the Pakistan army’s unity and focus on terrorism, instead of interfering directly in the politics of the country. The Pakistani military has distanced itself from direct intervention in politics and fully focused on operation Zarb-e-Azb — exclusively targeting terrorism and promising a terror-free Pakistan. The results have been phenomenal.
Both countries have a political culture of revenge and corruption. In Pakistan, things started changing after 9/11 and the movement for the restoration of judiciary in the final days of the Musharraf regime. Turkey, however, is still in grip of such a culture.
Pakistanis have also learnt that a free and independent media, judiciary and a culture of tolerance are vital for democracy.
After the failed coup against Erdogan, his opponents, before his supporters, will acknowledge that his regime is the most powerful in the history of modern Turkey. This incident will show Arab politicians that there’s a reason they have not been able to gain the trust of their peoples and protect their countries against such coups.
All in all this proved the strength of democracy in Turkey as well as the people’s commitment and dedication to their country. Well done Turkey!
Written by: Rabeet Tariq