Turkey’s failed coup and its repercussions

In the past 60 years, there have been 457 coup attempts in the world, of which 230 failed

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

In the past 60 years, there have been 457 coup attempts in the world, of which 230 failed. Most happened in third-world countries, and those with totalitarian regimes such as Russia. The stability of the political regime is the difference between developed and developing countries.

The recent coup attempt by a military faction in Turkey has caused great worry. It was a surprise because the political regime there has come a long way toward solidifying its pillars. The coup attempt can be viewed as a problem in the regime’s structure and the state’s safety. Many think the coup failed due to Turks’ mobilization on the streets against it. This is partially true, but the major reason is the army, most of which did not back the rebellion.

The army is so big and widely present that it can seize governance. The possibility that an officer can drive a tank in any country and threaten the regime, state stability and public safety is very dangerous. If you want to know the difference between an ancient democracy such as Britain and a modern one such as Turkey, it is enough to compare two historic events that are two days apart.

British Prime Minister David Cameron willingly resigned, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confronted an attempt to topple him by force. Cameron resigned after most Britons voted to leave the EU against his will. He did so even though he still had around three years left of his term. All MPs rose in respect and applauded him. However, in Turkey tanks entered the capital and Istanbul to topple Erdogan.

The coup attempt was an important test for the Turkish regime, and it passed. Nonetheless, its repercussions will affect the future of the state.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Possible scenarios

The coup attempt was an important test for the Turkish regime, and it passed. Nonetheless, the attempt worries those concerned with the struggle inside Turkey. Its repercussions will affect the future of the state. It may speed up the project of Erdogan, who wants to transform Turkey from its current parliamentary system, which is like France’s, to a presidential system such as in the United States.

Following his survival and success, it has become appropriate to propose this. The president will thus have full jurisdiction, and the plurality of presidencies will come to an end. This is positive. The negative is that the coup attempt may deepen wounds among Turkish political powers, and result in vendettas at a time when the country is experiencing a dangerous phase.

Turkey is fighting simultaneous wars with Kurdish separatists who have taken up arms and are supported by Iran’s allies, and with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), whose terror operations threaten tourism and state stability. There are also the continuous threats of the war in Syria and its disputes over southern Turkey, and the sabotaging of relations between components of Turkish society.

We do not know how the coup attempt will influence Erdogan’s vision of the world around him, and particularly of Syria. There is one view that he may choose to focus on confronting internal threats against him, and thus reconcile with the Syrian regime and its allies Iran and Russia. If so, the coup attempt will have failed to topple Erdogan but succeeded in changing his policy. Or he may choose to escalate confrontation in Syria to enhance his regional and domestic positions.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July 17, 2016.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.