Turkey plunged into chaos as forces loyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left scores dead. Thousands were arrested amid vows the plotters would “pay a heavy price for their treason.” The Associated Press looks at Turkey’s long history of coups, its military‘s prominence and why some had thought the days of military interference with government were over.
HOW LONG HAS THE MILITARY INTERVENED IN POLITICS?
The military staged three coups between 1960 and 1980 and pressured Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, a pious Muslim mentor of Erdogan who was disliked by Turkey’s secular establishment, out of power in 1997. In 2007, the military threatened to intervene in a presidential election and warned the government to curb Islamic influences, but the action backfired and Abdullah Gul, the candidate favored by a government with Islamic leanings, took office. The latest coup attempt surprised observers because Erdogan’s government had taken steps to bring the military to heel, including dismissals and prosecutions of high-ranking active and former officers for alleged coup plots. Erdogan’s government appeared to be working effectively with the military, coordinating on national security issues and confronting a perceived anti-government faction said to have infiltrated the police and other institutions.
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