The failed July 15 coup in Turkey looks to be a watershed, defining moment for the country as well as the wider region. The implications have already been enormous, with large swathes of Turkey’s bedrock institutions – the military, judiciary, education, you name it – being exenterated in the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) revolutionary-sized reprisals to the brief uprising. Indeed, the scale of the AKP’s purges is enough to make one wonder if a coup succeeded after all – just one of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s making.
Yet, while the coup and its aftermath may turn out to be a key chapter in Turkish modern history, it remains so far a data-point in isolation. Reams of analysis are making do on a pittance of facts, with varying theories over the genesis, execution and collapse of the failed mutiny – inside jobs, foreign interference, Russian intercepts, among others – all jostling for airtime amid great uncertainty. Little seems knowable, and even less may ever come to light.
Even while the photos, videos, reports, half-truths and innuendo were still rolling in over the attempted coup, speculation was already rife on social media over the possible geopolitical fallout from the failed putsch. One common theme questioned whether Turkey would remain a Nato member, whichever the post-coup configuration of its government. Until recently such speculation would have been patently absurd; Turkey has been an imperfect Western ally in many ways, but in practical terms no less so than more than a few other Nato allies at varying points in the alliance’s history. As a bulwark abutting the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Caucasus, and with Nato’s second largest military, there was something fantastical about unserious navel gazing over Ankara’s Nato credentials.