Turkey Still On Edge After Attempted Coup

Jul 16, 2016
Originally published on July 16, 2016 4:08 pm
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We'll start this program in Turkey, where an attempted military coup appears to have failed. The events began Friday night when soldiers and tanks appeared on the streets. There were intense clashes between branches of the security forces and some civilians. Various official tallies report that from 160 to more than 260 people were killed.

President Obama and other world leaders are calling for calm as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to be in control once again. He's promised to punish those behind the attempted coup, and he seems to be starting.

We're joined now by NPR's Leila Fadel in Istanbul. Leila, thanks so much for joining us.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Thank you.

MARTIN: What's it like there now?

FADEL: Well, outside the Ataturk Airport, it's a really festive atmosphere - hundreds of people wearing flags, waving flags, saying God is great - that same scene in the center of the city, in Taksim Square. And also people driving through the streets honking horns, saying that they saved the country's democracy. They saved the country, and they're out to show solidarity and celebrate the country, but away from those scenes of festivities, a sense of sadness and great tension. I spoke to one man who told me, our soldiers are really honest and really good. I don't trust our president. And he seemed really genuinely afraid of what will happen next.

MARTIN: To that end, the president Erdogan has vowed to punish those responsible. Has he taken any steps to do that so far? What's he done?

FADEL: So far, we've seen thousands of troops detained in bases around the country, including some top-ranking commanders, two top-ranking ground commanders, nearly 3,000 judges who were suspended because they're linked to what Erdogan says are the people who plotted the coup against him.

He's also calling for the extradition of a Turkish cleric who is in Pennsylvania who he says is behind the plan to overthrow him.

MARTIN: So those are some sweeping moves. Have you been able to discern how people feel about that? How are they responding to the steps that he's taken so far?

FADEL: Well, what I've found so far is a country that's divided. Erdogan came into power with the slim majority. He's ruled, but his opponents are worried about the amassing of his power. His critics say that year after year, he goes after his opponents in a more harsh way, going after journalists, labeling his opponents terrorists, assassins. And so those who don't support him worry that this attempted coup is a pretext for him to have an even bigger crackdown. So there is a lot of concern.

There is also a lot of true celebration and happiness that this democracy was saved, that this was a victory. And so what - you're seeing both of these things. So you're seeing a divided society and a divided military.

And one thing I also noticed is that a lot of people who are not in the square celebrating that we spoke to had some hope that maybe this coup would actually work. They wanted it. Some people - we have to acknowledge that.

And there was a sadness when they saw soldiers surrendering on TV. Turks have a lot of pride in their army.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Leila Fadel in Istanbul. Leila, thank you.

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