Inside a Failed Coup and Turkey’s Fragmented Military -War on the Rocks


This post from the blog War on the Rocks has a slightly different take on Turkey’s failed coup than the current dominant narrative which paints the attempted putsch as a very small, disorganized, and incompetent affair. This interpretation of events has serious implications for the lessons we draw from the events. As the author suggests, the Turkish military remains deeply divided. To the extent this is account is accurate, it is difficult to give credence to the conspiracy theories that suggest Erdogan faked the coup to provide a pretext for a power-grab.

“The story of the coup suggests a relatively large plot that drew support from numerous parts of the Turkish Armed Forces, spanning various commands around Turkey. The number of senior officers involved, including the commander of Incirlik air force base where U.S. aircraft are now based for the fight against the Islamic State, suggest that the Turkish military is divided. The narrative following the coup is that this was a small, ill-conceived group of plotters who failed to overthrow the elected government, but this narrative is at odds with information coming out about the extent of the plot. This was a larger and far more credible attempt than has thus far been reported.

The fact that this was relatively well planned — if hastily implemented — coup attempt has several implications — namely that the Turkish military’s senior leadership is deeply factionalized, with one sizeable minority of officers willing to use force, even though their decision risked civil war. This suggests that Turkey is unstable and faces serious challenges in the near term in ways that will surely impact American and Western security interests in the Middle East and Europe.”

Inside a Failed Coup and Turkey’s Fragmented Military

ISU 2016


The following post is for my students at ISU in Marburg 2016.

Welcome to:

Authoritarian Politics and Democratization in the Middle East: From the 1990s to the Arab Spring




  • Participation and Presentation 30%
  • Map quiz 20%
  • Take Home Essay #1 25%
  • Take Home Essay #2 25%


  • Schedule:
Class Topic Case(s) Readings
1 Introduction
2 Middle Eastern Exceptionalism & Political Culture 1
3 Coercive Institutions Syria & Libya 2
4 Rentier Politics & Map Quiz Saudi Arabia 3
5 Elections and Authoritarian Politics Egypt & Tunisia 4
6 Political Liberalization and Authoritarian Politics Jordan 5
7 Consociational Politics Lebanon & Iraq 6
8 Gender Iran 7 & 8
9 The United States


  • Readings:



  1. Y. Sadowski, “The New Orientalism in the Democracy Debate” Middle East Report No. 183 p.1-7
  2. Bassam Haddad Syria’s Curious Dilemma Middle East Report On Line Vol. 35, 2005
  3. Steffen Hertog A Rentier Social Contract: The Saudi Political Economy since 1979 Middle East Institute October 2009
  4. Marsha Pripstein Posusney, “Behind the Ballot Box: Electoral Engineering in the Arab World” Middle East Report, No. 209, (Winter, 1998), pp. 12-15+42
  5. Curtis Ryan, Reform Retreats Amid Jordan’s Political Storms, Middle East Report On Line, June 10, 2005
  6. Canadians For Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Factsheet: Understanding Lebanese Confessionalism Factsheet Series No. 26, May 2007
  7. Ervand Abrahamian Why the Islamic Republic Has Survived Middle East Report No. 250, 2009
  8. Deniz Kandiyoti Women, “Islam and the State” Middle East Report No.173 1991


Presentation Schedule:

Class #4 21-Jul
Syria: Emily & Sam


Class #5 22-Jul
Libya: Hanna & Dorathee


Class #6 25-Jul

Saudi Arabia: Shouq & Aisha
Egypt: Bobby & John

Click to access president%20approval%20rate-%20April2016-%20En.pdf

Class #7 26-Jul

Tunisia: Blake & Aysha & Dan
Lebanon: Rachel and Ahmed

Class #8 27-Jul
Iran: Jonathan and Jesse

Iran: Rose-Helen & Johdalys