Vimy Paper No. 37 – The Night That Shook A Nation: The 2016 Turkish Military Coup – What Happened and Why it Failed

Executive summary

Turkey has been a vital member of NATO since 1952 and remains the anchor of NATO’s southeastern flank. What happens there is important. And during the late evening hours of 15 July 2016, a group of senior military officers attempted, but ultimately failed, to overthrow the Turkish government. Dubbing themselves the “Peace At Home Council”, their aim was to remove President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from power and, according to their declaration, reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedoms, the rule of law, and general security. The coup attempt was not the first time the Turkish military had interfered in Turkish politics. The first military coup took place just eight years after Turkey joined NATO. Other successful coups followed in 1971, 1980 and 1997.

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About the Author 

Chris Kilford served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 36 years, his last post as the Canadian Defence Attaché to Turkey from July 2011 until August 2014. He retired in September 2014. In addition to his military service, he completed a PhD in history at Queen’s University in 2009. Today, he is an External Fellow with the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy, a Research Fellow with the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, a member of the national board of the Canadian International Council and president of the Victoria Branch, and a sessional professor with the Royal Military College of Canada and the Canadian Forces College teaching distance learning courses focused on political geography and global powers and institutions. His articles and opinion pieces on Canadian defence and foreign policy issues, plus Turkish and Middle Eastern matters, have appeared in numerous Canadian and international publications.

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