History is replete with stories of successful coups all over the world. There are also stories of successful coups leading to a shift to democracy from morchic or dictatorial regimes. The political goal all over the world is to move towards democratic rule, regardless of the fact that both Plato and Aristotle were sceptical of democratic governments being an improvement over other forms of governce. The one daunting fact about democracy is that it is a one-way street with no means of return. Any tion opting for democracy has no means of returning to morchy or any detestable form of dictatorship. However, during the last few days, Turkey has demonstrated that a coup supported by hundreds within the armed forces and thousands outside it could be thwarted by a president enjoying the support of almost all the people. Last Saturday, Turkish authorities said that they had regained control of the country after thwarting a coup attempt by discontented soldiers to seize power from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that took a toll of more than 250 lives. This coup was the bloodiest challenge to Erdogan’s 13-year autocratic rule, with the President urging his backers to stay on the streets in order to prevent a possible “flare-up” of last Friday’s chaos in the strategic TO member country of 80 million people. What is indeed remarkable is that President Erdogan should have been able to deal with the coup without having to come out persolly to appeal to the people. What is even more remarkable is that his government should have been able to detain at least 2,839 soldiers in a relentless round-up. The authorities have blamed the conspiracy on Erdogan’s US-based arch enemy and cleric Fethullah Gulen, but only time will tell how true the allegations are. According to a statement made by Turkish Prime Minister Bili Yildirim last Saturday, the situation was completely under control with at least 2,839 soldiers detained in a relentless round-up over the coup plot. The overall death toll in the violence has been of the order of 265 killed and 1,400 wounded. The death toll includes 104 rebel soldiers killed.
What will remain a mystery is how a coup hatched by a fairly large section of the army and the police could have failed and how the administration maged to detain as many as 2,839 rebel soldiers. Perhaps one answer to this is to be found in the huge support that President Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) enjoys. However, a great deal depended on the strategy of keeping the streets filled with loyal flag-waving AKP supporters in total defiance of the curfew orders of the coup leaders. In fact, Erdogan used his Twitter feed to urge people on to the streets in order to block all attempts to overthrow the regime. “We should keep on owning the streets tonight no matter at what stage (the coup attempt is) because a new flare-up could take place at any moment,” he said. What comes through as an amazing testimony of composure and courage in an hour of grave crisis is Erdogan’s handling of an explosive situation. After all, the attempted coup began with F-16 fighter jets of the Air Force flying low over Ankara rooftops, and soldiers and tanks taking to the streets in the capital city of Istanbul. Despite all the sabre-rattling of the coup leaders, Turkey was able to detain 103 generals and admirals after last Friday’s failed coup. In addition, Turkey has maged to suspend 7,800 police officials including high-ranking officers. They were summoned to the provincial police headquarters and their weapons as well as their IDs were confiscated. For years to come, Turkey’s success in dealing with a major coup attempt supported by hundreds of army officers and thousands of police officers within a day will be hailed as the most efficient functioning of a very well-run administration that could even take a major coup and acts of sabotage in its stride without much ado.