In overnight clashes Friday night a faction of the Turkish military has attempted to depose President Erdogan. Over 60 people are dead, and over 750 arrested so far. It appears the attempt is over,Erdogan has given a speech saying the coup failed and he is still in control.
While the exact status is still unclear, video footage has shown rebel soldiers surrendering en masse, walking away from tanks and abandoning posts taken up during the attempt. Initially witnesses heard explosions, saw helicopters shooting with tracer rounds. A helicopter flown by rebel forces was shot down by an F-16 flown by loyal forces.
Turkey’s top general Hulusi Akar was taken hostage at the military headquarters in the capital Ankara after the attempt to bring down the government, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. At last report he is still missing.
We have seen noticeable degradation of stability in Turkey, this may be a harbinger of rougher things to come. Erdogan may purge his military of the current conspirators but the underying causes have not changed.
In Erdogan’s speech he mentioned “those in Pennsylvania” referring to Fethullah Gulen, a billionaire living there. Gulen is a cleric and former ally to Erdogan. “The betrayal you have shown to this nation and to this community, that’s enough. If you have the courage, come back to your country. If you can. You will not have the means to turn this country into a mess from where you are,” said Erdogan.
Some believe a successful coup would be a good thing. Erdogan is a populist and an Islamist who came to power promising a bigger religious voice. He has dominated Turkish politics for the last 10 years. Lately he has absorbed more power, taking control of the media, cracking down on protests and pledging to start a new war with the Kurds.
The Turkish military is secularist, as had been the government tradition in Turkey before the rise of Erdogan. A little secularism might be nice in the region.
A coup is especially disturbing since Turkey is a key player in the region, a NATO ally and is in possession of U.S. made tactical nuclear weapons.