I have read perhaps a dozen posts analyzing the attempted coup in Turkey; I have listened to a half-dozen interviews on this topic. Some of the authors and speakers are quite certain they know the backstory (or what isn’t the backstory), and some are not.
Initially I was rather certain that it was Erdogan behind this event – staged. Much – but not all – of what I have read or heard since then disagrees on this point. No matter the source or opinion, some of the arguments are reasonable; some are (in my opinion) flawed. I certainly am unable to find a consistent and reasonable string on the backstory.
I am left to consider the end point and work backwards. Who benefits from this event?
Whether a staged event or not, the winner is Erdogan. In so many ways he was losing his power and control over Turkey – to say nothing of his dreams of power over a wider swath of the Muslim Middle East. This event has afforded him the leeway within Turkey to purge – and purge he is doing. This event has increased his popularity among the Muslim religious base. This event will likely drive the middle and upper-class secular / moderate Muslims out of the country for fear of what is coming, reducing those who oppose Erdogan. This event has united the average Turkish citizen behind him.
Whether staged or not, a second winner in this case is Russia as it seems to be the case that Turkey is moving away from the West and toward Russia.
What if the attempt was legitimate? Who benefits from overturning Erdogan?
First is NATO, not appreciating recent overtures by Erdogan toward Russia and perhaps concerned that Erdogan is turning Turkey into an unstable partner. In this case one would obviously include factions of the Turkish armed forces, desiring to remain in NATO.
Second are those who are looking for further chaos in the region. A successful coup could only result in an expanded civil war in Turkey. As the United States government has been the prime mover for regional chaos, one need look no further than here.
Third are those who would like to see increased Muslim immigration into Europe, thus further destabilizing Europe.
All three of these share an important feature – the same groups both benefit from and could be behind the act.
I do not have one. I certainly do not have a firm answer on the questions: who was behind this event and why?
As the attempt failed (or was intended to fail), the one who most benefits – and benefits directly – is Erdogan. Second, it seems to me, is Putin and Russia.
In the days after the coup, the narrative was offered that it was Russia who warned the Turkish government just hours before the coup was to begin; this is what foiled the coup attempt. Whether this is true or not is somewhat irrelevant; that these two parties find it a convenient narrative is perhaps all that is relevant.
This is to say nothing of the rapprochement between these two governments in the several weeks leading up to the coup attempt.