There was no incident of torture or of execution in the Feb. 28 coup; but some legal arrangements were made to destroy the future of the country in this period. And it should also be admitted that like Sept. 12, Feb. 28 was supported by at least some circles in society. What attracts attention at this point is that the US and Israel extended visible support for the intervention. Both countries made it clear that they were displeased with the policies of the Refahyol government. More importantly, the American administration spent a great deal of effort to mobilize the media, business circles and civil society organizations in Turkey. In the end, General Çevik Bir appeared as the real and lead actor of Feb. 28. The developments in the aftermath of Feb. 28 showed that the close relationship between Bir and the Atlantic Alliance displeased the neo-nationalist circles within the armed forces. There had been a bitter competition between Bir and Hüseyin Kıvrıkoğlu, the leading representative of the neo-nationalist wing within the army that was opposed to the EU and the US.
An “accident” that occurred during a military drill in Cyprus where a colonel died is considered a result of this disagreement. In fact, all of the coup attempts including Ergenekon, Ayışığı (Moonlight), Sarıkız (Blonde Girl) and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) that we witnessed after 2002 sought to prevent Turkey from integrating with the international system under the support of the US. A remark by Tuncer Kılınç, who formerly served as the secretary-general at the National Security Council (MGK), and who publicly said Turkey should develop an alliance with Russia, China, Iran and India instead of the West should be interpreted from this perspective. From this angle, it becomes clear that the Refahyol coalition government was an unwise step and decision. In the coalition between Necmettin Erbakan, the leader of the National Outlook movement, which is opposed to the West, and Tansu Çiller, who took Turkey into a customs union with the EU, Erbakan proved to be dominant. The neo-nationalist wing of the armed forces supported the Feb. 28 attempt under the leadership of Bir against Refahyol; but in so doing, it actually undermined its legitimacy and future.
Turkey’s past and its strong alliance with the West did not leave any other option anyway. Neo-nationalists were seeking a Kemalist regime like the one in Saddam’s Iraq, and they believed that Turkey would get rid of Western domination by turning to the East. This group acquired power in the main headquarters of the General Staff after Feb. 28; but what they did not expect was the coming of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to power. In the end, the neo-nationalist wing was removed from the army; and only the leadership of the two coups that pleased the pro-Western actors of Sept. 12 and Feb. 28 have been brought to trial. The military had stepped into the political sphere with the 1980 coup. After a century of military involvement in politics, it could be said that this era is over for good.