Coup Attempt Stopped By Top Turkish Leaders
WASHINGTON – Turkey’s Prime Minister Yinali Bildirim said Friday night had been a “black stain” for Turkish democracy and called on citizens to town and city squares with Turkish flags on Saturday night. The coup had been conducted by a “parallel structure” within the army, he said, according to Reuters. They were now in the hands of Turkish justice, he added, claiming that 2,839 members of the army had been detained.
The coup attempt crumbled after crowds answered President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call to take to the streets and dozens of rebels abandoned their tanks.
Erdogan accused the coup plotters of trying to kill him and launched a purge of the armed forces, which last used force to stage a successful coup more than 30 years ago.
“They will pay a heavy price for this,” Reuters cited Erdogan as saying. “This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.”
Erdogan, who had been holidaying on the southwest coast when the coup was launched, flew into Istanbul before dawn on Saturday and was shown on television outside Ataturk Airport.
Addressing a crowd of thousands of flag-waving supporters at the airport later, Erdogan said the government remained at the helm, although disturbances continued in Ankara.
Erdogan addressed the nation via a video calling service, appearing on the smart phone of a CNN Turk reporter who held it up to a studio camera so viewers to the network could see him.
He said the “parallel structure” was behind the coup attempt — his shorthand for followers of Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric whom he has repeatedly accused of trying to foment an uprising in the military, media and judiciary.
Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, once supported Erdogan but became a nemesis. The pro-Gulen Alliance for Shared Values said it condemned any military intervention in domestic politics, according to Reuters.