Since his discord with preacher and former ally Fethullah Gulen, Recep Tayyib Erdogan kept a close eye on all aspects of the Turkish society affiliated with Gulen. For years he monitored every institution, media and key people in politics and army that could be of a threat to his ruling.
Gulen, a close partner of US intelligence agencies was fuelling this anti-Erdogan sentiment inside Turkey and abroad through international forums. But the second mandate of president Erdogan in 2014, elected by the majority of Turkish people, gave the exiled man an affirmation that a military option is his last chance to topple Erdogan and his government.
The plan for a coup started back in 2015 with constant efforts to quietly convince top army generals to take part in their plot. It was scheduled to be executed days before the military restructuring anticipated in August 2016; this will be preceded by several deadly bombings that will bash the government’s image and its incapability to provide public safety. This security instability would have been the ideal opportunity to perform a military uprise, giving plotters the image of a legal intervention to bring back order.
In July of that year, the plan was reviewed to take place in that same month and not in August. Although the plotters were not fully ready in their mission to convince all high ranked militaries, the coup was given the green light in fear of getting into August and miss this opportunity to seize power; add to that Erdogan’s absence from Ankara for his annual vacation.
During that time, Erdogan kept his surveillance routine, fearing potential unrest by “Gulenists” but ignoring any involvement of the military in such a vast operation. These suspicions were solidly confirmed by the Kremlin, and despite the dormant relationship between the two countries, a direct letter from president Putin was dispatched to Erdogan informing him that Russian intelligence have information of an approaching coup d’état in Turkey.
The July 15 coup was like a person attempting to surprise someone already expecting it.
Most of the top generals refused to participate or changed their mind at the last minute in face of an un-calculated and weak operation. With no time for chaos, the police, special forces and presidential guard begun arresting militaries individually with full knowledge of their whereabouts and involvement in the coup.
Erdogan immediately asked his partisans to fill the streets of Ankara and Istanbul in support of his government and to denounce the failed coup, but in reality it was simply to prevent any opposition groups to surpass him in playing the public protest game.
The following day, lists with names and photos, police raids, closure of media and institutions were undertaken across Turkey, so smoothly that one might think it was well-trained for.
The president of Turkey took advantage of his new powers to get rid of groups opposing his politics, although they were not directly involved in the failed coup attempt.
Erdogan was grateful to Putin. And it was clearly shown by the public apology on the shooting down of the Russian plane by the Turkish army back in November of 2015 on the border with Syria.
This ice breaker between Ankara and Moscow opened a new page in the relations between the two countries, especially regarding the Syrian conflict. That also saw a crumbling in the US-Turkish relations on which Erdogan accused its agencies to backup the coup attempt, and that could jeopardize the long-time wish of the US and NATO to implement their missile shield “European Interceptor Site” in Turkey.
To the delight of the Tsar.