Recently acoup d’état was attempted in Turkey against the government but ultimately failed. The attempt was performed by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces that was organized under a council called the Peace at Home Council. The council attempted to seize control of several key places in Ankara, Istanbul, and elsewhere, but failed to do so after forces loyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the cabinet of Binali Yıldırım defeated them. In this article we will explain all important details regarding why coup happened in Turkey, why it failed, what will be its likely consequence on geopolitics of Turkey.

  • What is a Coup?
  • Who was behind the coup?
  • Who is Fethullah Gulen?
  • Why Military did attempt the coup?
  • Why did the coup failed?
  • Aftermath of the attack
  • Strategic Importance of Turkey
  • Likely consequences of the failed Coup on Turkey


What is a coup?

  • A coup is an illegal attempt to overthrow those in power by force.It comes from the French coup d’etat, which translates as “blow of state”. Turkey has a history of military coups, but has not experienced one for nearly two decades.

Who is behind this?

  • The scale of the operation – which included the deployment of fighter jets and tanks -would suggest it was planned by senior military figures.
  • Elements of the Army and Air Force are involved in the coup, and it is unclear if the Navy is also behind it.
  • Mr Erdogan has claimed that Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen is the inspiration behind the coup.

Who is Fethullah Gulen?

  • Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, United States, once supported Mr Erdogan but became a nemesis.
  • Mr Erdogan has long accused the cleric and his supporters of attempting to overthrow the government.
  • The cleric promotes a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.
  • That puts him at odds with Mr Erdogan, who has introduced more Islamist policies at the expense of the country’s long-held secular views.
  • The pro-Gulen Alliance for Shared Values has said it condemned any military intervention in domestic politics.

Why did the military attempt the coup?

  • The modern Turkish republic was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a former military officer deeply committed to a form of democratic nationalism and hard-line secularism now called Kemalism.
  • 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.
  • Erdogans AK Party, with roots in Islamism, has long had a strained relationship with the military and nationalists in a state that was founded on secularist principles after World War One. Thus the justification of pro-coup faction of the army was that Erdogan,s pro-Islamist policy is a threat to Turkeys Secularism and therefore for safeguarding Kemalism Erdogan needs to be removed.

Know more about Kemalism

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938) was a distinguished soldier and reformer; the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey.He was

Militarily, he was perhaps most famous as the Ottoman officer who inflicted two defeats on British forces at Gallipoli during World War I. Later, however, he set about ridding his country of some of the corruption, superstition and waste that had corroded the empire from within.

Kemalism, as it was implemented by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was defined by sweeping political, social, cultural and religious reforms designed to separate the new Turkish state from its Ottoman predecessor and embrace a Westernized way of living

His ideology was distilled into six tenets, known as the “six arrows of Kemalism:

  • Republicanism
  • Nationalism
  • Populism
  • Etatism (State socialism)
  • Secularism
  • Revolutionism

Why did the Coup fail?

  • In a country that has experienced four coups and three coup attempts, most experts say that this attempt was sloppy and disorganized. Erdogan has not backed down in the face of military saber-rattling, like most administrations have.
  • One of the other reason was that Turkeys rapid economic growth and his conservative reforms have made him extremely popular among the half of turkey’s population esepecially the more Religious Turks) who went on the streets to support Erdogan and nullifying any attempts of Pro-coup faction of the army.
  • Thus popularity of Erdogan among vast majority of Turks is the main reason why coup failed.

Aftermaths of the attack

Turkey has declared three-month state of emergency after a failed military coup to overthrow the democratically elected government. Three-month state of emergency was declared as measure to counter threats to Turkish democracy. The emergency allows officials to set curfews, issue search and arrests warrants and restrict gatherings.

Strategic Importance of Turkey for the World

  • Turkey is a major power in the world today, quite literally resting between Europe and Asia in the Middle East region.
  • Turkey is incredibly important. It is one of the most stable countries in the Middle East and many Western countries depend on that. Including the US.
  • Turkey is a member of NATO, an organization of international countries believing in security and diplomatic relations. The US and Germany, among others, are members.
  • Not only that, the US and its coalition against the Islamic Statelaunches operations from an air base in Turkey. It’s closer and faster to fly from Turkey than from Italy or from a military ship in the Mediterranean.
  • Turkey plays a key role in the Syrian conflict, and for the EU is an important partner in its attempts to solve the migrant crisis, so any upheaval and disturbance in Turkey could have major adverse consequences.

Likely consequences of the failed Coup on Turkey

  • The coup could help Erdogan’s quest for authoritarian control in Turkey. If he is perceived as the defender of Turkish civilian government, his popularity could well soar.
  • He could leverage this popularity into votes in Turkey’s parliament for constitutional changes granting him extraordinary powers, his long-time objective. This could mean end of Kemalism in Turkey and drifting of Secular Turkey towards becoming a Islamic state.
  • Experts also believe that one of the geopolitical consequences of the failed coup is that Turkey will ultimately turn its back on the EU and NATO and focus on the East, and Russia in particular; it will also adopt the Asian model of development, with a strong central presidency and a dominant single-party government.


Any doubts?

  1. Chola Queen

    Answer for On.1

    After the World War I, the modern Turkish state was founded with a staunch inclination to secularism by a Ottomon military officer Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He is the founding father of Kemalism which reinstates the importance of democracy,secularism,education and tolerance.The military of Turkey considers itself as the guardian of Kemalism.
    Whenever the government of the day in Turkey tilts away from secularism,the military intervenes in the form of a coup.
    India is also a country with strong rooted secularism.But,she(India) has not faced any military coup till date because of the nuanced version of Indian secularism which means equal treatment of all religions rather than separation of state and religion.
    Further, the Indian military is extremely loyal to the state and does not consider itself as the bulwark of the Indian Constitution.
    Also, the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of India is protected,practiced and strengthened by the separation of powers.

    Thus,the very fact that India has never faced a military coup in her history is a vindication of the success of Indian democracy and the cherished principles of Indian freedom struggle.

    1. Sanjoy Biswas

      got it … thanks

  2. Sanjoy Biswas

    No idea for 1st question .. please anyone put a light on it.

  3. Chola Queen

    Answer for Qn.2

    A military coup is an attempt to overthrow an incumbent government and impose martial law. The recent coup in Turkey was a sloppy and disorganized effort to overthrow the Erdogen government.

    Kemalism is the philosophy of the founding officer of modern Turkey after World War I. The important aspects of Kemalism are nationalism,secularism,populism and socialism. The Turkish military considers itself as a guardian of Kemalism. In order to buttress the legacy of Kemalism, the discontented faction of the Turkish military organized this coup to overthrow Erdogen who exerted Islamic influence on the government.
    In the wake of Arab spring, Kemalism could be a pertinent solution which would bring about peace and cooperation in West Asia.

    1. june

      great answer^

      1. Chola Queen

        Thank you

  4. Focus Ias

    Thanks for the explainer 🙂

Turkey culls nearly 1,400 from army, overhauls top military council

  1. Context: President Erdogan plans to shut down existing military academies and put the armed forces under the command of the Defence Ministry
  2. About 40% of Turkey’s generals and admirals have been dismissed since the coup
  3. Turkey is a NATO ally but recent developments have fuelled tension between Ankara and the west
  4. Ankara: Turkey’s capital

Emergency in Turkey in past

  1. Turkey imposed Emergency rule in the southeast in 1987
  2. It had allowed officials to set curfews, issue search and arrest warrants and restrict gatherings as the security forces fought Kurdish rebels
  3. The Emergency rule was gradually lifted by 2002

Turkey declares 3-month Emergency after failed coup

  1. News: Turkey’s President declared a three-month state of Emergency following a botched coup attempt
  2. He also declared that he would rid the military of the virus of subversion
  3. It would give Govt sweeping powers to expand a crackdown that has already included mass arrests and the closure of hundreds of schools
  4. Possibly anticipating investor jitters, he criticised Standard & Poor’s for downgrading its credit rating for Turkey into ‘junk’ status and said the country would remain financially disciplined
  5. Democracy: He said the measure would counter threats to Turkish democracy & is in no way against democracy, the law and freedoms
  6. The state of Emergency announcement needs to be published in a state gazette and lawmakers have to approve it for it to take effect

Possible reasons for military coup in Turkey- 2

  1. Erdogan’s recent years: Trying to improve relationship with the military because his government became increasingly reliant on the military in the wake of new security challenges
  2. Since the start of the Syria crisis in 2011, Erdogan has been actively backing Islamist rebels in Syria – leading to increased number of refugees and strengthening the IS which often targets Turkey
  3. Erdogan also attacked the Kurdish rebels in the country’s southeast after Kurds emerged as a major ground force in the war against IS, drew international support and also posed electoral challenges
  4. Latest coup attempt shows that Erdogan hasn’t succeeded completely in pacifying the discontents within the army
  5. The president has also cracked down on free media and is seen as an authoritarian by many people
  6. The government blamed Fethullah Gulen behind the coup – a powerful, reclusive US-based Muslim cleric whom it accuses of fomenting unres

Possible reasons for military coup in Turkey- 1

  1. Tense relationship between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the country’s military, due to differences in ideology – army opposes Erdogan’s stride towards political Islamism
  2. The army has historically intervened in politics as it sees itself as the protector of Turkey’s secularism and democracy
  3. Erdogan became Prime Minister in 2003 – though in his initial years Erdogan tried to contain the military, in his recent years, he has been increasingly dependent on the army
  4. Erdogan’s initial years: Series of steps to weaken the military’s influence – limiting the jurisdiction of the military court, bringing the appointment of senior military figures under civilian control
  5. Several generals and other senior commanders were arrested for allegedly trying to plot against the government
  6. Erdogan’s immense popularity and economic and political stability helped him take the risk of alienating the military which other Turkish politicians feared to do

Turkey’s military coups – a history

  1. 1993: Claims of a ‘covert coup’ intended to prevent a peace settlement with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)
  2. 1980: Military coup following armed conflict between right-wing and left-wing groups in the 1970s
  3. 1971: Military coup known as the ‘coup by memorandum’, which the military delivered instead of sending out tanks
  4. 1960: Coup by group of young military officer outside chain of command, against the democratically-elected Democrat Party

Military coup in Turkey

  1. News: A military coup attempt is under way in Turkey
  2. Aim: To overthrow the democratically-elected government
  3. A section of the military says it has seized power and imposed martial law
  4. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the coup
  5. There have been explosions and gunfire in Istanbul and Ankara and deaths have been reported due to overnight clashes in Ankara

Questions (attempt in the comments section)


The post Ottomon History of Turkey is marked by Coups and counter coups. Discuss why, Also highlight why India has never faced any coup till date.


The recent coup attempt in Turkey was an attempt by the army to reinstate Kemalism instead of Islamism. What do you understand by Kemalism and what is its relevance in Contemporary West Asia.

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