When I went to bed last night, Allahpundit was still covering the unfolding events and frequently conflicting regional news reports of the attempted coup in Turkey. By this morning it appeared that the attempt at ousting Erdogan was deadly and well planned, but lacked the full backing of the military or broad public support. And as of this writing, it appears that the effort has failed. For his part, Erdogan is labeling the effort as treason and is promising that the conspirators are going to “pay for this in the harshest way.” (NBC News)
Turkey’s president told the nation Saturday that he is in charge and a coup attempted by elements of the military would fail. Dozens were reportedly killed in gunfire and clashes overnight.
President Tayyip Erdogan blamed a” “minority within the military” in a televised address to the country after landing at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport at around 4 a.m. Saturday local time (9 p.m. Friday ET).
“They are going to pay for this in the harshest way,” Erdogan vowed.
Erdogan said he was on vacation in Marmaris when the attempted coup unfolded, and after he left F-16 fighter jets bombed the area where he stayed.
As is so common in the 21st century, there was live coverage of the brief state of war. (The revolution will be televised.) This clip from CNN delivers the sights and sounds of gunfire erupting in the streets.
Perhaps even more alarming is this collection of cell phone video. much from a family in an apartment overlooking the action in Ankara, which shows tanks rolling through the streets and a military helicopter strafing police positions.
Reports of casualties are still vague, with numbers of fatalities ranging from around 160 to nearly 200 being tossed around. Were this some sort of Islamic terror attack, that would be a fairly horrific death toll, but given that this was an attempt at armed insurrection by factions of the army with all that military hardware at their disposal it’s actually a fairly small number. Most of the dead are members of the military and the police. Still, it was a bloody scene in several locations. (Wall Street Journal)
Military commanders loyal to the government are attempting to regain control over the rebel forces’ last remaining strongholds and secure the capital, the official said.
Turkey’s acting chief of military staff, Gen. Umit Dundar, said on television Saturday morning saying that Turkey had repelled the coup attempt.
A total of 104 coup plotters and 90 others died in events related to the attempted coup, including 41 police officers, two members of the military and 47 civilians, Gen. Dundar said. More than 1,500 members of the military were detained as part of an investigation into the coup attempt, he said.
While both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton immediately came out in support of the “democratically elected government” of Turkey, I’ve had more than a few complaints with Erdogan’s government for some time now. Their actions rarely match up with our normal ideas of democracy, particularly when it comes to the individual freedoms of the Turkish people. You may recall when Turkish television news anchor Sedef Kabaş spoke out about an investigation into corruption by certain members of the Turkish parliament which had been mysteriously dropped by a judge. She wound up getting a five year jail sentence for her efforts. Erdogan is also on record as stating that of course women can’t be equal to men. The list goes on.
As allies go, our alliance with Turkey has been one of either convenience or desperation, depending on your point of view. They’ve been itching to become part of the EU, but they don’t truly seem to embrace western values. In terms of the war against Islamic terror in general and ISIS in particular, Turkey has been a lukewarm ally at best. Erdogan has consistently seemed to be more interested in crushing the Kurds than taking out the actual terrorists and he’s been a chief facilitator in funneling Syrian and Iraqi terrorists into Europe.
Still, supporting the violent overthrow of an ostensibly stable government by the military rubs us the wrong way as well. It may have worked out fairly well in Egypt – at least in the short term – but it’s rarely a situation which bodes well for human rights and freedom over the long run. But would we really have been that bad off if the Turkish coup had succeeded? Getting someone a bit less Islamist in their thinking at the helm in Turkey would be a plus, but I’m also fairly sure that a seriously bloody and protracted civil war might have ensued. From that perspective, a marginal ally in the region is still vastly superior to a completely failed state. I suppose that will remain one of those known unknowns at this point and we’ll be going back to the status quo for the time being. (Except, of course, for those who are suspected of having supported the coup. They’ve got a hard road ahead of them, I’m sure.)
The article previously referenced NATO instead of the European Union and was corrected.