Turkey’s national unity during the July 15 coup attempt was a “ray of hope” during a time of tribulation, U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview that aired Sunday.
“What was encouraging was the degree to which the Turkish people, including those who were opposed to President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, [were] stepping up and saying this is unacceptable,” he told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
“That was the ray of hope that came out of what was a really challenging event,” Obama added.
The coup attempt in Turkey left 240 people martyred and 2,200 others injured as the Turkish people took the streets to thwart rogue members of the Turkish military attempting to seize power from the democratically elected government.
According to Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, 55,000 people have been “subjected to legal procedures” since the coup attempt, with more than half of them released.
Responding to potential U.S. concerns over the Turkish response, Obama said, “No doubt what is true is that they’ve gone through a political and civil earthquake in their country, and they’ve got to rebuild, and how they rebuild is going to be important.”
“What we want to do is indicate to them the degree to which we support the Turkish people, but like any good friend we want to give them honest feedback if we think that the steps they’re taking are going to be contrary to their long-term interests and our partnership,” he added.
Obama stressed that Turkey continues to be a “strong NATO ally,” and an “important partner” on regional security issues.
The comments come as Turkey continues Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, with the self-declared aim of clearing terrorist elements from along its southern border, and as the U.S. continues to lead a coalition of countries, including Turkey, who are jointly fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria.