After a wild night that saw helicopters attacking the streets, civilians clashing with soldiers, and reported chaos in the capital of Ankara, Turkish citizens were greeted with the sight of soldiers surrendering on the Bosphorus Bridge. What didn’t greet them are answers for what to expect in the wake of the now failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday.
The “uprising” as it’s been called by the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul began on Friday evening with Erdogan fleeing on a private jet and providing a statement on Turkish television via Facetime — an odd point that caught the focus of some online at the time. Gunfire and attempts to take control of the media followed, with many behind the coup facing resistance from government forces and citizens that took to the street behest of Erdogan’s televised messaged. If it seems confusing, that’s because it is.
Early reports from the government stated that close to 100 had been arrested, with 60 dead as a result of the attempted power grab. By daybreak, numerous soldiers had been detained and pro-government forces had put an end to hostilities in Istanbul and within the capital. The final tally according to the New York Times has ballooned to a possible 2,839 military personnel being detained and several more being added to the body count:
265 people had been killed and 1,440 wounded. Seventeen police officers were killed in a helicopter attack on the outskirts of Ankara, and 12 people were killed after a bomb was detonated at Parliament.
With Erdogan still firmly in power, it leaves his role and strategy for the future up in the air. Fethullah Gulen, a “US-based Turkish religious scholar and political enemy of Recep Tayyip Erdogan” according to Quartz denied his involvement in the coup and condemned the actions of the soldiers involved. This doesn’t change his opposition to Erdogan or the criticism that many levied against the leader’s increasingly dictatorial and autocratic qualities. There are reportedly even some who feel that the entire event has been staged by the government in order to purge critics from the military and consolidate power.
No matter what the truth turns out to be, the realities of what is happening on the street has been in full view of the entire world thanks to social media. Reports of soldiers being beheaded, beaten, and stripped of their uniforms has spread online. There’s also video showing helicopters firing down and tanks barreling through the streets of the capital at the height of the coup. There are even reports that some pockets of fighting continue in several smaller areas of the nation this morning.