What You Need to Understand About the 2016 Attempted Coup in Turkey

On July 15, 2016, Turkey witnessed the bloodiest coup attempt in its political history when many citizens took to the streets to demand true democracy.  Joining the rebellion, a significant number of troops in the Turkish military launched a coordinated operation in several major cities to overthrow the corrupt government and unseat its leader—President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Soldiers and tanks took to the streets and a number of explosions rang out in Ankara and Istanbul. However, Erdogan was not captured or killed, so he was able to convince enough of his fanatical followers to go into the streets and fight against the people who were driven to seek a true democracy. Erdogan’s tactic worked and thousands would eventually be arrested and jailed including teachers, lawyers, soldiers, students, and journalists. There are more journalists in jail in Turkey than any other country.

The corrupt Turkish justice minister says loyalists of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen are behind the attempted coup. Gulen was not in Turkey during the coup and has denied any involvement. Currently, he resides in the United States where he was granted asylum. Repeated attempts by Erdogan have failed to convince the U.S. to turn him over to Turkish officials. 

As the years have passed, Erdogan has visited the United States under President Trump who calls him “a good friend and a great leader”.  However, many Armenians and some Turks (those whose family members were arrested without trial during the aftermath of the coup) protested his presence in the U.S.  You can check out YouTube videos of Erdogan ordering his bodyguards to attack peaceful, unarmed American protesters.  Erdogan can be seen on video ordering his armed thugs to severely beat women and men until Capitol Police turned back Erdogan’s armed private security men by force. Even though this occurred close to the White House, Trump (another would-be dictator) never uttered a word about the outrageous behavior. 

Currently, Turkey has cozied up to Russia by buying weapons from them instead of their U.S. “ally”.  Plus, Erdogan continually violates Greece’s boundaries, air space, and is now drilling for oil illegally in Greek waters. Greece and most every other country in the world refuses to recognize the Turkish Cypriot state on the Northern third of Cypress which Turkey invaded illegally in 1974 while the U.S. was busy impeaching Nixon and dealing with the war in Vietnam. Today there are about 37,000 Turkish troops in Cypress, and Erdogan promises they will never be removed. Erdogan’s extremist religious fanaticism stems his offensive land and resource stealing. His expansionist obsession along with his megalomaniacal attitude has crippled the economy in Turkey and the common people suffer hardships under his rule. Thus, I predict Erdogan will goad Greece into a mini-war. Greece will not back down. They will fight for what is rightly theirs and protect their homeland and islands with their lives.  

That said, President Biden is now in office, and he has historically been a long-time friend of he Greeks. There seems to be some consensus in his administration that our military bases in Turkey may be gradually dismantled and moved to Greece. After all, the Greeks have fought with us before; we can trust them to be steadfast allies. That can not be said for the mad-man leadership in Turkey that resembles old Turk leaders who carried out the first modern genocide against the Armenians. 

Time will tell, but this writer believes America should choose its allies more carefully. It should be imperative that we choose allies we can trust, allies who genuinely offer their people democracy, and allies who reflect our own moralistic and ethical values. Until then, we will be complicit in school and hospital bombings in Yemen and the ostentatious murder of Jamal Koshoggi in Saudi Arabia. I believe the Biden/Harris administration will side with Greece, and the rest of us should support such a move, for it is time to defend others when they are on the right side of history.  Otherwise, who are we as a nation…as a people…as human beings?

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