Putsch

  • a violent attempt to overthrow a government
  • a coup: a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government

[Etymology: early 20th century: from Swiss German, literally ‘thrust, blow’.]

July-last saw a strange failed Turkish attempt that compares to a more conventional, and successful, Egyptian putsch of 2013. Thailand had a string of coups — five between 1947 and 2014. The Iranian Revolution, of 1978-9, we’ll call a coup. And Hitler’s November 1923 failed Beer-Hall Putsch: nothing new. A coup, a putsch, an overthrow: it’s power politics in motion.

Turkey

2016 saw Turkey’s fifth attempted military coup since 1960. Seizing airports and television stations, the self-claimed secular protectors of democracy amid increasing Islamisation, the “Peace at Home Council”, labelled President Erdogan “treasonous”. Holidaying in Izmir, the President resorted to FaceTime calls for a citizen blockade against a most “treacherous” attack.

Mr Erdogan, who 15 years earlier founded the ruling Islamist AKP party, managed to go from AKP leader and Prime Minister to Turkey’s President without foregoing AKP power despite a Turkish constitution prohibiting presidential party affiliation. One way Mr Erdogan achieved this, while still AKP leader, for instance, was removing his then second-in-command, Mr Devoteglu.

Single-handedly, Mr Erdogan then transforms a secular state of representation into a presidential Islamist nation; effectively turning the political clock in Turkey back one hundred years. “Ottoman” Turkey now ranks 155th in the world on the Reporters without Borders’ (RSF) 2017 Press Freedom Index, its page dedicated to Turkey revealing:

The witchhunt waged by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government against its media critics has come to a head since the abortive coup of July 2016. The authorities have used their fight against “terrorism” as grounds for an unprecedented purge. A state of emergency has allowed them to eliminate dozens of media outlets at the stroke of a pen, reducing pluralism to a handful of low-circulation publications. Dozens of journalists have been imprisoned without trial, turning Turkey into the world’s biggest prison for media personnel. Those still free are exposed to other forms of arbitrary treatment including waves of trials, withdrawal of press cards, cancellation of passports, and seizure of assets. Censorship of online social networks has also reached unprecedented levels.

In the last year, 42 Turkish journalists called “four-walls-and-a-wash-basin” home.

Egypt

The 2011 Arab Spring met Egypt’s three-decade long presidency of Hosni Mubarak with an untimely end. The following year the nation chose a Muslim Brotherhood (MB) candidate, Mohammed Morsi, to the auspicious occasion of first Islamist elected head of state. Morsi wasted little time enacting an Islamist agenda, and constitution, granting himself unlimited powers, inclusive of legislative, despite decries from the Supreme Constitutional Court. Thereafter followed prosecutions of journalists and attacks upon passive demonstrators. Over ensuing months the 2012 Egyptian Protests escalated, turning violent on storming of the MB’s headquarters, where five of its members were killed. Retaliatory attacks by supporters of Morsi led to 16 deaths in Nasr City, and then a further ten in surrounding districts. In a nation with a history of military power projection over its polity, the then Egyptian military chief, Abdel Fattah el-Sis, warned, amid the rancour, of the risk of state collapse, proffering a 48-hour ultimatum.

While the Turkish clock was winding back, Egypt’s time had run out. General el-Sis led a coup d’état on 3 July 2013, seizing power and suspending the constitution. Arresting Morsi and the MB leaders, the overthrow was supported by Opposition leader Mohammad ElBaradei, leading Muslim cleric Ahmed al-Tayeb, and Coptic Pope Tawadros. Apart from Tunisia, Arab nations were generally supportive of the military action. The United States refused to label the action a coup. Nonetheless, Egypt found herself suspended from the African Union.

[Video: Egyptian army ousts Mursi and scraps constitution – Al Arabiya].

Five years on, straddled by Syrian chaos and Libyan bedlam, the Egyptian polity, however, stabilised under el-Sisi’s anti-Islamist agenda; proactively striking against Islamic State (IS) militants in both Libya and the Sinai. El-Sisi’s presidency has been marked also by large public works, sponsored by the House of Saud — widening of the Suez Canal and enlarging the nation’s foundering electrical grid capacity.

Thailand

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 Iran

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Hitler’s failed Beer Hall Putsch

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Disclaimers

USA Today is a centrist media agency perhaps leaning slightly, as is media agency wont, to left of centre.

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