Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced an attempted coup from a military group

Erdogan making a statement via Facetime

Horndiplomat-Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced an attempted coup from a military group, saying that those who had participated in the uprising would “pay a heavy price”.
President Erdogan, whose location was unclear, used a video livestream on a mobile phone to respond to the military group which had two hours earlier seized key points in the capital Ankara and the main city of Istanbul, and he called for citizens to take to the streets.

He said the plotters would be unsuccessful and that he was returning to the capital Ankara, and that the uprising would be given the “necessary response.”

“We welcome the commitment of opposition parties, which expressed their objections to the coup attempt, to democracy,” he said. “I urge the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports. There is no power higher than the power of the people. Let them do what they will at public squares and airports.”

He added that the “chain of command has been violated. This is a step against the higher ranks… The judiciary will swiftly respond to this attack.”

Mr Erdogan made his comments on CNN Turk, a private television channel, via the FaceTime video app on an iPhone held up by the newsreader.

The military, which has toppled the government at least three times since 1960, said it had 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.”

As it took control of the state broadcaster TRT, the military group calling itself the Council for Peace in the Homeland announced a general curfew, and the highest level of security at ports, airports, borders. It said that all the people who had committed treason would be brought to justice.

The group, through the announcer, said martial law had been imposed: “Freedom of citizens guaranteed by peace council will not allow public order to be damaged. Freedom of citizens guaranteed by peace council regardless of race, religion, language.”

In Istanbul military jets and helicopters were seen flying over the centre of the city and military vehicles were reported as having blocked traffic on several of the city’s main arteries.

Istanbul Mayor İbrahim Melih Gökçek also called on all citizens to take to the streets on his Twitter account.

A journalist for the state broadcaster, who asked not to be named, said it had been “evacuated by the military” when its news broadcast was about to begin shortly before 8pm GMT.

“They confiscated everyone’s phone on the way out,” they said. “We all thought it was a hijacking of a plane at first [following rumours of an attack on Ataturk airport]. Everyone went home and as things unfolded, all TRT buildings were being taken over by the military at the same time.”

“We have received an email form the managing director saying TRT is off air for the time being, saying it is all part of the Gülen movement [led by Fethullah Gülen] and the police are trying to fight back.”

Police were setting up barricades along streets leading to the prime minister’s office in Ankara, the journalist said, but police headquarters in Istanbul have been taken over by military. There had been exchanges of gunfire which they believed to have been between police and military, they added.

A source in the president’s office said: “This is an attack against Turkish democracy. A group within the Armed Forces has made an attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government outside the chain of command. The statement made on behalf of the Armed Forces wasn’t authorised by the military command. We urge the world to stand in solidarity with the Turkish people.”

Access to social media was cut off in various parts of the country. Access roads to the international airport were blocked.
The Greek military put its forces on alert following reports of the attempted military coup in neighbouring Turkey, according to a senior Greek official. Greece and Turkey have long been regional rivals, occasionally fighting wars in recent decades.

Ned Price, White House National Security Council spokesman, said President Barack Obama was being briefed on the reported coup in Turkey, and that he would continue to receive updates on the situation.

Speaking in Moscow, US secretary of state John Kerry said: “We hope there will be stability, peace and continuity in Turkey.” He declined to comment further, adding that he had heard about events in Turkey only minutes earlier after a day of intensive talks with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

“It is important right now to avoid any bloodshed, any violent clashes,” Mr Lavrov said about Turkey. “Issues should be addressed and resolved constitutionally in any country.”

Aaron Stein, a Turkey expert at the Atlantic Council, said a coup would be a “considerable” problem for America because of the role the country plays in the fight against the Islamic State. US fighter jets also fly bombing missions to Syria from Incirlik air base in Turkey. The country is a key player in the struggle to deal with the hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming out of Syria.

Mr Stein said that while coups in Turkey were “old hat” the nation had not seen one in several decades. “Any rhetorical intervention [by the US] would be counter productive when we don’t have all the facts,” he added.

Tim Ash, an analyst at Nomura who follows Turkey closely, said the coup was “totally unexpected”. “I think most people assumed that Erdogan had made peace with the old elements of Turkey’s deep state in a deal to rein in the Gulenists,” he said, noting that there had been “some remarkable shifts in Turkey in recent weeks, particularly over foreign policy, with the rapprochement with Russia, and Israel, and in recent days talk of similar deals with Syria”.

Sooner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish programme at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said any coup would complicate matters for the US because of laws that prevent the Pentagon from dealing with countries where the lawful elected government has been overthrown. But he said the importance of Turkey for US operations against Isis in Iraq and Syria, which have deepened in recent months, would make it very difficult to pull back from working with Turkey. “I can’t see Washington walking back from this and giving ISIS the upper hand in the battle in Syria,” he said.

Mr Cagaptay also added that after previous military coups in Turkey — in 1960 and 1980 — the military had actually moved quickly to strengthen relations with the US. “[In the past] the first thing the military did after the coup was not only to pronounce its strong commitment to Nato and increase its co-operation with the US.

White House, state department and Pentagon officials were holding emergency meetings to gather information about the developments in Turkey and to determine the US response.

All flights to Istanbul were suspended.

“We are aware of the current developments in Turkey,” the British Foreign Office said on Friday evening adding that it was “urgently seeking more information.”

The FCO issued an advisory notice for British nationals to avoid all public places on the country. United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon appealed for calm through a spokesperson, who said the UN was seeking to clarify the situation.

American companies with significant operations in Turkey include Boeing and Lockheed Martin. JPMorgan Chase said it was “monitoring the situation and contacting local staff”.

Nick Heras, a Turkey expert at the Center for a New American Security, said the coup would pose a “major test” for US-Turkey relations. He said, if successful, it would “require the US and its EU partners in Nato to make a decision: are they willing to allow a democratic government to be overthrown even if there has been disagreement over the manner in which that government was governing.” He said main question should the coup turn out to be unsuccessful was that “how does it work with the Turks to manage the after effects.”

“The US at this point will probably to see how this plays out. Turkey has undergone coups in the past after it joined Nato,” said Mr Heras.


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