Military Attempts Coup in Turkey, Prime Minister Says

Military Attempts Coup in Turkey, Prime Minister Says
July 16 06:55 2016

The prime minister of Turkey
said on Friday night that factions of the
military had attempted a coup. There were
sharply conflicting statements about who was
in control of the country, a NATO member
and important United States ally, which has
been convulsed by military takeovers at least
three times over the past half-century.
“Some people illegally undertook an illegal
action outside of the chain of command,”
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in
comments broadcast on NTV, a private
television channel. “The government elected
by the people remains in charge. This
government will only go when the people say
so.

”
Shortly after Mr. Yildirim spoke, the Turkish
military issued a statement, according to the
news agency DHA, claiming it had taken
control of the country.
“Turkish armed forces seized the rule of the
country completely with the aim of
reinstalling the constitutional order,
democracy, human rights and freedoms, to
make rule of law pervade again, to re-
establish the ruined public order,” the
statement quoted by DHA said. “All the
international agreements and promises are
valid. We hope our good relations with all
global countries goes on.

”
The state-run Anadolu News Agency said
hostages had been taken at military
headquarters in Ankara, the capital, including
the chief of staff.
Military forces shut two bridges over the
Bosporus in Istanbul, and fighter jets were
seen flying over Istanbul and Ankara. The
main airport in Istanbul was reported to have
halted flights.
The whereabouts of President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan , the Islamist politician who has
dominated politics in Turkey for many years
and sought to establish a firm control over the
military, was not immediately clear. He was
not in the capital but there were conflicting
accounts about whether he was in the
country.

Ilnur Cevik, an aide to Mr. Erdogan, reached
by telephone Friday night, said he would not
discuss the president’s location because “these
lines are being listened to.”
Mr. Cevik said he heard reports that clashes
were underway in Ankara near headquarters
of Turkey’s intelligence agency. “We’re not
really sure what’s going on but there seems to
be an uprising in the military.”
He added, “is it anywhere near being
successful? I don’t think so.

Right now, there
is a lot of confusion.”
Speaking to local television, Mr. Yildirim said,
“illegal acts of some people from among the
military are the issue here. My citizens and
my nation should know that any act that
would harm democracy would not be
allowed.”
He continued, “the government that the
citizens of the Turkish Republic elected,
representing the will of the people, is in
charge and the removal of it happens only by
the decision of the people.

Those who did this
attempt, who took part in this insanity, in this
unlawful act, will pay the heaviest price. I
want my citizens to know that we will not be
deterred by those kinds of attempts.”
The dramatic events began unfolding late
Friday, roughly around 10 p.m., as the
military moved to stop traffic over two of
Istanbul’s bridges, which cross the Bosporus
and connect the European and Asian sides of
the city. In the back streets of Beyoglu, in the
European districts, bars and restaurants were
showing footage on television of scenes at the
bridge, while partygoers were glued to their
mobile phones trying to learn what was
happening.

Since the founding of modern Turkey in 1923
the military has staged coups in 1960, 1971
and 1980 – and intervened in 1997.
The military had long seen itself as the
guardian of Turkey’s secular system,
established by the country’s founder, Mustafa
Kemal Ataturk. But in recent years a series of
sensational trials had pushed the military back
to its barracks, which analysts said had
secured civilian leadership over the military.
Across Istanbul on Friday night rumors
swirled and evening plans were upended. In
the city’s Arnavutkoy neighborhood, people
flooded out of bars and restaurants and
began hailing taxis and urging loved ones to
get home to safety.
“There’s a coup,” one man shouted in the
street.

“There’s a coup, and blood will be
shed.”
Mr. Erdogan, in power more than a decade, 
attracted a wide-ranging constituency in the
early years of his tenure, including many
liberals who supported his plans to reform
the economy and remove the military from
politics. But in recent years he has alienated
many Turks with his increasingly autocratic
ways, cracking down on freedom of
expression, imposing a significant role for
religion in public life, and renewing war with
Kurdish militants in the country’s southeast.

Many secular Turks, no doubt, will welcome
the military’s intervention, even as it was far
from clear by early Saturday morning if it
would be successful.
“The people tried to stand up against
President Erdogan, but they couldn’t, they
were crushed, so the military had no choice
but to take over,” said Cem Yildiz, a taxi
driver who said on Friday night that he would
spend the rest of the night car-pooling to
make sure people got home safely.
Mr. Yildiz said that recent terrorism in the
country attributed to the militants of the
Islamic State, including a recent attack on
Istanbul’s main airport that killed dozens,
was, “the tipping point,” for him.

Like many Turks, he has blamed Turkey’s
policy on Syria for the terror attacks. Early in
the civil war there, Turkey supported rebel
groups fighting against the Syrian
government. Many of the fighters who
traveled through Turkey to Syria joined the
Islamic State, and critics have blamed Mr.
Erdogan for enabling the group’s rise.
“He has destroyed this country and no one
will stand up to him but the military,” he said.
“There was no choice but this.”
Seyda Yilmaz, a teacher who was out in
Istanbul on Friday when the news broke, said,
“the country is in chaos and Erdogan needs to
be put in his place, but I’m afraid. I’m very
afraid, because in the past a lot of innocent
blood was shed in these coups. I’m anxious. I
don’t know what to say at this point. We are
all in shock. No one thought that the military
would stand up against Erdogan.

Newyork Times