UPDATE XVI (6:00 PM PT): There has reportedly been a bombing at Ataturk Airport:
BREAKING: Loud explosion heard at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport after President Erdogan’s plane lands there – Reuters
— BNO News (@BNONews) July 16, 2016
UPDATE XV (5:50 PM PT): Erdogan is about land at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. This is historically unprecedented. The Islamist strongman has effectively crushed the coup. Erdogan has done what has eluded the Shah of Iran, Mubarak of Egypt, Gaddafi of Libya, and Saddam of Iraq.
The coup plotters have reportedly detonated a bomb at theTurkish parliamentary building in Ankara. See video below:
— Mr Red Ghost (@Mr_Ghostly) July 16, 2016
— Candice Malcolm (@CandiceMalcolm) July 16, 2016
UPDATE XIV (4:40 PM PT): The coup looks to be dragging to its conclusion with Erdogan still in power.
— KurdishQuestion.com (@KurdishQuestion) July 15, 2016
#BREAKING Turkey’s MIT spy agency says situation ‘back to normal’ after coup attempt: spokesman
— AFP news agency (@AFP) July 15, 2016
This is legitimately the worst option: Erdogan, an authoritarian Islamist, will now use the coup as an opportunity to further purge the military and consolidate his strongman regime. A failed coup is often worse than no coup at all; certainly, that appears to be the case here.
The violence continues:
A Turkish opposition MP reports the parliament building has been hit, there are casualties https://t.co/D085rYXpCJ
— Irem Koker (@ikoker) July 15, 2016
UPDATE XIII (4:10 PM PT): In more evidence that the coup may be put down, President Obama has finally come down on the side of the Islamist strongman Erdogan:
— ABC News (@ABC) July 15, 2016
UPDATE XII (4:00 PM PT): The coup looks to be going badly. CNN now reporting that Erdogan’s senior advisor says he’s is in Istanbul:
Senior advisor to Erdogan tells CNN the president of Turkey is in Istanbul.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) July 15, 2016
There are media reports that the police say they have arrested 25 of the coup’s leaders. Also, a fighter jet has reportedly shot down a military helicopter:
BREAKING: Fighter jets shoot down military helicopter used by rogue forces – Turkish media
— BNO News (@BNONews) July 15, 2016
Police, loyal to Erdogan, have also been killed by members of the military:
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) July 15, 2016
UPDATE XI (3:50 PM PT): Violence escalating:
Unbelievable footage of army tanks running over cars in the middle of the roads in Turkey. https://t.co/ze5awCRakU
— Special Report Team (@SpecialReport) July 15, 2016
— KurdishPhoto (@KordishPhoto) July 15, 2016
— RT (@RT_com) July 15, 2016
UPDATE X (3:42 PM PT): As we await more reports, it’s clear that the elected political establishment in Turkey doesn’t like the coup:
So all the major Turkish parties — CHP, MHP, HDP, and AKP (obviously) — have condemned the coup attempt.
— DavidKenner (@DavidKenner) July 15, 2016
UPDATE IX (3:20 PM PT): It’s unclear whether the entire military or just a rogue faction within the military is behind the coup.
Now Erdogan is using the mosques to call out Muslims to fight against the coup:
IMC TV Ankara reporter on live program says mosques call people to take the streets in the name of ‘God and Quran’ pic.twitter.com/ePrNuL0UCp
— Mutlu Civiroglu (@mutludc) July 15, 2016
Reports of violence against protesters on the Bosphorus bridge, too:
— BNO News (@BNONews) July 15, 2016
UPDATE VIII (3:10 PM PT): As always, the White House was caught off guard and is holding a “snap meeting,” presumably to determine which YouTube video is responsible for all of this chaos.
A reporter for The Guardian says that the military have attacked intelligence centers — resources under Erdogan’s control:
HQ of Turkish intel is on fire. Mil helicopters earlier rocketed state TV building & other unknown targets #TurkeyCoup
— Martin Chulov (@martinchulov) July 15, 2016
Reuters reports that tanks have opened fire around parliament:
Tanks open fire around Turkish parliament building – Reuters witness
— Noah Barkin (@noahbarkin) July 15, 2016
The US Embassy is telling Americans to shelter in place:
— Nightline (@Nightline) July 15, 2016
In a bizarre turn of events, Erdogan says there was no attempt against his autocracy:
UPDATE Turkish President Erdoğan says there was no attempt against him, he will join public in Istanbul or Ankara. pic.twitter.com/WIE21AYiQq
— CNN Türk ENG (@CNNTURK_ENG) July 15, 2016
The main Turkish opposition party is also rejecting the coup attempt:
BREAKING: Turkish main opposition party rejects coup attempt
— The Int’l Spectator (@intlspectator) July 15, 2016
There are also reports that certain elements of the army will not go along with the coup:
1st Army commander Ümit Dündar just repeated Erdoğan’s words. Says it’s a revolt by a small faction acting outside the chain of command
— Oğuz Arıkboğa (@OguzArikboga) July 15, 2016
UPDATE VII (3:00 PM PT): Violence is reportedly now breaking out in Ankara.
— Jocelyne Zablit (@JZablit) July 15, 2016
Meanwhile, Sky News Arabic is reporting that the Turkish chief of staff has been killed:
Sky news Arabic: Turkish chief of staff killed
— avi issacharoff (@issacharoff) July 15, 2016
UPDATE VI (2:50 PM PT): There are sporadic reports emerging that Germany may deny Erdogan asylum.
Germany’s relationship with Turkey has been tenuous since the Syrian civil war created a mass refugee crisis. German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a deal with President Erdogan to absorb millions of refugees in exchange for hard cash and an apparent promise to reconsider Turkey’s inclusion in the European Union.
The Daily Wire reported on the Faustian bargain in May:
By appeasing Erdogan, Merkel hopes to ensure that Turkey keeps its commitment to stemming the flow of refugees into the European continent. As the gatekeeper of Europe, Merkel has shouldered the brunt of the responsibility for the the region’s uncontrollable refugee crisis. Seeking absolution, Merkel has strong-armed the EU into making a Faustian bargain with Turkey.
“The European Union has promised to give Ankara €6bn [roughly $6.7 billion] to help the estimated 2.7 million Syrians now stuck on Turkish soil It will also become easier for Turks to get European visas, and the EU will pay greater lip-service to the idea of Turkey becoming a member state,” according to The Guardian.
In its desperation, the EU has struck a deal with a devil and Erdogan is taking full advantage, exploiting Merkel for all she’s worth. Merkel’s Sultanic Bargain, as Politicocalls it, has showed the world that a “neo-Ottoman autocrat’s temper tantrum concerns far more than the livelihood of this single German comedian.”
Merkel has set a profoundly dangerous precedent, one that threatens to unravel the very fabric democratic Europe. “Europe’s cavalier attitude toward this kind of rising authoritarianism on its eastern border is more than just strategic indifference — it’s symptomatic of a steady erosion of core civil liberties within the EU itself,” notes Foreign Policy.
Western leaders have already abandoned the people of Turkey, turning a blind eye to Erdogan’s scorched earth campaign to purge his country of dissent. From shutting down domestic newspapers to roughing up reporters internationally, Erdogan and his loyalist thugs have taken Turkey back to the Ottoman era, reversing years of democratic reforms initiated by the country’s famous founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
UPDATE V (2:40 PM PT): President Erdogan has just issued a statement on Facetime, which isn’t a good sign for Erdogan loyalists. It looks like he’s in hiding. In a show of defiance, he’s urging “citizens” to take to the streets and fight back against the military.
Here’s the video.
— Jake Godin (@JakeGodin) July 15, 2016
Recent reports suggest he may be attempting to flee the country:
Senior US military source tells NBC News that Erdogan, refused landing rights in Istanbul, is reported to be seeking asylum in Germany.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 15, 2016
Iran president Rouhani orders urgent National Security Council meeting to discuss coup d’etat in neighboring Turkey, also key trade partner.
— Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink) July 15, 2016
Civilians are in the street against the military takeover. “We are Tayyip’s [Turkish President] soldiers” pic.twitter.com/sunsiLdd1A
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) July 15, 2016
Turkish TV broadcasts a message from Erdogan claiming he’s in control and will punish the coup leaders pic.twitter.com/8grmFarUfl
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) July 15, 2016
— DontGoTurkey (@dontgoturkey) July 15, 2016
People lined up at ATMs in #Istanbul to withdraw cash
— Ali M Latifi (@alibomaye) July 15, 2016
The Turkish military has carried out coups before, four times in recent history, according to CNN’s Jim Sciutto. Historically, Turkey’s military has been a guarantor a secular-leaning democracy. Many suspect this is a Kemalist uprising, with the secular military taking control away from an increasingly Islamist Erdogan.
The Erdogan administration continues to deny it has lost control of the country.
The position of the United States military in Turkey is precarious at the moment. US military assets may leave voluntarily or determine that the military poses no threat. US officials are scrambling to contact all their back-channels in the region. Top White House national security advisors are likely in the midst of an emergency meeting.
During a press conference in Moscow, Sec. of State John Kerry answered a reporter’s question about the coup attempt in Turkey. “There will be stability, peace, and continuity,” Kerry suggested, refusing to delve into further detail.
UPDATE I (2:00 PM PT): Residents of Istanbul and Ankara have reported gunfire and military activity throughout the city. Helicopter were heard hovering around the National Intelligence building. From what it looks like at the moment, intelligence services fighting on behalf of the Erdogan government appear to be clashing with the Turkish military.
Turkish soldiers have blocked two of the country’s two busiest bridges across the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul. The strait sits at a crossroads between East and West and serves as a locus of commerce around the Mediterranean.
The Turkish PM initially called the uprising an “attempted coup.” He’s now calling it “mutiny.”
The Turkish military has released a written statement claiming that it has taken “full control of government” across country. The Turkish military wants to have good relations with the rest of the world, read the statement. “This is intended to restore human rights and democracy.”
Turkey is the only Muslim-majority NATO ally. Over the last few years, Erdogan’s AKP party has been adopting draconian policies and repressing political dissent to the dismay of opposition and human rights groups.
Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute predicted a coup just months ago:
The situation in Turkey is bad and getting worse. It’s not just the deterioration in security amidst a wave of terrorism. Public debt might be stable, but private debt is out-of-control, the tourism sector is in free-fall, and the decline in the currency has impacted every citizen’s buying power. There is a broad sense, election results notwithstanding, that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is out-of-control. He is imprisoning opponents, seizing newspapers left and right, and building palaces at the rate of a mad sultan or aspiring caliph. In recent weeks, he has once again threatened to dissolve the constitutional court. Corruption is rife. His son Bilal reportedly fled Italy on a forged Saudi diplomatic passport as the Italian police closed in on him in an alleged money laundering scandal. His outbursts are raising eyebrows both in Turkey and abroad. Even members of his ruling party whisper about his increasing paranoia which, according to some Turkish officials, has gotten so bad that he seeks to install anti-aircraft missiles at his palace to prevent airborne men-in-black from targeting him in a snatch-and-grab operation.
On Friday, the Turkish government acknowledged what they described as a coup attempt by a subgroup within the Turkish military against Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. At approximately 9:30 PM local time, the Turkish military stated that it had overthrown Erdogan and taken control of the country in a non-violent coup. The state-run radio and television outlets have been taken by the Turkish army as well:
— Michael Wilner (@mawilner) July 15, 2016
The military has occupied the airport.
İSTANBUL-BAYRAMPAŞA ŞUAN pic.twitter.com/AhjuOTA5Kl
— HZ. ENES (@Ayyinemikeder) July 15, 2016
Tanks were spotted at the airport as well:
— Patrick Megahan (@PatMegahan) July 15, 2016
Flights out of Istanbul have been severely delayed.
At the same time, F-16s were seen flying extraordinarily low over the city:
— Marina Lourenço (@lourenco_marina) July 15, 2016
The government has utilized heavy measures to restrict media activities, so very little information has escaped the country. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have all been shut down by the government.
Nonetheless, Gabriel Turner, 23, told the UK Telegraph:
Earlier today there were police everywhere. I thought that was normal but the two Turkish girls I was with told me it wasn’t normal. We were walking around the centre of Istanbul, at the Grand Bazaar there were police at every entrance and exit with lots of guns.
“A police helicopter was flying very low at sunset, it was about 8pm. It looked like it was searching for something. Later on, at about 10.30 I was in Karakoy, a bar area in the city centre and everyone started looking at their phones. A man who owns the bar told us that the army are taking over everything.
“Then we walked down towards the a quieter area by the sea. While we were walking, my friend said the army had closed bridges across the Bosphorus. We could see army helicopters in the sky.
President Erdogan assumed that office in 2014, but became Prime Minister of the country in 2003. He is an Islamist who has moved away from Turkey’s historic secularism, has significant ties with terrorist groups including Hamas, and has been soft in the battle against ISIS, pursuing policies domestic critics have blamed for a domestic spike in terrorism. Erdogan has attempted to purge the military of secular figures he sees as a threat. The military has been an influence for secularism since the days of Kemal Ataturk.
There has also been a spike in so-called Gulenist activity within the military — followers of the imam Muhammed Gulen, a far more moderate Muslim than Erdogan. Gulen was an ardent and outspoken opponent of Erdogan’s terror flotilla to Hamas in Gaza, for example. Gulen wrote regarding Islam in 2015 in The Wall Street Journal:
Governments in the Muslim world must design school curricula that nurture democratic values. Civil society has a role in promoting respect and acceptance….Finally, it is imperative that Muslims support equal rights for women and men. Women should be given opportunity and be free from social pressures that deny their equality.