Turkish prime minister says attempted coup underway, calls for calm

President Erdogan has been both a tormenter of Europe and the United States as well as a key linchpin in the strategic plans of both.

Expressing a hope that Europeans might now warm to Erdogan again as a lesser of two evils, less unappealing than chaos, or army rule, a fourth EU official referred to the president's call to unarmed supporters to face down the army: "If you win by saying democracy is stronger than tanks", he said, "then the "democratically elected government" should act for democracy".

"I don't know who my followers are", Gulen told The New York Times from his compound, when asked if any of his backers were involved in the coup attempt.

The back-and-forth occurred against the backdrop of Turkey closing its airspace, effectively grounding US warplanes that had been targeting Islamic State forces in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

"We have to keep him on the democratic path", a third European Union official said. Erdogan's government said Gulen directed the coup all the same. "Deliver this man who lives in Pennsylvania to Turkey", said Erdogan.

"We will overcome this", Erdogan said, speaking by mobile phone to the Turkish sister station of CNN.

Although he didn't outline any threat, Erdogan's emphasis on U.S. The Pentagon said it was trying to get permission to resume air operations from the base, while adjusting mission operations in the meantime.

The uprising was launched Friday night with military jets overhead, tanks and soldiers in the streets and firepower that left at least 161 dead and 1,440 wounded, according to the government.

"All of that continues as before", Kerry said.

Earlier, on a visit to Luxembourg, Kerry told reporters the USA would entertain an extradition request for Gulen if the Turks provided evidence of wrongdoing.

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Erdogan attempted to blame his former ally-turned-nemesis Fethullah Gulen for the coup. He said he anticipates questions will be raised about Gulen. "And obviously we would invite the government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny".

The reclusive cleric, who very rarely speaks to reporters, talked about the failed overthrow attempt shortly after Erdogan demanded that the United States extradite him.

Gulen is understood to maintain significant support among some members of the military and mid-level bureaucrats. But tensions developed over the years and they became sworn enemies in 2013, when the government charged him of orchestrating a corruption probe targeting Erdogan's family, Cabinet ministers and leading businessmen. Gulen denies any involvement, however. He said the coup attempt was seen as "one more thing to add to an already extensive list".

Yet Turkey could be poised for a fresh bout of polarization under Erdogan, who vowed that the coup plotters would pay a heavy price.

"I have been away from Turkey for more than 16 years". If Turkey fell and the United States lost access to the Incirlik air base the U.S. fight against Daesh would could to a screaming halt. "You can think about many motivations of people who staged this coup".

Although many Turks are disgruntled over Erdogan's moves against civil liberties such as freedom of the press, and are fearful in the wake of a deadly IS attack on Istanbul's Ataturk Airport last month, the country appeared to reject the military rebellion.

It appears not to have been backed by the most senior ranks of the military, and Turkey's main opposition parties quickly condemned the attempted overthrow of the government.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called the military actions in multiple cities an attempted coup.

Almost 3,000 accused plotters already have been detained and new purges in the military are expected to remove any sympathizers among soldiers and officers.

But the USA government said it has suspended all flights to Turkey, and banned all airlines from flying to the United States from Turkey due to uncertainty after the coup bid.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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