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Summary of the coup attempt in Turkey

On Friday, a faction of the Turkish Army leadership launched a failed military coup against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. However, despite the initial wave of control and presence enforced by the coup-faction in Ankara (the capital) and Istanbul, the Turkish government succeeded in neutralizing the uprising (believed to being led by Colonel Muharrem Kose as well as other mid-level officers). Erdogan even gave a speech at Istanbul airport, assuring the Turkish population – which has largely backed him during the crisis – that he is still in power.

First signs (evening hours)

The crisis started in the evening when Turkish Army personnel and vehicles – including tanks – entered Ankara and Istanbul. Shortly after, officials belonging to the coup-faction announced that they had taken control of the country. The Turkish Military’s Chief of General Staff – i.e. top commander – General Hulusi Akar was detained by the coup faction (The Telegraph).

Clashes (late night/early morning)

Up to two hours later, the coup faction had succeeded in taking control of the Turkish Parliament. Clashes between the coup faction and the government – via initially the police, but wider armed forces (including the Turkish Air Force/TuAF) – had begun in earnest. By midnight, at least 17 Turkish police personnel were reported to have been killed. TuAF F-16s were spotted flying low over Ankara and Istanbul, where they had begun interdicting coup faction helicopters (in which one helicopter was downed – Sputnik News). Explosions at a number of major sites, such as Ataturk Airport in Istanbul and Turkish Parliament in Ankara, were also reported.

Public response (late night/early morning)

Although Erdogan is a contentious figure at home and abroad, the apparent support of the coup quickly subsided when larger swaths of the Turkish population began to emerge in support of the government. Footage of protesters overrunning coup faction tanks and posts had emerged alongside reports of coup faction personnel firing on protesters (Business Insider). Middle East policy experts were not surprised at the support shown to Erdogan, he is still a popular figure (Vox Media).

Neutralization (early morning)

It is apparent that most of the wider Turkish military still supports Erdogan, which can be seen from the fact that (1) the coup faction had to target the top brass and (2) the fact that the Turkish government is able to wield its each of its armed organs, including the air force.

Current situation

The current situation is still largely unclear. While the coup did not succeed in toppling the government, there have still been reports (as of 4:45am in Turkey) of bomb explosions at the parliament building. The whereabouts of the Turkish Chief of General Staff – General Akar – are also unknown. A total of 42 persons – including 17 police personnel – are believed to have been killed.

Comment and Analysis [tentative]

We cannot comment on who instigated the coup, but in general terms, there is a very high level of uncertainty for Turkey moving forward. The Turkish economy and political climate alike are far from stable at this point, and the actual consequences of these events will become known in the coming weeks and months. How this impacts Erdogan or the Turkish military remains to be seen, but the unprecedented nature of this event (considering it has been over 30 years since the military overtly interfered in Turkey’s political environment) cannot be understated.

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  • by nob hamid gul
    Posted July 16, 2016 2:40 am 0Likes

    The dua of all Muslims around the world is with Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
    Long live erdogan…after morsi he is the only Muslim prez who is brave enough to take any decision. The only true muslim prez we have in ummah. He is not beghairat like nawaz Sharif and zardari.
    Much Love from India.

  • by SP
    Posted July 16, 2016 1:16 pm 0Likes

    6 Generals have been sacked and the military is being run by an acting Chief. So we cannot say that the coup attempt was by middle ranking officers, it is not possible for middle level officers to launch a coup, senior ranking officers are complicit but perhaps behind the scenes and would have taken ownership of it if it succeeded, as the west would have applauded it if it succeeded. A military helicopter with 8 people on board flew to Greece and claimed asylum. We don’t know who those 8 are yet. It was a folly to attempt a coup against a popular leader, and it is a good job that it failed otherwise Turkey would be in a prolonged civil war and would be economically destroyed. Democracy is not perfect but it is the best system to serving the interests of the public.

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted July 16, 2016 8:20 pm 0Likes

    Your last paragraph on Turkey and Pakistan “very different dynamics”. I saw Sheikh Rasheed interview today where he did a quick comparison saying in an attempted coup in Pakistan in similar circumstances, the people, just like in Turkey would be out in the streets but heading to the mithai shops, not for the tanks! I don’t know if that is true but it nicely sums up the different dynamics.

  • by Mohsin E.
    Posted July 16, 2016 8:47 pm 0Likes

    Well in Pakistan, there are no “attempted” coups. There either IS a coup, or there ISN’T. Also, our nation’s history is very much the opposite of Turkey, with a few parallels. Turkey was founded on a rejection of Islam. Pakistan was founded because of Islam. With one common ground being that both nation’s founders equally despised the madhabi mullahs, and were despised by them.

    What the AKP is doing, in some ways, I respect. It is undoing the ‘secular’ nonsense and trying to replace it with an actual civilizational foundation. We already had that foundation set by Iqbal and Jinnah (who was NOT secular, despite the ignorant claims of our liberals) but we just ignore history and carry on… It must be said though, that Erdogan is quite insane with ego, a dictator-type figure who really doesn’t have much of an intellect. We on the other hand, don’t even have that, but just petty crooks, big fish in a small pond.

    Turkey will face a tough time, but in the long run, it’s future is much brighter than Europe. Europe has peaked, Turkey hasn’t. The Turks set their ship on a better vector, they’re not there yet, but the course correction is well under way. I wish them all the best.

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted July 16, 2016 9:21 pm 0Likes

    Thanks for the (detailed) reply, Mohsin. True in Pakistan the coup has always been successful.

    Sadly, from my own experience in life the majority of mullahs do tend to cause more harm than good. I can barely read the Qur’an in the Arabic BECAUSE of the my childhood mullah teachers. I went to several mosque schools but would then drop out very quickly to get away from the frustrated, aggressive mullahs armed with dandas. As an adult I still get next to zero inspiration from either their “stage performance” or general conduct in life. There is just nothing there for me. I find Allama Iqbal very inspiring. I remember reading your comment once regarding moving on from clinging to the surface of the Earth and literally (and figuratively) reaching for the stars. That does something for me. It inspires, it motivates. That is Islam, isn’t it? But it is not something I ever expect to hear a mullah say.

    On Turkey. The nation does indeed seem to be headed in the right general direction the past decade or so. Of course there will be challenges and tough times and even mistakes made but nations learn from them and become stronger (hopefully). We all wish them the very best.

  • by Bilal Khan - Quwa
    Posted July 16, 2016 9:35 pm 0Likes

    Erdogan might have authoritarian attitudes in some respects, but he isn’t a “full fledged religious dictator.” The man is despised for many reasons, but implementing Islamic laws on Turkey isn’t one of them.

  • by Bilal Khan - Quwa
    Posted July 16, 2016 9:42 pm 0Likes


    Also, under Erdogan’s rule, there has been a *perceived* sense of rising prosperity and growth in Turkey. Whether he is responsible for it or not is besides the point, what matters is the *perception.*

    Among the tens of millions who have benefited from socio-economic uplift, especially in the rural and smaller urban areas, Erdogan is a hero. And when you combine socio-economic uplift with a sense of return to Islamic heritage, then you have a very potent combination, especially in terms of generating public opinion.

    This is obviously not the case in Pakistan 🙂

  • by Mohsin E.
    Posted July 17, 2016 1:04 am 0Likes

    Here’s a good case study on Turkey’s internal struggle with secularism and Islam. It’s a biographical movie about Said-i Nursî the rationalist theologian (who was like Turkey’s Iqbal.) He’s the inspiration for the Gulen Movement and all the Islamic Reform movements in Turkey, which led to the AKP and Erdogan etc. It starts with the end of the Ottoman empire and the beginning of the Turkish Secular republic. It is seen as a ‘propaganda piece’ by the secularists, but nonetheless it offers a deep insight into the minds of the non-secular Turks, who (fortunately) are not like the mullahs we have to deal with.

  • by Salman Khan
    Posted July 17, 2016 1:06 am 0Likes

    And what Arab comparison are you making? Birey ahmak. Erdogan is 90% secular himself. He holds festivities with the LGBT community, the atheist community, and other religion’s heads. First and first, he’s been a ruler for more than a decade. What BIG change has come about? What ENORMOUS change has come to Turkey’s secular behavior? Not even a little. I’m also very sure you didn’t know anything about this Turkish matter before you heard it from CNN or other media outlets. He only wants Turkey (not him only, Turks haven’t left religion and become atheists in their history sorry FYI) to have a civilisation and a strong sense of culture. The fact that you align this movement of that road to becoming a Gulf state is absurd because, Erdogan and all Turks follow a extremely lenient sect of Islam. Therefore, you need to know that no change would be in effect on ground, and Turks would be carrying on with their lives as usual, but aha! with a catch! the spread of atheism would be reduced. Sir, you should try spreading the jam of atheism in India first. You and I know how that the violent reaction that would occur would be remembered by history. It’s really strange that you are expecting Turks to throw away their religion so easily. They won’t and they never did either. I’ve noticed how your Indian analysts are pushing for secularism in our countries so hard. Why not try it yourself in India? Those elephant worshipers should be noticed then, torching your movement like no other country did.

  • by SP
    Posted July 17, 2016 4:44 am 0Likes

    Despite the paid propagandists and entrenched vested interests that will gain from dictatorships, who try to undermine the governments to further their own interests, the government being too weak to confront them, the mood of the general public had changed and they the development, stability and welfare of the public, they want the mandate of the public respected. They dont want a game of musical chairs between the army and weak politicians as stop gap until the image if the army has improved. It will not be easy to impose martial law on the country again like we saw Musharraf trying to impose it with his Emergency Plus in 2007.

  • by MT
    Posted July 17, 2016 9:10 am 0Likes

    No true honest nationalist ll want to be PM/president of a country for more than 2 terms/10yrs. erdogan gained absolute power only last year taking advantage of anti kurd feelings hysteria.

    So u haven’t been able to see how evil he is as he just became dictator & secular army was his last enemy left off

    Look how he is blaming an Islamic rebel hiding in usa for army coup to crush all secular liberal opposition in armed forces.
    Erdogan already pushing turkey towards religious state.he is no religious but he is copying Zia ideological strategy to grab power.

    He is already a billionaire with a palace alone made up with state money of 500mill$.

    Whatever progress Turks have made is due to their secular tolerant Western ideology from past.

    Erdogan is moving turkey close to Arab & he wants to be seen as leader of Islamic world

    I can reckon downfall of Turks if erdogan continue to destroy democracy,crush judiciary & continue to grab power

    Secularism isn’t about crushing personal freedom to religion but a secular state must keep religion out of institutions.

    None of Indian university army places have temple’s; mosques. Infact secular india allow despodent Sharia laws for Muslims which is problem with extra Liberal intellectual society of West & Indian Marxist who have crooked view of secularism . Such tolerant society become propagandist hub for hardliner Islamist radical preacher such as zakir Naik who glorify 1 sect of religion & treat all others philosophy & religions as evil

  • by MT
    Posted July 17, 2016 9:23 am 0Likes

    He is nt a religious but playing religion card to grab popular support & crush all secular oppp

  • by MT
    Posted July 17, 2016 9:27 am 0Likes

    Turk’s have reaped massive benefit from nato Eu alliance including trade deals which help Turks export 150bill£ to European
    Most of investment come from Eu companies & most industries are export centric.

    Turkeys close ties with west is main source of their affluence. Erdogan had to follow old policies & he only reaped absolute power last year.

    So let’s see if which direction erdogan heads towards.

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted July 17, 2016 12:59 pm 0Likes

    Thanks for the link, appreciated. I have not seen the movie before so will be finding some quiet time tonight or tomorrow to see it.

    I hope no one has to deal with mullahs like ours! While growing up I did attend some carefully selected spiritual Sufi gatherings for dhikr and contemplation. These I found very calming and enabling one to reflect and focus on becoming a better human being. The effect of these Sufi gatherings has been lasting and even years later serve as a yardstick by which I often measure my actions and make amends accordingly. I am not promoting any particular sect or way of practicing Islam. Just sharing my experience. Of course there are all kind of dodgy “pir babas” about these days but the gatherings I attended were pure bliss. I would leave re-energised, focused and with a zeal to engage with all people and environment and be a Muslim in harmony with the times and situation I find myself if in. This is distinct from the chaotic, confusing, sectarian “Islam” of many mullahs.

  • by Quraishi
    Posted July 25, 2016 1:36 pm 0Likes

    “No true honest nationalist ll want to be PM/president of a country for more than 2 terms/10yrs.”
    Where did u get this from,
    is this a rule fed into u by americans?
    can u source this by research evidence please,

    absolute power? how so, do u even know what ur saying, or ur copy pasting what some white man has spoken to u

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted September 27, 2016 8:51 pm 0Likes

    Hi Mohsin, I eventually managed to find the time to see the movie. Quite an eye-opener. I was aware of Said-i-Nursî but had never really looked in-depth in to his life and teachings. Interestingly, he was accused of organising a “secret society” against the republic. This is more or less the same accusation (“parallel state”) levelled at the preacher Muhammed Fethullah Gülen by Erdoğan, indicating that the lines have become somewhat blurred. During Nursî’s time the distinction between the secularist ruling elite and the Islamic reformists was clear-cut but now Erdoğan and Gülen both on the surface are Islamic reformist but are at each other’s throats (or more accurately, Erdoğan is at Gülen’s throat).

    On aonther related point, and I do not know how well I can express my thoughts in words on this but I will give it a try. This movie reminds me of the 8th century Mu’tazilites of Iraq. They too were both religious and believed in logic, reason and rational thought. There were other scholars of the time who opposed them on the basis that they (the Mu’tazilites) were drifting away from the Revealed Truth, an allegation the Mu’tazilites denied. An integral component of Islam is to go to all lenghts to acquire knowledge and for that we need to embrace science. This brings me to the “silly” question – how do you think science in Islam ought to be done? You might say science is science and there is no “Islamic” way of going about it. What is bugging my mind is – did the scholars opposed to the Mu’tazilites’ movement have a valid point? Today we see in the Western society huge strides in science have been made but where is God? Just about all my colleagues are Athiests and any discussion on the existence of God typically ends in having “science, science, science” thrown at me. “Since the existence of God is not proved by science therefore there is no reason to beleive He exists”.

    To re-cap – Islam is not complete without quest for knowledge. We need to embrace science to acquire knowledge. For “good science” we need to question everything, thereofore we need to question the existence of God until/unless we can prove He exists. Science does not prove the existence of God so therefore a society sufficiently advanced in science has the potential to drift away from religion. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • by Mohsin E.
    Posted September 27, 2016 10:00 pm 0Likes

    I would suggest you pick up “Islam’s Quantum Question” by Nidhal Guessoum, who’s a good astrophysicist. He deals with the questions you raised in great detail.

    Personally, I think the state of science today is actually quite depressing. The last great strides were made by Salam, the one before by Feynman, but by then the decline had already begun… It began with the advent of Quantum Mechanics, which split apart more then just the atom, it split apart reality. Many books have been written about this, and I’ve just begun to study QM myself in my spare time, and I can already see how deep the problem is… The basic concepts of “reality” and “causality” are in disarray… Einstein knew how much damage this would do to the scientific community, but he couldn’t stop it. Some others tried, like deBroglie/Bohm with their Pilot Wave mechanics which is a perfectly valid alternative which preserves reality, but the physics world had become too biased by that point already…

    Today’s physicists in the Western world are a lost cause almost… I mean, once you abandon “reality” (literally, because that is exactly what they’ve done by accepting the standard interpretation of QM) then forget about questions regarding God… I mean, if you don’t even care about your own reality, why would you bother with God’s?

    The effects of the “shut up and calculate” approach have been far-reaching. No new fundamental physics has been discovered in quite some time. All recent abstract theories have been complete failures (e.g. QFT, String Theory etc.) And “Dark energy” and “dark matter” have exposed the fact that we can only account for about 4% of the universe, which basically means we understand nothing, and General Relativity is clearly wrong… and yet the physics world just clings to it and sweeps its glaring flaws under a rug… And if all of this wasn’t enough, most of the papers being published in the most pre-eminent scientific journals in the world, their results can not be reproduced, because everyone’s publishing these days due to their contacts, not scientific merit of their discoveries. I read an article about this some time ago.

    This is the state of “science” today in the Western world… It’s basically bankrupt, at a fundamental level. The only reason most people don’t realize this, is because technology has been slowly catching up to the physics, but even that has slowed down now, as was inevitable.

    As for God (in Islam at least), I think His existence can definitely be verified empirically. It’s actually very simple: Take the Quran, and put it to the test. After all, God challenges us to test Him in the Quran. In fact, He tells us that if we don’t understand anything He says, then we shouldn’t follow it (verse 17:36.) So it’s very easy to falsify claims of the Quran. An entire socio-economic and political system can be derived from the principles in the Quran. Implement it properly, and see if it works. If it doesn’t, then you’ve disproven the claims of the Quran and therefore, you’ve disproven the existence of the God of Islam. It’s very simple. The reason no one implements it though is because they know how dangerous that system is for all the vested interests that profit of exploiting and enslaving humanity.

    The problem is that you have to first understand what the Quran is actually saying. When using the correct meanings, for example G.A. Parwez’s Exposition of the Quran, which subtracts all the false “miraculous” interpretations and superstitions from the Quran, this is possible. But it’s impossible to do with mainstream translations and commentaries which are mostly incorrect (and purposefully incorrect) containing all sorts of logical and empirical errors and ambiguities, simply there to mislead people.

    Anyways…. I’m just ranting now… But yea, pick up “Islam’s Quantum Question.” Good book about Islam and Science. It goes into the history, the philosophy and the current state of affairs quite well.

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted September 28, 2016 11:03 am 0Likes

    I have put “Islam’s Quantum Question” on my wish-list to purchase later, thanks. It should be a manageable read at 400 pages. Regarding G. A. Parwez’s “Lughat-ul-Qur’an” it is not available on UK Amazon at the moment but I can source it from Amazon US. Two volumes, 800 pages each so will require a greater time commitment but still, I will look in to purchasing the work.

    At any given time in any age, it appears that vast masses of people think we have learnt a lot about the universe and physics but subsequent further research shows we have sill barely scratched the surface. Where does Newtonian physics stand today? I am actually glad we can only account for 4% of the Universe and “basically understand nothing”. By knowing we do not know, the urge to seek is greater and greater probability of out-the-box thinking, to attain to tomorrow what seems unattainable today. Like you, I too see Man’s place among the stars.

  • by Mohsin E.
    Posted September 28, 2016 11:50 am 0Likes

    You don’t need the “Lughat-ul-Quran” right now, that’s a reference tool. I have it on my shelf and I use it when needed. But for your purposes, for now, you should try his “Exposition of the Quran” and “Islam a challenge to Religion” both are freely available in pdf on his organization’s website.

    And the Exposition is laid out for easy reading on the web here:

    Newtonion Mechanics is alive and well at our scale, Einstein’s GR is alive and well at the scale of the solar system, and QM reigns supreme at the sub-atomic scale. If you want to quickly calculate speed/velocity etc., you’ll use Newton’s mechanics, even though we know he’s wrong at much larger and much smaller scales. The other problem is that the “urge to seek” isn’t really that great today… That’s the “shut up and calculate” approach in full effect.

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted September 28, 2016 12:01 pm 0Likes

    Thanks for the links. I did not find “Exposition of the Qur’an” in book format during my search on Amazon. I wrongly thought perhaps “Lughat-ul-Qur’an” IS the same work. That explains my level of Urdu, lol.

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