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Turmoil State: History of Turkey's Military Coups

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday night survived an attempted military coup , which has nevertheless left devastation and tu...

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday night survived an attempted military coup , which has nevertheless left devastation and turmoil in its wake. 

Clashes have left at least 190 dead, and more than 1 150 injured.

The nation's head of state, who is seen by some as an authoritarian - even dictatorial - figure, can count himself lucky. 

At least four times in Turkey's history, the military has deposed incumbent leaders and taken the reins. 
People Power: Turkish People Celebrate After the Capture of Coup Plotters 

It is the military's commitment to the secularist ideology of the iconic Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and to stability, that has been the driving force behind these take-overs, Columbia University historian Richard Bulliet has explained. 

This is a brief timeline of the four coups that Turkey has already witnessed.

1960 - This is Turkey's first coup. In the 1920s and the 1930s, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk introduced a series of reforms to modernize Turkey - including literacy programs, compulsory primary education, co-education, and the abolition of Islamic law. 

But now, Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and President Celal Bayar - both members of the Democratic Party - allow mosques to re-open, make it legal for calls to prayer to be made in Arabic instead of Turkish, and introduce serious restrictions on press freedom. In doing so, they undo some of the progress made during the Ataturk years.

On the May 27, the army, led by General Cemal Gursel, stages a coup d'etat, and arrests Bayar and Menderes, who is executed, and General Gursel takes over as both Prime Minister and President. He remains in power until 1961.

1971 - An economic downturn, coupled with soaring inflation - 80% - and the Turkish lira's devaluation, leads to general disaffection. There are demonstrations by workers' groups, and the army steps in once again. 

On March 12, in a memorandum to Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel, Chief of the General Staff Memduh Tagmac insinuates that Demirel has brought about anarchy. 

He asks that a "strong and credible" government "inspired" by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's thinking be constituted. Demirel steps down just hours later. Turkey is governed by a series of caretaker governments until Fahri Korutuk, a naval officer, becomes president 1973.

1980 - In the 70s, Turkey sees 11 Prime Ministers come and go, and its economic woes persist. Opposing political factions take their fight to the streets, and there are thousands of assassinations. 

On September 12, after many delays, a group of generals - including General Kenan Evren - go through with their plan to take over, and announce the dissolution of the elected government and the enactment of martial law on public television.

General Evren becomes president. He is succeeded in 1983 by Turgut Ozal, whose efforts to entrust many public sector industries to the private sector is thought to have brought stability to the country's economy, curbing inflation and boosting employment.

1997 - On February 28, a coalition-government led by the Welfare Party - an Islamic party of which the current Turkish president Erdogan was a member - is obliged to accept the armed forces' "recommendations". 

This included a mandatory eight-year education programme to ensure that students don't attend religious schools, and a ban on headscarves at universities. 

Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan is removed from power, and a year later, he is slapped with a five-year ban from politics. The Welfare Party is banned. - Online Sources 

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