As Turkey responds to an attempted coup, the government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who pledged that those accountable will be punished by the state, has been rounding up thousands of suspected plotters.
Rudaw reports that upwards of 6,000 people have been rounded up, throughout the country, as suspects in connection with the coup that erupted late Friday and into the early morning according to Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag.
The majority seem to be either military, as 3,000 soldiers have been arrested with high-ranking officials among them, or members of the justice system, as the report also notes the sacking of up to 2,700 judges.
President Erdogan stated that the coup was a “gift from God” which will be used as a “reason to cleanse the army”, as Justice Minister Bozag commented that “arrests will rise.” Erdogan has also promised to enact severe punishment against those responsible.
The strong condemnation as well as the mass arrests have prompted several heads of state, Western allies of Turkey, to urge the government to proceed with restraint as US President Barack Obama stressed that Turkey “act within the rule of law”.
A report by RT News also notes that the NATO member has been cracking down on political opposition in the country. Turkey’s relations with other NATO members, like the United States, have also cooled in recent years over concerns of the treatment of the country’s Kurdish minority at the hands of Erdogan’s government.
The Kurds have been major US allies in both Kurdish and American operations against ISIS in the region. However, a broken ceasefire in 2015 has brought the Turkish military into more open conflict with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
Defense analyst Ivan Eland, speaking with RT News, expressed doubts over the US-Turkey relationship as Turkey’s military action against the Kurds who help the US in the region have been counterproductive to operations against terrorist groups.
“I don’t think he is a very good ally, because he is more concerned about the Turks than ISIS, the other Kurds, the YPG, the Syrian Kurds. He was bombing them and they are the biggest US ally in fighting ISIS.”
The left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which is pro-Kurdish, has denounced the coup in a statement reported by ARA News.
“HDP, as a matter of principle and under all circumstances, is against all kinds of coups. There is no way but democracy.”
ARA News also released a statement given by the PKK, with harsher criticism of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has also condemned the coup while stressing that they side with neither faction.
“The AKP fascism drove the army into Kurdish cities and towns, made them burn the cities to the ground and massacre hundreds of civilians. Furthermore, it enacted laws to disallow the trial of the military for the crimes they have committed… There already existed a military tutelage before the coup attempt made yesterday; which makes the current case an attempt of coup by a military faction against the existing military faction.”
Erdogan’s relations with the Kurdish minority have long been a source of serious, even deadly tension. In January, ARA News covered a speech by the president to urge changes in Turkey’s constitutional structure, referencing Kurdish ambitions among the reasons to take constitutional control from the hands of parliament. Erdogan added that he will confront the Kurdish opposition with an iron fist for the remainder of his presidency.
As Kurdish groups in the region, including in Iraq, watch the developing situation closely, it is perhaps the PKK with the strongest reaction.
“Political power’s control over the judiciary, the implementation of fascist laws and policies through a parliamentarian majority, the removal of parliamentarians’ immunities, the arrest of co-mayors, the removal of co-mayors from their positions, and the imprisonment of thousands of politicians from the HDP and DBP constitute more of an actual coup… The latest coup attempt shows that Turkey needs to get rid of the fascist AKP government and have a democratic government. The recent developments make it urgent for Turkey to democratize and get rid of its monist, hegemonic and fascist government.”
[Photo by Alessandra Benedetti/Getty Images]