Turkish Military Coup Thwarted, Situation Still Not 100% Clear
An attempted coup mounted by a faction of the Turkish military hit newswires around the world at 9 p.m. local time, but a strong response by the Erdogan government, including a call to citizens to “gather in squares and see what this minority can do with their tanks and artillery against the people” appeared to put it down within hours.
Military leaders seized control of the state-run radio to announce the coup stating their intent to return the country to a democratic government.
President Erdogan was vacationing at a resort in the Mediterranean when the explosions shook Istanbul and for a time, his attempt to gain sanctuary failed as his plane was denied permission to land in the Netherlands, Germany and England.
He eventually chose to land in Istanbul where he was greeted by large, supportive crowds, and in a press conference at Ataturk Airport, the scene of a terror attack just weeks ago, Erdogan said, “the architects of the coup attempt would pay a heavy price” for their acts.
Smoke was seen rising from the streets in the capital city of Ankara and in Istanbul as dawn broke in Turkey, and later in the morning, soldiers could be seen walking away from tanks holding their hands up in surrender.
The coup attempt came at the end of a week filled with important political news in the U.S. and with another shocking terror attack in France underscoring the importance of the situation in Turkey, a key ally in the war against terror.
U.S. forces fly out of Incirlik Air Base in southeastern Turkey on anti-ISIS missions, but there was no word that the missions were disrupted.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a relatively stable, though increasingly pro-Muslim, leader, which has put stress on U.S.-Turkey relations.
Turkey is half Muslim and half Christian holding a strategic position with shared borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran to the south.
In a dramatic moment during the height of the violence, the CNN television studio in Istanbul was seized as the anchor told viewers, “We must abandon the studio, we tried to broadcast everything until the last minute...”
If Erdogan is able to secure control of the government, experts predict he will double-down on the conservative, pro-Muslim agenda, as he exacts those “heavy penalties” he promised against those who supported the attempted takeover to solidify his rule.