What Happened – The Turkish Coup That Failed

By | on 18th July 2016 | 5 Comments

A quiet night at home, I hear my news alert beep on my phone, opening it up like I had done the night of the Nice attack I was yet again shocked at what I was reading. Military on the Istanbul bridges stopping traffic.

Oh god I thought not another terrorist attack. Then my mind went quickly realised that as Istanbul is a city the Jandarma have no jurisdiction there. I quickly went to twitter and the first tweet I read is this could be a coup. Panic hit me and I tried to call my sleeping husband after about the 10th attempt he answers tells me not to worry. Really…..

Turkish military stand guard near the the Taksim Square as peiple wave with Turkish flags in Istanbul, Turkey, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Turkish military stand guard near the the Taksim Square as peiple wave with Turkish flags in Istanbul, Turkey, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

I alert my friends and with them all to be safe. What else could I do, I am safely tucked up at home in the UK and all hell is breaking loose in Turkey. I didn’t sleep till dawn till it seemed that it was quietening down and then I only slept 2 hours and the rest of the weekend has been spent following with dismay the horror movie of a weekend in Turkey.

It is yet to find an end, thousands have lost their jobs, from judges to police and thousands have been arrested and to date 208 have died. I think that number does not include the coup plotters.

Why did this happen?

There is no really understanding, the Government say it is because of the Gulen who is the leader of the parallel state. They wanted to bring down the Government and take control. The conspiracy theory is it was power grab by the Government a Staged Coup to take ultimate control and to cause chaos.

The latter is a dangerous move, it could have gone completely wrong and plunge the country into chaos. Yet there are some threads of truth in things I have read.

It mostly likely was a real coup as what leader would take such a risk. The faces of those young conscript soldiers will stay with me, I could see my sons face looking out at me, the fear of the crowds who were called out by Erdogan to protect the state, must have been a scary sight for those few soldiers.

As the story emerged, it became clear these young soldiers were ordered and told it was an exercise. They did not know what was going on, unlike what it seems others new and were ready to fight. I was just grateful that none of our family were doing their national service. I can’t imagine how the families felt when they seen their son’s faces front and centre on the TV.

What is happening now?

The Government over the weekend cleaned up the rest of the coup supports and continued to purge not only the military positions but also those of top judges, police and governor and major positions. There has been well over 10,000 sackings and arrests over the weekend. 20 media websites have been closed and now it seem more journalist will be detained or lose their jobs.

There has been a lot of talk about the death penalty over the past few days and it looks like the Government will bring the debate to parliament. I only hope that this is appease the people and that the decision will be brought not to bring it back. In 2004 Turkey voted to remove the death penalty, we can only hope that they do not bring it back.

The Government will now need to clean house and reappoint the positions that have been emptied over the weekend. They want Gulen to be brought to Turkey for trial and will need to give proof to America for his extradition.

I often think big things happen in Turkey and a few days later it is like nothing has happened. Perhaps this will be the same perhaps it will not. We hear a lot of talk about the New Turkey I feel this really will be a New Turkey that things will be changing now at a faster pace than before.

As I said at the start I wasn’t there, I was scared for my home and my family. I watched it all unfold, countless tweets and footage. But I can not comment for what it really felt like.

So I will leave you with some of the articles I think best show what happened and what is happening now. I am no political commentator and not a journalist so I can only write my thoughts.

I hope that whatever happens now, builds a free and democratic Turkey that we will see a turnaround begin from what was a bad year to start with, to something that makes Turkey proud again.

Articles for an insight into what is happening:

Living Through The Coup, Istanbul The Day After by Jennifer Hattam @The Turkish Life

A Failed Coup In Turkey, How It Unfolded, by Isobel Finkel, Bloomberg Article

Military Attempts Coup In Turkey – Photos of the Coup from Reuters

(some images are disturbing)

Coup Was ‘Gift From God’ for Erdogan Panning a New Turkey – by Marc Champion, Bloomberg Article

Fethullah Gulen: who is the man Turkey’s president blames for coup attempt?, Peter Beaumont The Guardian

© 2016, Kerry Arslan. All rights reserved.

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5 Responses to “What Happened – The Turkish Coup That Failed”

  1. 18th July 2016

    Jane Ozmus Reply

    RTE has had tremendous support from the population and listening to talk radio programmes in the uk more pro him than anti.

    • 4th August 2016

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      It is an interesting time Jane. I do wonder what will come from all of this.

  2. 18th July 2016

    Kim Reply

    Dear Kerry

    When the news hit on Friday, I thought “OK, Turkey is known for its military and coups, just watch and see, it’ll be short and awful, but it”ll work itself out within 24 hours”.

    I learned about events from a Turkish friend who texted me on WhatsApp late Friday night.
    Three other Turkish friends called me later on, and said, “did you hear?”
    To each I said “Yes”. Each of them, in different ways, said this won’t last long, don’t worry.

    From the coverage of BBC and CNN, it looked bad.
    It looked bad in Ankara. It looked bad in Istanbul.
    There have already been several terrorist attacks this year. There was a crisis with Russia, the Syrian situation is ongoing. But this was different, though not “better”.

    So although it was a very, very serious situation, the Turks I knew absolutely did not panic.
    Panic, from what I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears was something left to foreigners. I had one British, and another Irish friend with a house and long-term kimlik (residency pass) here WhatsApp text me saying how “scared” they were, and I even saw some bawling their eyes out as the news unfolded whilst in a restaurant.

    For those particular people, scared and crying, it was as though war had been declared.
    They were stuck in a war zone, or something, and were powerless to ever make it out alive.
    I was surprised one Swedish woman, married to a Turk, visibly terrified say “how are we going to get out of this place?” to her shocked husband! It was as if she was saying this place is uncivilised…

    Yes, the airports were closed for a time. Yes, there would be blood shed, but during that time the Turks around me were calm and in control of the situation. Someone even said:
    “this has nothing to do with foreigners.”

    The voice of one muezzin (the men who calls the population to come and pray) from one of the mosques blared from the speakers, his ezan (call) much longer than normal.
    Was he calling for calm resolve? It felt like it.
    And on the roads the cars were out in force, hooters beeping and hooting, for hours, in protest and defiance.

    As for me, I just wanted to get home; it was late, I was tired and just needed peace and quiet.
    i needed to get my head around it. What was this? What does it mean?
    I had never lived through a military coup d’etat before, or experienced life under martial law with curfews and all that. What raced through my head were pictures and cliches of “instability and chaos in the Middle East”. Was this what I was in the middle of myself?

    But rationality got the better of me.
    I’d read about the Deep State before, the (alleged) state within a state which is made up of military and intelligence agencies,(including influence from foreign governments, especially USA) that operates independently of Turkey’s political leadership. It is ultra-nationalist, and ultra-secular and shows its domination if the political leadership is going in the direction it does not want.

    There was the question of Fethullah Gulen’s involvement in this attempted takeover.
    In my time here, and before I came I’d tried to inform myself about the way the Turkish state had been formed and the way it operated throughout the years.

    I have no idea what the truth is behind it all. I am not sure who does yet, but time will tell.

    On the night there was a news black out on Turkish TV, but the internet and phones worked fine where I was. The friend who had first called me on WhatsApp to tell what had happened with the army called and said “we’re gonna stop the army group doing this to us”.

    It all happened at night and as the hours went on, I fell asleep.
    The following Saturday was quieter than normal.

    The President had asked people to go onto the streets, and they had.

    A few days after the main, personal concerns for my friends’ was how it would affect the economy, tourism especially. It’s been a terrible year as it is, and this was like the final blow.

    • 4th August 2016

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      Hi Kim

      Sorry I missed this comment from you. It would have been terrifying for many especially in the first few hours and I don’t think you can blame them for panicking. Some are not as rational as yourself. Now life has settled I am actually now worried about the country. I am not sure what is happening but something is niggling at me and I am waiting to see the outcome, which may be many months to come yet. I won’t put my views and thoughts to text just yet. I am happy that coup did not take hold as this is democracy and no democracy should be over thrown. I await and hope to be proven wrong in my niggles and I hope that a better free and democratic countries arises out of the ashes, because there may not have been a massive war, but the country that we knew only a few weeks ago I think was burned down and another New Turkey will emerge.

  3. 4th August 2016

    Kim Reply

    Hey Kerry,

    I also hope that a better Turkey emerges from this, but I shouldn’t blame anyone for panicking?
    Well, look, the Turkish people around me were calm and I took my lead from THEM, and THEY were the ones taken aback by the way the other foreigners reacted, not me. I just wanted to understand what was going on. This is a big, diverse country with very complicated politics and I haven’t even begun to get my head around it.

    What you may not appreciate is that I am as emotional and vulnerable as anyone, probably moreso because of my individual situation here in Turkey.
    So Kerry, could you stop judging me, please.

    Frankly, I think the broadcasters stirred up fear in people. Especially for the foreign press.
    The way it was being reported made it look far scarier than it was. What I saw in the media made it look like a “terror” or a near-terror situation. There we were, sitting happily in Kusadasi and the foreign news shows us something horrid in Ankara. Quizzical looks on Turkish faces.

    What is staged or real? That’s the question.

    Like you, I’m glad the coup didn’t take hold, but…was it intended to? On the night, people were saying “this is too badly planned to be a serious thing. it won’t last”. They were right.
    The democracy we had before was questionable. I’ve seen things here to make me believe that, so I was really confused by it all.

    When the news came out, a repeated sentiment by my Irish and English friends was:
    “It’s terrible that it has to happen like this, but he was becoming too Islamic.”
    I don’t know about that, as Islamic is one thing, and Islamist is another.

    None of them seemed to think power, wanting more power and wanting to keep power had something to do with it. Only Turks seemed to be saying that.

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