"Unarmed' We Intervene, Unnoticed We Remain: The Deviant Case of "February 28th Coup' in Turkey

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Aslan O.

BRITISH JOURNAL OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, vol.43, no.3, pp.360-377, 2016 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 43 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/13530194.2015.1102710
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.360-377
  • Police Academy Affiliated: No


When a military staged an intervention during the Cold War, students of civil-military relations could quite easily tell if it was a coup d'etat. This no longer seems to be the case. The reason may be the regnant understanding of coup d'etat as a violent (bloody), swift, and extralegal/extra-constitutional seizure of power by first and foremost military officers or members of state apparatus after a long time of secret planning. This article takes stock of political complexities surrounding coups in our times by studying the nationally and internationally neglected case of February 28(th) (1997) coup process in Turkey as a deviant case', based on newly-revealed military documents as primary sources and several previously unstudied memoirs by army officers of the period. It argues that the February 28(th) coup was deliberately stretched over a long process, it was violent but not bloody, was staged almost openly through theoretically constitutional political operations' and psychological warfare against the elected government. Several select civilian' groups from the media, judiciary, trade unions, and non-governmental organisations were happily enlisted by the military as active participants in the coup caravan and without them as unique and pioneering a coup as the February 28(th) could not be executed.