Afterword: The Failed Military Intervention in Turkey on 15 July 2016
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195 Afterword The Failed Military Intervention in Turkey on 15 July 2016 I finished writing the main body of this book in December 2015 and made a couple of relatively minor changes in April 2016. I decided not to incorporate new developments after December 2015, knowing that I otherwise would not be able to call the book done. A failed military intervention took place in Turkey on 15 July 2016, when the book was “out of my hands.” Integrating this last event into the book’s chapters was an impossible task, both because the book was finished and because the developments were still too fresh to properly analyze . I am grateful that I was still given the opportunity to add this afterword in early August 2016, roughly three weeks after the intervention. There are still many unknowns regarding who was the leader of the coup in the military, which officers and civilians got involved with the conspiracy, and what the plotters’ exact plans were when they moved on the night of 15 July. The statements of the captured military officers do not add up, and there is much confusion about the exact flow of events in different locations in Ankara, Istanbul, and Marmaris (where President Erdoğan was when the plot unfolded). There are, however, certain facts that were realities to anyone who lived through the events, either at home, in front of the television, or on the streets, actively involved in putting down the coup. Here, I adopt the theory of this book (see chapter 2) and apply the three phases I used to summarize the book’s premises in the conclusion to the 15 July military intervention , based on these objective facts. More information that might be revealed in the subsequent years might refute or buttress the interpretations below. The Causes of the Military Intervention The exact causes of the intervention are, by and large, still unknown. It is certain that the plotters’ main targets were the politicians. President Erdoğan 196  •  Between Military Rule and Democracy was on holiday in Marmaris, and his hotel was bombed shortly after he left. The intervention started roughly at 10:00 p.m., with jets flying low over Ankara , conspirators taking over the Istanbul Atatürk Airport, and military tanks seizing the sides of the city’s two bridges connecting Asia to Europe. While Erdoğan’s airplane could not land either in Ankara or Istanbul until around 3:00 a.m., Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and parliamentarians, who declared their opposition on television as the intervention was taking place, came under attack. The parliament was bombed with government and opposition party members in it, and Yıldırım’s car came under fire on his road from Istanbul to Ankara. From the first moments of the putsch onward, the government has repeatedly accused the Gülenists in the military as the main plotters. In a few days, public opinion converged on this view, and there are now no alternative explanations. The government was preparing to expel hundreds of officers from the military in late July because of their Gülenist affiliations. It is argued that these officers took action before their purge. If this interpretation is correct, then the action on 15 July was a short-­lived coup attempt in its initial stages. One elite group (Gülenists) tried to eradicate another threatening political group (especially the JDP leadership). As explained in chapter 6 of this book, the two groups have been in conflict for some time, and the imminent purge from the military might have been the triggering cause. A Gülenist attempt to overthrow the JDP did not come as a surprise, but the infiltration of Gülen supporters to the military to such an extent and with a potential to carry out a coup was not known to many, including myself. Although I mentioned in this book’s conclusion the possibility of a junior officers’ coup, I did not think that it would be Gülenist officers. Irrespective of our prior awareness of the power of Gülenists in the military, it was well known that the Turkish military has never been ideationally monolithic and that there might have been coup plotters, because democracy was not consolidated and because elite conflict continued. The coup perhaps started out with the intention of being a short-­ lived one, but a few hours after the intervention started, President Erdoğan appeared on television and gave interviews...