Nothing captures more what the failed Turkish coup is really about than A Fight for the Soul of the New Turkey, an insightful article written some nine years ago in the Turquie Européenne, an European journal (in French) on Turkish relations.
Ataturk founded modern Turkey in 1923. He abolished the fez, among other trappings of the collapsed Ottoman Empire. From the ashes of a once great empire, he ignited the country's aspirations to march forward in the 20th century and beyond.
I was a Speaker on China at the annual Forum Istanbul for five consecutive years celebrating Turkey's magical trajectory. Click here To me, Istanbul proudly showcases a unique romantic mixture of the East and West. Blue Mosque and other Islamic world heritage sites coexist with cool Taksim cafes and bars. State-of-the-art international businesses and conferences thrive in the midst of Turkish cultures and living quarters reminiscent of Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk's ancient Istanbul. A nascent East-meets-West modern democracy promises to inspire as the most beautiful sunset I ever experienced - that over the Bosphorus. Click here
However, in recent years, the country is becoming more Islamic and more authoritarian. Civil society is becoming more suppressed. Rather than dumping its authoritarian Ottoman past, the nation seems to be going Back to the Future as vision of an Ottoman renaissance beckons. While half of the country appears to support this vision, the other half is turning restless and wearied of a betrayal of Ataturk's dream.
The role of the military is never far from the surface. It has been playing a decisive role in coups in Turkey's recent past. However, this time around, the military leadership acted to thwart the legitimacy of regime change by force in line with modernist sentiments of the man in the street.
The internal and external dynamics of a changing Turkey translated into a A Coup as Audacious as Turkey's Future (as summarized at Stratfor, a geopolitical weekly).
Underneath the surface, the struggle for Turkey's soul and future is becoming more pressing. The outcome is never more critical for a fractured Europe, a rising tide of militant Islamism, a potential Clash of Civilizations, and a tussle for preeminence between Western and Asian powers in an ever more inter-connected and inter-dependent world of the 21st century.