Turkey: Failed coup was years in the making

Written by Ahmet Zeki Üçok on 18 November 2016 in Thought Leader
Thought Leader

The failed coup in Turkey was years in the making, writes Ahmet Zeki Üçok.

Colonel Ahmet Zeki Ucok

Ahmet Zeki Üçok | Photo credit: Youtube


What happened on 15 July? Politicians and commentators in Europe and elsewhere have hastily sought and found simple answers, and prescribed equally simple solutions: "The military staged a coup. It failed. Now carry on as before."

This prescription is based on a diagnosis that is both superficial and wrong. Fundamentally, it underestimates the extent of the sickness that had taken hold of the Turkish body politic, as well as the depth and duration of the groundwork that made this possible.

For 40 years, the Gülen network has been working to infiltrate the organs of the Turkish Republic. Their methods are sophisticated, and their reach is broad: Gülenists carried codenames, communicated through encrypted systems, reported to a parallel hierarchy of "brothers" and systematically bugged and wiretapped state institutions. They stole the military academy entrance exam papers to help their candidates. 


RELATED CONTENT


Today, approximately 100,000 officers are estimated to have links to the movement. Of the 358 generals in the Turkish Armed Forces today, 160 have been connected to this organisation.

Let me be clear: their influence is not benign. The movement's political objective is to destabilise the Republic of Turkey. 

I have seen what the movement does first hand: I was both accused and imprisoned for allegedly taking part in a coup plot known as the Balyoz, or "Sledgehammer", case, in which Gülenist Terror Organisation FETÖ (Fetullahçı Terör Örgütü) agents who had infiltrated state apparatus fabricated evidence to frame their opponents.

Turkey is founded on a constitutional model familiar to many: republican government, equality before the law, and separation of powers. But these principles do not provide answers to the questions that stem from this widespread infiltration.

How should Turkish society respond when the integrity of the judiciary is compromised by widespread penetration by a terrorist movement? When police officers report to the Gülenist hierarchy, rather than their line of command?

Or when sections of the military are controlled by politically-motivated activists that do not shy away from flying bombing raids on the Turkish Parliament?

Turkish society is in shock. It is vital that our partners and neighbours understand why. The challenge is to restore the integrity of Turkey's institutions. 

While there are huge difficulties ahead, there are also opportunities. Wide-reaching reform means that for the first time Turkey's military is subject to civilian control of an elected government - an epochal change.

Those officers and civil servants marginalised by the old Gülenist guard are being rehabilitated. And the unprecedented unity in opposing the coup made it clear that the vast majority in Turkey are committed to democratic principles.

The extraordinary turbulence we are witnessing would sorely test any country's mettle. The Turkish Republic is determined to master the challenges that FETÖ, PKK, ISIS and millions of migrants pose. This is in our mutual interest. Europe's own security is directly linked to Turkey's stability.

 

About the author

Colonel Ahmet Zeki Üçok is a retired Turkish army military prosecutor

Share this page

Tags

Categories

Partner content

This content is published by the Parliament Magazine on behalf of our partners.

Related Articles

Scottish flag Scotland seeks a life raft in Brexit's stormy seas
17 February 2017

The unwillingness of the UK government to compromise on Brexit may leave Scotland with no choice but to seek independence, writes Stephen Gethins.

Anthony Gardner The EU must not let the US sideline its institutions or their values
17 February 2017

In reworking its relations with the US, the EU must not let Washington sideline Brussels' institutions or their values, writes Anthony Gardner.

Ted Malloch MEPs launch withering attack on Donald Trump's reported pick as EU ambassador
16 February 2017

Controversial economist Ted Malloch is unfit for the job, warns senior MEP Jo Leinen.

Related Partner Content

Adrian Lombard Peregrine falcon down-listing an opportune time to reflect on CITES convention
23 September 2016

The Peregrine falcon's down-listing is an opportune time to reflect on the CITES convention, writes Adrian Lombard.

Scales of Justice Between EU and Eurasia: Which future for human rights in Armenia?
2 December 2015

Armenia's abrupt political U-turn, clearly imposed by Moscow, has interrupted a number of promising legislative processes in the field of human rights.

A picture of the justice system The case for reforming the European arrest warrant: Alexander Adamescu vs. Romania
27 October 2016

The case of Alexander Adamescu underlines why the European arrest warrant needs urgent reform, argues Mitchell Belfer.