Turkish Military Claims Full Control, Declares Martial Law

Turkish Military Claims Full Control, Declares Martial Law
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Turkey’s military has said that it has “fully seized control” of running the country in a bid to protect democratic order and to maintain human rights, as state television announced that the military had declared martial law and a curfew.

The military’s claim of control over the country was made in a statement carried by the Dogan News Agency and Turkish television broadcasts late on July 15.

The statement said all of Turkey’s existing foreign relations would be maintained and that the rule of law would be a top priority.

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An announcer speaking on state TRT television said the military had declared martial law and a curfew, news agencies reported

Meanwhile, the state-run Anadolu News Agency reports that senior members of Turkey’s military have been taken hostage at military headquarters in Istanbul — including the Turkish chief of military staff.

However, sources in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said that Erdogan was safe.

Earlier, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said part of Turkey’s military was taking action without following the chain of command in an attempt to seize power.

NTV quoted Yildirim as saying that a military coup attempt was under way “by part of the military.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reported gunfire in Ankara and the deployment of military jets and helicopters that were flying at low altitudes over the Turkish capital.

On Twitter, some Ankara residents said they heard explosions and gunfire in the city before widespread reports that major social networks were inaccessible.

Bridges Closed

The first reports of action by the military faction came from Istanbul, when members of the Turkish army used military vehicles to block off both of the Bosphorus bridges linking the European continent with Asia.

Later, army tanks were deployed at the entrance of Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.

Shortly after that development, all flights in and out Ataturk Airport were cancelled.

Turkey’s army has been methodically marginalized during the last 13 years under President Erdogan’s leadership of the country.

Analysts say Erdogan has long considered the army as a potentially dangerous adversary.

In recent months, steps taken by Erdogan’s to sideline his political opponents in the country have made it possible for Turkey’s military leadership to have a more important role over the Turkish president’s policies.

That has allowed Turkey’s military — which has forced four civilian governments from power since 1960 — to reemerge as important player in the country’s politics alongside of Erdogan.

In May, Erdogan forced the previous Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu from power and replaced him with Yildirim, who is from Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Since then, some former military officers and security analysts have warned that elements in the Turkish military want to stop Erdogan’s growing strength and create a system of checks-and-balances on the presidency.

Speculation about a military coup in Turkey had been rampant in late March before Davutoglu was forced from power.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Dogan News Agency.

Editor’s note:

Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

Originally published by EurasiaNet.org

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