“Turkish Armed Forces have completely taken over the administration of the country to reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedoms, the rule of law and the general security that was damaged,” the Turkish military has said in a statement.
“All international agreements are still valid. We hope that all of our good relationships with all countries will continue.”
Live from Turkey: The Guardian has a live reporting feed from Turkey, here. RT.com is also providing a live feed, here. In breaking news, Erdogan addressed the country on Friday evening, blaming the Gulenist movement for the coup. He called on his supporters to go into the streets to protest. Will his supporters answer the call?
Heavily armed soldiers and military vehicles closed the two main bridges in Istanbul Friday evening, and while low-flying military jets could be heard overhead.
Around midnight local time, a TRT anchor announced the country was now run by a “Peace Council” that will ensure the safety of the population. Tanks have been posted outside Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport and in other locations in the city.
Access to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube is being blocked, while the state-owned TRT television has gone off the air, according to reports from inside Turkey. Its website shows weather.
“Some people illegally undertook an illegal action outside of the chain of command,” Prime Minister Bulent Yildirim said, in comments broadcast by private channel NTV.
President Recep Erdogan is reportedly on vacation in the southern Turkish resort town of Bodrum. His status is currently unknown.
Tanks have been posted outside Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport, while armored vehicles were photographed outside TRT offices. All flights from Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport have been canceled, Reuters reported, citing a witness.
The Turkish military announced it was seizing power in the country “to protect the democratic order and to maintain human rights.” People are standing in lines to get money from ATM’s.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said he hopes for “peace and continuity” in Turkey, AFP reported.
Coup underway in Turkey
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said July 15 that a faction within the military is responsible for a coup that it claims has succeeded. The whereabouts of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was reportedly on vacation, are currently unknown. Turkish Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar said Turkey is now under military control, despite statements by Yildirim that illegal actions undertaken by the military will not be tolerated. There are reports that Akar has been taken hostage, and he may have made his statement under duress.
Turkish forces were reportedly swarming the streets of Istanbul and Ankara the night of July 15, some of them in armored vehicles and tanks. F-16 aircraft and combat helicopters were also reported to be flying at low altitude over Ankara. Checkpoints have been set up at strategic locations such as the Bosporus Bridge as well as near military headquarters in Ankara, where gunfire has also been reported. Civilians are being informed that martial law has been imposed and that they should return to their homes.
It is unclear at this point which military units are participating in the coup attempt and which are responding to it. Military units have taken control of Ataturk international airport in Istanbul, and communication channels including Twitter, Facebook and the state television channel have been blocked. Gunfire and explosions have been reported in several locations, but all reports are unconfirmed at this time. There have also been reports of clashes between police forces and military units, including alleged arrests of police officers by military personnel. Police forces have also purportedly ordered the arrest of any armed military personnel in the streets. The mayor of Ankara, who belongs to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has reportedly called on supporters to come into the streets in defense of the government. There are also reports, however, that the military is arresting civilians.
Erdogan has no shortage of political enemies, though he has tightened his institutional control of the country in recent years. Most recently, Erdogan replaced Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and in May filled his Cabinet with loyalists. The military has conducted multiple coups in Turkey’s history and has recently grown increasingly uneasy about the country’s domestic and foreign policy under Erdogan. The military leadership, for example, has publicly opposed Erdogan’s proposal to militarily intervene in northern Syria. With Turkey and Russia recently reconciling, the Turkish government may have been pushing more assertively for a military incursion into Syria, which could have provoked a faction within the military to rise up.
The coup attempt very likely garnered support from Turkey’s Gulenist movement, which has been targeted in intensive government purges since 2014. The Gulenists, and their influence in Turkey’s police, education, media and military, were critical to the rise of the AKP. But the group’s influence has waned since the 2014-15 crackdowns. It is notable that the coup attempt includes figures high enough in the chain of command to deploy troops to major Turkish cities. There is, however, still the chance for a counter-coup.
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