Daily Israel Report

Attempted Army Coup Throws Turkey into Crisis

Turkey has arrested top army commanders who allegedly plotted to bomb mosques and oust the growing Islamic-oriented government.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 3/1/2010, 8:22 AM / Last Update: 3/1/2010, 8:34 AM

Israel news photo

Turkey faces a deep crisis following the arrests by the Erdogan administration of top army commanders who allegedly plotted to bomb mosques and overthrow the increasingly Islamic-oriented government. More than 200 people, including military officers, lawyers and politicians, have been arrested on charges of trying to promote chaos in the country and stage a crisis with Greece.

Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is “poised on the brink of disaster,” the Times of London stated Monday morning. Financial markets have fallen sharply and fears and rumors are sweeping the country. The powerful military has ousted four governments since 1950.

The army never has been comfortable with Prime Minister Tayyip Edogran’s Justice and Development Party (AK) party since it came into power in 2003. Army officers, along with academics and many Turkish intellectuals, fear a growing fundamental Islamic influence that threatens free expression and the power of the military.

The army in Turkey traditionally has been a representative of secular democracy but has been beyond government control. The latest arrests represent a tear in the fabric of Turkish society

"The authority of the army has never before been challenged in this way in this country,” according to leading Turkish columnist and author Cengiz Aktar.

The Erdogan government three years ago defeated an attempt by the army to intervene in presidential elections through court appeals, and it fears another legal bid to ban the anti-secular AK party.