FAILED COUP Turkey Launches Crackdown

Turkey has launched a political crackdown on the military and judiciary after crushing an attempted coup over the weekend. Western leaders have called on Ankara to demonstrate restraint.
A Turkish special security force member stands guard during a mass funeral on Sunday for the victims of a failed military coup last Friday at the Kocatepe Mosque in Ankara.

Turkish authorities on Sunday continued a sweeping political crackdown in response to a failed military coup, arresting 6,000 soldiers, judges and prosecutors.

Turkey on Saturday said it had put down the attempted coup by a renegade unit within its army, ending a bloody challenge to the rule of President Recip Tayyip Erdogan.

The announcement brought to a swift end a revolt begun Friday night, when the Turkish military on television suddenly announced that it had taken over the country.

Clashes between loyalists and participants in the coup killed more than 290 people, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Another 1,400 were injured.

E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called for "restraint and respect for democratic institutions."

According to reports, a bomb was dropped late Friday near the presidential palace in Ankara, and shooting was heard as military helicopters and fighter jets passed overhead. In Istanbul, paramilitary police blocked both bridges over the Bosphorus with tanks.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was out of the country on Friday evening but returned to Istanbul early Saturday morning, made clear that he remained in power during a statement, saying the military was not in charge.

State news agency Anadolu reported that Mr. Erdogan had urged Turks to “go to the squares” in a video message sent via his mobile phone that was broadcast on national television. He reportedly accused U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen of being behind the coup, and called for him to return to Turkey to face trial. Mr. Gulen, a former ally of Mr. Erdogan, denied involvement in the uprising.

Martial law remained in place at Saturday midday in Turkey. The coup attempt is the country's fourth since 1960. Turkey is struggling on several fronts, with Islamic State terrorism, a flood of refugees from the war in neighboring Syria, and its own conflict with Kurds fighting for independence.

Mr. Erdogan was apparently a focus of the attempted coup as several military helicopters seized by the rebels fired on a hotel in Marmaris, where he was reportedly staying. Police and soldiers exchanged fire at the hotel, though by that time, Mr. Erdogan was already returning to Istanbul.

When the coup was announced, military figures appeared on television saying the army was taking over the country. At the same time, the prime minister, Binali Yildirim, told German broadcaster NTV that while a rebel group had attempted a coup, they would not succeed.

He called for the Turkish public to remain calm while the rebellion was put down.

An emailed statement by the Turkish military was the first news of the coup: “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 statement read.

Concerned about Turkey, a key NATO ally, international leaders rushed to express support for the government. German Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined her support for the elected government.

However Cem Özdemir, a German politician of Turkish descent, commented in an interview with German goverment television channel ARD that while Turkey's problems should be solved by the democratically elected government, he feared the coup would lead to an anti-democratic backlash by the government.

 

Gerd Höhler is a Handelsblatt correspondent based in Greece. Allison Williams contributed to this article. To contact the author: [email protected]