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Measured Terror: The 1926 Turkish Coup

Turkey has a long history of coups, but a failed attempt on the life of President Kemal Atatürk in 1926 had a lasting impact on the country. One foreign journalist recorded the reprisals that followed with admiration – which soon turned to fear. 

Detail from the front cover of French newspaper Le Petit Journal Illustré, covering the execution of the 15 deputies, 1 August, 1926.Is this going to be Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Reichstag fire? Are Stalinist purges coming Turkey’s way? These were just some of the historical parallels drawn in the immediate aftermath of the failed coup d’état staged against President Erdoğan in July 2016. But Turkey does not need to look so far. The country has its own rich history of failed and successful coup attempts, ranging from that of 1913 by the Young Turk ‘Committee of Union of Progress’, in which the Minister of War was assassinated in his own offices, to the 1997 military memorandum (sometimes called the ‘postmodern coup’) against the Islamist government.

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