Turkey : Latest Updates on Military Coup
Late on Friday afternoon, military vehicles and troops swarmed the Turkish capital of Ankara and its most populous city Istanbul. The country’s Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, has gone on television to announce that this is a coup attempt by at least some portion of the military against the current government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Official military channels issued a statement saying they have seized control of the government.
This has precedent: Since the creation of the modern Turkish state, there have been several successful military coups. We don’t yet know what percentage of the military is involved in this coup, who the leaders are, or how likely they are to succeed.
This is a developing story, and the facts on the ground are likely to change. Here’s what we know and don’t know as of Friday afternoon Eastern time.
What we know
- Around 3:30 PM EST, reports began streaming in on social media of major military operations in Ankara and Istanbul.
- In Ankara, tanks rolled through city streets, planes flew overhead, and military vehicles surrounded Army HQ.
- Istanbul’s two main bridges, the Bosphorus and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet, were blocked off by soldiers. Tanks rolled in to Istanbul’s international airport.
- Around 4 pm, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim went on TV to announce that it is a coup attempt. “A group in the military got engaged in a revolt,” Yildrim said, according to New York Times columnist Mustafa Akyol.Yildrim vowed not to let the coup succeed.
- At around 4:30 pm, a statement sourced to the “Turkish Armed Forces” claimed that the military had seized control of the government.
- The statement suggested the motivation was protecting Turkish democracy: “Turkish Armed Forces have completely taken over the administration of the country to reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedom
- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country’s quasi-authoritarian leader and the real power in Turkey’s government, is currently on vacation, and out of the capital.
- Around 5:30, Erdogan delivered an address to the nation via Skype. It blamed the coup on a “minority member of the military,” and a “parallel structure.” The latter phrase, according to Akyol, is a reference to the Gulenist movement — an influential religious and political movement that used to be aligned with Erdogan but has since turned against him.
- Erdogan encouraged Turks to take to the streets in protest, specifically occupying airports and public squares.
- Turkey’s state news agency claims that the coup leaders have taken the military’s chief of staff captive.
What we don’t know
- Who the coup leaders are, exactly, inside the military.
- How much of the military is on their side versus the government’s
- What faction is currently winning the struggle for control over Turkish institutions.
- Why the coup was launched, aside from the military’s own statement.