Turkey’s government marks 3rd anniversary of failed coup

A security officer stands near the ‘Martyrs Monument’ outside the presidential palace in Ankara on Monday. (AP)
Updated 16 July 2019

Turkey’s government marks 3rd anniversary of failed coup

  • Raids to capture suspects accused of ties to Ankara’s foe Fethullah Gulen still continue

ANKARA: Turkey on Monday marked the third anniversary of a bloody attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against a backdrop of growing tensions with the West.
Nearly 250 people were killed — excluding the coup plotters — and over 2,000 were injured after a rogue military faction tried to wrest power from the president, but thousands took to the streets in response to Erdogan’s call to defeat the uprising.
The anniversary comes at a difficult moment for Erdogan, faced with a weakened economy, worsening relations with NATO ally the US, and a loss for his party in the recent Istanbul local election to a more unified opposition.
After laying flowers at a monument for coup victims at his presidential palace complex in Ankara, Erdogan took part in a tense ceremony at Parliament, which was bombed during the attempted putsch.
Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter that Turkey “sends a powerful message of unity and solidarity to the world: We will die but never let traitors and putschists destroy our country, our freedom and our dignity.”
The day, known as “15 July” in Turkey, has become a national holiday.

FASTFACT

• The anniversary comes at a difficult moment for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, faced with a weakened economy, worsening relations with NATO ally the US, and a loss for his party in the recent Istanbul local election to a more unified opposition.

• Relations with the West deteriorated after the coup bid, with Turkish officials accusing the West of not giving Ankara sufficient support.

• At the same time, Erdogan has grown ever closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin, raising concerns in Europe and the US.

• Adding to the tension, Ankara has bought Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, and has drilled for gas and oil off Cyprus despite EU warnings.

• Ankara accuses former ally-turned-foe Fethullah Gulen of having ordered the attempted coup and lists his movement as a ‘terrorist’ organization.

Relations with the West deteriorated after the coup bid, with Turkish officials accusing the West of not giving Ankara sufficient support.
At the same time, Erdogan has grown ever closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin, raising concerns in Europe and the US. Adding to the tension, Ankara has bought Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, and has drilled for gas and oil off Cyprus despite EU warnings.
Ankara accuses former ally-turned-foe Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric exiled in the United States, of having ordered the attempted coup and lists his movement as a “terrorist” organization. Some 8,000 military personnel took part in the bid to overthrow Erdogan, backed by 35 fighter jets, three boats, 37 helicopters and 74 tanks, according to state news agency Anadolu.
Since 2016, tens of thousands of people have been detained while 150,000 public sector employees have been suspended or sacked over alleged links to Gulen.
Anadolu reported Sunday that 110 suspected Gulen movement members have been extradited to Turkey from more than 20 countries.
Hundreds of life sentences have been handed down against accused putschists.
There are still almost daily police raids to capture suspects accused of ties to Gulen.


Head of Iran-backed militia in Iraq walks back US accusation

Updated 43 sec ago

Head of Iran-backed militia in Iraq walks back US accusation

  • The statements by Al-Fayyadh and Al-Muhandis followed at least three mysterious explosions at militia bases and munitions depot around Iraq over the past month
  • Al-Fayyadh’s statement alleged the attacks on the bases over the past weeks “were the result of an act organized by a foreign side”

BAGHDAD: The head of Iraq’s paramilitary Shiite forces, supported by Iran, on Thursday appeared to walk back a statement by his deputy the day before blaming Israeli drones and claiming the US was responsible for a series of attacks on bases run by the militia.
Faleh Al-Fayyadh said the statement by his deputy, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, did not represent the view of the mainly Shiite paramilitary group known as Popular Mobilization Forces — or the view of the Iraqi government. Al-Fayyadh’s statement alleged the attacks on the bases over the past weeks “were the result of an act organized by a foreign side,” but refrained from naming that side.
The statements highlight divisions within the Shiite militia force, headed by Al-Fayyadh but practically run by his deputy, a powerful military commander known for his anti-American sentiments. The militia group’s website published only Al-Muhandis’ statement on Thursday.
Iraq’s fragile government is walking a fine line trying to manage its alliances with both the United States and Iran amid rising tensions between the two.
Iran wields powerful influence through its support of the Shiite militias, which are sanctioned by the Iraqi government and which were a major force in the fight against Daesh. At the same time, Iraq hosts American troops and forces belonging to the US-led coalition fighting Daesh.
The statements by Al-Fayyadh and Al-Muhandis followed at least three mysterious explosions at militia bases and munitions depot around Iraq over the past month, including a massive blast near Baghdad that killed one civilian and wounded 28. A government investigation, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, found the blast near Baghdad on Aug. 12 was caused by a drone strike.
The blast has also given rise to a host of theories, including that Israel may have been behind the attacks. Israel has struck Iranian bases in neighboring Syria on numerous occasions, and there has been speculation that it might be expanding its campaign to target Iranian bases to Iraq. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the reports.
On Wednesday, the statement signed by Al-Muhandis said that the militia group had information that the US brought four Israeli drones from Azerbaijan to Iraq “as part of the US fleet” to carry out reconnaissance and targeting of militia positions. It was not clear from the statement who was being accused of carrying out the attacks but the militia said it holds the US “ultimately responsible for what happened.”
The Iraqi government did not address the statement by Al-Muhandis, which appears to have been issued without prior consultation with Iraqi security forces — an embarrassing sign of how the militias operate independently.
American officials denied the US had any role in the explosions.
“The US is not involved in the recent warehouse explosions,” said Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman.