A takeover of the Turkish state by a FETO military faction on July 15, 2016 failed after millions turned out onto the street.

Turkish citizens are marking the fourth anniversary of a failed coup attempt by members of the Gulenist terror organisation, also known as FETO, which led to the deaths of 251 Turkish civilians and security officers.

Ceremonies are expected to take place across the country with speeches by officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mosques will also broadcast a special call to prayer, recalling the watershed moment of that night on July 15, 2016, when muezzins used the adhan to rally civilians onto the streets to resist the takeover attempt.

In one of the most dramatic nights in modern Turkish history, millions of civilians, police officers, and military personnel put their lives on the line to stop the violent overthrow of the democratically elected government.

As well as those slain, nearly 2,200 Turkish citizens were also wounded during the failed putsch.

President Erdogan marked the occasion by visiting the Martyr's Monument in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Further commemorations are due to be held across the country on Wednesday.

A night of valour

For the plotters, the night was the culmination of decades of infiltration of the Turkish state’s key institutions, including the military.

The rogue military faction, loyal to the US-based cult leader Fetullah Gulen, aimed to rapidly take over key governmental, military, and media institutions, on the night thereby forcing the acquiescence of senior military officers and the Turkish public. Targets included TRT’s offices in both Istanbul and Ankara.

These raids would be compounded by the seizure of key transport infrastructure, such as bridges and airports.

Their attempts, however, quickly ran into obstacles as most military units and senior officers remained loyal to the Turkish state, and the Turkish public and police quickly began to express its discontent and resist.

Turkish intelligence officials had become aware of the planned coup attempt earlier on the afternoon of July 15, taking preliminary precautions to avert the putsch, such as the grounding of aircraft and restriction orders on the movement of armoured vehicles.

Knowing their plans were exposed, the coup plotters brought forward the time the operation would start from the initially planned time of 3AM in the morning of July 16, to 8.30PM on the evening of July 15.

The change of timing meant most of the Turkish public and loyalist armed forces units would be awake, an important turn of circumstance that worked against the FETO.

Buoyed by a Facetime call by President Erdogan shortly after midnight and the special call to prayer blaring from the minarets of Istanbul’s mosques, millions took to the streets directly confronting the coup plotters with whatever means they had.

Putschist officers showed little regard for the protesters using heavy machine gun fire and even airpower to subdue the protesters but that mattered little to those on the streets, who resisted regardless.

On social media, videos of Turkish citizens standing firm against tanks even as they got run over by them, went viral.

Other images showed the brutal aftermath of massacres perpetrated by the coup plotters, against civilians protesting at Istanbul’s Bosphorus - now July 15 Martyr’s- bridge.

The failure to anticipate the level of public resistance was just one of many mistakes committed by coup plotters on the night.

President Erdogan was the target of an assassination attempt by a hit squad composed of putschists flying in on helicopters but the effort to capture him at a holiday retreat in the region of Marmaris missed his departure from the area by minutes.

The Turkish leader was able to rally loyalist politicians and security forces, as well as Turkish civilians as soon as his safety was guaranteed.

As the night progressed, the failure of the coup became more apparent as crowds on the streets swelled, Turkey’s government remained largely unscathed, and police and military officers defeated the coup plotters in gunfights.

The road ahead

Despite the defeat of the coup, Turkey faces a long battle to bring those ultimately responsible for the attempt to justice.

Its mastermind, cult leader Fetullah Gulen, remains in the US at his ranch in Pennsylvania, where he is able to continue relaying orders to his followers.

US authorities have dragged their feet on extraditing Gulen to Turkey despite evidence of his role and established links between coup planners and the cult leader. 

Turkish authorities have successfully rooted out tens of thousands of FETO terrorists from key ministries, the judiciary, and the armed forces, but many remain and arrests continue to be made.

In the years since 2016, it has also become evident that the FETO terrorists were not alone in their conspiracy and received financial backing from the UAE.

President Erdogan has vowed that his country will not stop until all those who threaten Turkey are brought to account.

"Until all coup plotters are brought to justice, we will not quit going after them," Erdogan said.

"Together with you, we will unmask in the entire world this terror group, which martyred 251 people on July 15 night."

Source: TRT World