Military Coups in Turkey



Turkish Soldiers during 2016 Coup

Turkish Soldiers During 2016 Coup

Military Coups in Turkey—(1960-2016): Turkey has a history of its military overthrowing elected governments and imposing or re-imposing its own brand of political correctness on the nation. The Turkish military, the army in particular, sees itself as the guardian of the pro-Western, secular, (or non-religious) form of government established by modern Turkey's founder, Kemal Ataturk.

Four times since the founding of the Turkish Republic in the 1920s, the military has successfully stepped in to effect a change in government. In the spring of 2007, tensions in Turkey were high as military leaders once again issued warnings to the government of the ruling conservative Justice and Development Party (AK Party) . Massive street protests by hundreds of thousands of urban secular Turks protesting the perceived religious bias of the ruling party took place, but, despite the tensions, a new coup did not occur.

On July 15, 2016, however, Turkey was rocked by a new coup attempt by "factions of the military," as Turkish troops blocked streets in Istanbul and gunfire and explosions were reported in the capital of Ankara.

Below is a listing of the four coups in modern Turkish history.

1960 Turkish coup d'état--The Turkish Army overthrew the government of Prime Minister Adnan Menderes. He and other members of his government were put on trial, and he was hanged in 1961, along with his Foreign Minister and his Finance Minister.

1971 Turkish coup d'état--The Turkish Army overthrew the government of the conservative prime minister, Suleyman Demirel.

1980 Turkish coup d'état--The military took power in Turkey after months of violence between leftist and rightist militants nearly brought Turkey to the point of civil war. The United States supported the Turkish military, seeking stability in the midst of the U.S.-Iran Hostage Crisis and the ongoing Soviet War in Afghanistan. Kenan Evren, the leader of the coup, took over the presidency and then rewrote the constitution to guarantee the military's political power.

1997 Turkish coup d'état--The Turkish military forced Necmettin Erbakan's Islamist-led coalition government to resign. The secular military feared that Erbakan was trying to change the basic nature of Turkish politics and government and turn Turkey into an Islamic-led theocracy like neighboring Iran. After forcing Erbakan from power, the army turned the government over to more secular politicians. This was later called a "soft coup," as the military did not actually take over, but got what it wanted through threats.

2007-2009--The government arrested 86 people, including writers, members of civil organizations and former military officers, charging them with membership in an illegal ultranationalist organization and of plotting to overthrow the Turkish government. In January, 2009, 30 more were arrested, including three retired generals, and a former police chief.

2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt--On July 15, 2016 "factions of the military" launched a coup attempt against the government of Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Tensions in Turkey have escalated recently, as the country is embroiled again in an increasingly violent war with Kurdish insurgents in the southeast, while also engaged against the ISIS/Islamic State threat on Turkey's southern border. Turkey is part of the coalition of nations led by the United States in the war on ISIS, while also enduring terrorist attacks by the Islamic State in retaliation.

With elements of the Turkish military declaring martial law, President Erdogan, who went into hiding, used an app on his phone to call on Turkish citizens to take to the streets to protest. Erdogan later appeared at the airport in Istanbul, where he defiantly called on the people of Turkey to resist the coup. Loyal troops and air force units fought the rebels, and the coup attempt fell apart the next day. Casualties included 265 dead, and 1,440 wounded. Most of the dead were rebel and loyalist troops. Erdogan blamed an exiled Muslim cleric as the ringleader, but Fethullah Gülen denied any involvement. In the aftermath of the coup, the government arrested nearly 6,000 people suspected of plotting against the government.

Map of Turkey -2016 Coup

Outside Links

Turkey: To Coup, or not to Coup, that, is the question!--Comments from the History Guy Weblog.

Chronology of Turkish military coups: From the 1961 young officers coup to the 2007 e-memo

High-ranking military arrests stir fresh Turkey concern--Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2010

EU warns Turkish army over vote

Turkey's Coming Coup

A history of Turkey's coups-- April 30, 2007-From the

Military Interventions in Turkey

The Military Coup in Turkey, 1980

1980 Turkish coup d'état - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Police discover weapons, hand grenades in Turkey coup probe: report--ABC News, January, 10, 2009

86 Charged in Turkey Coup Plot -NYTimes, July, 15, 2008

Tanks in the Streets as Military Attempts a Coup in Turkey-New York Times article on the 2016 Turkish Coup


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