President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Saturday battled to regain control over Turkey after a coup bid by discontented soldiers, as signs grew that the most serious challenge to his 13 years of dominant rule was starting to falter. After hours of chaos unseen in decades, Erdogan ended uncertainty over his whereabouts, flying into Istanbul airport in the early hours where he made a defiant speech and was greeted by hundreds of supporters.
In this article, we list the major highlights of the coup, highlighting most of the world leaders’ and embassies’ stands on the incident.
Soldiers and tanks took to the streets late on Friday and multiple explosions rang out throughout the night in Ankara and Istanbul, the two biggest cities of the strategic NATO member of 80 million people. With officials insisting the takeover bid was falling apart, officials said 60 people, mainly civilians, have been killed and 754 soldiers detained.
Erdogan predicted the putsch would fail and crowds of supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came out onto the streets to try to block it. The strongman denounced the coup attempt as “treachery”, saying he was carrying out his functions and would keep on working “to the end”.
“What is being perpetrated is a treason and a rebellion. They will pay a heavy price for this act of treason,” Erdogan said at the airport. “We will not leave our country to occupiers.”
Dozens of soldiers backing the coup surrendered on the Bosphorus bridge in Istanbul they had held throughout the night, holding their hands above their heads as they were detained, television pictures showed. There was chaos in Istanbul as angry crowds took to the streets to boo the passing tanks, with smaller numbers welcoming the troops.
As a helicopter flew over the famed Taksim Square, scene of massive anti-Erdogan protests three years ago, the crowd began to boo, shaking their fists at the night sky before they were shot at by the soldiers. “The people are afraid of a military government,” a 38-year-old man who gave his name as Dogan told AFP. “Most of them have been in military service, they know what a military government would mean.”
The sound of F16 fighter jets flying over the capital Ankara signalled the start of the putsch late Friday, with troops also moving to block the two bridges across the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul. As protesters took to the streets, an AFP photographer saw troops open fire on people gathered near one of the bridges, leaving tens wounded.
Soldiers also opened shot at protesters angrily denouncing the coup bid at Istanbul’s Taksim Square, injuring several.Turkish army F-16s launched air strikes against tanks stationed by coup backers outside the presidential palace in Ankara, while the parliament was also bombed, leaving its offices wrecked.
Regular explosions could be heard from the AFP office situated near the complex.
The night of drama and bloodshed brought new instability to the Middle East region, with Turkey a key powerbroker in the ongoing Syria conflict.
In a key moment in the standoff, Turkish security forces rescued the country’s top army general Hulusi Akar who reports said had been taken hostage in the earlier stages of the coup bid.
Istanbul authorities sought to make a show of normalisation with the bridges reopening to traffic and Ataturk International Airport — which had been shut down by the plotters — gradually reopening.
Coup Bid to Restore Order
After the initial dramatic military movements, state broadcaster TRT said the troops behind the putsch had declared martial law and a curfew, in a statement signed by a group calling itself the “Council for Peace in the Homeland”. It said the coup had been launched “to ensure and restore constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms and let the supremacy of the law in the country prevail, to restore order which was disrupted”.
No named military officer claimed responsibility for the actions although Prime Minister Binali Yildirim claimed a key pro-coup general had been killed. Turkey’s once-powerful military has long considered itself the guardian of the secular state founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923.
It has staged three coups since 1960 and forced out an Islamic government in 1997. Erdogan’s critics have long accused him of undermining modern Turkey’s secular roots and of sliding into authoritarianism — but the president was believed to have won control of the military after purging elements who opposed him.
But some Turks were welcoming news of the coup attempt. “Turks are on fire,” Fethi, a 27-year-old tour guide in Taksim Square, told AFP. “We have hope now,” he added. “Turkey has been in a very polarised state for almost 15 years now… This is the manifestation of all that anger.”
Erdogan immediately pinned the blame on “the parallel state” and “Pennsylvania” — a reference to Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, his arch-enemy who he has always accused of seeking to overthrow him. But the president’s former ally denied any involvement in the plot, calling the accusation “insulting”.
“As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations,” he said in a statement.
There has been a flood of concerned reactions from around the globe, with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini calling for “restraint and respect for democratic institutions”.
World Leaders Support the Government
World leaders called for calm, with US President Barack Obama and other Western countries urging support for the government which they said had been democratically elected. Obama has been briefed, while the Kremlin said it was “deeply concerned” by the developments.
Russia is interested in the quickest resolution of the situation in Turkey, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, following reports of a coup in the country.
According to the spokesman, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is not currently in contact with Turkish President Erdogan or the coup organizers. He added that the Russian leader is constantly being kept up to date by Russian intelligence services and Foreign Ministry about developments in Turkey.
“Turkey is a very important regional power,” he said. “With no doubt the situation in Turkey has a direct impact on the situation in the region. In this regard, we are all interested in the quickest resolution of the situation Turkey legitimately, and the country returned to the path of stability and predictability, the rule of law.”
Peskov stressed that Moscow’s major priority at the moment is to provide for the security of Russian citizens in the country. There has been no information on any Russian citizens being hurt during the attempted military coup in Turkey, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that he hoped for peace, stability and continuity in Turkey, where a coup attempt is underway.Kerry, speaking at a news conference in Moscow after a day of talks on Syria with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, said he could not comment further on Turkey because he did not have the latest details of what was happening there.Lavrov, at the same news conference, urged Russian nationals in Turkey to remain indoors and await further information.
- “Everything must be done to protect human lives,” said a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
- EU President Jean-Claude Juncker also sent a tweet, saying: “EU supports #Turkey‘s democratically elected gov, institutions &#ruleOfLaw. Call for return to constitutional order.”
- U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Friday she supported Turkey’s civilian government as it faced an attempted coup. Clinton said in a statement she was following the events in Turkey “with great concern.”
- Meanwhile, U.K.’s newly appointend controversial Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has spoken to Turkey’s foreign minister and has assured U.K. support for the democratically elected Turkish government, Reuters reported.
- Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isssued a statement early Friday, condemning the attack.”On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to express our concern about this evening’s events in Turkey. We call for restraint by all parties. Canada supports the preservation of Turkish democracy, and condemns any attempt to subvert Turkey’s democratic institutions by force of arms,” the statement said.
- Australia is monitoring what appears to be an unfolding military coup in Turkey and top priority remains the safety of Australian citizens, the government says. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she had spoken with Ambassador James Larsen in Turkey to assess what was happening in the highly fluid situation.”Our priority is the safety of Australian citizens in Turkey,” she said. “Australians in Turkey should be vigilant, monitor media, follow the direction of local authorities and advise friends and family in Australia that they are safe.” Bishop said travel advice for Turkey had been updated to reflect the unfolding developments although the overall level of advice had not changed. For Turkey generally, the advice is to exercise a high degree of caution and to reconsider travelling to the capital Ankara or to Istanbul.Bishop said those in Australia concerned about friends of family in Turkey should first try to contact them directly. If that didn’t work and there were still concerns, people could call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 24-hour Consular Emergency still Centre on 1 300 555 135, or, if calling from overseas +61 2 6261 3305.
- Germany’s Die Linke (The Left) party calls for immediate German military withdrawal from Turkey, lawmaker with Die Linke Alexander Neu told Sputnik on Saturday.
“The Left Party claims the immediate withdrawal of the Bundeswehr from Turkey. The current Turkish government is not and can not be a reliable partner for Germany,” Neu noted.A delegation of German lawmakers was barred in June from visiting the Incirlik Air Base military base in southern Turkey, which hosts aircraft from Germany, as well as the United States, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Qatar participating in the US-led coalition against Daesh terrorists, outlawed in many countries including Russia.
Mexico’s foreign ministry also condemned the attempted coup in a statement, saying that it was an attempt to suspend the country’s democratic system.
Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbørn Jagland also condemned the coup attempt, saying: Any attempt to overthrow the democratically elected leaders in a member state of the Council of Europe is unacceptable.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also pledged support, saying France hopes Turkish democracy will ’emerge stronger’ after failed coup attempt.
There is still one question to ask: Amid the talks that the coup ended, an failed, does Erdogan still have the same political future after the coup?… Only one thing is certain, before the coup is not like after it for Turkey.