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.


Successor to slain Iran general faces same fate if he kills Americans: US envoy

Updated 23 January 2020

Successor to slain Iran general faces same fate if he kills Americans: US envoy

  • Washington blamed Soleimani for masterminding attacks by Iran-aligned militias against US forces in the region
  • Ghaani promised to “continue in this luminous path” taken by Soleimani and said the goal was to drive US forces out of the region

DUBAI: The US special representative for Iran said the successor to Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike, would suffer the same fate if he followed a similar path of killing Americans, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.

Washington blamed Soleimani for masterminding attacks by Iran-aligned militias against US forces in the region. US President Donald Trump ordered the Jan. 3 drone strike in Iraq after a build up of tension over Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran responded to the killing of Soleimani, who was charged with expanding Tehran’s influence across the Middle East, by launching missile strikes on US targets in Iraq, although no US soldiers were killed.

After Soleimani’s death, Tehran swiftly appointed Esmail Ghaani as the new head of the Quds Force, an elite unit in the Revolutionary Guards that handles actions abroad. The new commander pledged to pursue Soleimani’s course.

“If (Esmail) Ghaani follows the same path of killing Americans then he will meet the same fate,” Brian Hook told the Arabic-language daily Asharq Al-Awsat.

He said in the interview in Davos that US President Donald Trump had long made it clear “that any attack on Americans or American interests would be met with a decisive response.”

“This isn’t a new threat. The president has always said that he will always respond decisively to protect American interests,” Hook said. “I think the Iranian regime understands now that they cannot attack America and get away with it.”

After his appointment, Ghaani promised to “continue in this luminous path” taken by Soleimani and said the goal was to drive US forces out of the region, which has long been Iran’s stated policy.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have steadily increased since Trump withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018 and imposed tough news sanctions that have hammered the Iranian economy.

This month’s military flare-up began in December when rockets fired at US bases in Iraq killed a US contractor. Washington blamed pro-Iran militia and launched air strikes that killed at least 25 fighters. After the militia surrounded the US embassy in Baghdad for two days, Trump ordered the drone strike on Soleimani.