The attempted coup yesterday night, coming from a minority part of the turkish army formally against the president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has failed and Turkey is slowly returning to normality. Harsh times are expected with the highly probable acceleration of a process which is making the country even more authoritarian. Democracy, already significantly reduced, could likely to be completely obliterated.
Last night a small part of the Army attempted a coup by blocking strategical points in Istanbul and Ankara, bombarding the Parliament, trying to take over the most important pro-government and opposition media, attacking the Turkish Intelligence services' headquarters in Ankara, taking hostage the in charge Army Chief of Staff, now released.
The coup leaders in a statement forcibly broadcast-ed through the Turkish television TRT said they intervened because the actual Government redesigned the ideology of all state organs, including the armed forces leaving them unable to work.
Turkih President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on a mobile streaming interview aired by major broadcasters while trying to land in Istanbul, immediately called on Turkish citizens to defend democracy on the streets. Thousands of President supporters took to the streets and threw themselves against the army tanks to defended the television broadcasters and airports and now they are again demonstrating. Some soldiers have surrendered to the crowd, others were literally lynched.
The coup leaders have fired on the crowd in different parts of the country. The death toll is 161 (said the Turkish Premier Yildirim on air at 11.30) while 1440 are wounded, while all night muezzins from Mosques declared an holy war, asking the population to reclaim the streets and defend the elected government. The massive response of Turkish citizens was the first element that prevented the coup.
All political forces, from Kemalist Republican people's party (CHP), the coalition between the left and the kurds, the Peoples' democratic party (HDP) and even the ultra nationalists of the Nationalist action party (MHP) were immediately sided against the coup.
The Police, Security Forces' special units and Intelligence services (MIT) have all fought both to defend their headquarters attacked by the Army and to regain control of strategical points occupied by the coup perpetrators, arresting 2639 persons and killing at least 20. The soldiers responsible for the coup will be tried for high treason. While words of death penalty are running through the country, the Prime Minister did not rule out the possibility but seems inclined to leave things as they are at the moment: in Turkey death penalty is forbidden. However, he said that today the parliament will discuss "additional necessary measures" in a special session.
Prime Minister Yildirim proclaimed July the 15th a Democracy Day, next to the liberated Army Chief of State, claiming that the country has returned to normal and inviting tonight all citizens on the streets to celebrate coup's failure.
The Prime Minister and Erdogan have firmly pointed fingers against former supporter Fethullah Gulen, the powerful Muslim preacher that since 2013 from the United States seeks to overthrow Erdogan. It's possible this might be true. Gulen has denied any involvement and condemned the coup during the night but it's likely to be a strategic denial over the failed coup. Another hypothesis could be the involvement of forces close to ultra nationalists and the more radical Kemalist tradition (Vatan Partisi or the like) but it's too early to tell. We'll know more in the next few hours as the investigations proceed and more names will be named.
After 2013 corruption scandal and the protests towards the defense of Gezi Park in the same year, the Government passed increasingly more restrictive measures to freedom attacking the press opposition alongside any voice of dissent. The coup attempt could now represent for Erdogan an acceleration of this process. It is likely that in the name of fighting terrorists, the already few areas of freedom in Turkey could be jeopardized. Alternatively this situation can be an opportunity for democracy to come out stronger from this crisis by reversing the current process that is making Turkey an increasingly authoritarian country. This relies mainly on the reaction of Turkish society, the world's public opinion, as well governments and international institutions. European Union above all.