The dust has not settled in Turkey a year after the military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, which was defeated by the resistance of the government, parliament, the people and a loyal majority within the military. The attempted takeover has shaken the country deeply.
The coup attempt caught Turkey off guard since many believed that the time of the military coups and interventions was over. The previous military coups in Turkey in 1960, 1971 and 1980, all in the Cold War era, were conducted by the traditionalist core of the military indoctrinated with Kemalist ideology. But in 2016, it was not. The junta which led the coup attempt is believed to have been controlled by the illegal network of Fethullah Gülen, the Islamist preacher who is living in the U.S.
Gülen and his followers, who have existed within state apparatuses, have been tolerated by successive governments since the 1980s and found recognition in the West as a movement promoting itself as “moderate Islamist” with “interreligious dialogue” programs in a world where terrorists of organizations like Taliban, al-Qaeda and recently the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have been conducting acts claiming to be doing it in the name of Islam. But it was under the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government when the Gülenists started climbing up the stairs of power in an organized manner. Between 2002, when AK Parti took power, and 2012; Gülen and his followers became a major ally to President Tayyip Erdoğan – who was then a prime minister - and the AK Parti governments against the secular presence especially in the military, judiciary, education and law enforcement, only to be replaced by Gülen sympathizers. The spell broke when prosecutors, who are now either under arrest or on the run for being a member of what it is now called the “Fethullahist Terror Organization – FETÖ,” attempted to interrogate the chief of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) in 2012. Links were totally severed after the graft probe of Dec. 17-25, 2013, which was followed by the coup attempt in July 2016.
The trauma was serious. The coup soldiers killed 249 people on the streets that night, firing from tanks and armored vehicles and bombing parliament with F-16s. Erdoğan was attempted to be kidnapped from the Aegean resort district of Marmaris where he was having a family holiday.
The government declared a state of emergency on July 20, under which some rights and freedoms were restricted to maintain security. Erdoğan said on July 14 that the goal was not achieved yet, therefore the state of emergency will stay for some more time. Out of some 100,000 people who have been detained since then, more than 50,000 were arrested by the courts. The number includes 169 generals and admirals, more than 7,000 colonels and lower ranking officers, more than 8,800 police officers, 24 provincial governors, more than 2,400 judiciary members and more than 31,000 other suspects, according to data recently revealed by the Justice Ministry.
A referendum was held under state of emergency conditions on April 16 in which all executive powers were transferred to the president with increased authority over the judiciary and the parliament as well as making the president also the head of his party.
The most recent development as a repercussion of the coup attempt was the “Justice March” led by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in protest against court decisions made upon the orders of the government, as they claim.
But even the head of the CHP, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, says the worst would have been the coup plotters’ success that night, which could be a real disaster for Turkey and the Turkish people. It was a real resistance that started spontaneously and played a major role in the defeat of the plotters. It seems as though it will take some more time for the dust to settle, and the Turkish democracy will start to develop a better shape.