Turkey’s government has filed charges against 99 generals and admirals in connection with the military coup last weekend, bringing the total number of people arrested, fired, or suspended to over 50,000.
Some of Turkey’s soldiers involved in the coup are essentially claiming to have been duped, attacking Erdogan’s vacation hotel on Friday because they were told an “important terrorist leader” was the target.
The BBC notes that almost a third of Turkey’s top military officers are charged with participating in the coup, and the purge probably isn’t over yet, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan contemplates further “emergency measures.”
Among those measures was a scramble of Turkish F-16 fighter jets, reportedly to intercept two Turkish coast guard vessels that were seeking escape to Greek waters.
Hurriyet Daily News reported on the Turkish soldiers who claimed to have been misled by their commanders:
The soldiers told interrogators that while 40 specially trained soldiers had been airlifted into an airbase with the order to attack a resort in southwestern Marmaris where Erdoğan was staying, the Aegean army command had given a separate order to not help pro-coup soldiers.
But Staff Colonel Ramazan Elmas, commander of the airbase in İzmir province, let the troops fly away from the base.
An unidentified amount of soldiers revealed during questioning that they were informed in mid-air about the military coup, which sought to overthrow Turkey’s government.
It is unclear how many soldiers proceeded with the attack, which killed Erdoğan’s two bodyguards, despite the warnings of there being a military coup.
Erdoğan told CNN in an exclusive interview on July 18 that if he had stayed in the hotel for 10 or 15 more minutes, he would have been killed or captured.
During the pivotal hours of the coup last weekend, when it seemed as if the bid to oust Erdogan might have been successful, many commentators observed that Turkey’s military was the bastion of secular authority in the country — the last remaining pillar of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s de-Islamification program. A purge that wipes out a third of the country’s top military officers could very well shatter that pillar for good.
A grim jest currently passing between international observers holds that it is incorrect for the media to describe the events of July 15 as a “failed” coup because it’s working out just fine for Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Islamists — bringing the mortal enemy of Western civilization very close to absolute control over a NATO member with one of the world’s most formidable armies.