July 15, 2018
The history of modern Turkey can be summarised as the history of military interventions. In the late Ottoman times, the army was the first and foremost institution through which the modernisation steps were taken. In parallel to that, the Army has been seen as the founder and the guardian of the newly founded regime in 1923. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk , the leader of the National Liberation War was himself a soldier as well.
One of the main reasons of the hardships for the deepening of democracy in Turkey is the pathological role that the Army has attached to itself. In the aftermath of the introduction of the multi-party politics, the military interventions have taken place through almost a period of 10 years. In 1960, 1971 and 1980 the Turkish Armed Forces have intervened into the political sphere with the so-called task of protecting the Republican regime and restore democracy. In line to that, in 1997 the military again intervened into the politics collaborating with some “civilian ” institutions like NGOs and the mainstream media to overthrow the Welfare Party-led government. This military intervention is known as the “post-modern coup” that used the media and NGOs to undermine the legitimacy of the government and push it to resign.
On the other hand, until the mid 2000s, Turkish democracy has always been fragile vis-à-vis Western democracies. However with the triumph of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in 2002 general elections, the democracy in Turkey has started to gain ground. The democratisation of Turkey has not been that easy. The bureaucratic oligarchy has been an interceptive parameter in front of the deepening of democracy. The e-memorandum issued in April 27, 2007 which accused the AK Party as a threat to secularism and the closure case opened against the party can be seen as the interceptive steps taken by the bureaucratic oligarchy.
It should be noted that thanks to the European Union reform packages, the political autonomy of the Army has eroded to an important degree. The AK Party government has taken significant steps to democratise civil-military relations. The deepening of democracy under the AK Party government faced a military blow in 2016, known as the July 15 coup attempt carried out by the Fethullahçı Terrorist Organisation (FETO)
Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Fethullahçı Terrorist Organisation (FETO) was once upon a time known as the leader of the Gülen movement that underlined interfaith dialogue and tolerance. On July 15, 2016 the military personnel affiliated with FETO has engaged in a coup attempt to overthrow the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government., and that showed Turkey the real face of Fethullah Gülen. It is known that the people in the Gülenist organisation have been infiltrated to state institutions like the Army, judiciary and so on since 1970s.
As stated above, in fact many people in Turkey until July 15 coup attempt has known the Gülenists as the people dedicated to interfaith dialogue activities all over the world. This image has been eroded to a considerable amount of degree in 2013. Also in 2013, through the December 17, 25 process, it has been seen that the movement was not a dialogue movement indeed. From then on, it has started to be seen as an illegal organisation that aimed to overthrow the government through a judiciary blow as well.
In the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt, lots of people affiliated with the FETO have been arrested and the judiciary process still goes on, it seems that the process will continue in the following years as well.
The July 15, 2016 coup attempt can be viewed as a milestone in the history of Turkish democracy. It showed the whole world that the people living in Turkey embraces democracy and can even put their lives under danger for the independence of their country.Author : Begum Burak