The Guardian recounts the events during the coup attempt in Turkey: President Erdoğan himself was at the resort of Marmaris, but had left the residence where he was staying some 20 minutes before coup plotters attacked it. Around 25 soldiers in helicopters descended on a hotel there on ropes, shooting, in an apparent attempt to seize him just after Erdoğan had left, broadcaster CNN Turk said.
But as he flew from Marmaris on a business jet, two F-16 fighter jets locked their radar targeting system on the president’s plane, according to an account first reported by Reuters and later confirmed to the Guardian.
The jets didn’t fire after the presidential plane’s pilot told the fighter jet pilots over the radio that it was a Turkish Airlines flight, a senior counter-terrorism official told the Guardian.
But that came later. At around 9pm, General Mehmet Dişli, the brother of a long-serving MP with the ruling AK party, allegedly gave the order that set the coup in motion, sending army special forces officers to arrest the military’s senior command. Tanks began rolling out into the streets of Ankara, and an hour later they had closed down Istanbul’s Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges.
Cemalettin Haşimi, a senior adviser of prime minister Binali Yıldırım, watched it all with a sense of foreboding. At 10.24pm, after surveying besieged Ankara, he walked into the office of the prime ministry’s undersecretary.
“Is it real?” he asked.
“Yes, it’s real,” came the reply. “But we are not sure if it’s within the chain of command or just a group in the army.”
By 10.37pm they had conferred with Yıldırım, who was in Istanbul, deciding to declare it an attempted coup on national television. They called TRT, but 10 minutes later the channel was overrun. So Haşimi called the private channel NTV, and minutes later Yıldırım was denouncing the plot.
Meanwhile, there were chaotic scenes in Ankara and Istanbul. A statement appeared on the military’s website and was circulated by email declaring it had taken control to restore democracy, feeding into the fears of government officials who worried the military chain of command had endorsed the takeover. Haşimi claimed that judges aligned with the coup had begun calling on associates to adhere to the military’s demands.
The national intelligence building and the police headquarters were attacked from the air. In the latter, helicopters had targeted the intelligence department in the top three floors of the facility, unleashing a hail of shattered glass and concrete that still scars the building.
“It was a nightmare,” said Murat Karakullukcu, a police official who spent the night at the headquarters through the attack and had served at UN peacekeeping missions in Kosovo. “Our first thought was how to survive, and then we started shooting at the helicopters with small arms.”
Back at the prime ministry, despair was setting in. They had resolved to make a final stand in the parliament, when Erdoğan appeared on a live broadcast at 12.37am on a reporter’s iPhone, exhorting the people to defend democracy.
“What is FaceTime? Why don’t I have it?” asked one of the ministers in attendance.
“That was the moment when the psychology were reversed and we thought we were going to win,” said Haşimi. [Continue reading…]