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Turkey's Military and the Protests In Gezi Park

The Turkish government is haunted by coup fears in its handling of the massive protests.
A protester reacts as riot police order them to evacuate Gezi Park in central Istanbul June 15, 2013. Thousands of people took to the streets of Istanbul overnight on Sunday, erecting barricades and starting bonfires, after riot police firing teargas and water cannon stormed a park at the centre of two weeks of anti-government unrest. Lines of police backed by armoured vehicles sealed off Taksim Square in the centre of the city as officers raided the adjoining Gezi Park late on Saturday, where protesters ha

Turkey's government, facing the biggest-ever street demonstrations since it came to power more than a decade ago, is convinced that behind these nationwide protests lie a military-civilian bureaucracy seeking to end its rule. Indeed, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held last Saturday, on June 15, his first rally called “Respect to national will,” in capital Ankara’s Sincan district. It is widely believed that the rally was an implicit show of force to the protesters he thinks are supported by military-led, fiercely secular segments of the society. 

Sincan is the district where the military paraded tanks 16 years ago on Feb. 28, 1997 — known as the Feb. 28 postmodern coup — that led to the forced resignation of the Islam-sensitive coalition government. The coup became possible when the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) mobilized civilians from all segments of the society to stand against the government. Turkish non-governmental organizations at the time organized nationwide protests under which every household and work place turned their lights off for a minute at night to create an awareness against illegal elements of the "deep state."

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