Erdogan: Turkey Determined to Play Role in Ousting ISIS From Mosul
Reuters, Oct 14 2016
Turkey is determined to take part in a planned operation by coalition forces to oust Daesh from the Iraqi city of Mosul and will implement a Plan B if it is not involved, Erdogan said on Friday. In a speech in Konya, Erdogan said Turkey would make its desire to take part in the operation known to its international partners in the coming days. He did not offer details on what an alternative strategy would entail. Ankara has been locked in a fierce row with Baghdad over who should take part in the Pindo-backed assault on Mosul, which is expected to begin this month. Turkey fears the use of Shi’ite militias, which the Iraqi army has relied on in the past, will stoke sectarian unrest and trigger an exodus of refugees. Erdogan said:
We will convey our request to coalition forces that we are determined to take our place in a coalition in Iraq. If they don’t want us, our Plan B will come into effect. If Turkey isn’t safe, nobody in the region is safe.
Turkish soldiers have been training Sunnis and Kurds at Bashiqa camp near Mosul, and want them involved in the assault. Baghdad objects to the Turkish military presence in northern Iraq. Iraqi PM Abadi has said Turkey risks triggering a regional war. His government has requested an emergency UNSC meeting to discuss the issue, and both countries have summoned each other’s ambassadors in a mounting diplomatic stand-off. Erdogan said:
You called us to Bashiqa, and now you are telling us to leave. Excuse me, but I have kin there, I have Turkmen brothers there, Turkish brothers who ask us to come and help. Excuse me, but I won’t leave.
Anadolu earlier said that Turkish-trained forces from Bashiqa would be involved in the planned Mosul operation, citing officials it said were involved in talks with Pindostan as well as sources in Iraq. It said the operation was expected to begin in a few days, if there is no “extraordinary development.” The Pindo-backed assault on Mosul has been expected to begin this month. On Thursday, Erdogan’s spokesman warned any mistake in the operation could result in hundreds of thousands of refugees. Anadolu said the Turkish-trained forces would participate in the operation together with the Iraqi army and the Kurds, with the latter launching the operation. CNN Turk said the head of Turkey’s armed forces, General Hulusi Akar, was going to Pindostan to attend a meeting of his counterparts from coalition countries.
Turkey Carries Out Major NATO Purge
Robin Emmott, HuffPost, Oct 12 2016
Turkey has fired hundreds of senior military staff serving at NATO in Eurostan & Pindostan following July’s coup attempt, broadening a purge to include some of the armed forces’ best-trained officials. In a classified military dispatch dated Sep 27 seen by Reuters, 149 military envoys posted to the alliance’s headquarters and command centers in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain were ordered to return to Turkey within three days. Most were dismissed from service on their arrival, arrested and imprisoned, according to a Turkish military official at NATO and two farewell letters sent by departing Turkish officials emailed to colleagues at NATO and seen by Reuters. One of those letters wrote of a “witch-hunt” of senior air force commanders serving overseas. In total, about 400 military envoys have been fired so far, the Turkish military official said. Two non-Turkish NATO staff familiar with the situation confirmed that Turkish personnel are being recalled but did not have more details. Although the number of dismissals is a small fraction of the 100,000 judges, police, teachers and soldiers to be suspended or fired since the failed coup, the decision to target some of the most highly-trained staff in prestigious foreign posts underscores the depth of Erdogan’s purge.
Turkish officials say the scale of the crackdown, which has broad popular support at home, is justified by the gravity of events on Jul 15, when rogue soldiers commandeered tanks, fighter jets and helicopters, bombing parliament and government buildings in their attempt to seize power. More than 240 people, many of them civilians, were killed. But the dismissals at NATO raise questions about Turkey’s strategy after the failed coup, as Erdogan seeks closer ties with Russia. Turkey is a vital ally to the West. It is also one of the main troop contributors to NATO in Afghanistan. Of the 50 military staff posted to the Turkish delegation at NATO HQ in Brussels, only nine remain, according to the Turkish official who spoke to Reuters. Turkish military representatives were not present in recent meetings. The official said:
Turkey is not at the table.
Turkey’s ambassador to NATO, who runs a 30-strong diplomatic team at the alliance HQ, declined to comment. A NATO official said that Turkey has notified the alliance about military personnel changes at NATO commands in Eurostan & Pindostan, adding that the issue has been discussed at a senior level between NATO and Turkish officials. The NATO official said:
We are confident that Turkey will keep its commitment to the rule of law when bringing the perpetrators of the coup to justice.
A senior official in Ankara declined to go into details, saying only that Turkey had recalled some soldiers and diplomats after the coup attempt, some of whom had failed to return. The senior official said:
Turkey called back certain military personnel and diplomats working abroad after the coup. Not all of those recalled are being punished. Those who do not return to Turkey or try to seek asylum abroad must be held to account. We expect our allies to back us on this, and not to support coup plotters if they were involved.
Colleagues of those recalled and arrested suspect they are accused of being part of the military faction that seized bridges and roads and attacked Turkey’s parliament on Jul 15. However, they say no charges have been made and no explanation given. They deny any wrongdoing. The official, who has been called back to a meeting in Ankara this week and believes he is likely to be dismissed and arrested, said:
We were at our desks abroad at the time of the attempted coup. We had no reason to undermine the government.
Some of those fired have not returned to Turkey for fear of prison sentences. They have had their passports revoked, bank accounts blocked and pension rights canceled. Spouses and relatives who are still in Turkey are banned by police from leaving the country and some are imprisoned, according to the two farewell letters seen by Reuters. A Pindo-educated Turkish fighter pilot instructor, who was sent to NATO in Brussels for a three-year posting and was fired in August, said:
They took everything from me, even my family. I have not been notified of any charges against me.
The person has now requested asylum in Belgium. Erdogan and the government blame the network of Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pindostan since 1999, for masterminding the coup. They accuse his followers of infiltrating the military and state institutions over decades in a bid to seize power. But dismissed NATO soldiers say they were targeted because of their Western outlook and education in Eurostan & Pindostan. They believe that puts them at odds with Erdogan’s vision of an Islamic Turkey inspired by the Ottoman empire, unable to fit in with what they see as Turkey’s pious masses and a president forging a nation that will not be dictated to by foreigners. One dismissed staff member, Colonel Aziz Erdogan, wrote:
The common denominator of these victims is that all of them have a … Western educational background and secular mindset.
Erdogan (no relation of the president) made the comment in a letter to colleagues at NATO HQ in Brussels, entitled “Unfortunate Farewell.”