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Attempted Military Coup in Turkey; Live Pictures from Istanbul; Ergodgan Government Reportedly in Charge. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired July 15, 2016 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: -- now broadcasting again. Just one item, they'll be many, many more in the coming hours. Time now for CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: The breaking news of course, an attempted coup in Turkey. The military claiming it has seized power from Turkey's president and imposed martial law.
The president says the coup has failed. So, who is actually in control of the country at this hour? We may only find out when the sun comes up and that happens in less than an hour.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
A very busy night on CNN. It is just before dawn Saturday in Turkey. Overnight tanks rolling through Istanbul, thousands of people taking to the streets amid explosion and sporadic gunfire.
Moments ago, Turkey's president spoke to the nation and called the coup attempt treason. We will play that for you in just moments. I want to tell you that CNN's Fareed Zakaria is here with me to give his expertise on what is happening. He is going to be here to make sense of all this for us along with our correspondents, and contributors, and producers, and crews all around the world.
But I want to begin with our breaking news coverage tonight with Andrew Finkel. He is a freelance journalist who is in Istanbul and he joins us now by phone.
So, Andrew, thank you for joining us. You are in Istanbul, what is happening?
ANDREW FINKEL, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: Well, it's been an extraordinary evening. It began around 11 o'clock, Turkish time with military intervening in Turkish to these coming off main archeries, trying to keep people in their houses saying that there have been a military. That a corrupt and wasted government was about to be replaced with a regime that would bring, restored human rights to Turkey.
However, the government fought back. The president made this extraordinary broadcast by face time, the presenter on a television station sort of held up her iPhone and then allowed the nation to see President Erdogan appealing to the people to resist the coup, to come out into the streets to close the airports and prevent the coup from happening. And he appears to have been successful in rallying this quite a lot of
their supporters to come into the streets. The military appeared to have been slightly flummoxed about this. And we're not sure about the reaction...
LEMON: Andrew, you think that made all of the difference for Erdogan encouraging people to go to the streets. You think that made the difference in this?
FINKEL: Well, I mean, certainly, it's basically there was a show of support for the government and the people who have plotted the coup who are forced to retreat. But according to them they didn't reach that far, that the tension still continues.
The parliament was actually bombed and speaking, you know, where I'm sitting now, it's a building safe. Every now and then from sound of jets going over, we're not sure of whose jets they are.
A television station, a CNN affiliate, was at one point forged off the air because the military entered into the station. So, yes, it appears as though the coup makers have not had their own way, that the government has been successful in rallying its supporters to make a show of force, but as you said in your introduction, we still don't know exactly how this thing will end and whether it will end peacefully.
LEMON: Let me jump in here, Andrew, and I want to ask you, because we said we don't know, we may not know who is in control now until the sun comes up. Since you're there are you getting a sense of who is actually in control, is it Erdogan or is it the opposition?
FINKEL: Well, at the moment it appears that the -- that Erdogan has the stronger hand that he appears to have a large amount of his supporters on his side and some of the military who have been involved in the coup we know have been arrested.
But again, we don't really know how far back into the barracks the rebels have retreated. So, this may well go on a little while still.
LEMON: As we are watching these pictures that are coming in here to CNN, Andrew, what are the protesters saying? What are they chanting? Are they, I guess in support of President Erdogan, correct? Not the military.
FINKEL: There's a supportfor President Erdogan there's also been a religious element to this. I mean, rather extraordinarily, we had the minister of the mosque issuing a call to prayer at times, which they normally they don't issue a call to prayer. This was really a very much a call to protest to come out into the streets.
And so, you know, there's a lot of God is great, support for Erdogan and that seems to be the way things are continuing.
[22:05:10] LEMON: All right. Andrew Finkel, a freelance journalist in Istanbul now. Thank you for that update. We really appreciate it here.
You know, at one point rebels soldiers entered the studio of a CNN affiliate, CNN Turk and you can see there. Staff members were escorted around the building by soldiers carrying guns and then out of the building we are told.
Programming was suspended for a period of time. There you see just a shot of the studios right there. The studio was empty. But CNN Turk is now back on the air and are able to provide images for us now.
So, I want to bring in now CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank, our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, and of course Fareed Zakaria that I mentioned off the top, here with us as well.
So, Fared, your reaction to what's happening tonight. Did this coup was not successful, was it?
FAREED ZAKARIA, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS HOST: It seems to me that it's failed. We obviously don't know for sure but there are a number of signs that it hasn't succeeded. The head of the army never came out and asked for support, which means the army itself was never unified.
This does not -- Turkey has had three, somebody has said, three and a half coups. All of those have been top-down directed. The Turkish army is very disciplined. When it does a coup, it knows how to do it.
ZAKARIA: This was very different. A kind of scattered sharp approach of group of people seemed to be, you know, seemed to have done it. They haven't got it their act together. They, you know, what you do is you first arrest the president then you take control of all sources of information, media. So, none of that happened.
LEMON: They said these were junior members of the military.
ZAKARIA: It seems that's what -- that's what the Erdogan people are saying. We don't know exactly who they are. But certainly what we know is the chief of staff has not come out in favor of the coup. None of the key senior admirals or generals have.
It's also interesting to watch those images, Don. What you see is Turkey is very different from Egypt, which is the country that had a coup a few years ago. Turkey's per capita GDP is four to five times that of the, a three times that of Egypt.
This is a middle-class country. It has a civil society. It has a media like CNN Turk and other things. The opposition party came out in support of Erdogan, even though they hate him.
ZAKARIA: So there is a much richer culture here.
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: They're standing for democracy now which is very interesting.
ZAKARIA: It is heartening in a way.
ZAKARIA: It is very difficult to do a coup in a middle-class country.
LEMON: It's sort of, you know, very democratic and it's very American-like because we can, you know, as journalists, right, criticize our government, even though people may not support, right, and even -- you know, not just as media but as Americans we can criticize government and not be in support of it but understand that that is a government that is put in place.
And that appears to be what has happened now. It appears to be because we don't know if this coup is over for sure, as you said.
ZAKARIA: And we know that this is a high-stakes game. This group of officers who have planned this coup that they will be court martialed and executed if they lose the struggle so they are not going to go easily into the night.
LEMON: Yes. Hey, Jim, this is a question and I, you know, for me, because we said, we don't know. And I think for many people who is in control now in Turkey, who is in control? Is it the Erdogan government? Is it the military? Is it -- can you tell you at this point?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN'S CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the truth is we don't know and the U.S. government doesn't know for sure. They've described it to me as a fluid situation. They are, I'm told, in touch with their Turkish counterparts. That this both from, we know that Secretary of State John Kerry Spoke to his counterpart, the foreign minister.
We know that U.S. military officials are in touch with their military counterparts in Turkey, but they're not able to at least publicly make an assessment as to who has won in effect here. And keep in mind just how close an ally Turkey is to the U.S. It's a member of NATO, politically an enormous ally in the region, but also militarily.
Incirlik Air Base, they are close to the Syrian border. The U.S. is currently running air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria from that air base. We're told by military officials that during this coup those air strikes paused for only 25 minutes, and then they were up and running again.
So, at least that portion of the U.S.-Turkish relationship stayed stable. But, listen, you know, if there is continued instability and continued division within the Turkish military, there is no question that affects both the relationship politically but also potentially militarily for what is NATO's front line in the war against ISIS, Turkey border Syria.
LEMON: Yes, right. Absolutely. I have to ask this, Jim. Because we're looking at, we've been seeing a lot of pictures coming from Istanbul. We heard from Andrew Finkel about the situation in Istanbul. What about Ankara, what is happening there, do we know?
SCIUTTO: Well, the State Department says that there are military operations underway in Ankara. What isn't clear are those units loyal to the government that are clearing away those disloyal or is it disloyal elements that are still operating?
[22:09:57] We know and we know from social media that we are seeing horrible scenes from Ankara, strafing aircrafts, strafing the grounds, similar to the video that you played a short time ago, those tracer bullets hitting the ground.
So, we know that there have been in effect military strikes there and gun fire as well. So, the question is, who controls Ankara, who controls the capital? Does that factor into Erdogan's decision not to return to the capital but to return to Istanbul? Could he return to Ankara? We don't know. Perhaps Istanbul is the only place he could go now, it is not clear.
LEMON: Paul Cruickshank, we were just on the air not long ago talking about the attack on the airport, in Ataturk Airport, that was June 28th. Now this. What does this mean as Jim mentioned here about, you know, being the region that's closest to, you know, that has to deal with ISIS. What does this mean for this region and for the fight against terror?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, Don, at the very least this is really going to distract Turkey from this huge challenge they have, this surging ISIS threats in the country, evidenced by that attack you referenced at the airport in Istanbul, but also a string of attacks before that across Turkey from ISIS.
Real concern that the group is ratcheting up their terror campaign in the country. And of course, ISIS historically has always been very adept at exploiting chaos insecurity in a country for their own purposes. So we could expect them perhaps to try to do that in the weeks ahead now in Turkey.
And I think there's another danger if these people leading the coup succeed and ISIS are able to portray this, as secularist and the military overthrowing a soft Islamist government, then they can exploit that perhaps for recruitment purposes inside Turkey itself.
A quite a lot of ISIS sympathizers in that country, all of this very worrying for counterterrorism officials really across the world.
LEMON: Fareed, you want to jump in there?
ZAKARIA: Well, I think that there is -- Paul is exactly right. There is one scenario where this works out relatively well, which is Erdogan has never had his heart in the struggle against ISIS because his real goal has always been to destroy and defeat Assad in Syria.
He let in a lot of Jihadist, he let them go to Syria because he wanted to in some way or another topple the government there. Well, the United States, the Obama administration has come out pretty strongly in support, as far as I can tell, in support of Erdogan, in support of democracy, in support of the elected government.
It's possible that Erdogan will -- that will -- as a result produce a better relationship and Erdogan will be more willing to help the Obama administration in this common struggle against ISIS. Because he has been the stumbling block in some ways.
LEMON: Yes. But, Paul, you know, just last night there was this massive and depraved terror attack in Nice where we watched that truck rolling through, with a gunman shooting people and rolling, and running over -- running over people down. I know that the events are unrelated but there is an incredible degree of turmoil right now in that region, isn't there?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, there's great concern and I've got to say that here in France we've been learning more about the attacker, more about his state of mind. And as the day is sort of worn on, the mental health of the attacker here in France has loomed larger and larger.
His father was just talking to the BBC a little while ago in Tunisia saying that his son had acute mental health challenges, had sort of psychological breakdowns at various points. This was somebody who appears to have been mentally disturbed.
And we actually do not yet know at this point whether it was in fact, an Islamist terrorist attack. Because he didn't imbue what any of what he did with any sort of political meaning. We're told There wasn't any literature, there was any statement in support of any terrorist group.
And so far, according to the France interior minister, the investigation hasn't thrown out any evidence that he was inspired by radical Islamist ideology. Of course, that is being the working hypothesis of authorities in France, but they are yet to definitively find that that was the case.
LEMON: All right. Paul, and everyone I want you to stand by. I want you all to pay attention and help me out with this interview, especially Fareed Zakaria. Because I want to bring in now Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister, Mehmet Simsek. He joins us now by phone.
Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, I need to ask you, what is going on? Who is in control now in Turkey?
MEHMET SIMSEK, TURKEY'S DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, there has been a failed coup attempt. Government is in full control.
[22:14:59] There is still some rogue aircraft over Ankara and I think they are likely be forced down soon. So, there was a coup attempt, an illegal attempt by small fraction and relatively low ranking officers of course within the air force and part of gendarmerie.
While the aim was obviously to suspend democracy and they have been attacking the parliament from the air with helicopters. But it appears that it's largely under control. I'm actually right now facing Antalya, the eighth largest city in
Turkey. And with (Inaudible) this morning here, a massive rally for democracy rally for about 200,000 people or more. And things here are pretty normal.
There have not been any sort of involvement from the local military units. In fact, while I was at the rally, a top commander came in and he said he's in service of people and in service of government. So, things are relatively better now but of course there was an attack.
LEMON: OK. Does the military control any territory in Turkey right now, meaning the opposition?
SIMSEK: No, no.
LEMON: They do not.
SIMSEK: The only thing that they have right now is just to the extent that I know as I am not in Ankara, I'm to the south closer to the Syrian border in (Inaudible), that's where my constituencies. To the extent that I know there are some, as I said, units of the army who are obviously -- who have attempted and many of them have been arrested over 130 soldiers have been arrested by police, special units. And of course there still, as I said, some aircraft in the air.
LEMON: So, let me ask you about that aircraft. You said there's aircraft, rogue aircraft over Ankara. As our Jim Sciutto reported, there are horrific pictures coming from Ankara on social media.
LEMON: So, explain to us what's going on? Had they been firing at civilians and firing people on the ground from the aircraft?
SIMSEK: Yes. They have. They have fired at the parliament. They have fired in certain instances. As I said, I am not in Ankara. That's to the extent that I know. But an order has been given to bring those rogue aircraft down.
LEMON: To shoot them down?
LEMON: And do you know where they are, what's the status on that?
SIMSEK: Again, I am not in Ankara and obviously not at the -- anywhere near sort of those technically information so I can't really help you with that. But all I'm saying is that the attempt has failed and most of, as I said, the land commanders and other army units have been coming out in support of the government.
And more importantly, millions of people as we speak, they're out on street and certainly they won't let something like that to be successful.
LEMON: OK, I want you to stand by. Don't go anywhere because I just want to update our viewers and tell them the pictures you're looking at now, as the sun starts to come up, these are live pictures from Istanbul. Are this from -- this is from Periscope. Fareed Zakaria I think has a very pertinent question about the army, go ahead.
ZAKARIA: Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, I was wondering has the head of the army spoken to President Erdogan or to the prime minister and confirmed that the army as a whole is not supporting this and that these planes and these units will be arrested, disciplined, court martialed.
SIMSEK: Well, President Erdogan, who is the chief commander, has just assumed that role, and he has ordered and jets, you know, pro- government jets have apparently taken off from Eskisehir to bring those rogue air crafts down.
But various army commanders have already come out and publicly said that they were not involved, they are not supporting such an attempt that, it is an illegal attempt and that of course they will be brought to justice. And in fact, already many of those soldiers in Ankara have been arrested and process is ongoing. That's all I can say. And we're on this...
[22:19:59] ZAKARIA: And where is President -- and where is President Erdogan, Mehmet, where is he, and it's...
SIMSEK: Erdogan has about 30, 40 minutes ago he landed in Istanbul. He's safe. There was a massive reception. Public reception. He's back in Istanbul. He landed at Istanbul airport. As I said the government is in full control and, you know, soon I think today we'll have a cabinet meeting and I'll be traveling later on back to Ankara.
LEMON: All right. Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, thank you.
SIMSEK: Thank you.
LEMON: We appreciate that getting that information, a very important information.
Stand by, everyone. Now I want to bring in now, joining me now by phone is Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Senator, Rubio, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
You sit on the Senate foreign relations and intelligence committees. You were also recently in Turkey. What's your reaction to what the deputy prime minister just said tonight and to what' going on now.
MARCO RUBIO, FLORIA SENATOR: Thank you for having me on tonight. The first is, I think this is surprising to (Inaudible). I think obviously there's a lot of political back and forth going on. The prime minister was recently removed by the president at least asked to resign indeed by Erdogan right around the time I was in Turkey. So, we know there is some internal power struggles going on. Erdogan
seems to have (Inaudible) those. But this doesn't look like a well- orchestrated coup attempt by a large segment of military. And of course the reports we heard tonight whether you have a parallel structure.
And then the military, they're actually alluding to this movement called a Gulenist movement that they are very much focused on. And so, I think that's the first stop. So, I think they are going to put a lot of blame on that group. It will be interesting to learn exactly what this is about. It's kind of a unique situation.
It's certainly not something that came out on the street, although there is pushback against some of the more authoritarian direction, Erdogan is taking the government. It doesn't seem to be from there. It seemed to be some sort of intern power structure. And quite frankly, although tragic and deadly coup attempts.
The second thing I think that there's watching moving forward, it appears not just from what you heard there from the deputy prime minister, but also from someone that since you've been reporting, slowly but surely the Erdogan government is assuming authority to these places.
The question now is, do they now, do Erdogan now use this as an opportunity to go even further. In essence, to even to exercise enough or even additional powers that moved the country even further to an authoritarian direction. I think that's something that they are watching from the weeks -- and that's where he was heading anyway. And that's been concerning to watch.
But I've heard some people use the example of Egypt and the Muslim brotherhood. This is a quite different situation. The Turkish military is capable partner as a NATO, that it is no longer the Bastian secularism that it once was or that you've seen in Egypt.
LEMON: Senator, if you let me jump in here. I want to ask you then, because their concern is that Turkey is so important when it comes to the fight against terror. What is your concern there as someone who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committee.
RUBIO: Well, as you we used the air base quite extensively which is important for us. Obviously Turkey is an important partner particularly in some of the things that are going on now in Northern Syria because they border it.
They have some internal issues, you know, involving the Kurds and it's been a point of strain for us between the PKK which are the Kurds in Turkey and their relationship with the YPG which is a Turkish group in Syria, that's been the same from time to time in our relationship in Turkey.
So, that is certainly a problem they face in the southern part of the country. And as I was there, look, there's a lot of push back within Turkey, the different elements who feel persecuted or, you know, they really reject some of this more authoritarian direction that Erdogan has gone.
But the concern is anything that creates a space for radicalization to come in and find a foothold. And one of the things we haven't talked enough about is how strong men in that region have sometimes been the lead contributor to the lead ingredient necessary to get a foothold to radicalization to come in and feed upon that discontent.
I think that's one of the reasons I always as long as Assad is in Syria there is going to be ISIS where an ISIS-like group or al-Nusra or somebody else. So that's the concerns is that if it continues to go in that authoritarian direction it start to create the opportunity for domestic and internal shortage elements of population.
RUBIO: (Inaudible) to radicalization as a kind of reaction.
LEMON: While I have you here, I want to turn now to the horror in Nice because among many victims, Americans were killed in that tragic attack. You tweeted out that we can't allow this to become the new normal here. That's the concern, that this has become the new normal, when you look at how often this has begun to happen, at least this summer. So, what do we do?
RUBIO: Well, first of all, I think you actually going to continue to see it in a while. Because as ISIS is now losing territory in Syria and in Iraq their ability to carry out attacks abroad, to kill (Inaudible) to coordinated attacks and in the homeland to inspire attacks, I think inspired to coordinate it once as well.
[22:25:03] This would give them vibrancy. It allows them to show that they're still active. So, I think you have to continue to try to disrupt their ability to both inspire and direct by taking away this territory from to do their training but also from which they put on these messages.
And you have to show them it's not invincible. So, they do need to see them militarily. But ultimately there has to be a rejection in the Muslim world. And I think there is by many people but there has to be a rejection of this ideology and that's why it's important for us to continue to work with Muslim communities around the world and, by the way, here in the U.S. as well, just to reject this ideology.
And to make sure that we have a good relationship with those Muslims who reject this sort of ideology. Because as long as the ideology is around killing people this is (Inaudible) it was Al Qaeda, ISIS, it could be Jahbat al-Nusra. At least somebody to help to some of the stuff or groups in the future.
LEMON: Senator, I have to ask you, we have the, you know, the convention coming up in just a few days in Cleveland. Where does this, everything that's happening around the country, where does this play in the convention? Is this the centerpiece of the convention? This is a discussion. What happens at the convention when it comes to terror?
RUBIO: The most important role of the federal government is our national security and a foreign policy that lends itself to both national and economic concern. So, I think there's always can come on presidential candidates to prove that they understand these issues and (Inaudible)
To say that in this moment where many Americans feel like every day it's something else before Orlando, and then of course we had the incident in Dallas which wasn't inspired from abroad but another that shocked the Americans and then we have Nice, and then a day later, the unrest in Turkey and San Bernardino about a year ago, and so forth.
People are feeling increasingly insecure. The world feels like it's spinning out of control and they really want to know that the people in charge know what to do about it and have a plan to confront it, call it by name, confront it for what it is.
But have also real ideas that are realistic and have a chance to succeed. I think this is always important but I think given the timing now with two conventions coming up, I think all Americans are going to be watching to see who do we trust in front of this and solve it.
LEMON: Former presidential candidate, current Senator, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committee, and also just recently traveled to Turkey. Thank you, Senator, for joining us.
RUBIO: Thank you for having me on.
LEMON: Everyone, please stay with me. More on our breaking news coverage, an attempted military coup in Turkey, after a break.
[22:30:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: We're back now with our breaking news. You're looking at live pictures. This is Istanbul as the sun comes up. And of course we know at their nighttime there was a coup attempt. They say it has failed but we don't know exactly who is in charge now.
We're being told that the Erdogan government is in charge but we shall see again. Five thirty one in the morning in Istanbul, and these live pictures are coming to us from Periscope.
Turkey's President, Tayyip Recep Erdogan spoke moments ago. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (TRASLATED): In the whole of Turkey at the moment, what's your time? Four o'clock in the morning. There are millions of our citizens that are out in the streets. Why this nation is out in the streets, esteemed president. My flag is my honor, my country is my honor and this is why I came here to die. I am prepared to die.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Fareed Zakaria is back with me. This is his expertise. He's
going to be helping us throughout these coming hours on CNN. I want to bring in Fareed, Diego Cupolo who is a photojournalist in Ankara, Turkey's capital.
Diego, thank you so much for joining us. I'm glad to see that you are safe. Can you tell us earlier, we heard from the deputy prime minister that there were aircraft that were firing on parliament. Were you able to see that?
DIEGO CUPOLO, PHOTOJOURNALIST: Thanks for having me. Yes, I heard the same news about aircraft firing on parliament. I wasn't able to see with my own eyes but I've seen videos from people inside the building and I've heard reports that there were injuries. And social media has a lot of proof that this happened.
LEMON: Were you able to see any firing, or any of the aircraft and even if it wasn't over parliament?
CUPOLO: Yes. From my window I could see helicopters shooting down. (AUDIO GAP) through the streets (AUDIO GAP) and throughout the night there have been jets circling the capital city. (AUDIO GAP) bombs, I've heard explosions as recently as maybe 10 minutes ago and gun fire continues throughout the city right now. There's a little bit of a break and every time (AUDIO GAP) it becomes very strange (AUDIO GAP) and quite after the Islam (Inaudible) and gun fights.
LEMON: I'm going to ask you again because you were cutting out. I think it's when they played that video, it somehow takes the power of your microphone away. But, again, what are you seeing now in Ankara?
CUPOLO: When I stuck my head out the window during the night, I could see helicopters shooting down, either police positions or civilians that were protesting the coup. And I could see these streaks of yellow bullets through the sky.
Now the gun fights continue. There's still jets circling the city center every once in a while and there have been bomb explosions as recently as 10 minutes ago. The violence continues and every time that there's silence, it's a bit awkward and uncomfortable because all night we've been hearing bombs and gun fights and helicopters and jets flying above. So, it's been very stressful night for the people here in Ankara for sure.
LEMON: Diego, who is occupying the streets right now? Anyone?
CUPOLO: Can you repeat that?
LEMON: Who is occupying the streets right now? Members of the military? Anyone?
CUPOLO: Well, there's gun battles between the military that's orchestrating this coup and the police, which backs Erdogan, and there are also Erdogan supporters who were called into the streets to show that they wanted to keep their leader. And all night you could hear people on megaphones saying "come down,
support your government. We have to do this for our country." And the result is mass casualties. There has been photos and videos shared online of horrific images.
[22:35:04] The death count is going to be enormous when it's all said and done here.
LEMON: A bomb went off when as you were speaking to our producer earlier. And you've heard many explosions, haven't you?
CUPOLO: Yes, definitely. There's been broken glass in my neighborhood. There's jets been -- jets have been flying over the city dropping bombs. I couldn't see it, verify it with my own eyes, it was dark all night, but there was finitely explosions and they definitely being launched from some kind of -- either the helicopters or the jets.
It was not just a homemade bomb. There was some kind of terrorist plot. This was definitely military equipment, there's been heavy artillery fire, you could hear the tank, guns. They echo loud. It's been-- it's been a long night basically.
LEMON: Diego, you've been living in Ankara since September of last year, 2015.
LEMON: Have you gotten any indication that this could happen? Why is this happening now?
CUPOLO: Well, it was a surprise. I don't think anybody expected this to just happen last night. Why is it happening now? There have been a lot of reforms pushed by the government in power here and historically in Turkey when the government is overstepping its bounds, the military steps in and acts.
So, this happened in 1960, in 1980, as recently as 1997. Traditionally, the military in Turkey tries to create boundaries for the government to act within its means, and by that I mean separation of church and state.
But maybe here you could say mosque and state. Some people say Erdogan's government is leaning too much towards Islam for their own comfort. And many are assuming this is the reason, though we don't have the full details at the moment.
LEMON: All right. Diego, we're glad you're OK. Again, thank you very much. Diego has been living in Ankara since September of 015.
What do you make of his last statement there? He said reforms are being pushed by the government because Erdogan is leaning too much toward Islam?
FAREED ZAKARIA, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS HOST: Yes. I think that tends to be the kind of western narrative about Erdogan. But when you talk to people in Turkey, the real fear is he's usurping power.
He hasn't actually in acted any kind of Sharia law. Turkey is very secular as a country. It's also like France, you can't wear a veil in government buildings and things like that.
What he has done is he's jailed a bunch of journalists. He's gone after the opposition. He has kind of done power grabs that have been threatening to democracy. He has also put the military really on the defensive. The story of Turkey...
These are live pictures by the way. Go ahead, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: The story of Turkey is that they have had four coups in the last 50 years. Every time, as Diego is saying that the military has felt like the government is not doing well. It has intervened. Erdogan changed that. He pushed the military into its barracks. Now look at that.
LEMON: What do you make of that? A smoke appear by the bridge.
ZAKARIA I think it just tells you as I said, the stakes are very high for these Omni groups that have done the coup. They're not going to go quietly.
LEMON: Stand by -- stand by, Fareed. Because joining me now on the phone is Katherine Cohen. Katherine is an American who is in a hotel in Istanbul where she just heard a bomb or an explosion go off. So, Katherine, we're looking at these live pictures now, and it appears to be smoke, what did you hear or did you see anything?
KATHERINE COHEN, AMERICAN IN ISTANBUL HOTEL: We just heard a bomb about 10 minutes ago. The sun is now just coming up so now there's some light. We've been up all night. We heard a couple of bombs earlier. One sounded like it was so close to us. We're at the four seasons on the Bosporus, so the bridge is right to the left of us.
We're on the Europe side. We can hear, we've heard gunshots and it sounds like they're coming from the Asia side right near the bridge, we've been hearing them all night, as well as the fighter planes flying overhead.
And we were outside for a little bit on the terrace because we wanted to see what was going on, hear what was going on and after the last explosion, everyone just ran inside.
LEMON: Yes. And again, I want to tell our viewers we're looking at live pictures now, these are live pictures from Istanbul. And as can you see, there was an explosion there just moments ago. And it was -- these live pictures are coming to us from Periscope.
Fareed Zakaria is here, and also Katherine Cohen is there. She's an American. She's on holiday there in Istanbul or at least visiting, on vacation in Turkey with her boyfriend who is a photographer there. There's the bridge, where we saw an explosion just moments ago, Fareed. Don't go anywhere, Katherine. Do you recognize this bridge?
ZAKARIA: Yes. Yes. This symbol was extraordinary as you normally see this bridge as packed with traffic. A traffic in Istanbul is usually among the worst in the world.
[22:40:04] And you can see of course a very different picture and you can see some...
LEMON: The smoke there.
ZAKARIA: ... the smoke is still arising from there.
LEMON: Let's listen for a little bit. Katherine, don't go anywhere. Fareed either. Let's listen in.
So, Katherine, this is relatively calm to what you witnessed, you know, just a short time ago. It unfolds in darkness but still it is unnerving to hear explosions and to see a city that usually has some normalcy right now. And as Fareed Zakaria says, packed with cars. You see no traffic in one direction. And then the traffic backed up trying to get to that bridge, it is unnerving.
COHEN: It is. And I've been coming here. I'm actually working here as well. I have clients here. I've been coming to Turkey for over 10 years. Normally at this time, you know, it's very touristy, lots of people. We haven't seen any Americans. We were out today actually in the old city and it seemed very empty.
The hotel is very empty. And we've been trying to get through to the embassy. We cannot reach the embassy through any of the numbers. So, we're very concerned about getting out because we're supposed to leave tomorrow but, as you know, the airports are shut down.
LEMON: If you're just joining us here on CNN, we're watching we believe it is the aftermath of a coup and I say believe it is an aftermath because we're not exactly sure if the coup is over. We're being told by government officials, at least pro-Erdogan officials that this coup is over. It was unsuccessful coup.
But again, still much more is going to be need for confirmation that this was an unsuccessful coup. It's interesting because the deputy prime minister joined us just a short time ago, Mehmet Simsek, here on CNN saying that there were rough aircraft who were firing at the parliament in Ankara by an eyewitness there just moments ago, Diego Cupolo said he heard some of it, he saw some of it posted and he also saw that aircraft, and at least the firing not exactly at the parliament but firing in places in Ankara as well.
The images that you are looking at now are images that were taken during the height of this but we've also just gotten live pictures. MOments ago that came in from Istanbul. And you can see there was explosion in those pictures near a bridge. Also here we go with more live pictures. This is from Istanbul as
well, people out on the street. Of course the president during the height of this, the President Erdogan encouraging people, really pleading with them to go out on the streets and to take back Turkey.
And to take back their streets and to take back their government even people who may not have been pro-government or at least pro of this government but they are pro-democracy.
Doing exactly what Erdogan said. And a number of officials have told us here on CNN, that it appeared to be successful. That that helped the situation, Fareed Zakaria, as we look at these live pictures.
ZAKARIA: Yes. It's very important to note that the opposition party, the Republican Party actually supported Erdogan and said we do not support a coup. Many people in the media in Turkey have done the same thing.
But as you said, though, it still striking that you do not have President Erdogan, obviously does not feel comfortable coming out doing some kind of a public statement, you know, speaking from one of the presidential palaces. There's an official residence of the president in Istanbul that very grand one that I've been do this of course and palatial one in Ankara.
The fact that he is still not, you know, accessible easily on media that we still don't have the head of the armed forces coming out and denouncing this coup, that tells us that there's still a great deal of fluidity to this situation.
LEMON: Katherine, tell us, as an American, what is it like surviving this, living through this?
COHEN: Well, I've been frightened, we've been very, very scared and I travel all over the globe for my work and I'm also in the Middle East and I'm never scared and this is the first time I've really been scared.
So, you know, we've just been up all night listening to this. It feels like there's a war zone outside. We're very lucky to have shelter and to be in our hotel. But we're on lockdown here. We can't get out, they're not letting people out.
Even the people -- when we came in, you know, people who are here having dinner wanting to go home, they weren't letting people out. The military had basically shut the hotel down. They couldn't even send a car for us.
[22:45:00] We were out in a totally different neighborhood to get us back here. So, we had to find our way back, which was an adventure in itself. It took us about an hour to get back here.
We couldn't find a taxi, we jump in civilian cars with gentleman so kind to take us part over the way but then streets were shut down and we ended up walking and finally getting in. So, we feel, you know, luckily relatively safe right now. But it's going on all outside right in front of us and overhead.
LEMON: Yes. You said you were frightened for your life. And we heard the same stories coming in to us last night in Nice, France. Now this happening in Turkey.
Thank you, Katherine Cohen. She's in an American hotel in Istanbul, a CEO, by the way and founder of IvyWise. They're on business and her boyfriend is there as well, surviving this coup in a hotel.
Our Fareed Zakaria is here. Fareed is going to continue to join me for a bit here on CNN to help us -- to help guide us through this.
Up next, and by the way I want to say that you're looking at live pictures. These are live pictures now coming in from Periscope. Istanbul, 5.45 in the morning as the sun comes up there.
Up next, more on our breaking news coverage and the coup attempt in Turkey.