The Turkish military has deployed onto the streets of Istanbul, blocking off the main bridges to Europe, with tanks rumbling down main thoroughfares and fighter jets flying over traffic. The Turkish Prime Minister has appeared on television, describing it as as a coup d’etat attempt. UPDATING
FINAL UPDATE 12:05 a.m. Eastern: The coup d’etat, launched by what looks to be a faction of the Turkish military, appears to be fizzling out, reports the Associated Press. There are reports of sporadic fighting going on, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is – for the moment, at least – alive, well, and on Turkish soil. It’s unclear as to what level of control over the country he currently maintains, but an outpouring of popular opposition to a military uprising on the streets of major cities like Istanbul and Ankara appears to have bolstered his rule. Turkish broadcasters report that at least 42 were killed, and hundreds more were injured. The original post follows below.
Gunfire has been heard in the Turkish capital of Ankara as well, Reuters reports.
The Turkish military is out in force throughout Istanbul, though it’s unclear at the moment who is in control:
Since modern Turkey’s original transition to democracy since 1945, it has suffered coups in 1960, 1971, 1980, and 1997. As Wonkblog’s Matt O’Brien pointed out, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly aired his concerns about a possible military coup as little as two months ago, the Wall Street Journal reported:
Turkey’s military, which has forced four civilian governments from power since 1960, is re-emerging as a pivotal actor alongside Mr. Erdogan, who has long viewed the army as a potentially dangerous adversary.
Mr. Erdogan’s moves to sideline political opponents—he forced out his handpicked prime minister this month amid a power struggle—has cleared the way for Turkey’s generals to play a greater role in shaping Mr. Erdogan’s attempts to extend his global influence.
UPDATE 4:31 p.m. Eastern: It’s unclear at the moment who is in charge of Turkey, but at least some segment of the Turkish military is claiming to have taken power:
UPDATE 4:44 p.m. Eastern: Agence France-Presse reports that a top Turkish general is being “held hostage”:
The U.S. State Department is confirming gunshots in Ankara as well:
Reuters added that the “Turkish military statement” e-mailed to reporters announcing a takeover of the government was “not authorized by military command,” though at the moment it’s difficult to tell what currently constitutes Turkey’s military command.
UPDATE, 5:06 P.M. Eastern: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has issued a statement:
It appears to be the diplomatic equivalent of “huh, well, interesting! Hope everything works out over there.” In the meantime, NBC News is reporting that the U.S. military base at Incirlik has been ordered to a state known as “Force Protection Condition Delta,” which indicates a specific and ongoing threat in the immediate area.
Turkish Twitter users are reporting helicopter gunships opening fire over Ankara as well:
UPDATE 5:31 p.m. EASTERN: Turkish president and (possibly former) near-strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan is apparently calling into local news programs via Facetime:
Erdogan is out of the country on vacation, numerous outlets report. He’s calling on Turkish citizens to move onto public squares and airports, according to CNN Turk. Erdogan is reportedly seeking asylum in Germany:
UPDATE 5:58 p.m. Eastern: Possibly former Turkish President Erdogan has found a proper television camera:
Erdogan’s comments refer to Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish preacher and political leader living in self-imposed exile in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. Erdogan appears to be under the impression that the members of the military taking action are adherents of the Gülen movement, though the specific motivations of the military factions right now are as of yet unclear.
UPDATE 6:14 p.m. Eastern: People are now taking to the streets and organizing in public squares.
UPDATE 6:25 p.m. Eastern:
UPDATE: 6:36 p.m. Eastern:
You can access multiple livestreams from people on the ground via Facebook’s interactive Live map here.
UPDATE 7:28 PM: Multiple reports suggest a Turkish F-16 fighter jet loyal to President Erdogan has shot down a helicopter piloted to anti-Erdogan forces. Tanks in the streets of Istanbul are coming into conflict with protestors, though again, it’s unclear the motivations for each:
The Turkish parliament building has been bombed as well, AFP reports, though the size or scope of the damage is unclear.
UPDATE 8:00 p.m. Eastern: President Erdogan, who was previously reported to be on board a plane and seeking asylum in Germany, is now reported to be onboard a Turkish government Gulfstream jet, tail number THY8456. The jet, if it does indeed contain Erdogan, appears to be circling Turkish airspace outside Istanbul, according to Flightradar24.com:
UPDATE 8:16 PM Eastern: Alexis Tsipiras, the Prime Minister of Greece, just tweeted his stance on the coup attempt:
Greece is Turkey’s traditional rival in the region, and Tsipiras’ expression of support for “democracy and constitutional order” may be interpreted as support for Erdogan, the pseudo-democratically elected leader of Turkey.
UPDATE 8:26 p.m. Eastern: The bombing of parliament proved fatal for 14 police officers, NPR reports via Turkish state media. A local news channel managed to get footage as the bomb exploded:
Footage from inside is harrowing:
CNN Turk appears to be in the process of being forced off the air:
Soldiers are said to have entered the office of Hurriyet, a major Turkish media outlet, as well:
Emre Kizilkaya, a reporter for Hurriyet, managed to sneak a photo from inside its offices:
UPDATE 9:00 p.m. Eastern: The New York Times is reporting that Erdogan’s plane has landed in Istanbul. One member of parliament is said to be dead, and the stream for CNN Turk continues to air footage of an empty studio, as chaos, protests, and chanting can be heard outside:
On the streets of Ankara, a military helicopter could be seen firing at civilians:
UPDATE 9:19 p.m. Eastern: President Erdogan is speaking live on Turkish television from Istanbul:
Erdogan said that some “rotten apples” needed to be dealt with, according to a CBSN translation, and that it presents an opportunity to “clean up” the military.
Fethullah Güllen’s organization, which Erdogan blamed for the coup attempt, just released a statement condemning the coup attempt:
Though elements of the Turkish government are trying to temper the events, claiming that the coup is mostly over, it sounds like it’s still very much ongoing:
President Erdogan says that the Prime Minister has been given orders to “eradicate” the helicopters that are shooting from the air, the AP reports.
Turkish Airlines, the flag carrier of Turkey, released a statement via Twitter opposing the coup:
Our nation has stated a preference for democracy, freedom, and maintaining the integrity of the country. We call upon all citizens who believe in democracy to stand up against this attack on our Parliament and our public representatives.
Turkish Airlines condemns the attempted military coup.
UPDATE 9:45 p.m. Eastern: It looks like President Erdogan is already gearing up for the next few days, weeks, months, and years:
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has, in the meantime, released an essentially meaningless statement expressing, well, I’m not entirely sure. Peace, maybe?
I have just spoken to the Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. I am following events in Turkey closely and with concern. I call for calm and restraint, and full respect for Turkey’s democratic institutions and its constitution. Turkey is a valued NATO Ally.
UPDATE 10:14 p.m. Eastern: At a little past five in the morning, Istanbul time, it sounds as if the coup may be winding down:
UPDATE 10:42 p.m. Eastern: At least 42 people were killed and hundreds have been arrested, according to Turkish broadcaster NTV, citing local prosecutors.
More as we have it.