Turkey is now the center of world attention as a military coup has been launched against the Erdogan government. While nothing has been confirmed from media organizations as of yet, some reports coming out of news agencies like CNN are suggesting that the Turkish military has indeed seized control over the government and subsequently imposed martial law.
Other reports are suggesting that Erdogan and his government are still in control, though even the most optimistic reports do not place Erdogan in full control over the Turkish government at the time of the writing of this article.
According to an announcement made by a broadcaster on TRT, a state run news media organization, the military has indeed seized the government. The statement, which was made on behalf of the “Peace in the Nation” council according to the anchor, stated that “The political administration that has lost all legitimacy has been forced to withdraw.”
Earlier in the morning, President Erdogan urged the Turkish people to take to the streets and express support for their government during this coup.
“Go to the streets and give them their answer,” Erdogan told Turks during a Facetime interview on CNN Turk.
“I am coming to a square in Ankara. … This was done from outside the chain of command,” Erdogan said of the military. “Those who are responsible, we will give them the necessary punishment,” he said. It was not clear from where he was speaking.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed to A Haber that a number of military units have attempted a coup but Yildirim also vowed that the coup would fail.
He stated to Anadolu that the coup was “an attempt against democracy and the will of the people. Those who attempted this will pay the heaviest price.”
News organizations have not been able to verify claims being made by either the government or the military and, at this point, it is still unclear as to who is actually in charge in Turkey. However, it is known that a curfew has been in imposed by the military.
The military has allegedly issued a number of statements that have been published in some Turkish media outlets but have been ignored by others claiming that it has “fully seized control of Turkey,” in order to maintain democratic order and that the “rule of law” must continue to be a priority and international relations must remain. Even these statements remain unverified at this time.
CNN also reported the general conditions around the Taksim Square in Istanbul by reporting:
A CNN producer said there were 200 to 300 residents in Taksim Square in Istanbul. Some of them were waving Turkish flags. About 100 police officers were shooting off tear gas, trying to disperse the crowd.
At least one army tank and one other military vehicle were at the square.
Shots have been fired and explosions have been heard in Ankara as the coup continues, according to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.
All flights at Istanbul Ataturk Airport have been suspended and Americans are urged to stay where they are.
The U.S. Embassy said in a statement: “We urge U.S. citizens to contact family and friends to let them know you are safe. We have seen reports that social media is blocked … We encourage U.S. citizens to shelter in place and do not go the U.S. Embassy or Consulates at this time.”
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A report from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara said military-appearing jets had been flying low over the city and Istanbul for about an hour.
One tweet showed a military jet flying extremely low over the capital Ankara.
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Two bridges in Istanbul are closed in one direction by the military. Cars are flowing from the European side of the city to the Asian, but soldiers and military vehicles are blocking the path to the European side.
The U.S. State Department has issued a statement citing a “Turkish uprising” and the declaration of “martial law.” The statement read: “U.S. Embassy Ankara informs U.S. citizens that shots fired and explosions have been heard in Ankara and both bridges in Istanbul, the Bosphorous and Fatih Sultan Mehmet, are now closed. Martial law and a curfew have been imposed in Turkey. All flights at Ataturk Istanbul Airport have been suspended.”
It is unclear who is truly behind this coup – the Turkish military out of a legitimate fear for the direction of the country or Western intelligence agencies who may have been unsatisfied with the recent possibility of a Russian-Turkish détente. At this time, it is even unclear if the coup will succeed. However, watching Erdogan call for the Turkish people to come out and defend their government is poetic justice delivered to at least one individual if it does.
There is no word whether or not Erdogan is a man who appreciates irony but, if he is, the moment through which he is currently living must be memorable indeed.