World

Lahore (Web Desk) – Military jets were seen flying over Ankara while the Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogan was on holiday at the Turkish coastal resort city of Marmaris on July 15th, 11 PM local time. The heightened military movements turned out to be part of a coup attempt on the democratically elected government of Tayyip Erdogan.

The attempt was carried out by a faction of the Turkish Army that had taken the Army’s Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar hostage at the military headquarters in Ankara, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.

Reuters reported that at 00:02 local time, Turkish soldiers overrun the buildings of the Turkish state broadcaster, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), in Ankara forcing anchor Tijen Karaş to read out a statement saying that “the democratic and secular rule of law has been eroded by current government” and that Turkey was now led by a “peace council” who would “ensure safety of the population.”

Responding to the first news of the attempted coup, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said military action was being “taken outside the chain of command,” and that it was an “illegal attempt” to seize power by “part of the military.” The statement read in part, “Turkish Armed Forces have completely taken over the administration of the country to reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedoms, the rule of law and general security that was damaged. All international agreements are still valid. We hope that all of our good relationships with all countries will continue.”

The plotters stated that they had “done so to preserve democratic order, and that the rule of law must remain a priority.” The statement also ordered temporary martial rule, and claimed a new constitution would be prepared “as soon as possible.” TRT was then taken off the air.

Immediately after the attempted attack on the Turkish democracy, the President flew to Istanbul where, surrounded by his supporters, he announced that the government is still in power and those who perpetrated ‘treason’ shall be punished severely. The Turkish President used iPhone’s Facetime app to deliver a statement, which was broadcasted live by CNN Türk.

“Go to the streets and give them their answer, I am coming to a square in Ankara,” he said. This was the call that the people of Turkey needed. Within minutes, Erdogan’s supporters were on the streets, standing in front of the rebel tanks and facing bullets. The resistance of the people of Turkey turned out to be the decisive factor in restoring democracy to the country.

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Prominent military figures also spoke out against the coup, including the commander of the First Army, Gen. Umit Guler, who issued a statement saying, “The armed forces do not support this movement comprised of a small group within our ranks.”

The Turkish police played a crucial role in stomping out the rebellion. While the Turkish people flooded the streets in support of democracy, the Turkish police were involved in firefights with the rebel factions. On the Basphorous bridge, the Turkish police arrested scores of rebel soldiers armed with tanks. Images of soldiers surrendering to the police gave more strength to pro-democracy protesters on the streets, many of whom played their part by surrounding any rebel soldiers they could find on the streets.

Turkey’s Airforce also had to role to play in quashing the rebellion. After the rebel military helicopters took flight to bomb key government buildings, the Turkish Airforce jets scrambled to bring order back into the country. The Turk F-16 jets flew low over Ankara, decisively bombing key rebel targets, including rebel tanks and helicopters, on the ground and in the air.

Reuters reported that in the early hours of 16 July (local time), the coup appeared to have “crumbled” as crowds defied pro-coup military orders and gathered in major squares of Istanbul and Ankara to oppose the coup. Reuters also reported pro-coup soldiers surrendering to the police in Taksim Square, Istanbul. By morning, save for some pockets of rebel resistance in some areas of Ankara and Istanbul, the Turkish government was back in power. According to Turkey’s justice ministry, 1374 members of the armed forces were taken into custody over the coup attempt.

So far 90 people have been killed and over 1000 injured.

Erdogan has vowed to cleanse the military of ‘traitorous elements’ and further strengthen the Turkish democracy.

The coup attempt, even though failed, will have a far-reaching impact on the politics of Turkey and the Middle East. Amid rising tensions between the Pakistani military and the democratically elected government, segments of the media are already presenting the events in Turkey as an example to any elements who may be considering a similar course of action in Pakistan.

Sources: Reuters, CNN Turk, BBC, TRT.