By Isaac Chotiner
On Friday, a coup attempt by elements of the Turkish military—the longtime adversaries of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country’s demagogic (but democratically elected) president—plunged Turkey into uncertainty and violence. Details were still sketchy and evolving this evening, with the president, and even much of Turkey’s increasingly repressed opposition, speaking out against the attack on the country’s civilian government, which has been overthrown at other times over the past 65 years. By early Saturday morning in Turkey, the government was claiming that the coup attempt had been foiled, even as reports of violence continued to proliferate.
To discuss these events, I spoke by phone Friday evening with Jenny White, a professor at Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies; White has also written several books about the region. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed, we talked about the Turkish military’s history of interfering in democracy, religious conflict in the country, and why a successful coup could lead to civil war.
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