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Turkish President Urges Supporters To Protest Apparent Military Coup


There are crowds gathering now in the streets of Istanbul as the military says it has taken over the government in a coup. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to CNN Turk through a cell phone, urging people to take to the streets. In the capital of Ankara, there are reports of gunfire and an explosion. Asli Aydintasbas is in Ankara. She is a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and joins us now. Hello there.


SHAPIRO: Have you heard any of the gunfire or explosions that we are seeing reports about?

AYDINTASBAS: We've heard a bit of gunfire. I live on the Bosphorus in Istanbul. And we've also heard fighter jets flying across about an hour ago - several rounds, actually. There are reports of people. Erdogan was just on television. He has gone on one of the networks via a cell phone, actually, and he called on his supporters to get on the streets.

SHAPIRO: And are people doing that?

AYDINTASBAS: Well, it's hard to say. I mean, some people are, and - but it's hard to say how many. I - I haven't seen really too many people in terms of the footage. Some networks particularly close to Erdogan are showing people on the streets, but not - we're not talking about thousands of people. So it's hard to say. I think we heard a communique from a group, a military council which is called Peace at Home Council, and they said the Turkish - Turkish Armed Forces has taken over. And they said it was for democracy and human rights and because the constitutional order had been put on hold.

SHAPIRO: And so, if I understand this correctly, it sounds like the military and the government are each claiming to be in charge and each urging people to come to their support. Is that what's happening?

AYDINTASBAS: No. The military has said we have taken over. The government has come out and said - both Erdogan and other ministers that are on the air are saying it's a minority group within the military, it's not sanctioned by the chain of command and that people should resist. So the military statement said, have taken over. It's to impose democracy and human rights and because the Constitution has been put on hold. And they said we're going to impose a curfew, et cetera.

And then, shortly thereafter, we heard from the government people and Erdogan himself saying this is a minority within the military and that people should get out on the streets and resist and also that they should get to the airport and to city centers. Erdogan is - I think had been on vacation, so he still is not in Ankara or Istanbul, where he has residences. And we do not know his location. But it's clear that the government is going to try to use the police force to counter the sort of effort to take over.

What we do not know is what branches of the military are involved, whether or not this is the military - you know, Turkish armed forces en masse or certain groups within the military. What is said - unconfirmed - that the armed forces and (unintelligible) armory is involved, but we don't know...

SHAPIRO: All right...

AYDINTASBAS: ...Whether or not land forces are actually part of this coup.

SHAPIRO: Many unanswered questions. Thank you. Asli Aydintasbas is a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, speaking with us from the capital of Turkey, Ankara. Thanks very much.

AYDINTASBAS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.