Who was behind the 2016 Turkish coup and why it failed

Ω Stavros Lygeros
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Who was behind the 2016 coup and why it failed, Stavros Lygeros

Four years after the failed coup in Turkey, what was immediately apparent has been confirmed. That event marked a turning point in the history of the neighboring country. The 2016 coup was used by Erdogan as a political tool to carry out mass purges not only in the broader state sector, but also in the private sector.

Erdogan's purges allowed him to win - albeit marginally - the referendum of April 2017 for the transformation of the regime into a Presidential Republic and then the elections of June 2018. In other words, to become an absolute overlord of the political scene of Turkey. It is not yet completely clear what exactly happened on July 16, 2016.

Is the official scenario that Erdogan knew nothing true? Was he informed in time about the movements of the coup plotters and let them evolve, having, however, taken measures for effective repression? If so, he would have the politically legitimate justification for the pogrom he was planning. Finally, there is the scenario that claims that the whole attempt was made from the beginning by the deep Erdogan state.

The Turkish president misses no opportunity to name Fetullah Gulen as the organizer of the coup and to ask Washington for his extradition to Turkey. Obviously, from the beginning, there was no chance that the Americans would extradite him. This would open a whole “can of worms” and most likely expose the United States, because it would reveal the connections of American agencies with the Gulen movement.

Erdogan's claim that the coup was carried out by the Gulen network does not seem to reflect reality. The fraternity did not have strong footholds in the upper echelons of the armed forces. It had some supports in the middle and lower rungs. Movement officials also appear to have taken part in the coup, but senior officials with close ties to Washington spoke first. The neo-sultan targets Gulen to indirectly but explicitly denounce the Americans as instigators of the coup. Erdogan's associates have made that clear.

A different kind of coup

The coup failed because it was not like the coups that sealed Turkey's post-war history (1960, 1971 and 1980). Those coups, like the "velvet" coup of 1997, were coordinated by the leadership of the armed forces as a whole. And of course they had not met the slightest reaction. In the conscience of the Turks, after all, the armed forces have traditionally been the guarantor of the state, a fact that indirectly but clearly legitimized their tendency to lead political life.

Always speaking based on the official version of events, unlike previous coups, the coup of 2016 was planned and executed by a group of senior and high-level officers. A team, in fact, that controlled limited forces. In the first hours, due to the surprise, it seemed that it might have had a chance to prevail.

In reality, however, the basic principles were violated. The coup did not take place late at night, but at a time when people were on the streets. The coup leaders did not immediately arrest Erdogan, the prime minister and his ministers. They did not shut down radio and television stations and the Internet, they did not control telecommunications. Mostly they had not secured the direct cooperation of the commanders of the large units.

Information about the 2016 coup had been leaked

The reason for these basic mistakes is that - as it appeared from what Erdogan himself said - the government had information since noon of the same day (July 15) about suspicious moves in the armed forces. This forced those involved in the conspiracy to hasten the coup with the known chaotic results.

The coup unfolded before the eyes of the Turks and all of humanity. Erdogan had the opportunity to address law-abiding officers and mobilize his followers. As a result, the coup leaders were confronted not only with the security forces and secret services, which were basically controlled by the government, but also with sections of the armed forces who opposed them.

When, in fact, members of the ruling party began to take to the streets en masse - according to information under direction of MIT and Erdogan-controlled paramilitary organization SADAT - and not disbanded despite the - it is true - limited - use of weapons by the military, the scales began to tilt towards the Turkish president. As it turned out, the soldiers had no orders, nor were they ready to shoot the protesters en masse. Most importantly, after all, thought they were participating in an exercise. This fact reinforces the theory that it was the coup was staged.

Taking down western networks

According to the current version, however, those commanders who maintained a waiting stance, watching to see how things would develop, began to enter the game to be on the side of the winner. Beyond that, the failure of the coup was predestined. Erdogan took the unique opportunity to clear the state of all unfriendly, to him, elements and consolidate his regime.

Tens of thousands of members of the armed forces, security forces, secret services, and every public service were expelled and a large percentage of them were imprisoned. The liquidations extended to the entire education system, even to the private sector. In fact, Erdogan dismantled all the Western-influenced networks that had been set up in Turkey in recent decades.

Moreover, if the coup attempt had not preceded it, he would not have been able to turn the regime into a presidential one and himself into a modern sultan. It is clear, however, that the American deep state does not forget. Although it initially sought to reach a compromise with him, Erdogan refused. He believes that the Americans are waiting for him around the corner to trip him up wherever and whenever they can, regardless of his close relationship with President Trump. So, because he thinks that he has been programmed, he refuses to return to the western "fold".

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