Letter From the Editors: July 18 - 24, 2016

Author: Laurence Bogoslaw

Turkish Coup: Repercussions at Home and Beyond

The focal point of this week’s news coverage has been Turkey, where a dizzying series of events unfolded within hours: On the evening of July 15, a section of the Turkish military attempted to overthrow the government, deploying Army units to the streets of Istanbul and taking hostages in Ankara. That night, Turkish President Erdogan called on his supporters to stop the coup, then flew to Istanbul to rally them in person. Antigovernment soldiers surrendered in Istanbul, as loyalist police arrested hundreds of suspected rebels; and by daybreak on July 16, the government announced the coup was over.

The amazingly quick succession of all this turmoil has divided the Russian media outlets mainly into two camps. The first group trumpets (with a mixture of exultation and dismay) the virtually unlimited authority that Erdogan has amassed. As Anna Glazova comments in Nezavisimaya gazeta: "The Army, which for decades has been the guarantor of the Constitution and Turkey’s secular development, undoubtedly saw how the country was turning into an Islamic state and gradually sliding toward authoritarian rule.. .. They made a desperate attempt to change the situation - an attempt that was destined to fail from the start." The second group argues, on the contrary, that Erdogan’s authority was faltering and the coup actually benefited him. Some even claim that his supporters orchestrated it themselves. Aleksandr Chursin does not go that far (he says the number of casualties in the street rallies was too high to justify a conspiracy theory), but he does say with oracular confidence: "If there were no coup, Erdogan would have had to invent one." He adds: "Perhaps it would be fair to say that the coup did provide Erdogan with a unique opportunity to get rid of his opponents."

As for repercussions outside Turkey, Oleg Kashin has his own theory, citing Putin’s paranoid ...

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