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Turkey: Coup Has Failed, Erdogan More Powerful Than Ever

Izmir, Turkey -- It's a done deal: the military coup has failed. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Parti remain in power and vow to take revenge against those behind the coup.

Or, perhaps better said: against those they say are behind it.

Now that the coup has clearly failed, we can conclude that this must have been the most incompetent attempted takeover in Turkey's troubled history. When part of the military launched their offensive last night (Turkish time), I immediately checked news channels supporting President Erdogan. Surprisingly, none of them were taken over. The only broadcaster that was taken over was TRT Haber, the state news channel. But NTV and other channels supporting Erdogan were left alone.

That was remarkable, but what struck me even more was the fact that these channels -- especially NTV -- were able to talk to the president and the prime minister. That's strange, to put it mildly. Normally, when the military stages a coup, the civilian rulers are among the first to be arrested. After all, as long as the country's civilian leadership are free, they can tell forces supportive of them what to do... and they can even tell the people to rise up against the coup.

And that's exactly what happened. Both Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called into news programs and told their supporters to go out on the streets and fight back against the soldiers. A short while later, streets in the big cities (Ankara and Izmir) were flooded with Erdogan supporters, who even climbed on top of tanks. Fast forward a few hours and it was officially announced that the coup had failed, and that Erdogan and his AK Party remained in power. About 1500 soldiers were arrested.

As I wrote on Twitter yesterday, there were three options:

  1. The coup was staged by a small group within the military, which would severely limit their ability to strike.
  2. The coup was staged by the entire military, which meant Erdogan's chances of surviving politically were extremely small.
  3. The coup was a set-up. Think the Reichstag fire.

The main argument against option number three is that there was some very serious fighting taking place, including massive explosions. Dozens of people have been killed. If this was a fake coup, it probably was the bloodiest one ever. That's why many people are skeptical about this option, and believe it was just an incompetent attempt at a military takeover.