Crowds rejoice; Failed coup strengthens Turkey’s president

From The Associated Press:

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Rather than toppling Turkey’s strongman president, a failed military coup that left more than 250 dead appears to have bolstered Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s immediate grip on power and boosted his popularity.

Tens of thousands marched through the streets in half a dozen Turkish cities late Saturday, waving flags and singing songs in an emotional outpouring of support for the long-time leader as security forces rounded up military personnel it branded coup supporters and launched a purge of judges seen as government opponents.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the perpetrators of Friday’s failed coup “will receive every punishment they deserve,” and the government said it would take steps toward extraditing a U.S.-based cleric it accused of fomenting the uprising.

The government threat of further crackdowns raised concerns over the future of democracy in Turkey, which has long prided itself in its democratic and secular traditions despite being in a tumultuous region swept by conflict and extremism.

The coup attempt began late Friday with tanks rolling into the streets of the capital, Ankara, and Istanbul as Erdogan was enjoying a seaside vacation. Explosions and gunfire erupted throughout the night.

It quickly became clear, however, that the military was not united in the effort to overthrow the government. In a dramatic iPhone interview broadcast on TV, Erdogan urged his supporters into the streets to confront the troops and tanks, and forces loyal to the government began reasserting control.

The unrest claimed at least 265 lives, according to a tally compiled from official statements. Yildirim said 161 people were killed and 1,440 wounded in the process of putting down the coup attempt. Turkey’s acting chief of the general staff, Gen. Umit Dundar …

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