Failed coup strengthens Turkey’s president as crowds celebrate

ANKARA, Turkey — Rather than toppling Turkey’s strongman president, a failed military coup that left more than 250 dead appears to have bolstered Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s immediate grip on power and boosted his popularity.

Tens of thousands marched through the streets in half a dozen Turkish cities late Saturday, waving flags and singing songs in an emotional outpouring of support for the long-time leader as security forces rounded up military personnel it branded coup supporters and launched a purge of judges seen as government opponents.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the perpetrators of Friday’s failed coup “will receive every punishment they deserve,” and the government said it would take steps toward extraditing a U.S.-based cleric it accused of fomenting the uprising.

The government threat of further crackdowns raised concerns over the future of democracy in Turkey, which has long prided itself in its democratic and secular traditions despite being in a tumultuous region swept by conflict and extremism.

The coup attempt began late Friday with tanks rolling into the streets of the capital, Ankara, and Istanbul as Erdogan was enjoying a seaside vacation. Explosions and gunfire erupted throughout the night.

It quickly became clear, however, that the military was not united in the effort to overthrow the government. In a dramatic iPhone interview broadcast on TV, Erdogan urged his supporters into the streets to confront the troops and tanks, and forces loyal to the government began reasserting control.

The unrest claimed at least 265 lives, according to a tally compiled from official statements. Yildirim said 161 people were killed and 1,440 wounded in the process of putting down the coup attempt. Turkey’s acting chief of the general staff, Gen. Umit Dundar said at least 104 “coup plotters” had died.

Before the weekend’s chaos, Turkey — a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State group — had been wracked by political turmoil that critics blamed on Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule. He has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissidents, restricted the news media and renewed fighting with Kurdish rebels.

By Saturday afternoon, when tensioned eased, an atmosphere of celebration broke around as Turks answered official calls to rally in the squares to protect Turkish democracy. Thousands gathered in major cities singing and waving Turkish flags while others held prayers in support of Erdogan and chanted “God is great.”

In Istanbul, crowds gathered at Taksim Square, where a man stood on an iconic monument with a Turkish flag draped on his chest.

Government supporters marched through Ankara as cars honked in apparent approval. Some gathered outside parliament and amid the burnt cars outside the presidential palace. One man took a selfie with a Turkish police officer standing atop an abandoned tank.

“We are here for democracy, so the country lasts,” retired soldier Nusret Tuzak said at the Ankara gathering.

By late Saturday afternoon, flights had resumed into Istanbul’s international airport after being halted for nearly 24 hours. Mostly national carriers were flying into Istanbul, but other airlines preferred to wait another day to test the precarious security situation. Late Saturday, the usually buzzing airport was eerily quiet with some stranded travelers sitting on the floors of the largely empty terminals.


 

In an usual show of unity, Turkey’s four main political parties released a joint declaration during an extraordinary parliamentary meeting Saturday, denouncing the coup attempt and claiming that any moves against the people or parliament will be met “with the iron will of the Turkish Grand National Assembly resisting them.”

Turkey’s NATO allies lined up to condemn the coup attempt. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged all sides to support Turkey’s democratically elected government.

Erdogan’s survival has turned him into a “sort of a mythical figure” and could further erode democracy in Turkey, said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish research program at The Washington Institute.

“It will allow him (Erdogan) to crack down on liberty and freedom of association, assembly, expression and media in ways that we haven’t seen before and find strong public support within the country,” he said.

Government forces arrested 2,839 accused coup supporters, Yildirim said. Dundar, the general, said the plotters were mainly officers from the Air Force, the military police and armored units.

Anadolu Agency said the government dismissed 2,745 judges across Turkey. Two constitutional court judges were also detained over their alleged role in the coup attempt, according to a Turkish official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity.

Officials accused the judges and the coup plotters of being loyal to moderate cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan has often accused of attempting to overthrow the government. Gulen, a staunch democracy advocate who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, is a former Erdogan ally turned bitter foe who has been put on trial in absentia in Turkey. At a news conference in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Gulen strongly denied any role in or knowledge of the coup.

Ankara recently classified his movement as a terrorist organization. Washington, however, has never found any evidence particularly compelling previously against the cleric.

In a televised speech Saturday, Erdogan called on the United States to extradite Gulen, saying Turkey had never turned back any extradition request for “terrorists” by the United States. A Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations, said Turkey was preparing a formal extradition application.


 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would entertain an extradition request for Gulen, but Turkey would have to present “legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny.”

Gulen himself condemned the coup.

“Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force,” he said. “As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations.”

Fadi Hakura, a Turkey expert at the Chatham House think tank in London, said the attempted coup appeared to have been “carried out by lower-ranking officers.”

“Their main gripe seems to have been President Erdogan’s attempt to transform his office into a powerful and centralized executive presidency,” Hakura said. “In the short term, this failed coup plot will strengthen President Erdogan.”

Turkey’s military staged three coups between 1960 and 1980 and pressured Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, a pious mentor of Erdogan, out of power in 1997.

Turkey has allowed American jets to use its Incirlik air base to fly missions against the Islamic State group in neighboring Syria and Iraq. The Pentagon said U.S. warplanes stopped flying those missions from Incirlik after the Turkish government closed its airspace to military aircraft during the attempted coup. U.S. officials were working with Turkish officials to get permission to resume air operations as soon as possible.

News
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students. Educators from around the State are bringing the Red for Ed movement to the steps of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, NV, and to the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Nature Conservancy Ranch
The Nature Conservancy just bought the 900-acre 7J Ranch at the headwaters of the Amargosa River, north of Beatty. The property could become a research station, though ranching will continue.
Swift water rescue at Durango Wash in Las Vegas
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, at approximately 8:42 a.m., the Clark County Fire Department responded to a report of a swift water incident where people were trapped in the Durango wash which is located near 8771 Halcon Ave. Personnel found one person who was trapped in the flood channel. The individual was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Video by Clark County Fire & Rescue.
Flooding at E Cheyenne in N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Quick Weather Around the Strip
Rain hits Las Vegas, but that doesn't stop people from heading out to the Strip. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries. The Cleveland Clinic will begin researching the brains of retired bull riders to understand the impact traumatic brain injuries have on cognition. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Matt Stutzman shoots arrows with his feet
Matt Stutzman who was born without arms shoots arrows with his feet and hits the bullseye with remarkable accuracy. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Secretary of Air Force Emphasizes the Importance of Nellis AFB
US Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Nellis Air Force Base during Red Flag training and described how important the base is to the military.
Former Northwest Academy student speaks out
Tanner Reynolds, 13, with his mother Angela McDonald, speaks out on his experience as a former student of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff member Caleb Michael Hill. Hill, 29, was arrested Jan. 29 by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of child abuse.
Former Northwest Academy students speak out
Tristan Groom, 15, and his brother Jade Gaastra, 23, speak out on their experiences as former students of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff and excessive medication.
Disruption At Metro PD OIS Presser
A man claiming to be part of the press refused to leave a press conference at Metro police headquarters, Wednesday January 30, 2019. Officers were forced to physically remove the man. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience after the city began operating around the clock. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas parts ways with operator of homeless courtyard
Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher discusses the transition between operators of the homeless courtyard in Las Vegas, Thursday Jan. 24, 2019.(Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police and Raiders partner with SafeNest
Las Vegas police and the Raiders partner with SafeNest on Project Safe 417 (the police code for domestic violence is 417). The program partners trained SafeNest volunteer advocates with Metropolitan Police Department officers dispatched to domestic violence calls, allowing advocates to provide immediate crisis advocacy to victims at the scene of those calls. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
North Las Vegas police chief discusses officer-involved shooting
North Las Vegas police chief Pamela Ojeda held a press conference Thursday, Jan. 24, regarding an officer-involved shooting that took place on Jan. 21. The incident resulted in the killing of suspect Horacio Ruiz-Rodriguez. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Volunteers gather for annual Clark County homeless count
Volunteers gather for the annual Southern Nevada Homeless Census, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
People in Mesquite deal with a massive power outage
People in Mesquite respond to a major power outage in the area on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Group helping stranded motorists during power outage
A group of Good Samaritans are offering free gas to people in need at the Glendale AM/PM, during a massive power outage near Mesquite on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen falls at Las Vegas parade
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada fell and injured her wrist at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Las Vegas on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local astronomers host super blood wolf moon viewing
The Las Vegas Astronomical Society paired with the College of Southern Nevada to host a lunar eclipse viewing Sunday night. Known as the super blood wolf moon, the astronomical event won't occur for another 18 years. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The third annual Women’s March in Las Vegas
The third annual Women’s March in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @btesfaye
First former felon to work for Nevada Department of Corrections
After his father died, Michael Russell struggled for years with drug addiction. When he finally decided to change for good, he got sober and worked for years to help others. Now he is the first former felon to be hired by the Nevada Department of Corrections. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing