With the currently unfolding events in Turkey (attempted coup by the military) one of my first harsher reactions is this: Is President Erdogan trying to have a quasi coup (or quasi terrorist plot) staged in order to justify the introduction of further restrictive methods later on?

Are there any concrete pieces of evidence or analyses that show this might be the case? (I'm open to both truths -- or "truths" --, that it might be the case or it might not be.)

UPDATE This is relevant (courtesy of FAZ and Google Translate).

  • "Staging" as in "Faking"?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 5:57
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    @AndrewGrimm IMO "faking" would not seem to be a good term for an event in which over 60 people died, even in case "staging" could apply. But otherwise Yes to your question-inside-comment.
    – Drux
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 6:31
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    I think it is far too early to ask this question. It might take a few days, weeks or even months until enough information is publically available to write a good answer.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 9:32
  • @Drux - Perhaps "arranging a coup attempt against himself"? Or "instigating"?
    – Bobson
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 4:50
  • @Bobson I am not a native speaker, but I still like "staging" better. This would seem to cover also a possible scenario where leader X knows about a problem that might erupt at a first perimeter, but he chooses to ignore it because (a) the eruption may serve his purposes and (b) he can still catch and deal with it outside that perimeter. In this scenario leader X does not arrange or instigate anything, he just allows to let it happen.
    – Drux
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 9:29

4 Answers 4


Evidences for quasi-coup:

  • The bombardments were not targeted at Erdogan. He reached the airport more or less unimpeded to speak.
  • The army retreated rapidly. Compare this with Egypt: The Egyptian army killed more than a thousand. Some army soldiers say they have been told that they are going to a maneuver. When they were confronted by civilian they easily surrendered and laid down their arms.

  • Hercule Poirot: Who benefits? Erdogan. He can now accomplish his goals regarding a new constitution.

    • He blamed Fethullah Gülen, saying they would pay for it.
    • Erdogan called the attempted coup "a gift from God," as it would help cleanse the military of "members of the gang!"
    • In recent years Erdogan has had antithetical positions that were failures for him. His fans are not united about these antithetical positions. Now, by creating an artificial crisis, he can unite his fans (Note that crisis solved Erdogan's problems in the previous election. The result was the first hung parliament since the 1999 general election. But after a bomb problems solved in favor of Erdogan). Some of the crisis and failures he overcomes are:

      1. He retreated from his positions against Russia.
      2. Syria mission is not accomplished as he wanted.
      3. He pretended Muslim community leadership by acts like confronting with Israel, but now he wants to have peace with israel; retreated.
      4. Erdogan has serious problems with the Kurds; many were killed.

-2725 judges dismissed (probably pro-Gulen)
-39 Pilots detained. (probably pro-Gulen)

-Erdogan said that 13,165 people have been arrested so far, with 5,863 pending trial and the remaining still being questioned.
-state of emergency declared which allows Ankara to limit rights and freedoms. As a 1st decree detention period is extended from four days to one month.
-So far, 934 schools, 109 student dorms, 15 universities, 104 foundation, 1,125 charity organization, 35 health institutes and 19 unions are shut down

  • Can you elaborate on "Note that crisis solved Erdogan's problems in the previous election." Which crisis and what problems where those? Perhaps you can point to a newspaper article, or similar.
    – Drux
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 8:17
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    I think it is far too early to answer this question. It might take a few days, weeks or even months until enough information is publically available to write a good answer.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 9:33
  • @Drux i added the link for election. but i cant remind about exact time of crisis.
    – user 1
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 10:19
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    Note: the principle "cui bono" dates back at least to Marcus Tullius Cicero who himself attributes it to Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla. Note also that cui bono is susceptible to falling victim to cum hoc ergo propter hoc. Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 13:25
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    Perhaps an additional point of circumstantial evidence; Erdogan was pretty quick about getting out a statement urging citizens to take to the streets and "defend democracy". Whether or not the coup was staged, that's certainly some very effective rhetoric in terms of turning public opinion against the military and forging a united base of support. If one was to stage a coup, that's exactly the sort of statement you'd want to plan on delivering in the immediate aftermath. You'd probably keep it right next to your prepared list of 2725 judges to dismiss for not being loyal enough.
    – aroth
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 6:00

No, it's unlikely to be the president's doing. The military has been trying to depose him for bringing god into government since he was elected. That 300 senior army officers were sentenced to prison in 2012 for plotting a coup speaks volumes. And that probably gave an opportunity to gut the military of the majority of its Kemalists.

The Turkish military has had coups almost every decade since 1960. Back then the elected government opened mosques, allowed the call to prayer in Arabic instead of Turkish, and restricted the press. That was too much for the generals. It seems like there are strong parallels between then and now, that Erdogan has silenced the press, been implicated with serious corruption, and brought religion into the public space. These things are the antithesis of Kemal's vision for a secular and westernised Turkey.

History suggests one way of looking at it may be that Turkey was overdue a coup.

  • The head of the army has been fired (don't know his name), and the allegation has been made that Gulen is behind it; something he's denied (though he would if it failed). The head of the special forces last night said he would put the coup down, so he's definitely pro-government (don't know his name either). I don't know anything more than that, sorry, just a little historical context.
    – user8398
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 15:11
  • Interresting elements, but it took me a while to connect the dots. If I understand correctly, you are suggesting that roughly the same political reasons are behind the 2012 coup attempt and this one. It should specify the position of Gulen on secularism, to make a link with why he is accused. From what I read, Gulen is in favor of the anglo-saxon model of secularism, which does not make him a kemalist but makes him more secular than Erdogan. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 21:04
  • @user5751924 It has been accused that Gulen was behind it, but that has yet to be proved. Erdogan's two main ideological opponents are the secular Kemalists, and the Islamist Gulen movement. Seems a bit convenient that the coup can be used as an excuse to get rid of both of them, and thus monopolise authority on secular and religious grounds. But maybe it was all Gulen's fault? I don't know. I'm just saying it has clear historical precedent. If you have any links to cite about Gulen's secularism, feel free to share, I could incorporate into the answer.
    – user8398
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 21:12

After following the events for a few days, I have a theory that the answer might be both Yes and No. No, Erdogan did not stage it all, but yes he triggered it when he didn't have to.

The scenario is that a coup by opponents of Erdogan was in some stage of development and subsequently infiltrated by or betrayed to Erdogan loyalists. Rather than going through the lengthy and painful process of accusing people who hadn't done anything of treason (and making himself look paranoid), Erdogan had his agents inside the coup relay the command to start the coup, but only to some elements.

This would explain the following strange aspects of the attempted coup

  • The small number of participants (only as many as Erdogan thought he could handle)
  • Their lack of coordination (since the communications were compromised)
  • The lack of a leader or face for supporters to rally behind
  • The only successful part was announcing the coup on TV (exactly the part that would rile up Erdogan's supporters the most)
  • The fact that none of Erdogan's vital allies seems to have been in any risk when they should have been the primary targets.
  • The fact that Erdogan was able to fly to Istanbul and deliver his speech within hours of the start without any fear of bombings or an ambush by opponents.
  • The bizarre timing of the coup (which should be done when as many government officials as possible are gathered in one place, not when they all are at their homes)
  • The level of preparedness and coordination in the response to the coup (can be attributed to the longrunning campaign to purge Turkey of Erdogan's opponents).
  • The beneficial timing of this event for Erdogan (a weak link at best)

There are too many of these aberrations to believe that someone with a real plan to take over the country would trigger the coup with so low a chance of success. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that so many soldiers (without known links to Erdogan's allies) could be convinced to sacrifice their lives in a fake coup.

  • Personal theories are not a great basis for an answer. Answers should authoritative, not speculative. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 18:01
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    @indigochild If the question allows for an authorative answer, I agree. That is not the case here (probably not for a very long time).
    – Cyrus
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 15:51

At this point of date and time, there's nothing we can know for sure. Only in maybe 60 years in the future, when Erdogan's regime would enter into history and scholars could study the subject on a neutral and objective point of view, this question will be answered.

Where he has gotten his inspiration from is obvious. Read the intro of the following wikipedia article, and compare with today's events in Turkey. The similarity is staggling. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Long_Knives

  • Hitler was elected deomcratically, just like Erdogan was
  • Hitler's populatrity quote was extremely high, just like Erdogan.
  • One principal culprit which is accused of making a putsch is found, Ernst Röhm for Hitler and Fethullah Gülen for Erdogan. In both cases they were former friends of the dictator which are punished for openly disagreeing with him.
  • Before the night of the long knifes, public order was repeatedly disturbed by the SA, which terrorized the population. By wiping them out, Hitler appeared as the man who stabilized Germany and bring social peace to the country. In Turkey's case, the Islamic State plays the same role - it was an ally of Turkey but now everything changed.

The only difference, so far, is that Erdogan is in power since longer than Hitler was in 1934, and that Gülen is still alive, for now.

There is no evidence, but clues that the Putsch was a masquerade:

  • The most successful part of the Putsch was getting to the TV, in order to make sure everyone was informed
  • A significant part of the army did not participate in the Putsch - if it was geniune then the army would have been united for it.
  • It happened while the parliament was empty and Erdogan in holidays - normally the one thing that happens in a genuine Putsch is that the government's key members are taken prisoners.

This is pure speculation of my parts, but some of the so called attempts could have been engineered by Erdogan as well to scare the population, in order to get more popular support, and in order to be credited to having been able to restore order (just like Hitler).

  • 1
    "•A significant part of the army did not participate in the Putsch - if it was geniune then the army would have been united for it." That assumes the military is always ideologically united, but after the trial in 2012 which arrested 300 high ranking Kemalists, this clearly isn't going to be the case prior to the coup.
    – user8398
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 9:47

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