1993 alleged Turkish military coup

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According to some sources, there was a "coup d'état" in 1993 in Turkey, allegedly organised and carried out by elements of the Turkish military through covert means. Although the early 1990s were a period of great violence in Turkey due to the Kurdish–Turkish conflict, 1993 saw a series of suspicious deaths: of President Turgut Özal, leading military figures, and journalists. Particularly in the context of the Ergenekon trials from 2008 onwards and related investigations of the Turkish "deep state" and of suspicious deaths from this period, claims of a "covert coup" intended to prevent a peace settlement (and to protect the covert relationships between the Turkish military, intelligence services including JITEM, Counter-Guerrilla, Kurdish forces including Kurdish Hizbollah, and the Turkish mafia) have been made.

Fikri Sağlar, a former member of the parliamentary commission which investigated the Susurluk scandal which first began to shed light on the Turkish deep state, is one who has made such claims, describing "a covert military coup".[1] Former PKK commander Şemdin Sakık has described an Ergenekon organization-linked group named the Doğu Çalışma Grubu,[2] holding it responsible for assassinations including those of Turkish Gendarmerie General Commander Eşref Bitlis (17 February), President Turgut Özal (17 April),[3] General Bahtiyar Aydın (22 October)[4] and former Major Cem Ersever (4 November).[3] In addition to the assassination of key figures supporting a peace process, several massacres took place in 1993, which it is claimed were intended as part of an alleged "strategy of tension". These include the May 24, 1993 PKK ambush, and the Sivas massacre and Başbağlar massacre in early July.


In the early 1990s, President Turgut Özal agreed to negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the events of the 1991 Gulf War having changed some of the geopolitical dynamics in the region. Apart from Özal, himself half-Kurdish, few Turkish politicians were interested in a peace process, nor was more than a part of the PKK itself.[5] In 1993 Özal was working on the peace plans with former finance minister Adnan Kahveci and General Commander of the Turkish Gendarmerie Eşref Bitlis.[6] Negotiations led to a cease-fire declaration by the PKK on 20 March 1993—by which time Kahveci and Bitlis were dead.

With the PKK's ceasefire declaration in hand, Özal was planning to propose a major pro-Kurdish reform package at the next meeting of the National Security Council. The president's death on 17 April led to the postponement of that meeting, and the plans were never presented.[7] A month later the May 24, 1993 PKK ambush ensured the end of the peace process. Former PKK commander Şemdin Sakık maintains the attack was part of the Doğu Çalışma Grubu's coup plans.[3] Under the new Presidency of Süleyman Demirel and Premiership of Tansu Çiller, the Castle Plan (to use any and all means to solve the Kurdish question using violence), which Özal had opposed, was enacted, and the peace process abandoned.[8] Further massacres (notably the Sivas massacre and Başbağlar massacre in early July) and assassinations ensured that the peace process was well and truly buried.

Alleged incidents[edit]


Former General Levent Ersöz, who was head of JITEM, and is considered a key suspect in the Ergenekon trials, was charged in 2013 with having had a role in the 1993 death of President Turgut Özal.[9]

Further reading[edit]

  • Muhsin Öztürk (2011), Adı Konulmamış Darbe: 1993 (An Unnamed Coup: 1993), Zaman Kitap[10]
  • Hakkı Öznur (2012), 1993 Örtülü Darbe, Timas Publishing Group. ISBN 978-605-114-918-9


  1. ^ Today's Zaman, 26 April 2011, Sağlar says he does not understand nomination of Ergenekon suspects. Accessed 2013-07-02. Archived 2013-07-05.
  2. ^ dunyabulteni.net, 29 January 2009, Jitem'in Doğu Çalışma Grubu deşifre edildi. Accessed 2013-07-02. Archived 2013-07-05.
  3. ^ a b c Today's Zaman, 6 November 2012, Secret witness reveals identity, shady ties between PKK and Ergenekon. Accessed 2013-07-02. Archived 2013-07-05.
  4. ^ Today's Zaman, 1 June 2012, Ex-PKK commander Sakık blames military junta for deaths of 33 soldiers Archived 2013-10-29 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ en.internationalism.org, 10 April 2013, Internationalism is the only response to the Kurdish issue. Accessed 2013-07-02. Archived 2013-07-05.
  6. ^ Today's Zaman, 11 April 2012, Prosecutors look into links between suspicious army deaths Archived 2013-11-09 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Michael M. Gunter, "Turgut Özal and the Kurdish question", in Marlies Casier, Joost Jongerden (eds, 2010), Nationalisms and Politics in Turkey: Political Islam, Kemalism and the Kurdish Issue, Taylor & Francis, 9 Aug 2010 pp94-5
  8. ^ 1998 Report (PDF) (Report). Ankara: Human Rights Foundation of Turkey. 2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-02-05.
  9. ^ Today's Zaman, 16 April 2013, Court accepts indictment seeking life for Ersöz over Özal's death Archived 2013-11-09 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Today's Zaman, 29 May 2011, Shady incidents of 1993 tantamount to coup, says journalist in book Archived 2013-11-09 at the Wayback Machine