JERUSALEM, Israel – Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has regained control of Turkey following an attempted coup that began late Friday night.
"A minority within the armed forces has unfortunately been unable to stomach Turkey's unity," Erdogan said when he landed at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport Saturday morning. "What is being perpetrated is a rebellion and a treason. They will pay a heavy price for their treason to Turkey."
Turkey’s unity? Hardly. The coup had everything to do with systemic discontent over Erdogan’s heavy handed attempts to impose Islam on a traditionally secular society.
Earlier, Erdogan urged his supporters to take to the streets, which many of them did. Loudspeakers from the mosques called the faithful to protest.
The Turkish government reports 161 people were killed, at least 1,140 injured, and 2,839 troops arrested.
A Fox News clip shows soldiers surrendering with their arms over their heads.
Erdogan, who had been on a seaside vacation, returned to Turkey promising to restore order.
President Obama quickly announced U.S. support for Erdogan, one of his personally closest international leaders.
A Look Back
After 11 years as prime minister, Erdogan moved on to the office of president and although his efforts to further empower the presidency fell short, his vision to advance an observant Islamic lifestyle did not.
Erdogan presents himself as a 21st century political Islamist who has successfully blended his Muslim faith with Western principles of democracy.
In reality, his leadership style is very much autocratic. He calls the shots, period.
In 2013, some residents of Istanbul gathered for a peaceful demonstration to protest his decision to turn a popular city park into a monument to Islam. Instead of listening to the residents' grievances, Erdogan ordered police to don riot gear and spray the demonstrators with water cannons and tear gas.
He has also tried to regulate Internet access, the press, and other such freedom-limiting tactics.
In May, he replaced Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu with Binali Yıldırım, a member of the Islamist Justice and Development (AKP) Party. While much of the secular press may miss his less-than-subtle power grabs, they don't go unnoticed by the Turkish people.
Israelis remember the arrogant way Erdogan conducted himself before, during and after the maritime incident in 2010 aboard a Turkish-owned flagship seeking to breach Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. His unrelenting besmirching of Israel revealed a great deal about his ideology.
That's partially why some in Israel were less than thrilled with the recent restoration of diplomatic ties with Turkey. Others, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saw the move as pragmatic.
In short, Erdogan's thinking is guided by his faith. He's a friend of Hamas and a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.
History records so much more about him, but suffice it to say his leadership style is more dictatorial than democratic.