Iranian Leaders React to Turkey Coup

July 18, 2016

Iranian leaders expressed strong support for Turkey’s elected government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following a failed coup by military officers. “These people should understand that the way of resolving the problems is democracy and respecting the nation’s vote,” said President Hassan Rouhani on July 17. In a tweet, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif added, “Turkish people's brave defense of democracy & their elected government proves that coups have no place in our region and are doomed to fail.”

On July 15, tanks entered streets in Ankara and Istanbul while attack helicopters and fighter jets strafed parliament and the intelligence headquarters. Uniformed soldiers attempted to take control of key sites, such as the Bosphorus Bridge. Social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, were blocked. Erdogan addressed the nation using FaceTime and his mobile phone, which was picked up by CNN Turk. He called on the Turkish people to take to the streets in support of the government. Amid the chaos, more than 200 people were killed and more than 1,400 people were injured. The coup faltered in the face after public demonstrations opposed to the takeover. 

In the following days, authorities began a widespread crackdown on individuals suspected of having connections to the plotters. Nearly 20,000 members of the police, army, civil service, and judiciary were reportedly detained or suspended as of July 18.

Erdogan blamed the coup on low-ranking military officers and on Fethullah Gulen, a reclusive cleric who has been living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. Gulen, a rival of Erdogan’s, leads a popular movement called Hizmet that is thought to have a wide following in Turkey. The following are reactions to the attempted coup in Turkey by Iranian leaders. 


President Hassan Rouhani

Rouhani“We are in a region where unfortunately some people still assume they can change the power structure through a coup; or overthrow a government that has come to the power through the polls using tanks, fighter jets and helicopters,”

“These people should understand that the way of resolving the problems is democracy and respecting the nation’s vote.”

“Today is the day when issues can be settled at ballot boxes, and people can make their voice heard through their votes.”

—July 17, 2016, according to Trend News Agency, Daily Times, Tehran Times, and Mehr News


Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif


“We were the first country that explicitly declared our position regarding Turkey, while other countries either kept mum or …were vague in their stance, if they adopted any, and failed to voice their support for democracy.”

—July 17, 2016, addressing parliament, according to Iranian media


Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani

Larijani“[This was] victory of the nation’s will, national sovereignty and democracy over a desperate and doomed measure.”

“Events over past few hours showed very well that the nations’ vote, will and demand are decisive.”

“[Iranian parliament] condemns the military move against democratically-elected institutions, particularly the attack on Turkey’s parliament as the symbol of democracy and the nation’s will and demand.”

“I would like to congratulate your Excellency, the Turkish people and members of parliament on the victory of the people’s will, national sovereignty and democracy over desperate and ‘doomed to failure actions’ against your country’s institutions,”

—July 16, 2016, in a statement to his Turkish counterpart, Ismail Kahraman, according to Press TV and Tehran Times


Ali Akbar Velayati (advisor to the supreme leader)

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is a state governed by religious democracy, i.e. a government based on popular vote within the framework of Islamic values and is naturally against any illegal move and act of bullying to change popular governments.”

“If a few military personnel seek to crush underfoot the vote of the people under the influence of whatever factor or factors and overthrow the popular government of Erdogan, the Islamic Republic of Iran will naturally and according to the principles it believes in oppose this coup d’état or any other coups.”

“We hope that a day would come when the Turkish administration would also respect the opinion and vote of the Syrian people and leave it to the Syrian people to determine their government.”

“Regardless of some political differences, many commonalities bring Iran and Turkey together. These two countries with a common history, religion and border have existed side by side for centuries.”

“We disagree with Turkey on some issues, like Syria. We are hopeful that the Turkish government respects the Syrian people's opinion and votes and lets the Syrian nation choose their government.”

—July 16, 2016, according to Tasnim News Agency via Reuters and Iran Front Page


Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani

Shamkhani“We are following the events in Turkey warily and carefully,”

“All of the land and air borders with Turkey are under full control, and comprehensive surveillance is underway in the areas.”

“We support Turkey's legal government and oppose any type of coup - either initiated domestically or supported by foreigners.”

—July 16, 2016, according to Iran Front Page and Reuters media


Bahram Qassemi, Iran Foreign Ministry Spokesman

“We are deeply concerned about stability, security, unity, democracy and rule of law in Turkey.”

“A stable, secure and democratic Turkey is a priority for the Islamic Republic of Iran,”

—July 16, 2016, according to Press TV and Tasnim News Agency


Hossein Sheikholeslam (advisor to Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani)

“The elimination of terrorists in Syria is a big strategic loss for the Zionist regime [Israel]; therefore, I don’t see it unlikely that what happened in Turkey was the result of efforts made by Americans, Saudis, Egyptian intelligence, and Zionists.”

“It is no secret to anyone that the masterminds of the coup also had close relations with the Zionist regime.”

“The threat resembles the approach adopted by Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi Arabian ambassador to the US, against the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bandar had implicitly threatened to carry out terrorist attacks in Russia.”

—July 18, 2016, according to media


Member of Parliament Ali Asghar Yousefnejad

“Coups are not acceptable in any government. Governments should be formed based on people’s votes.”

—July 17, 2016, according to ICANA via Iran Front Page


Member of Parliament Akbar Ranjbarzadeh

“Although Turkey has an instable structure because of its government’s incapability, the coup should not have taken place, killing Turkish people and causing insecurity,”

“It is believed that other countries have had roles in the coup. Among these countries, Saudi Arabia is the most possible option, and al Saud’s interference in Turkish coup is not unbelievable, because such a coup has definitely had foreign backers.”

“As Saudis caused disorders in the Middle Eastern countries including Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, and many more, and now they are trying to extend it to Turkey,”

—July 17, 2016, according to ICANA via Iran Front Page


Member of Parliament Jafar Zade

“During the coup in Turkey, Foreign Minister Zarif, [Qods Force] General [Qassem] Soleimani and Shamkhani were in contact with each other, monitoring the events.”

“Zarif said ‘the possibility of Saudi's interference in Turkey coup is high.’”

“Erdogan didn’t come to Iran during the coup.”

—July 17, 2016, according to Entekhab journalist Rohollah Faghihi


Member of Parliament Ruhollah Beigi

“The coup in Turkey might have been orchestrated by Erdogan himself.”

“I'm suspicious of the coup in Turkey.”

—July 17, 2016, according to Entekhab journalist Rohollah Faghihi