Coup could have been staged: Gülen
The Turkish military has always felt confident to intervene in politics. Source: Flickr
Fethullah Gülen, the reclusive cleric blamed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for Friday’s failed coup, believes the uprising could have been “staged” by the authorities.
He told journalists at his home in Pennsylvania that he was not behind the coup.
“I don’t believe that the world believes the accusations made by President Erdoğan,” Gülen explained. “There is a possibility that it could be a staged coup and it could be meant for further accusations [against the Gülenists].”
Gülen, head of the exiled Hizmet movement, fell out with Erdoğan over a corruption scandal in 2013. Erdoğan called on the US to arrest Gülen and deport him to Turkey. Ankara had never rejected an extradition request for “terrorists” by Washington, Erdoğan said, adding: “I say if we are strategic partners then you should bring about our request.”
No official extradition request had been made, according to the US.
The coup attempt started when bridges over the Bosphorus in Istanbul were blocked by troops on Friday. Fighter jets and helicopters were seen flying over Ankara and gunfire was heard. A faction of the army told a state broadcaster that it had seized power to protect democracy.
In response, Erdogan called on supporters to protest and returned to Ankara from a holiday resort. During the violent night, television stations were raided by troops, explosions were heard in Istanbul and Ankara, demonstrators and government buildings were fired upon, a military helicopter was shot down and Turkey’s military was chief taken hostage.
On Saturday morning, soldiers began to surrender and abandon their tanks.
Around 3,000 alleged coup backers appear to have been detained, including senior officers. It is reported that some troops claimed they were told they were taking part in military exercises and did not know a coup was being planned.
Scenes were most dramatic in Ankara where there was gunfire on the streets, tanks deployed, jets flew low over government buildings and helicopters fired on the parliament.
The MPs tweeted that they were in shelters.
The BBC’s Selin Girit said: “It was a significant moment, symbolising the wound opened in the heart of Turkish democracy. Almost everything was live on air. President Erdogan’s in-vision call to a news channel was one of the iconic moments, when he called on everyone to take to the streets. Many imams repeated his call from mosques via megaphones.”