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Many Who Opposed Coup in Turkey Came Out in Support of Democratic Process, not the President

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Turkey remains in a state of crisis three days after soldiers staged an attempted coup commandeering tanks, attack helicopters and fighter jets in a bid to seize power. The coup began while Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was vacationing at a seaside resort. The mutinous faction of the military said it had taken action to protect democracy from Erdogan. In the midst of the coup, Erdogan spoke to the nation via the FaceTime app on his iPhone after he narrowly escaped being captured by soldiers who arrived at his seaside hotel just after he left. He called on his supporters to take to the streets in protest, and returned to Istanbul. Since the coup failed, Turkey has arrested 6,000 people, including senior members of the judiciary and military. We go to Istanbul to speak with Koray Çaliskan, associate professor of political science at Bogaziçi University. "It may be an opportunity to build democratic institutions of this country, after the country has stood firmly together," Çaliskan says.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Turkey remains in a state of crisis three days after soldiers staged an attempted coup, commandeering tanks, attack helicopters and fighter jets in a bid to seize power. More than 290 people were killed, around 1,400 wounded, Friday night. The coup began while Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Recep Tayypip Erdogan, was vacationing at a seaside resort. The mutinous faction of the military said it had taken action to protect democracy from Erdogan. In the midst of the coup, Erdogan spoke to the nation via the FaceTime app on his iPhone after he narrowly escaped being captured by soldiers, who arrived at his seaside hotel just after he left. Once the coup was defeated, he addressed the nation again.

PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: [translated] There is no power that is above national will in this country. As the president of this country, I can say that members of the party that I am the founder of will be hand in hand with our people in the city squares, and punish those that are responsible. The people of this country also want to punish them, and custody orders are out also. Turkey is neither a country that can be celled easily with these riots, nor a country that can be managed by Pennsylvania. Only our 45 million voters can manage this country. Like our prime minister just said, these tanks are not theirs. They are this country’s. And we know how to stop them. We are not afraid of them.

AMY GOODMAN: Since the coup failed, Turkey has arrested 6,000 people, including senior members of the judiciary and military. President Erdogan blamed U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen for orchestrating the attempted coup. Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania, has denied any involvement. President Erdogan has said his government may consider reinstating the death penalty to punish those responsible. More than 6,000 people were arrested.

To talk more about the attempted coup and its implications, we’re going directly to Istanbul, where we’re joined by Koray Çaliskan, professor of political science at Bogaziçi University.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Koray Çaliskan.

KORAY ÇALISKAN: Good morning, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what happened this weekend?

KORAY ÇALISKAN: Good morning, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Can you talk about what happened over the weekend, the attempted coup?

KORAY ÇALISKAN: On Friday night at around 10:00, we began to hear rumors that the army blocked the main bridges in Istanbul, the two bridges, which are like Verrazano and George Washington bridges in New York, which was kind of strange because of traffic blocks. I mean, these bridges are only blocks; no one can cross them because of the traffic. And then it turned out that a small group within the army kidnapped chiefs of staff and plotted a coup in the country by controlling parts of the gendarmerie—rural police, rural military police force and a part of the air force. Immediately after they tried that, the head of the army in Istanbul, the general who is commanding the largest army in Istanbul, said that the army was against the coup, and they did not represent soldiers and the chiefs of staff. And he single-handedly cleaned the airport in Istanbul and contacted Erdogan, while he was vacationing with his family, to leave the place and then move to Istanbul, escorted by F-16 fighter jets. And this is how they managed to save Erdogan and bring him to Istanbul. If they didn’t, we learned later, that 62 minutes after Erdogan left, three Sikorsky helicopters arrived in the hotel that he was staying and stormed the hotel, killed two security guards and tried to find where Erdogan was, and bombed the place where he stayed.

So, this coup, actually, the first aim of the coup was not to control the entire country, because the Gülenist plotters were not powerful enough to control the country, even put together a coup, even to convince the majority of the army to be able to pursue their ends. I believe their main objective was to create chaos by either kidnapping or assassinating the president, so that the country could be in turmoil, after which they hoped to control the government and the rest of the army, which wouldn’t happen in any case, because Turkish civil society, Turkish political society, pro-Kurdish party, Nationalist party, Social Democratic Party, they all sided with democracy, condemned the coup attempt, and they showed a great democratic maturity to stand against the coup. All they could have managed was to create a huge turmoil, an unbelievable turmoil in this country, and careless, which would claim thousands of people in front of tanks, panicking soldiers.

Many of the soldiers who were on the streets didn’t know that it was a coup. They were told that there was a terror attack. They were told that there were military maneuvers. And they were also clearly shocked. So this was mostly planned, it seems, by elite Gülenist officers in the army, supported some by officers who thought that they might have benefited from this coup d’état. However, the majority of the army, the entire civil society, the media, pro or against Erdogan media, and the political society stood firmly against this coup attempt. And this was the second failed coup attempt in the history of Europe after 1981 coup attempt, a failed coup attempt, in Spain, as you’d remember. So, I believe we saved this beautiful country, and things may develop differently. After today, it may be an opportunity to build democratic institutions of this country, after the country stood firmly together against this terrible coup attempt that started on Friday night and ended in the early hours of Saturday.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally—finally, the call by Erdogan for the extradition of Gülen from the Poconos in Pennsylvania, who he says is behind the coup? And we just have 30 seconds.

KORAY ÇALISKAN: United States already told Turkish government that they are expecting a firm proof that Gülenists were against it. I don’t recall any large critique of such a perspective in the country. Those who are pro or against Erdogan seem to be—arrived at the conclusion that Gülenists were behind that coup. And the government is going to present the U.S. government with proofs of that plot. If this happens, I believe the United States should have to send Gülen to Turkey.

AMY GOODMAN: Koray Çaliskan, we want thank you very much for being with us, associate professor of political science at Bogaziçi University in Istanbul. In our second hour, we’ll get another perspective. That does it for our show. Happy birthday to Paul Huckeby. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.

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