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Turkey’s Presidential Putsch

One cannot help but think that the countermeasures were prepared well in advance. Either Erdoğan anticipated the coup with extensive proscription lists or he staged a provocation himself so he could proceed with a presidential putsch. The government countermeasures appear too seamless, too well-thought out, and too professional. One way or another, the Turkish avatar of the Muslim Brotherhood is firmly in power. No wonder that Erdoğan referred to the military coup as “Allah-sent.” Perhaps he even helped Allah himself.

The Turkish military launched a coup to restore secularism, but the Turks woke up to their President carrying out a Putsch to entrench Islamism. The fog of war permits us but an incomplete picture of what has transpired and what is under way.

The armed forces apparently moved first. As the guardians of the nation’s secular constitution established by Kemal Pasha Atatürk, the military feared that Turkey’s system had been seriously jeopardized by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s creeping Islamist revolution. The armed forces took advantage of the chief executive’s absence on a vacation. The rebellious elements of the Turkish army, air force, and navy, along with the police, went by the traditional book. They seized, or attempted to, key infrastructure, government buildings, and media outlets. They declared themselves in power. And then they basically stood around and waited. That worked well enough in the 1960s and 1980s. However, this time around the old playbook was not enough.

The coup leaders failed to gain support of the most crucial military units, including elements of the air force who remained loyal to the President and intervened on his behalf at a crucial juncture. The secularist military also forgot to take advantage of social media to mobilize secularist mass support. They further did not think to turn off the Internet, if such an operation is still possible as it was during the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009. On the other hand, Erdoğan, who frequently excoriated, censored, and suppressed social media, took to Twitter and FaceTime with gusto to call out his supporters. This is analogous to Ayatollah Khomeini using a fax machine and tape recorders to launch his Islamic revolution. And, unlike their secularist counterparts, the Islamist Turks turned out in their hundreds of thousands. They obviously cared enough to risk their lives for Islam. Erdoğan entered Istanbul like a conquering sultan to the applause of throngs. The civilians then turned on the military, who meekly surrendered.

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