tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC July 15, 2016 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. on the eve of two american political conventions, dual explosions on the world stage tonight. a military coup under way as i speak in turkey. we will be following that. that follows the killing of 84 people in last night's terrorist attack in france. two nato countries, two u.s. allies, both under assault. all this on the day that presumptive republican presidential nominee donald trump confirms his selection of vice presidential running mate, indiana governor mike pence. what will this international turmoil do to our presidential election here in this country? what choice would encourage the american people to make and who,
trump or clinton, will the voters choose as our leader afterwards? we are watching people in turkey pouring into the streets after this military coup or in the midst of it, i should say. reports of soldiers opening fire on citizens. let's get the latest from nbc news producer aggelos petropoulos on the ground in istanbul, turkey. give us a sense. can we tell what side those people are on? are they with the military or with erdogan and against the coup? we don't seem to have him. we are trying to get as much as we can. let's go to another contact. are you there? >> yes, i am. >> do you have an answer to that question? >> repeat the question, please? >> i'm sorry. what side are the crowds on?
we're watching a huge number of people, growing crowd in istanbul. are they supporting the coup or opposing it? >> by the look of it, they are opposing it. but it seems to be passive opposition rather than active opposition to the point of actually climbing on top of tanks and so on. they are apparently responding to a call by president erdogan that he made from a location unknown. he's not in his palace in ankara, the presidential palace, and he's not in one of his usual offices in istanbul. he assumseems to be somewhere e. he did call on the people to resist what he called an illegal coup. now, obviously this is a popular government. it's been in power for over a decade. in fact, almost 14 years. but i think it's been caught by surprise and normally, it's the kind of move that would be stifled before it ever gets to this point but it's a very serious coup attempt and i think
president erdogan is trying to motivate the masses to prevent it from being successful. >> history shows that in most countries when their military takes over, that means they want order, they want stability, they want control. they don't want a lot of chaos. they tend to be i would say in this case anti-terrorist. is that a correct assessment of the two sides here? >> well, yes, but as you said at the very beginning of the show, this is a country that recently suffered a huge terrorist attack, apparently by the islamic state at istanbul airport. there were a series of attacks both in istanbul as well as ankara, the capital where i'm speaking from, so there was a feeling of growing instability in the country because the war which has been going on in south turkey, immediately beyond the turkish/syrian border in syria was spreading into turkey
itself. there's of course the ongoing battle between turkey and the pkk, the kurdish separatist organization which itself has engaged in terrorism over no less than 30 years against turkey. so simultaneously it was facing two major threats and it was also playing host to over three million syrian and iraqi refugees and even though the government was popular, it had won a series of elections, obviously there were people within the military establishment which was assumed to be loyal who said that the situation was getting out of control and they did what should not be done in a democratic society which is to come to take power on their own. they issued a statement that they are doing so in order to restore order in the country. it remains to be seen whether it's going to be successful. >> can you measure public opinion in turkey, in the usual
conflict between those who want a popular government and those who want stability. would the people if they had a choice right now to vote, would the people of turkey say we will take a little instability with popular government? we are not going to give up our popular government in exchange for more stability. which way would they lean? >> well, president erdogan himself in the one speech that he made after the coup attempt, he said that the government did represent stability and that the coup attempt would actually undermine the stability turks have been enjoying for over a decade under his government. obviously, a faction within the turkish military, let's remember the turkish military convened four times in the past six decades before this one, that they felt that they obviously did not believe the president
and they were willing to literally take the law into their own hand. even though this government, president erdogan was elected in 2014 by popular ballot and even though the party that he leads won the elections, two elections in 2015, including one in november where they got almost 50% of the vote, they referred to the military traditions in turkey. after all, the military created this country, as you know, after the collapse of the ottoman empire. they harkin all the way back to the origins of the state to justify their actions. >> stay with us. we'll be right back to you. we now have our connection going through with nbc news producer a aggelos petropoulos. can you give us a sense of what we are watching? we are getting dramatic pictures of downtown istanbul with thousands of people in the street with apparently the military trying to put them under some kind of control or some discipline.
can you give us a reading on what's going on politically right now? >> chris, that's right. earlier, in the streets, we were seeing people running off the main squares, off the main roads, trying to take shelter to side streets, trying to avoid military presence, trying to avoid tensions between police and military. also, we are getting reports from other areas of istanbul of armed citizens on the streets, armed non-uniformed men,to be more exact. right now, there seems to be air traffic over the bosphorus, helicopters have been flying intensively in the past 15 minutes over bosphorus and we have heard gunfire from the
bridge there in the back. earlier, as i said, we were on the streets, we witnessed people running off and trying to avoid military presence and take shelter. >> how far is this big crowd of people from the tourist spots that we are all familiar with that go over there? the blue mosque, the cistern? how far, what we're watching, is from that location? >> you are referring -- i believe in and around five kilometers. >> five kilometers. okay. can you tell the political disposition of the mobs we're looking at? the crowds of people, are they supportive? someone said a moment ago they are passively resisting, passively opposing the coup
attempt. can you tell? >> from where i'm standing, i cannot be quite well read on exactly who those people are and what are their aims. my understanding and from the testimony we have been gathering by talking to people on various points in the city is that they are both, that people have been going on the streets either on one side or the other, and as we have been reporting, erdogan made a rather -- very public call for people to get on the streets. president erdogan has never done that before. it's a first, asking people to get on the streets. >> aggelos, how would you describe to an american audience which you are talking to right now the politics that are going on here? you have an elected government. erdogan has been elected a couple of times. he's a popular leader. he has a legitimacy to the
office he holds. he was elected by the people. the military has had its history, this is the fifth time since 1960 they have overthrown a government. does the government have the authority of the people enough for these military people to be rejected? >> it is really difficult to get a read right now on whether this is a fraction of the military, or whether this is widespread. from where i'm standing, i cannot tell you that. what i can tell you is that this country has been in political turmoil for some time now. the complexity is between the administrative authorities in this country and the military, have always created frictions and definitely that has been true for this government and for
this president who has been in a long confrontation with the military, with generals. we have seen quite a lot of shifts in military leadership and quite some instances that have created political tensions in this country. >> aggelos, stick with us. aggelos petropoulos, stay with us, please. nbc's matt bradley is in london with more. give us a sense. you know what i'm trying to get here. for our viewers, we are trying to figure out what's in it for us, what's against it for us, is this good for the fight against isis, the neighboring problem area right next, can tend almost caliphate at times. where does this stand in terms of the fight we're waging against isis? >> yeah, absolutely. it's a very, very tense situation with regard to isis because of course, erdogan and turkey are major partners in the u.s. fight against islamic
state. the incirlik air base, the u.s. has been using that air base to launch strikes against targets in northern iraq and northern syria. it's an essential partner in this fight against islamic state. over the last couple months, turkey and erdogan in particular, he has been becoming more on board with the u.s. fight against islamic state. remember a couple years ago, he was accused of kind of turning a blind eye towards islamic state. turkish officials were thought to be kind of letting jihadis pass through that porous, very long border between turkey and syria. so now over the last couple of months, erdogan, who always had a somewhat rocky relationship with the military in turkey, has been empowering them as he's relied on them increasingly in the fight against islamic state but also in the fight against kurdish separatists in the east. so he's been giving them more privileges, more breathing room, and really allowing them to be
more engaged politically and just recently, just this week, really just a couple of days before this coup attempt, erdogan gave them top generals immunity against prosecution if they were to commit crimes within turkish borders. that does something to explain some of the timing around this. also, let's remember this coup attempt, while it is still just an attempt, it hasn't curried any favor from any of the major political parties in turkey. that just goes to show that a lot of these coup plotters it seems, they hadn't necessarily thought beyond the stage of trying to usurp power from erdogan and his allies in the ruling akp party. none of these political parties including the akp which is in the act of trying to be deposed, none of them have come out and supported the coup. in fact, most of them have come out and condemned it. >> now, we are covering what could be a coup, it looks like it's a coup attempt, certainly
president erdogan feels there's a coup under way and called upon the people to rally to his side. but you are giving to me the ingredients that are so familiar to us, after studying history in school and all our lives. when a government begins to become weak, it begins to make concessions to its critics. here you are talking about giving immunity, prosecution immunity. is that prospective immunity? it sounds insane. why would a president of a popular elected country like turkey, why would he say to the military you are free to commit crimes now in the future inside turkey? >> well, it was more like it would require some assent from his office. so erdogan would have some say over whether military leaders would be prosecuted. that's just part of this really broader, as i mentioned before, between erdogan, this extremely powerful leader. this man has dominated turkish politics for more than a decade.
then of course we saw him just an hour or two ago speaking over facebook chat. he had no other recourse to speak to his public. this is this dominant character who has loomed over turkish life for so long, suddenly has been humiliated to the point where he's speaking to the turkish public, 80 million people, over facebook live. this is a man who has been very humbled by just the events of the past several hours. this is really a massive reversal for erdogan. it comes in part because he's had to empower the military to fight not only islamic state. as americans, we always think about this from the prism of fighting terror and fighting islamic state. for erdogan, turkey and for the military generals, many of whom probably number among the coup plotters we are seeing today, they consider the kurds in the east of the country to be public enemy number one. they don't even necessarily think of the isis as being the major target and major threat against turkish public life.
>> matt bradley, thanks so much. president obama has spoken with secretary of state john kerry about the coup in turkey. he says all parties in turkey should support the democratically elected government of president erdogan. here he is. do we know whether president erdogan has asked for asylum in germany? that story was around an hour or so ago. >> well, we don't have anything from that point from the white house. what we have is a pretty clear signal from president barack obama and his secretary of state who is traveling in russia that they are supporting the democratic elected government in turkey. that is a clear message even though they are saying this to all parties involved, it is a clear message to the leaders of this coup attempt that the united states will not stand by you. this is in diplomatic speak. the way the white house released this was to have the secretary of state and the president to have a call, to read out that call and have the two of them together saying to essentially all parties but very much directed towards the military
leaders in turkey who are undertaking this coup, respect the democratic elected government, that would be erdogan's government. you can say what you want about his human rights record, whatever. he is clearly the democratically elected head of that state and that's who this message is meant to bolster and to support. >> the question would be right behind that, how much are we putting behind that, hans? everybody knows i think that in terms of our foreign aid budget, including our military aid, there's israel, egypt and turkey. turkey is one of the big beneficiaries of u.s. military and economic aid. will we threaten that? >> it's a signal to whoever is in power trying to seize power in the capital of turkey there. it's a signal to them that they cannot rely on the u.s. and that the u.s. wants to foster and support the democratically elected government. there's one other note in there in this readout that we have about this phone call between the president and the secretary of state. that is avoidance of bloodshed. when you look at some of the images coming across, when you read some of the wire reports, some of the local turkish
newspapers, there clearly is bloodshed taking place. the u.s. is already on record condemning that. that will not ingratiate this turkish military coup attempt to the white house or anyone in the united states government. >> we just saw a picture by the way of the people in istanbul on the streets lying down, kneeling down, the prayer, islamic prayer. that was dramatic. that was the gunshots at that point? looked like they were bowing. here they are. here it comes. here are the shots. it wasn't prayer after all. thanks for joining us. what do you make of this situation? we are talking about the politics. we are here with mark goldberg, former ambassador to morocco. we are trying to find out which way our influence is going to go here. will we be stable to restore
this democratically elected government? >> the u.s. has a very mixed history in supporting coups and supporting democratically elected governments. it's very important that president obama made the strong statement now that -- calling for calm and supporting the democratical le elected government. in 1980, the united states supported the military coup and frankly -- >> in turkey. >> in turkey. and more recently in egypt, the united states also has supported military coup. why? because we are looking first and foremost at what the strategic interest is in the area. turkey is a nato ally, the only muslim country part of this western military coalition, very important with where they are on the border with syria in the fight against isis. erdogan is also pro-israel which has been very important for stabilizing the region. two factors that the united states and all western allies will be looking at very very closely at how this plays out. with the army frankly being a bit of an unknown element in all of this. now, the army did not start off
with securing erdogan which i think hopefully will work in his favor. but he is still not in his home country and so you have the army in the country, the leader of the country not able to necessarily come back, not necessarily able to go anywhere else. we don't know how this will play out and who will be in power tomorrow. mpl >> let's talk regular politics here. this is an amazing situation. the president of the country leaves on vacation, feels confident enough of his political situation that he can take a vacation. he is caught completely off guard, with no heads up from anyone in his palace group, no one in his political -- none of the people working under him directly, none of his closest confidants, nobody gave this guy a heads up that he's about to lose control of his country. >> it's fascinating. that's one of the reasons why i question whether this coup will succeed. he installed into office in order to in effect put most of the military back in prison, lock, stock and barrel, and only appoint his favorite generals, this probably is a rogue element of the military that is essentially staging that coup.
we also have to understand he also at this very point in time had just sacked his prime minister. he also had a major attack in istanbul at the airport. there have been 15 other attacks, terrorist attacks there. moreover, he was on the cusp of passing the very constitutional amendments that would have ceded to him the executive authorities that would have turned him into a dictator and the war in the south is not going that well. most importantly, he's at odds with the united states in the battle against isis because the united states supports syrian kurds and erdogan has been deeply concerned that by us supporting those syrian kurds, they may in effect wind up creating a state of kurdistan and syria. >> that's the rubik's cube. we want to defeat isis. that's our main goal. turkey wants to remain turkey. it doesn't want to lose the kurds. this is reasonable. on both sides. we want to get rid of the enemy that's sworn our death notice, basically, our death
certificate. they on the other hand want to keep their country together. that means not encouraging militarization of the kurds. >> i think it's a combination of both because first and foremost, the victims of isis in turkey are turkish and muslim people throughout the region. the europeans are also looking at this as turkey resettling several of the refugees and when they are being turned away in europe, in greece, they come back to turkey. this is important for all united states and western powers. what erdogan has done that's very interesting with the facebook live is he has also cracked down as part of his authoritarianism, cracked down on media. he's arrested reporters, installed his own cronies in different places but the media has overwhelmingly in turkey come out in favor of democracy right now. >> this is what we are all trying to figure out, we are not blind to this, we are seeing the pictures but not able to interpret the politics. look at the pictures we are looking at. you see people not in apparently aggressive mode but certainly focused on these military carriers going through the
streets of the city and people are like climbing on them. it's not exactly the liberation of france in '44 but what is going on here? >> look at what they're doing. they are filming, taping, trying to document this. they are making this social and making sure the world knows what is happening. so even though there's a less transparent democracy than most of us in the west would like to see, people are -- >> are they resisting or supporting? >> there's two turkeys here. >> what are people on the street there doing? >> i believe the people in ankara and istanbul are more or less supporting this coup. but erdogan enjoys enormous support in the hinterlands of turkey. we may not be seeing those pictures because that's the base of the akp support in the country. the urban turks are much more secular, do not like his policies and frankly, probably will support the coup. that doesn't mean it will succeed. >> they are more fundamentalists. we have the director of the turkey project at the center for strategic and international
studies. can you give us a sense of what we are seeing, just the pictures of people around, surrounding the military carriers? >> well, you are actually right with your comment a few minutes ago about how this came as a surprise to president erdogan. i would have to comment that it's come as a surprise to everybody in the country. the country has been experiencing all the difficulties i mentioned, the spreading of the war from syria, the instability into turkey. nonetheless, it came as a surprise. many of the people who have gone out there are frankly not clear about even if they're not happy with the coup, how they would actually reverse it. many of them are loyal to president erdogan. he called on them to resist but you know, as i said, it's passive resistance. the outcome of this coup is unclear. it's very late in the night here and you know, tomorrow people will wake up to a situation in
which the government is not in control. the president is not in his palace. we don't know where he is. there have been stories where people have been killed, apparently some of them wounded, but the military that made the move or the portion of the military that made the move seems to be in control of certain parts of the infrastructure or the governmental infrastructure, and you know, there is a danger that there will be confrontations between those who are for the coup and those who are against it, and i would think that the majority of the people on the streets are passively against the coup, and there is also the danger that the police force which is loyal to the government and the military may be in confrontation, or parts of the military which disagree about whether there should be a coup or not may be in confrontation. frankly, that's a nightmare for president obama and the white
house. turkey which was seen to be part of the solution to the problems in the middle east, remember the visit president obama made very early in his presidential term to turkey where he talked about a model partnership and how turkey and the united states were going to bring stability to the middle east and fix the relationship that had been broken between the west and east during the bush era? well, here we are. turkey is itself in a state of instability and one more point if i can make it, chris. look, turkey's been a member of nato since 1952. it's had a relationship with the u.s. stretching back to the truman doctrine in the '40s. yet, more and more in the past few years, turkey has become [ inaudible ] in the middle east. unfortunately, middle east rules are not the rules of the european world. the western world. and coups take place in the middle eastern world. i would argue in my initial reaction to this coup which is still unfolding that this is the
kind of thing that unfortunately happens in countries that veer away from western values, from an adherence to eventual membership of the european union with all its rules. one of course hopes that democracy will prevail but whichever way this goes, it underlines the dangers that were always inherent in turkey becoming involved in the turbulent and messy and unstable middle east. >> i'm glad you brought up the truman doctrine. since the earliest days after world war ii, greek and turkish aid from the united states was a major question in the beginning of the cold war. we saw greece and turkey falling into the hands of the communists and gave them $400 million and really mid a stand when the british pulled out. the united states went in, it became really the beginning of the cold war, led by truman. we had the fight and of course it was a major stake in the cold war, the loss of greece and
turkey to the soviet union and its influence was seen as a tremendous loss if we had suffered it, we didn't, and now it's right at that cusp between east and west in terms of religious faith and culture and north and south in terms of wealth. it's right there, right on the cusp of politics. thank you for joining us. stay with us. again, msnbc's cal perry is in our newsroom. cal, what have you learned? can you give us a picture? it's very strange. we hear the noise from the crowd but the politics is obscure. >> very obscure. and unfolding right now and the definition of a coup is there is massive confusion. we have just gotten off the phone with a senior adviser to the former prime minister. he's in ankara and has been able to shed a little light on what's going on. we heard a call from erdogan who had to take to facetime and message the country, calling on people to take to the streets and specifically take the airports. to physically occupy the airports. the other thing he said is that this is splintering within the army, that the generals have
tried to pass word not only through state tv but through a variety of other means that they want the soldiers to return to their barracks. what we are seeing now is the definition of an attempted coup. we are not to the point yet where the military's in control. that is playing out on our screens right now in front of us. the other thing that he wanted to get out, the other thing he want tod ped to put out there, is violence in ankara, specifically around the reports. you see reports of a military helicopter shot down in the city of ankara. there has been pretty consistent gunfire he said around the airport. again, the airports are going to be key. who controls the airports controls whether or not the president gets back into this country. if president erdogan can get back into this country, the chances that this coup succeeds drop dramatically. so that's what's playing out on the streets of turkey right now at this hour. the other thing that we are keeping an eye on, not only is there a split within the military, it appears, but there's a clear split between the military and the police. the police in ankara have stood
up to those in the military who have tried to take control of the airport and we are hearing that there are a pretty sizeable number of police who have been killed in ankara. this senior adviser put it, he said at around a dozen. chris? >> will that message via facebook from the president, president erdogan, for the people to hit the streets is clearly working. we are looking at the crowds develop here in istanbul. is he trying to recreate the ability of the government, of the people rather of egypt not too many years ago to overthrow their government through the power of the streets? >> yes, absolutely. and of course, the u.s. is going to be going into emergency meetings just like we did when egypt happened about how we define this, because how we define this is going to determine not only our relationship with turkey, but the military aid that goes to turkey, turkey's status within nato. the geopolitical implications of this are sort of endless. i think at a very sort of basic
level, he needs to get back into the country. if this is going to be a failed coup, we have to see video of president erdogan landing at istanbul's airport and being greeted by people in turkey and declaring himself the democratically elected leader of turkey and democracy rules. that's where we are right now. so much of this is the visual message that's being put out. we are hearing from his top officials who are using facebook live, twitter, any cell phone signals they can get, they are trying to use trt, the news channel in turkey, to get past the elements of the army who are physically not only going to the airports but i should say they went into the offices of trt, that's a private broadcaster, television broadcaster in istanbul, they went in, they took everybody's cell phones, sent the journalists home. they basically put them under house arrest. the question now is, if these reports are true, that some of the top generals are ordering these soldiers that you see on your screen in front of you, the
sort of conscripted very basic infantry soldiers back to their barracks, is this a failed coup and do we see erdogan coming back into the airport and being greeted by supporters? >> this is perfect television drama because we can actually watch it. if this is what we think, this is the call from erdogan, the president, who is in peril right now being threatened by a military coup, if he's able to take the people of turkey to the streets, is he able to create a reality, a new fact there where the military would be forced to either shoot people by the thousands, which i don't think they are ready to do, i hope not, and really be forced down, all the fire power they have, that they are overwhelmed by the popular sentiment, that it's possible erdogan by simply talking to the people is able to defeat the military. >> what is the split between ankara and istanbul? ankara is like the washington, d.c. of turkey. it's where the government seat of power is, where the administrative offices are. i think there was a calculation and this is me speculating
amongst those in the army that are carrying out this attempted coup that if they could control the administrative offices maybe they don't need to control the streets of istanbul but look at these pictures. there are tens of thousands of people that have taken to the streets. keep in mind, this happened with such a quick pace. the first thing the people of turkey heard was the country's going under martial law, stay in your homes. the army is taking over. that's frightening and the reaction has been the opposite of what i think many expected it would be. people have taken to the streets. they have responded to these calls from a president who is literally in limbo somewhere between europe and the istanbul airport. we can't confirm through officials in germany that he is going to germany. that's the current rumor that is circulating around turkey. people are literally looking online at these airplanes that have been put into a holding pattern and can't land at istanbul airport because this
happened with such incredible speed. the question is, of course, what is the long-term effectiveness of this or are we watching the people of turkey try to take back control of their country from elements. again, i want to keep stressing, elements of the military. if this was a full military coup in turkey, the streets would be empty. but we have not seen what you are alluding to which is a dedication to shooting people in the streets. and that's what this is going to come down to and thankfully, so far, we haven't seen the same kind of violence we saw in places like egypt. >> nothing is more compelling than people waving the national flag. when people in the streets believe they are fighting for their country, turkey against usurpers, against those without legitimate power, that's a powerful statement. television can help. thanks for joining us. nbc news terrorism expert malcolm nance joins us, just back from istanbul. i think we are moving from a
question of intelligence here and conspiracy to perhaps a manifestation of deck democrati power. with president erdogan's ability to communicate with his people it may create a situation that's more powerful than a military coup attempt. >> you're absolutely right. we are clearly seeing as a manifestation of nationwide democratic power. if you can see this level of popular support in istanbul or ankara, which are really, as one of the commentators made earlier, those are the centers of secular power within turkey. >> yes. >> and the hinterlands. everywhere else in turkey is akp country, erdogan's base. it's very interesting because we have been using the phrase today attempted coup. the people who i have spoken to in istanbul who actually witnessed the air strikes that were being carried out in the city and were present around the gun battles, they are calling this a military mutiny.
that's a very small unit of people who have taken their arms, have moved out into the streets and the small garrison which comes, the first corps of the turkish armed forces have gone and taken the traditional places you would have to take for a coup, the central police station, the airport, the main television tower. but they didn't -- what they didn't seem to understand was that erdogan would just a facetime video could mobilize the entirety of the city and quite possibly the nation. >> dramatic. the coup leaders were wonderfully conspiratorial. they did this in the night basically without a single heads up to erdogan, yet here's the president rallying the people through the sheer legitimacy of his office and of democracy itself. msnbc's cal perry is in our
newsroom. what have you learned? put it together. we are learning, in fact, we are watching something happen as we are watching it. this is much bigger than it was a half hour ago. >> yeah. this is getting bigger by the minute. you are looking there at state television. state television. the other pictures that are incredible here are pictures from the airport, the istanbul airport, where you see people answering the call of erdogan to physically occupy that airport. that's stunning. because this is now at its most basic level an attempted coup that is hanging in the balance and simple control over things like the airport are going to be key. there's the airport on the right. in how this plays out. there are reports in ankara of extensive gunfire around the airport as people are now battling for control over those runways. the other thing that i want to mention -- >> do we know if they are in contact, are people trying to open up the airport, clear the landing fields, get the lights on? are those people in contact with president erdogan? do we know that
>> no. we don't know that. to facetime a message to his country. no, i don't know that. and i don't know if he's in the air right now. the rumor was he was in germany. i don't know if he's still in the air. the other thing that we are seeing pictures on social media, we are trying to get this up as quickly as we can, is police officers arresting members of the military. so we have had a splintering in the military as you heard from malcolm breaking it down and it seems to be a splintering at lower levels. we heard this consistent call from some of the top generals for people to return to their barracks because i think quite clearly, you see it, you have trt television on the left, that's a global turkish television network, and on the right, one of the biggest airports in the world, one of the thoroughfares between east and west, now being occupied by turkish civilians. so if this coup was to succeed in a quick and easy manner and the military was going to take control of the streets, that
hasn't happened. people came out of their houses. >> let's look at the pictures we're looking at because the generals are probably looking at these same pictures, maybe president erdogan is as well, wherever he is. are the people on the left screen, at the tv station, are they in support or opposition to the coup? >> i believe they are in support of erdogan. they are against what is a coup within elements of the turkish military. clearly on the right, you have erdogan supporters. >> so they are controlling the broadcasting from the network there. so the military leaders somehow failed to get control of that facility. >> and trt put out a tweet saying #failedcoup. the soldiers were unable to take control of those facilities in istanbul. i'm told it's a very different story in ankara. that that tv station is rung with armored personnel carriers. i have not seen those pictures. but trt using the hash tag failed coup gives you an idea of how splintered things are. >> may i make a comment? i have seen several coups in
sub-saharan africa. this is unlike any i have seen. they usually devolve into massive battles between the mutineer force and the force defending the presidency. what we see here is as i look at the troops deployed on the streets in turkey, they don't appear to understand why they're deployed. it appears they received their orders, they went out into the field, they are not doing defensive fires. the main fire we have seen is some of the firefights at the police station and that cobra which was doing gun runs in the city, that appears to have been destroyed by the turkish air force. this is really a mutiny. it appears a lot of the mutineers were being given orders and don't appear to have known what they were really there to do. >> let's try to figure this out. these pictures are unbelievable. they are almost beyond description. they are at the airport in istanbul. the people have come there because they were asked to come
there basically by their president through facebook, social media. that's the only means he had. yet they have responded by the thousands, tens of thousands, to come and i assume to open the airport for his return, to push aside whatever military units are there, to make sure the president has an airfield on which to land and lights, whatever else it takes. a conning tower under their control, perhaps. a dramatic picture. give us a sense of how you are reading these pictures. >> i'm hearing explosions from downtown which is about three miles away. it looks like part of the air force is actually bombing parts of ankara. this appears to be escalating. >> the situation in ankara is more under control of the coup leaders, is that the case?
>> apparently. and the turkish, the main turkish tv station, trt, is still off the air because they took it over and the military seems to be in control not just of the military headquarters, but main parts of ankara. the kind of crowds you are seeing in istanbul, you are certainly not seeing in ankara. of course, you have a nightmare scenario in which ankara, the capital, appears to be under the control of the faction of the military that appears to have carried out the coup and in istanbul, you are seeing the kind of resistance by -- popular resistance that you are reporting on. look, one thing that can be said safely is that this country is in major phase of major instability. unfortunately, what's going on south of the border has spread through, the idea that bombs are going off in the middle of ankara, the capital city, it's almost 3:00 in the morning here,
is the kind of thing that those of us, those who are turkish and those who love turkey will grieve over. >> hold on. let me go right back to ankara and to matt bradley in london. give us a sense again, it looks like a split situation, split screen, in a real sense that we have in ankara military power, coup leaders in control and yet in the streets of the major city of istanbul, at the airport, especially, the people have responded to the president in a way that's forcing the military to choose between what might be slaughter in the streets and losing this coup. >> yeah. it's a pretty decisive moment right now as cal said. it's a coup attempt that's hanging in the balance. we have already heard the associated press just carry the report saying the national intelligence director has called this a failed coup. i mean, we say something like that. so we have to take these sorts of comments with a grain of
salt. but another thing, the state national -- official state media arm has said that 17 police officers have been killed in a helicopter attack in an intelligence office outside of ankara. so clearly, this has devolved into a situation as i mentioned before to brian, where the police and the military are squaring off in a potentially very dangerous and really quite lethal which already. it looks as though the police have thrown in their lot with erdogan, whereas the military seems to be on some level at leaf backing these coup plotters. we haven't heard from the rest of the military. as melvin mentioned, it does seem like a divided group and this does seem as though something of an insurgency within the military that's trying to take control. we have also been hearing that some police officers have taken military officers into custody, essentially arrested members of their own military. right now if it looked a couple
of hours ago like erdogan has finished, he had that extremely humble, rather humiliating plea over facebook chat, facebook live, it seems as though the dial has started to turn in favor of erdogan now. it looks like it's possible that he might be able to survive this as he survived so many other crises, manifold crises throughout his more than decade in power. >> let's put the pieces together as we know them. it seems to be the military was able to conspire very effectively which meant they kept a very short, rather small circle of people that were into this coup attempt. they broadened it, they would have got the word out they were doing it. this didn't reach the attention of anyone around the president. it was secret, small and apparently not that broadly built, this coup attempt. no political power behind it, no liaison role with political groups. it looks like it wasn't strong enough to go. look what we are watching here again. action in the streets.
it's the people, look at them. i'm so taken with the turkish flag. the people believe they are fighting for their country to me. that's the powerful statement of tonight. go ahead. >> it could still potentially become even more violent. i just mentioned the 17 police officers shot dead outside of ankara. now we are hearing from the same news agency and we need to take this again, we need to be very cautious with this information. this is the official state news agency. but they are clearly still under control of the erdogan side of this equation. they are reporting now that a bomb has hit the turkish parliament in ankara. so again, not confirmed by nbc news but an emerging detail that points to some violence that is really spreading quite quickly and rather lethally across this country from istanbul to ankara. >> again, the people in the streets seem confident. they don't seem to be scared. it's something to watch.
these are people, regular people of istanbul coming out, secular people in many cases, i assume, to stand up for a president who is an islamist, more of a fundamentalist in his politics and religion than they are. laura wells is a freelance journalist who joins us on the phone from turkey. laura, thank you. give us what you can give us from where you're at. >> well, it's friday night and usually in this time of season you hear music, the restaurants are lively, nightclubs, bars, you name it. it is an absolute ghost town tonight. that's because this coup attempt, that's part of the military, has declared a curfew on the town in a very liberal area. these are not supporters of the president in general. eyewitnesses are saying right now there has been a huge explosion in istanbul which includes many of my friends. meanwhile, i also know there's been a call to erdogan supporters from many of the mosques in istanbul asking them to gather. some of the other guests said
there are rumors that people are being asked to come to the istanbul domestic terminal because erdogan might be landing. a family relation of mine is on a boat, that is where erdogan was rumored to be at friends of his villa on the water, a wealthy businessman and my relative on a boat there is telling me the navy has surrounded the area and not allowing any boats to come in or out. so we don't know exactly where erdogan was when the coup happened. there were reports in the turkish press from earlier today. i thought this was highly unusual, when he was last in the press he called for syrian refugees to have citizenship and this did not go over well at all across the political spectrum. >> sounds right. sounds like us. laura wells, thank you for
joining us. let's get more on what's happening in the turkish capital of ankara. can you give us a sense of where these explosions occurred we just heard about? >> well, i'm about two miles away from the center of town and the explosions came from the center of town. i can't tell you exactly what building might have been hit but clearly, two major explosions took place in downtown. i don't know whether they were from the air, which if that was the case, they are obviously parts of the air force that are involved in the coup attempt. or from, you know, from some other source. but clearly, as we are moving towards the morning, it's saturday morning here, this coup is still under way even though statements have been made that it's been suppressed. until and unless the president comes back and says that it's all over and moves against the coup plotters, that were so
clear the airport, do i go out there, we've seen the pictures, on the split screen, they may be able to clear the lights, when he lands there, you say he still has to go back and reclaim the capital. >> yes, this is the capital of the country. the country has to be run from ankara and at this moment, this is a capital city, huge parts of which are under control of the part of the military that mounted the coup. >> stay with us. i'm joined by senator chopty, senior fellow and director, also kim gattis, reporter with the bbc and jane newton small, thank you very much. i want to start with kim gattis. you've been watching patiently. >> i've been on the phone with a former turkish official, he was telling me a little bit about what he think system going on.
he told me, it was a small group of people who are trying to make a last stand, because they're in a stand-off ahead of erdogan ahead of what they expected to be a purge in august. but they do have f-16s. so even though it's a small click within the larger military force, they do have f-16, which is what probably explains the bombings in ankara. the mosques are sounding, calling the people to go to the streets, as this person said to me, to keep democracy alive. but i think, whatever president erdogan's shortcomings, and there are many, this person told me that the worst elected president is still better than a coup. but i think that what we're seeing unfold right now is actually the worst of all scenarios. a coup is better than long-term instability or several days of instability where violence could
unfold and once president erdogan, if and when he does regain control, he'll come back, feeling that he needs to assert his control even further than he's already done in the past. >> cal perry, can you tell us what's going on the explosions, at least the big one? >> yeah, so it seems like the big explosion in ankara at the parliament is an actual battle over that physical space. we've been talking about that when it comes to the airports. that's now playing out at the parliament in ankara. the importance of that building cannot be understated. the reporting, this is a splinter and someone needs to take control. we're seeing people try to take their country back, but there are pilots and jets over the air in ankara with their finger on a great deal of ordinates. so this say very dangerous moment for the people on the streets of turkey and the
command and control structure of the turkish military is important. keep your eye on the domestic terminal of the istanbul airport. people are being told to go to that terminal and take control of that terminal. those are the pro-erdogan folks. >> at some point, and every time you've seen this, whether it was the fall of the peacock throne in iran, or the french revolution, or what happened in egypt with mubarak, at some point, the military makes a decision, it's a thrilling decision, if you will. they have to decide if they're right or wrong. at some point, they say, we cannot be the butchers of our own people. at some point, the people win or the military wins. when will we know that? saturday is a big day. they can all hit the streets and all come out. if all the people of istanbul come out, does that say to the military, you made the wrong decision here? pull back, give up? >> these pictures you're looking
at right now, we saw a scene play out, people laying in front of tanks. >> yes. >> and at some point, as you're saying, that historic decision of how far are we going to go with this, and how much blood are we willing to spill on the streets of turkey for this? and how strong is this element within the turkish military? listen, if the entire turkish military was unified in their taking this country from erdogan, it would be over right now. people would not be in the streets. but people have taken to the streets because clearly there's a splintering within the authority and the government of turkey. we have the police facing off against the army and it's giving people to the confidence on your screen right now, who are in so many ways, nationalistic, draping themselves in the flag of turkey. listen, i'm watching this like you, with this incredible feeling in my gut of, this is people taking their country back
and at the same time, i'm terrified, that in the coming hours, we're going to see video of turkish army firing their weapons. >> yes, i want to go to jay. you've looked at big picture stories like this for years now. tell us, is this going to be a battle between the people and what looks like a mutiny? >> it looks like that's the situation. and it's very troubling because already you see so much stability in the middle east, iraq, syria falling apart. all the countries in the region falling apart. turkey was the buttress between the west and the countries that are already in chaos. if turkey falls into chaos, if it's days or weeks or months of this, of the police fighting the military, that is really bad for the region because it just spirals even more out of control. if turkey falls apart -- >> i look at it differently. if democracy proves to be legitimate, if the people come out, yeltsin did against the red
army and say, enough of this, if the people here say, we believe in democracy, we'd rather have our popular government, a slightly better government under the military? >> it depends on who's going to prevail. if there's a clear, divisive motion right now, where one side prevails versus the other, then that's great. if you're looking at a split decision, weeks and months of chaos, that's bad. >> these pictures are so dramatic. this is happening on a saturday morning. >> former politicians, opposition politicians, they've all come out and said, we oppose the coup. and i think whoever and sonar is the expert, but whoever decided to conduct this, thought they were still in the '80s and didn't count on the fact that erdogan was in power since 2002, that he was very popular. >> this is not the same old coup scenario. >> it's not the same old coup
scenario. >> give us a sense how this makes sense over the next 48 hours. where are we going? >> it doesn't look good. either way turkey wakes up tomorrow in a country where the military has defeated the government, or erdogan will have defeated the military takeover and he'll become more oppress e oppressive, not only going after those who are carrying out the coup, but becoming more oppressive. >> explain the second half. i'm sorry, explain the second half. why would he, if he were gifted back his presidency by the people of turkey as legitimate leader, why would he be more oppressive? >> turkey is a very divided country, between erdogan supporters and opponents. half the country loves him, the other half despises him. it's the polarization within even the way the coup is carried out. the military is divided. it's universal service, firing
at its own people, something it has never done in the past. everything we know about turkey is coming undone tonight. the fact that it's a country where the military is a hierarchical institution -- >> we have to go. that's a great piece of information, thank you all. msnbc's live coverage of the coup attempt, and it is an attempt in turkey will continue now with "all in" with chris hayes. >> good evening, we are following a remarkable unfolding in turkey, in the midst of an attempting military coup, which may be being thwarted by popular resistance right now. you're looking at a scene unlike any i have ever seen. these are the studios of the state media in turkey. they had earlier essentially put out messages about the coup taking pl