ANKARA: Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Saturday 161 people were killed and 1,440 wounded in the coup attempt against the government.
This toll did not appear to include 104 rebel soldiers killed overnight, bringing the overall death toll from the bloodshed to 265.
Yildirim said 2,839 soldiers were detained on suspicion of involvement.
“The situation is completely under control,” he said outside his Cankaya palace in Ankara and flanked by top general Hulusi Akar who was held during the coup attempt. He described the putsch bid as a “black stain” on Turkish democracy.
Yildirim blamed the coup attempt on the supporters of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara has for years accused of working to overthrow the authorities and wants to see brought to justice.
The United States has shown little interest so far to Turkey’s requests for his extradition.
“Fethullah Gulen is the leader of a terrorist organization,” the premier said.
“Whichever country is behind him is not a friend of Turkey and in a serious war against Turkey,” he added.
What prompted the coup?
In recent years, critics, foreign governments and Turkish citizens have expressed concerns about a steady decline into authoritarianism under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Although he won much praise in the first few years after becoming prime minister in 2003, since becoming Turkey’s first directly-elected president in August 2014 Erdogan has been accused of dictatorial ambitions.
Erdogan wants to change Turkey’s constitution, which was installed in 1980 following the last successful military coup, to adopt an American-style presidential system which would give him greater power.
According to Aykan Erdemir, senior fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, the coup was a result of many factors including the military’s fear of the new system.
He explained that the reasons for the coup included “one of the latest developments (that) has been the bill redesigning the high courts as well as Erdogan’s refusal to be impartial”.
Why did the coup fail?
For Sinan Ulgen, director of the Edam think tank and visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, this was not a coup by the full army as in previous cases, but undertaken by a clique who themselves held the top general hostage.
“This was beyond the chain of command — a relatively small group in the army, who even hijacked the military top brass.
“It was not an operation designed by the army and it showed. Without the full support of the army, they lacked the assets and capabilities.”
Erdemir said the era of successful coups — as in 1960, 1971 and 1980 — is over with the public largely hostile to the prospect.
This time the country put on more of a show of solidarity, with even the three opposition parties in parliament swiftly condemning the attempted putsch.
Political parties do not have “fond memories” of the previous coup d’etats given their bitter experiences under military rulers, said Erdemir.
Ulgen added: “When people realized it did not have backing of the army, it was easier to be against the coup.”
Natalie Martin, politics and international relations lecturer at Nottingham Trent University in Britain, said it appeared “almost meant to fail,” something which created suspicions.
“It is entirely possible it’s a false flag coup,” she said. AFP