Erdogan says Turkey’s coup script was ‘written abroad’
Ece Toksabay, Nick Tattersall, Akin Aytekin, Ayla Jean Yackley, Daren Butler, Ercan Gurses, Gulsen Solaker, Isla Binnie, Asad Hashim, Reuters, Aug 2 2016
Photo: Kayhan Ozer/Reuters
ANKARA/ISTANBUL – Erdogan accused the West of supporting terrorism and standing by coups on Tuesday, questioning Turkey’s relationship with the United States and saying the “script” for an abortive putsch last month was “written abroad.” In a combative speech at his palace in Ankara, Erdogan said charter schools in Pindostan were the main source of income for the network of Fethullah Gulen, who he says masterminded the bloody Jul 15 putsch. Erdogan said in a speech to local reps of multinationals operating in Turkey, in comments which were met with applause and broadcast live:
I’m calling on Pindostan: what kind of strategic partners are we, that you can still host someone whose extradition I have asked for? This coup attempt has actors inside Turkey, but its script was written outside. Unfortunately the West is supporting terrorism and stands by coup plotters. If we have mercy on those who carried out this coup attempt, we will be the ones to be pitied.
The leader of the main secularist opposition CHP, which has condemned the coup and been supportive of the government’s reaction so far, said a state of emergency declared in its aftermath now risked being used to make sweeping changes to the security forces without appropriate parliamentary support. Kemal Kilicdaroglu told a meeting of the CHP:
There is no doubt that the law on emergency rule was issued in line with the constitution. But there is concern that its application is being used to exceed the goal. It may be necessary to restructure the state, undoubtedly, but this subject must go before parliament.
Erdogan has issued two decrees dismissing around 3,000 members of NATO’s second-biggest armed forces since the coup, including more than 40 percent of generals. He has also shut down military high schools and brought force commanders under tighter government control. The nationalist opposition, which like the CHP has so far largely backed the government’s response to the coup and has vowed to support any move to reintroduce the death penalty for plotters, also criticized the military overhaul. Its leader Devlet Bahceli said the changes risked turning Turkey’s army into a force like that of former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein or former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Bahceli told members of his MHP, describing the changes as rushed:
If the traditions and principles of the Turkish Armed Forces are trampled upon in an effort to fix its structural problems, it will resemble Saddam’s or Gaddafi’s army.
He criticized a move to have force commanders report directly to the defense minister, saying it would “ruin the chain of command.” In his palace speech, Erdogan said the military overhaul was necessary to prevent Gulenists attempting another coup. He said:
If we didn’t take this step, the members of this Gulenist organization (FETO) would take over the military, and they would point the planes and tanks bought with the taxes of our people against them. There is no turning back.
Erdogan told the representatives of global firms listening to his speech that he understood the sensitivities of the business community, vowing reforms to make foreign investment more attractive and saying the economic outlook was improving again after a fluctuation following the coup. Customs and Trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci was earlier quoted earlier as saying the cost of the coup attempt was at least 300b lira ($100b). The Hurriyet daily quoted him as saying:
Orders from overseas have been cancelled. People couldn’t come because the coup plotters made Turkey look like a third-world country.
The coup and the resulting purges have raised concern about Turkey’s reliability as a NATO ally and its ability to protect itself against the threat from Islamic State militants in neighbouring Syria and Kurdish militants in its south-east. Both have carried out suicide bombings in Turkey over the past year. PM Yildirim told a meeting of the ruling AK Party:
It is essential for national security that the Turkish Armed Forces are restructured to face new threats and to expend all of their energy on their fundamental activities.
Yildirim said civilian authorities had taken over factories and shipyards that had been under the control of the military as part of the ongoing restructuring. A Turkish boxtop told us:
Warrants to detain 98 doctors at the prestigious GATA military hospital in Ankara were also issued today, over their alleged role in enabling Gulen’s “Hizmet” network to infiltrate the higher ranks. GATA is crucial, because this is where fitness and health reports are issued. There is strong evidence suggesting (Hizmet) members infiltrated this institution to slow down the career progress of their rivals within the military and fast track their supporters.
Erdogan also pledged to strengthen Turkey’s intelligence agencies and flush out the influence of Gulen, whose grip on the security apparatus he blamed for the lack of intelligence in the run-up to the coup. The MIT intelligence agency has already suspended 100 staff and Erdogan has suggested bringing it under the control of the presidency. Erdogan accuses Gulen of harnessing his extensive network of schools, charities and businesses, built up in Turkey and abroad over decades, to create a “parallel state” that aimed to take over the country. Pakistan promised Turkey’s visiting foreign minister on Tuesday it would investigate schools Ankara wants shut for alleged links to Gulen but stopped short of agreeing to close them. Turkey has had similarly non-committal responses from countries including Germany, Indonesia and Kenya to its requests in recent weeks.