Early in the morning on 16 July, a coup was defeated in Turkey. After seven hours of confrontation, most rebel soldiers had been arrested. The Turkish media reports nearly 200 dead and almost 2,000 arrested around the country. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Fethullah Gülen, his long-time nemesis and an imam now living in the United States, of being behind the coup attempt.
The rebellion started at around 11 p.m. on 15 July. The objective of the soldiers, who had several airplanes, helicopters and tanks at their disposal, was the capture of Turkey’s two main cities – Ankara and Istanbul. The plotters managed to block bridges over the Bosphorus in Istanbul, bomb the parliament building in Ankara with bombs, and seize major media organisations’ headquarters.
It has also been reported that there was an aerial attack on the hotel in Marmaris, a resort city in the southwestern part of the country, where Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had been vacationing shortly before.
After their initial successes, the military announced there had been a transfer of power in the country and declared the need for a democratic government and reforms. However, no one from the highest echelons of military power in Turkey took their side, and the leading opposition parties in the country as well as foreign governments and the European Union refused to support those attempting the coup supposedly aimed at bringing democracy to the country – despite the fact that all of them had previously criticised the current regime in Turkey.
The people also demonstrated a mixed reaction: many took to the streets in support of Erdoğan.
By the middle of the night, the plotters started losing momentum. The Turkish leadership mobilized loyal units of the army and police and, via SMS-mailing lists, called on the citizenry throughout the land to rise in their support.
“What is happening now in Turkey is an act of treason, a mutiny,” said Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Atatürk airport in Istanbul. He placed responsibility on Fethullah Gülen’s “parallel state” organisation. Gülen is a writer and preacher living in the United States as well as a long-time enemy of the president who is considered responsible for all previous attempts to change power in the country. “This is the second war for independence,” stated Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.
In a statement distributed by e-mail, Gülen denied any involvement in the attempted coup.
By 7 a.m. the Turkish authorities managed to reverse the situation completely. Some of the plotters had been killed, and some arrested or taken prisoner. About 2,000 people were arrested around the country. The Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala announced that 29 colonels and 5 generals had been removed from their posts.
According to official sources, approximately 200 people have lost their lives.