A supporter of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is silhouetted against a Turkish flag during a demonstration outside parliament building in Ankara, Turkey, July 16, 2016.
Osman Orsal / Reuters

As tanks rolled through Ankara over the weekend, it looked like Turkey was about to become the first and only NATO member since the end of the Cold War to suffer a textbook coup d’état. Then, after merely a few hours, the plot began to falter. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan resisted his overthrow with a defiant address (albeit one delivered secondhand via television cameras broadcasting Erdogan’s smartphone transmission to a shocked nation). Then word began to leak that the commander of Turkey’s military was not even part of the coup but was instead being held hostage by rogue elements within the army. Soon, a much larger part of the military began to fight back against the plot.

In the span of a few hours, the doomed plot was transformed from one that was poised to overthrow one of the most strategically important governments in the world

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  • BRIAN KLAAS is a Fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and author of the forthcoming book The Despot's Accomplice: How the West is Aiding and Abetting the Decline of Democracy.
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