As chaotic scenes grow in Turkey’s capital city Ankara following an attempted coup, it is not the country’s first. Turkey has always been embroiled in clashes emanating from divergent views on Islamic laws and the military has always acted as the protector of Turkey’s old secular establishment, a legacy of national founder and former army officer Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and maintaining law and order in time of civil unrest and weak civilian governance.
The first ever coup in Turkey took place in 1960, when young military officers stood against the Democratic Party. The reason behind the unrest was prime minister Adnan Menderes and president Celel Bayar’s reforms of Islamic laws. The two were also blamed for loosening the Ataturk reforms which had tried to modernize Turkey in the 1920s and 1930s. During Menderes’ rule, thousands of mosques were reopened and prayers in Arabic were allowed. He also suppressed the media. The military stepped in and toppled the government on May 27. General Cemal Gursel became both president and prime minister until 1961.
In 1971, the incident known as “coup of memorandum” saw the takeover by the military after devaluation of currency and high inflation sparked a violent workers protests. Memduh Tagmac, the chief of the general staff, gave a memorandum to Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel.Tagmac demanded a credible government based on Ataturk’s views, which Demirel disagreed with and resigned hours after the appointment. The military did not take over the reins this time. Ultimately, a retired naval officer Fahri Koruturk was made the president in 1973.
In 1980, a military coup occurred due to the clashes between right- and left wing groups. In September, the military officers announced martial law and dissolved the government on state television. Officer Ahmet Kenan Evren became the president and naval officer Bulend Ulusu took charge as prime minister.
In 1997, a military coup took place during Islamic Welfare Party government. After forming a coalition government in 1996, they gave to the demands of the military. Prime minister Necmettin Erbakan agreed with many of the demands, including a ban on headscarves at universities after which he was forced to resign.
In 2012, Turkish court let go 236 military suspects accused of plotting against Erdogan when he was a PM in 2003.