UPDATED at 12:30pm Israel time — “Keep your eyes on Turkey — it’s rapidly emerging as anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israel Islamist dictatorship.”
Readers of this blog may recall that line from a May 12, 2016 column.
Tonight, all eyes are in fact on this Middle Eastern country as dramatic developments unfold. Reports are coming in fast and furious in the last hour that a military coup is underway, apparently to bring down the increasingly dangerous Islamist government.
- Troops and tanks are moving to seize control of the capital city of Ankara, as well as the commercial and tourism capital of Istanbul.
- Fighter jets are reportedly in the air. Military officials say they are moving quickly to wrest control the entire country.
- All flights in and out of the country have been cancelled.
- The military has seized control of the TV and radio stations.
Many questions are being raised.
- Where exactly is Turkish President Recip Erdogan at this hour? (UPDATE: He just gave a brief speech using FaceTime. NBC News reporting that Erdogan is not currently in Turkey — was trying to fly to Germany but was denied permission; may be heading to a Gulf country. )
- Has Erdogan — who had been emerging as a power-hungry Sultan apparently trying to rebuild the glory of the once-mighty Ottoman Empire — truly been removed from power?
- If so, by whom?
- Who exactly is behind the coup?
- What precisely do they want?
- What are the national security and foreign implications for the United States, for Europe, for Israel, and the rest of the Middle East?
- How will the White House handle this crisis?
- How will the American presidential candidates and their top advisors handle it?
It’s a fast-moving story. These are just a few of the many unanswered questions at the moment. Please pray for the people and leaders of Turkey. Pray for the Christians in that country to be light in the darkness.
- Erdogan built a 1,150 room palace — for himself.
- Over the last few years, Erdogan fired or arrested more than 400 Turkish military generals as he tried to consolidate total control.
- In April of 2016, Turkish military leaders had to deny rumors they were preparing for a coup.
- In May 2016, Erdogan sacked Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in order to seize more power and control for himself.
Here’s what we know as of midnight local time here in the region:
“Turkey’s army says it seized power in the country as warplanes flew over the capital and tanks blocked roads in Istanbul,” reports Bloomberg News. “Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his government is still in control and will resist. The army said in an e-mailed statement that it took power to restore freedom and democracy. It said all international agreements will be honored.”
“The coup effort won’t be permitted to succeed, Yildirim told NTV television,” according to Bloomberg. “He said army units have besieged ‘some institutions,’ and he said police — traditionally closer to his government than the army — have been ordered to use arms if necessary. He said the elected government remains in power. It wasn’t immediately clear how much of the country is now under military control.”
“Since 1960, the NATO member has experienced at least three takeovers by the secular-minded army,” Bloomberg noted. “But since the Islamist-rooted Ak Party government came to power in 2002, the political influence of the military has been trimmed.”
“Some people illegally undertook an illegal action outside of the chain of command,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in comments broadcast on NTV, a private television channel. “The government elected by the people remains in charge. This government will only go when the people say so.”
The Times cited Reuters which reported in a short series of bulletins that the military had issued a statement saying it had “taken over” for “democratic order” and that “all existing foreign relations will continue.”
“The whereabouts of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated politics in Turkey for many years and has sought to establish a firm control over the military, was not immediately clear,” the Times added. “Military forces shut two bridges over the Bosporus in Istanbul, and fighter jets were seen flying over Istanbul and Ankara, the capital. The main airport in Istanbul was reported to have halted flights.”
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