Obama convenes national security team amid Turkey unrest
The government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to have repelled the plot, but the situation remained fraught and tensions between Washington and Ankara appeared to be growing.
In a statement, the White House said that Obama had convened a meeting with “his national security and broader foreign policy team to update him on the situation in Turkey.”
During the coup, Obama offered vocal support for Turkey’s “democratically elected government” and urged all parties to “avoid any violence or bloodshed.” But there were growing concerns of a government crackdown on Erdogan’s opponents.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a key Obama ally on the world stage, has urged Erdogan to deal with coup plotters under the rule of law.
The Turkish authorities have imposed a security lockdown and cut power to the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey which is used by US forces. Separately, a US defense official said that American forces across Turkey had been placed on maximum alert.
In public appearances since returning to Istanbul, Erdogan has blamed the putsch on followers of Pennsylvania-based opposition figure Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher with a large following.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States will help Turkey investigate the failed coup and he invited Ankara to share any evidence it has against Gulen. He added that Turkey had not yet issued a formal extradition request.
John Kerry said Saturday that Washington had had no idea that a coup attempt was brewing in NATO ally Turkey before Friday’s bloody events.
But he added that the failed putsch had apparently been incompetently executed, and restated Washington’s support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s elected government.
“If you’re planning a coup you don’t exactly advertise it to your partners in NATO,” Kerry told reporters who asked how US intelligence could have been surprised by events.
“It surprised everybody, including the people in Turkey,” the top US diplomat added, speaking in Luxembourg during a diplomatic tour of European capitals.
“I must say, it does not appear to have been a very brilliantly planned or executed event, but let’s reserve all judgment until the facts are in.”
The United States and Turkey are close military allies within NATO and US war planes targeting the Islamic State group fly out of the major Incirlik air base.