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Following coup attempt, Turkey dismisses state workers as relations with West sour
President Erdoğan visits the Police Special Operation Department’s Headquarters in Ankara.
This week’s snapshot focuses on Turkey’s mass dismissal of alleged conspirators in the 15JUL failed coup d’état. The suspected ‘traitors’ have been rooted out of the judiciary, schools, media outlets, the national airline, and, most significantly, the military. The Erdoğan government’s primary suspects are Fethullah Gülen and the so-called Gülen movement, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States. Ankara estimates that nearly 9,000 members of the military were complicit in the attempted coup, among them nearly half of the country’s generals. The alleged conspirators have been discharged dishonorably, and many were placed under arrest. President Erdoğan’s subsequent actions have caused tensions between Turkey and it’s strategic allies, most notably putting an already controversial EU-Turkey migration deal at risk and sparking a diplomatic spat with Washington, as Ankara accuses the US of conspiring with Mr. Gulen. US General Joseph Votel, the commander of US Central Command, warned this week that the ongoing fallout could impede the US-led coalition’s progress in the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. President Erdoğan has dismissed this and expressed deep skepticism of the United States as ally in the wake of the failed coup.
News summary of events during the week of 25JUL16 – 01AUG16
25JUL: Turkish authorities issued arrest warrants for over 40 journalists as part of the investigation into the 15JUL failed coup d’état. (AFP)
25JUL: Foreign minister Cavusoglu announced that some Turkish ambassadors would be removed from their posts for alleged links to Fethullah Gülen and the failed coup. (Xinhua)
26JUL: Two Turkish generals based in Afghanistan, Major-General Cahit Bakir and Brigadier Sener Topuc, were detained by authorities in Dubai following the failed coup, CNN Turk television reported, citing diplomatic sources. (Reuters)
27JUL: The Cabinet of Ministers issued a decree ordering the closure of dozens of media outlets, as prosecutors issued detention orders for nearly 50 more journalists and media figures. (WP)
28JUL: PM Binali Yildirim and the Supreme Military Council met to replace the military commanders and personnel dismissed the day before. (AFP)
28JUL: Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s top military commander who was held hostage during the attempted coup, was allowed to keep his post after the purge, and the general who previously served as acting chief of staff was promoted. (AP)
28JUL: General Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, expressed concern that the failed coup in Turkey, and subsequent purge of the military, will have long term effects on the fight against Islamic State militants in the region. (AP)
28JUL: Turkish prosecutors issued an indictment accusing the CIA and FBI of providing training to followers of the Gülen movement. (Xinhua)
29JUL: President Erdoğan accused General Votel of being on the side of Turkey’s coup conspirators, and criticized the US government for harboring Fethullah Gülen. (AFP)
29JUL: General Votel rejected Turkish claims that he supported the failed coup attempt. (Reuters)
30JUL: Sixty-four employees at the Constitutional Court were suspended pending investigation of their alleged links to the failed coup. More than 18,000 people have been detained or arrested since the attempted coup, with only 3,500 of them since released. (AP)
31JUL: Tens of thousands of members of Germany’s Turkish community rallied in the city of Cologne, in a show of support for President Erdogan. (AP)
01AUG: Turkish forces flying attack helicopters and drones raided a forested area in southwestern Turkey overnight, capturing a fugitive unit of commandos who had tried to assassinate or kidnap President Erdogan last month during a coup attempt, Turkish officials said. (NYT)
01AUG: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford sought to soothe strained ties with Turkey in a visit to the NATO ally. (Reuters)
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about President Erdoğan’s purges in Turkey
@andrewegardner – Andrew Gardner, Turkey researcher, Amnesty International
@aylajean – Ayla Jean Yackley, Journalist, Reuters
@KadriGursel – Kadri Gürsel, Journalist, Al-Monitor and Cumhuriyet
@MahirZeynalov – Mahir Zeynalov, Turkish analyst and journalist, Huffington Post and Al Arabiya
@zeynep_erdim – Zeynep Erdim, Jounalist, BBC World Türkiye
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding President Erdoğan’s purges in Turkey
Gauri van Gulik, Deputy director for Europe, Amnesty International
“[The Erdoğan government] is failing to make a distinction between criminal acts and legitimate criticism…It is vital that Turkish authorities allow the media to do their work and end this draconian clampdown on freedom of expression.”
“Turkish authorities to shut down dozens of media outlets,” Washington Post, 27JUL16
Halil Karaveli, Senior fellow, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program
“With its main pillar, the military, broken, the Turkish state will no longer be able to check a divided society or effectively counter security threats.”
“With Army in Disarray, a Pillar of Modern Turkey Lies Broken,” New York Times, 28JUL16
Doruk Ergun, Research fellow, Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM)
“The priority will be to make the Turkish armed forces more compliant to civilian authorities,” The most significant change will be in the military’s self-appointed role, and institutional culture, as the guardian of democracy and the republic.”
“Turkish Government Tightens Control Over Military,” Wall Street Journal, 28JUL16
Johann Bihr, Head of Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, Reporters Without Borders
“Criticizing the government and working for media outlets that support the Gulen Movement do not constitute evidence of involvement in the failed coup.”
“Turkey discharges 1,700 military officers, shuts down dozens of media outlets,” AP, 27JUL16
Fotis Filippou, Deputy director for campaigns, Amnesty International
“Rounding up journalists and shutting down media houses is the latest assault on a media already weakened by years of government repression. Even under a state of emergency, restrictions must be necessary, proportionate and for a legitimate purpose. The provisions of the two emergency decrees passed this week fail all three of these tests and fly in the face of the government’s claim that they are upholding rights and the rule of law.”
“Turkey coup attempt: Government cancels 50,000 passports as global concern grows over crackdown,” The Independent, 30JUL16
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to President Erdoğan’s purges in Turkey
1. Turkey Cracks Down on Journalists, Its Next Target After Crushing Coup
Media: New York Times
Byline: CEYLAN YEGINSU and TIM ARANGO
Date: 25 July 2016
ISTANBUL — One journalist, who was on vacation, had his home raided in the early morning by the police. Others were called in to their bosses’ offices last week and fired, with little explanation. Dozens of reporters have had their press credentials revoked.
A pro-government newspaper, meanwhile, published a list of names and photographs of journalists suspected of treachery.
2. With Army in Disarray, a Pillar of Modern Turkey Lies Broken
Media: New York Times
Byline: TIM ARANGO and CEYLAN YEGINSU
Date: 28 July 2016
ISTANBUL — As a rebel faction of Turkey’s military began a violent attempt to topple the elected government, the country’s top officer, Gen. Hulusi Akar, was held at gunpoint in his office in the capital and told for the first time about what was happening.
“Sir, the operation is starting,” a coup-plotting officer said, according to General Akar in testimony that was leaked to the Turkish news media and verified by a senior Turkish official as authentic. “We will round up people, battalions. Brigades are on their way. You will see a bit later.”
3. Turkish Government Tightens Control Over Military
Media: Wall Street Journal
Byline: EMRE PEKER
Date: 28 July 2016
ISTANBUL—Turkey’s government tightened its control over the military, intensifying its moves to consolidate power following a failed coup by promoting loyalist commanders and dismissing suspected rebel soldiers.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Thursday convened the Supreme Military Council ahead of its regular August meeting to decide promotions and purges, confirming that almost half the country’s top brass would be immediately dismissed.
4. Erdogan accuses US general of ‘backing putschists’
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 29 July 2016
Ankara, July 29, 2016 (AFP) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday accused a top US general of being on the side of Turkey’s coup plotters after commenting that the country’s turmoil could downgrade military cooperation with Washington.
“You are taking the side of coup plotters instead of thanking this state for defeating the coup attempt,” Erdogan said in angry remarks at a military centre in Golbasi outside Ankara, where air strikes left dozens dead during the failed putsch on July 15.
5. Erdogan says to close military schools, rein in armed forces
Byline: Yesim Dikmen
Date: 30 July 2016
ANKARA, Turkey (Reuters) – Turkey will shut down its military academies and put the armed forces under the command of the defense minister, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday in a move designed to bring the military under tighter government control after a failed coup.
The changes, some of which Erdogan said would likely be announced in the government’s official gazette by Sunday, come after more than 1,700 military personnel were dishonorably discharged this week for their role in the abortive July 15-16 putsch.