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What’s Behind Turkish Officers’ Attempt to Stage a Coup

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The recent attempt of a military coup in Turkey has been the second mutiny against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the last five years. Turkey has the most powerful armed forces in the Middle East and ranks among the top global armed forces.

Supporters of Tukish President Tayyip Erdogan celebrate after soldiers involved in the coup surrendered on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey July 16, 2016 - Sputnik International
Turkey's Failed Military Coup: 'Spur-of-the-Moment Event' Vs Planned Action
According to data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Turkish Armed Forces numbers 510,600 personnel, including 402,000 with the army, 48,600 with the navy and 60,000 with the air force. In addition, Turkey has 378,700 personnel in reserve.

According to the Global Power index, Turkey ranks the 10th among the most capable global armed forces.

The bulk of Turkish forces are concentrated in the region, but Turkish troops are also deployed abroad, including in Cyprus, Afghanistan and Libya.

According to military experts, the Turkish armed forces are one the best-trained in the world. Turkish troops are trained in accordance with NATO norms.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during an iftar event in Ankara, Turkey, June 27, 2016 - Sputnik International
Failed Military Coup Could Help Erdogan Get What He Wants
Active involvement of the military in politics has been part of Turkish history. The Turkish military has staged four military coups in the 20th century (in 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997).

In the 2000s, Erdogan announced the reforming of relations between the military and civic institutions.

The recent attempted coup reflects the polarization within Turkish society, said Boris Dolgov, senior research fellow at the Institute for Eastern Studies, the Russian Academy of Sciences.

"The Turkish society is split. Part of it supports President Erdogan who is carrying out a policy of Islamization. This is a neo-ottoman policy, a course of expansion to the regions that were part of the Ottoman Empire. For example, in Syria Erdogan supports Sunni groups fighting against Bashar Assad," Dolgov told Gazeta.ru.

However, many in Turkey oppose this course. Turkish opposition has repeatedly said that the government is mounting pressure on opposition activists and journalists. Many experts have said that Turkey is drifting from a republic towards an authoritarian presidency.

As for the Turkish armed forces, this institution was established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

"Ataturk’s idea was secular development for Turkey. The Turkish military still supports and promotes this tradition," the expert noted.

"I think that the recent attempted coup is part of this standoff within the Turkish society. Many in Turkey are not happy with Erdogan’s policy. However, the coup was quelled, and so far Erdogan supporters win," he added.

A policeman stands atop of a military armored vehicle after troops involved in the coup surrendered on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey July 16, 2016. - Sputnik International
This is Why Turkey’s Military Coup Failed
Dolgov underscored that Turkish officers are considered the lite of the Turkish society.

They study and train both in Turkey and abroad, including in the United States and Europe. Turkish officers are qualified military specialists and many of them support Ataturk’s secular ideas.

In the modern Turkey, the army also plays another important role – to counterbalance Erdogan’s risky foreign policy ambitions.

"The Turkish military is one the most respected and disciplined social institutions. This is a tradition rooted in Turkish history," Sinan Ulgen, a scholar at Carnegie Europe, was quoted as saying by BBC.

According to Ulgen, throughout the 20th century, Turkish officers considered themselves protectors of the basic principles of the Turkish state. As a result, they have staged several coups when they saw a threat to the constitutional order.

After 2012, Erdogan carried out purging of the military ranks. His supporters were appointed for many command posts.

"But the recent putsch demonstrated that military officers are still trying to change the political course. They said they protested corruption and fought for democracy. These are usual mottos, but they prove that the Turkish military is against Islamization," Dolgov concluded.

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