Turkey dismisses 227 judges, prosecutors.

Turkey’s top judicial body on Monday dismissed 227 judges and prosecutors who are accused of having links to a cleric blamed for last year’s coup attempt, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Since the failed coup in July, 2016, 3,886 members of the judiciary have been expelled.

The government blames the putsch on Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Turkish preacher and one-time ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his followers.

Mr. Gulen denies the accusations.

Turkey has jailed more than 43,000 people since July on allegations of ties to the Gulenist movement and fired tens of thousands of civil servants and members of the security forces.

Trials have started in the cases of soldiers who took part in the coup, with some denying they have links to Gulen, according to local media reports from the courts.

Turkey heads to a referendum on April 16 in which voters will decide on whether to expand Mr. Erdogan’s powers.

Opposition groups warn checks and balances would be eroded.


Source: NAN

Erdogan, Trump agree to act jointly against ISIS in Syria – Turkish sources

Presidents Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Donald Trump of U.S. agreed in a phone call overnight to act jointly against Islamic State in the Syrian towns of al-Bab and Raqqa, both controlled by the militants, Turkish presidency sources said on Wednesday.

The two leaders discussed issues including a safe zone in Syria, the refugee crisis and the fight against terror, the sources said.

They also said Mr. Erdogan had urged the U. S. not to support the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units or Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG) militia.

Mr. Trump spoke about the two countries’ “shared commitment to combating terrorism in all its forms” and welcomed Turkey’s contributions to the fight against Islamic State, the White House said in a statement, but it gave no further details.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF, an alliance of U.S.-backed militias, started a new phase of its campaign against Islamic State in Raqqa on Saturday.

Turkey, a NATO ally and part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, has repeatedly said it wants to be part of the operation to liberate Raqqa but does not want the YPG, which is part of the SDF alliance, to be involved.

Mr. Erdogan’s relations with former President Barack Obama were strained by U.S. support for the YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a terrorist organisation and an extension of Kurdish militants waging an insurgency inside Turkey.

The Turkish army and Syrian rebel groups it supports are meanwhile fighting Islamic State in a separate campaign around al-Bab, northeast of the city of Aleppo.

Ankara has complained in the past about a lack of U.S. support for that campaign.

The offices of both leaders said Mr. Trump had reiterated U.S. support for Turkey “as a strategic partner and NATO ally” during the phone call on Tuesday.

The Turkish sources said new CIA Director Mike Pompeo would visit Turkey on Thursday to discuss the YPG, and battling the network of U.S.-based Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of orchestrating a July coup attempt; a charge he denies.

Turkey has been frustrated by what it sees as Washington’s reluctance to hand over Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

There was no immediate confirmation from Washington of Pompeo’s visit.


Source: Reuters

Turkey arrests 248 people over social media posts

Turkey has arrested 248 people of the 948 initially detained over posts on social media that allegedly were supportive of terrorist acts or insulted leaders, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday.


Some 700 people were released under judicial control, the report said.


The government actively encourages people to report social media accounts that either insult or mock leaders or voice support for various organisations.


In December, Anadolu reported that Turkish authorities opened investigations into 3,710 people over social media posts, while 1,656 suspects were formally arrested, over the previous six months.


The latest report noted the double suicide bombing in December in Istanbul which targeted security forces outside a football stadium, killing more than 45 people, including several civilians, saying some arrests pertained to comments on this attack.


Source: NAN

Turkey puts Fethullah Gulen, 269 others on trial over coup bid.

Turkey on Monday opened the biggest trial yet over the failed July coup aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, trying 270 suspects including, in absentia, the alleged mastermind Fethullah Gulen.

The suspects, 152 of whom are in pre-trial detention, include ex high-ranking military officials like former Aegean Army Command Chief of Staff Major General Memduh Hakbilen, the state news agency Anadolu reported.

The “number one” suspect is US-based Islamic preacher Gulen who is charged with ordering the failed July 15 coup, an accusation he strongly denies.

Those on trial in the western city of Izmir face multiple charges including being a member of the “armed terror group”.

Turkey has repeatedly asked the United States to extradite Gulen, who has been living in exile there since 1999.

The previous administration of Barack Obama had insisted that a possibly slow legal process should take its course but Ankara is hoping for a more eager response to its extradition request from new President Donald Trump.

Other charges against the suspects include seeking to prevent parliament performing its duty as well as attempting to remove the constitutional order, the agency said.

The suspects face life imprisonment if convicted in a trial expected to take two months, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.

It said Izmir was believed to be one of the main plotting hubs of the coup with the Aegean city used as a “logistical base”.

A special courtroom was built to accommodate the size of the trial and security was tight ahead of the hearing.

Intensive security measures included a drone above the courthouse, bomb-sniffing dogs and commando units.

Previous trials have opened in Istanbul and smaller cases in other provinces in what is expected to be the largest legal process in the country’s history.

Some 43,000 people are under arrest ahead of trial in a large-scale crackdown within a state of emergency declared after the coup which remains in place.

In December, 29 police officers went on trial in Istanbul accused of failing to defend Erdogan while 62 rebel soldiers are being tried over claims they attempted to take over Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport on the night of July 15.


Source: AFP

REPORT: Killer of Russian ambassador was Erdogan’s security detail 8 times since July 15 coup

The young Turkish policeman who killed Russia’s ambassador to Ankara this week had provided security for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan eight times since the July 15 failed coup bid, a report said on Wednesday.

Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22, pumped nine bullets into ambassador Andrei Karlov at an art exhibition centre on Monday evening, before he himself was killed by Turkish police.

Altintas, a member of the Ankara anti-riot police for two-and-a-half years, had been on duty at eight events attended by Erdogan since July, the Hurriyet daily said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told US counterpart John Kerry in a phone call on Tuesday that Turkey believed the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who it blamed for the July 15 coup bid, was behind the assassination plot.

Turkish authorities are now investigating possible links of Altintas to Gulen, including a school he attended that was run by the cleric’s group.

Hurriyet’s Selvi said that on the day of the July 15 coup, Altintas had called in sick to the police. But it was not clear what he did that night.

The security forces have now detained 13 people over the attack including close relatives of Altintas, Turkish media reports said.

Meanwhile, a team of 18 Russian investigators arrived in Ankara on Tuesday to take part in a joint probe inside Turkey, an unprecedented move agreed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Turkish and Russian diplomats will meet as planned to discuss Aleppo amidst rift.

Diplomats from Turkey and Russia will meet as planned on Tuesday to discuss the situation in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, one day after the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey.

On Monday night, a Turkish police officer fired several shots at Andrey Karlov as the Russian envoy opened an art exhibition in Ankara, shouting “Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria.”
The assassination came at a time of thawing relations between Russia and Turkey, and at a pivotal moment for the war in Syria, where Russia has been instrumental in President Bashar al-Assad’s push to retake rebel-held areas.
Six people have been taken in for questioning in relation to the shooting, including five members of the gunman’s family and one flatmate, according to Turkish state news agency Anadolu.

Embassies closed in Turkey

All US embassy and consulates in Turkey were to be closed Tuesday following a separate incident, hours after the assassination.
Turkish police arrested a man who fired into the air with a shotgun outside the US Embassy in Ankara, Anadolu reported.
Video fed by Turkish video news agency IHA showed a handcuffed man being led by security officers into an unmarked police car as he shouted “I swear to God. Don’t play with us,” in Turkish. No one was injured.

How the shooting happened

The man who opened fire on the ambassador was identified as police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas.
He was killed soon after the Monday attack at the Cagdas Sanat Merkezi modern arts center in the heart of Ankara, at a neighborhood of foreign embassies including the US and Russia.
Karlov, envoy to Turkey since 2013, had been invited to speak at a photography exhibit opening featuring the work of Turkish photographers in the Russian countryside.
Altintas, wearing a dark suit, fired shots in rapid succession at Karlov’s back. The gunman circled his body, visibly agitated as he smashed photos hanging on the wall, said Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici.
“Allahu akbar (God is greatest). Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria! Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria!” Altintas is heard shouting in video of the incident.
“Only death will remove me from here. Everyone who has taken part in this oppression will one by one pay for it,” he said.

Shooting a ‘provocation’

The brazen attack was immediately denounced by both Turkish and Russian leaders as an effort to derail relations between the two countries, which they said would not succeed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the killing was clear “provocation” aimed at undermining not just the normalization of Russia-Turkish relations but the “peace process in Syria” promoted by Russia, Turkey, Iran and other countries.
“The only response we should offer to this murder is stepping up our fight against terror, and the criminals will feel the heat,” Putin said in televised remarks.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan echoed his sentiments, saying “the Russian government and the Turkish republic have the will to not fall into that provocation.”
Officials from both countries and Iran will meet to discuss issues in Syria Tuesday in Moscow.
On the same day, an 18-strong investigative team of Russia’s special agencies is scheduled to arrive in Turkey to help authorities with their inquiries, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state-run TASS on Tuesday.
“The important thing is to understand who is behind this crime,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
“We are convinced that the main goal of those who planned this barbaric act [is] to undermine the process of normalization of relations between Russia and Turkey, largely in order to prevent an effective fight against terrorism in Syria. This goal is futile. It will not work.”
Emergency vehicles respond to the shooting of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.

Russia and Turkey’s role in Syria

Russia has been denounced by human rights groups and several countries over its backing of the Syrian president.
It is the most powerful ally of Assad’s regime and has carried out airstrikes since September 2015 to prop up the embattled leader. As one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia has also used its veto powers to block a political solution to end the war.
Analyst: More violence to come in Turkey

Turkey’s deadly year

The shooting of the ambassador is the latest in a long string of attacks in Turkey this year, although it’s the first in recent memory to be directed at a foreign dignitary.
Russia slapped a raft of sanctions on Turkey after the deadly incident, hurting Turkish exports and damaging its tourism industry.
The relationship began to thaw in June, when Erdogan wrote a letter expressing “regret” to the dead pilot’s family.
When Erdogan faced down an attempted military coup in July, Putin was among the first world leaders to call and offer his support.
Erdogan and Putin have spoken several times on the phone in recent weeks as they worked to reach a deal to evacuate civilians from eastern Aleppo.

Turkey Reinstates 6,000 Teachers Suspended After Coup – Ministry.

Turkish authorities have reinstated over 6,000 teachers suspended after the July failed coup accused of terror links, the education ministry said on Friday.


“6,007 personnel suspended over links to terrorist organisations have returned to their jobs,” the ministry said on Twitter.


Tens of thousands of teachers were suspended or sacked over links to Kurdish militants and coup plotters since July 15 when a rogue faction tried to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power.

EU Vote: Erdogan threatens to open Turkey borders to migrants.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday threatened to throw open Turkey’s borders to illegal migrants after the European Parliament voted to back a freeze in membership talks with Ankara.

“Listen to me. If you go any further, then the frontiers will be opened, bear that in mind,” Erdogan told the European Union (EU) in a speech in Istanbul.

On March 18, Ankara and Brussels forged a deal for Turkey to halt the flow of migrants to Europe — an accord that has largely been successful in reducing numbers crossing the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece.


Turkey agreed to step up maritime and land border controls in exchange for incentives on its long-stalled membership bid, including visa-free travel for its citizens and an acceleration of accession talks.


However with an October target passing and no apparent progress on the visa issue and accession talks stalled, Ankara has stepped up accusations that Brussels was not keeping its side of the bargain.


The latest setback was the vote on Thursday by the European Parliament to freeze membership talks, a move prompted by alarm over Turkey’s crackdown after an attempted putsch.


But the resolution is non-binding and has not been backed by the European Commission or almost any member states.


Erdogan said that the EU had cried out for help in 2015, as tens of thousands of migrants massed at the border crossing with EU member Bulgaria.


“You began to ask us ‘what will we do if Turkey opens its borders’?” he asked.


Around one million migrants from poverty-stricken countries and refugees from wars crossed into Europe in 2015, raising fears of a social crisis in the EU and strengthening the hand of right-wing nationalist parties.

Turkey detains 73 academics

Police detained 73 academics at Yildiz Teknik University in Istanbul on Friday as part of an ongoing crackdown in the wake of the July coup attempt by a faction in the military.

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said the 73 were part of the 103 academics it issued warrants for as some of the suspects in the last part of the probe.

It said their arrest was in part based on information that the academics had used ByLock, an instant messaging application.

The office said that government saw the app as a tool that was used by Gulenists in the period before the coup attempt.

The government blames the coup attempt on Fethullah Gulen, a preacher based in the U.S, who was once allied with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and has launched mass arrests and purges of his alleged followers.

Gulen has since denied the charges.

The government has dismissed tens of thousands of civil servants and more than 20,000 from the military including cadets.

Moreover, some 35,000 people are jailed, while more than 6,000 have lost their jobs since the coup.

At the same time, the government has stepped up measures against other opponents, including media outlets and Kurdish groups, with more than 100 journalists behind bars along with 10 members of parliament from the pro-Kurdish peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Ankara has taken over 34 local governments in the mostly Kurdish south-east of the country, deposing elected mayors on terrorism charges.

The legal HDP denies links to armed groups and calls for a return to peace talks to end the conflict in the country.

Turkey detains opposition HDP leaders Demirtas and Yuksekdag.

Turkey has detained two co-leaders and nine other MPs of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), according to the country’s interior ministry.

The ministry said on Friday detention orders for 13 MPs were issued, but only 11 were detained as two were abroad.

The HDP is the third largest party in the 550-seat Turkish parliament with 59 seats and the main political representative of the Kurdish minority.

HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas was detained at his home in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, while Figen Yuksekdag was held in the capital Ankara, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

Anadolu reported the MPs were detained for not appearing in court to testify for ongoing terrorism-related investigations.

The security operations took place after midnight, with Demirtas tweeting at 1:30am local time (22:30 GMT) that police had arrived at his home and he was about to be detained.

Police also raided and searched the party’s head office in central Ankara. Television images showed party officials arguing with police during the raid.

Hundreds of detentions have been made in recent months since the government acquired state of emergency powers after a failed coup on July 15.

Authorities say they have been going after anyone suspected of links to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based religious leader accused of orchestrating the coup attempt, as well as the outlawed armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Critics, though, say the government is using the coup as a pretext to muzzle all dissent.

The Turkish government accuses the HDP of having links to the PKK which is deemed a terrorist organisation by the US, the EU and Turkey. The HDP denies that.

Immunity lifted

Demirtas and Yuksekdag had been targeted by several separate investigations in recent months but this is the first time that either has been detained. Their detentions follow a resolution by parliament earlier in the year alllowing the immunity of MPs to be lifted.

“HDP call international community to react against Erdogan Regime’s coup,” the party said on Twitter, referring to President Tayyip Erdogan.

Access to social media, including Twitter and messaging services, such as WhatsApp, was jammed during and aftermath of the raids, with some in Turkey saying they used VPNs to bypass the blocks.

Earlier this week Gultan Kisanak, the HDP mayor of the country’s biggest Kurdish majority city, Diyarbakir, along with co-mayor Firat Anli, was arrested over alleged membership in the PKK. The government appointed a local Ankara district administrator to take over Kisanak’s duties.

In September, the government similarly removed 28 mayors and other administrators, mostly from the HDP, and appointed trustees in their place.

Scores of opposition media organisations have been shut down since July, including pro-Kurdish ones such as IMC TV, the Dicle news agency and the Ozgur Gundem newspaper.

Turkish Army kills up to 200 YPG fighters in Aleppo.

The Turkish military said its fighter jets hit Syrian Kurdish targets in northern Syria, and killed up to 200 fighters, according to state media.

The jets hit 18 targets in Maarrat Umm Hawsh, a region north of the city of Aleppo, the official news agency Anadolu said.

Quoting the army, the report claimed that between 160 and 200 fighters from the YPG (People’s Protection Units) group were killed in the raids on Wednesday night.

A Syrian-Kurdish forces leader, however, said that while Turkish jets and artillery were attacking, no more than 10 fighters had been killed so far.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said at least nine YPG fighters were confirmed killed and 26 people were injured in some 20 raids.

Anadolu said nine buildings used as YPG headquarters, meeting points, shelters and weapons depots were destroyed as well as four vehicles.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the death toll.

The Anadolu report said the YPG had attacked Turkish-backed Syrian rebels. However, the Observatory said it had no information on such an incident.

In August, Turkey launched a ground operation in northern Syria, targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group and the YPG, and continues to maintain a military presence in the neighbouring country.

The US considers the YPG to be a key force in the fight against ISIL in Syria.

Turkey says the group is an extension of its own outlawed Kurdish fighters – the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – who have carried out a series of deadly attacks in Turkey over the past year.

US-Turkey tensions

Tensions between Turkey and the US have increased over the YPG, but Ankara has repeatedly said it will not allow a “terror corridor” on its southern border and wants to prevent the joining of the Kurdish “cantons” of Afrin and Kobane.

Turkey entered the Syrian war to try and remove ISIL from its border – which last month Ankara said it achieved – while also aiming to halt the westward advance of the YPG.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey would not “wait for terrorist organisations to come and attack us” during a speech in Ankara.

“These organisations, wherever their activities are, wherever they are nesting, we will go [there],” he said.

Turkey suspends more than 12,000 police officers in coup probe

Turkish authorities suspended more than 12,000 police officers over alleged links to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused of masterminding the July failed coup, the police headquarters said on Tuesday.

Of the 12,801 suspended from duty as part of the investigation into the coup attempt, 2,523 were police chiefs, the police authorities said in a statement. In total, Turkey has around 270,000 police officers.

They were suspended over suspected links to the Gulen movement which Turkey blames for the attempted putsch which tried to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, strongly denies Ankara’s accusations.
Tens of thousands of people in the judiciary, civil service, military and education sector have been suspended while 32,000 suspects have been placed under arrest on charges of links to to the movement.

The government’s crackdown has alarmed Turkey’s Western allies who have warned Ankara that it must act within the rule of law.

Turkey on Monday extended the state of emergency introduced after the failed putsch for another 90 days starting on October 19.

Erdogan previously suggested that it might be necessary for the state of emergency to be kept for at least 12 months.

Putin, Erdogan Discuss #Aleppo Over Phone

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have discussed the Syria conflict in a phone conversation, the Kremlin says.

They agreed to continue coordinating efforts to achieve a resolution in Syria, it said in a statement on Friday.

Turkey’s Anadolu news agency said Erdogan told Putin that it was essential to agree to a ceasefire in Aleppo “as soon as possible.”

The Syrian army has put foreign-backed militants under siege in Aleppo and now hopes to capture the whole city in what would be a devastating blow to the country’s enemies.

Turkey and other countries opposed to the Syrian government have intensified their parleys, putting forth a proposal through the “opposition” which they support, for Assad to step down.

Anadolu said Ankara is hoping a ceasefire will be implemented in Aleppo for the Feast of the Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha) Islamic holiday which in Turkey begins around September 12.

Erdogan had met separately with Putin and US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the recent G20 meeting in China, telling them both that it was essential to agree to a truce for Aleppo.

Read More: presstv

Turkey Says It’s Ready to Help any US Initiative To Capture Raqqa

Turkey would be ready to join any initiative proposed by the United States to capture an Islamic State stronghold in Syria, President Tayyip Erdogan said in remarks published on Wednesday, as Turkish-backed forces took more Syrian land from jihadists.

Obama floated the idea of joint action with Turkey to capture Raqqa during talks between the two leaders at a G20 summit in China, Erdogan said, according to Wednesday’s edition of Turkey’s Hurriyet daily.

Turkey launched an offensive in northern Syria on Aug. 24 to clear Islamic State from its border and to prevent territorial gains by the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara believes has links to Kurdish insurgents fighting on its soil.

“Obama wants to do some things together concerning Raqqa in particular,” Erdogan told reporters on his plane that arrived early on Tuesday, referring to Islamic State’s de facto capital. He was speaking after meetings in China with Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders.

“We stated that would not be a problem from our perspective. We said, ‘Let our soldiers come together, whatever is necessary will be done’,” the Turkish president said, adding that a specific Turkish role would depend on further talks.

U.S. officials have welcomed Turkish efforts to dislodge Islamic State from Syrian strongholds but voiced concern when Turkish troops engaged fighters aligned to the YPG, a force Washington sees as a valuable ally in battling jihadists.

Turkish-backed forces clashed with YPG fighters in the initial stages of the two-week old Turkish incursion into Syria, but have since shifted their focus onto territory held by Islamic State and captured a string of villages.

Turkey’s military said late on Tuesday that three Turkish soldiers were killed when two tanks were hit by rockets fired by Islamic State. Four others were wounded, it said.

The military also said the Free Syrian Army, a loose-knit rebel force backed by Turkey, had taken six more villages, also located in Islamic State-held areas.

Turkey and its rebel allies now control a 90-km stretch of land on the Syrian side of the border and are pushing south.

Ankara wants international support to take control of a rectangle of territory stretching about 40 km into Syria, creating a buffer between two Kurdish-held cantons to the east and west and against Islamic State to the south.

Turkey says such a “safe zone” would help stem the flood of Syrian refugees. But the idea has yet to gain traction from the United States and Russia, both engaged in Syria, because of the military demands of policing such a zone.

Turkey, meanwhile, has been sending more military hardware south. The army sent 15 more tanks to the Islahiye district near the border, bringing the total number of tanks and armored vehicles in that area to 90, Dogan news agency reported.

“We do not have the chance to take a backward step. If we take a backward step terror groups like Daesh, PKK, PYD and YPG will settle there,” Erdogan said, according to Hurriyet.

Turkey Frees 33,838 Prisoners To Make Room For Coup Detainees

Turkish authorities have released more than 30,000 prisoners, according to the country’s justice minister, after Ankara said it was releasing inmates to make space for tens of thousands detained over suspected links to a July coup attempt.

Turkey has said it would release a total of 38,000 prisoners as part of its penal reforms in the wake of the coup that tried to topple President Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on a news conference on Friday that the exact number of inmates released so far was 33,838.

In a series of messages posted on Twitter on Wednesday, Bozdag said the move was “not an amnesty”, and that convicts were not being pardoned but released on parole.

“The regulation refers to crimes committed before July 2016. The crimes committed after July 1, 2016, are outside its scope,” Bozdag said.

“As a result of this regulation, approximately 38,000 people will be released from closed and open prisons at the first stage.”

On Thursday, the government said it expelled nearly 43,000 people from their jobs in public institutions for alleged ties to banned organisations.

Lists of names and positions published by the official gazette on Thursday show the wide-scale purge Turkey has undertaken since the failed coup of July 15.

The government blamed the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for the plot that killed at least 270 people, and labels the network a terror organisation.

The dismissals are allowed through the state of emergency, declared following the coup attempt. The highest number of dismissals is from the Ministry of National Education with 28,163 people.

Some 35,000 people have been detained for questioning and more than 17,000 of those have been formally arrested to face trial, including soldiers, police, judges and journalists.

Turkish Citizens Protest In Nigeria As Erdogan Widens Coup Clampdown

Citizens of Turkey resident in Nigeria on Thursday protested in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, calling for support for President Tayyip Erdogan who survived a coup attempt on July 15.

The protest was organised by by two groups – Musiyad and Little Turkey Nigeria.

The protesters, about a hundred, embarked on a peaceful procession from the popular Abuja parade ground, near the magnificent International Conference Centre to the Turkish embassy located on Diplomatic Drive, near the Nigeria’s Ministry of Defence.

As they marched, the protesters waved Turkish flags and sang songs of solidarity in praise of President Erdogan.

As they arrived the embassy building, the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Hakan Cakil, was already waiting outside to receive them.

Mr. Cakil had on July 28 called on the Nigerian Government to close 17 Turkish schools in Nigeria for their alleged links with a movement his government says was involved in the July 15 failed coup attempt in Turkey.

According to the ambassador, investigations by the Turkish government showed that a movement led by US-based Fethullah Gulen was responsible for the failed coup attempt, which claimed over 200 lives. was in support of the Turkish president.

President Erdogan tightened his grip on Turkey, ordering the closure of thousands of private schools, charities and other institutions after the failed military coup.

Read More:


Finally, Russia’s Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan Set To Meet After Damaging Rift

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is traveling to the Russian city of St Petersburg for a face-to-face meeting with his counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

It will be the first time the two strongmen leaders have met since Turkish interceptors blasted a Russian warplane out of the skies over Syria in November. The incident, in which one of the air crew was killed as he parachuted from the aircraft, provoked a diplomatic firestorm, with a furious Kremlin vowing retribution. A second Russian serviceman was killed trying to rescue the other crew member on the ground.
Today’s loss for us was like a stab in back delivered by the accomplices of terrorists,” President Putin said on state television at the time.
It will have serious consequences for Russia’s relations with Turkey, ” he promised.


As well as blocking trade ties with Ankara, banning the import of food stuffs from Turkey, Putin also struck at the Turkish tourism industry, halting charter flights that carried millions of Russians to Turkish resorts. Visa-free travel to Russia was canceled for Turks, and Turkish workers were asked to leave, their visas revoked. The Kremlin’s retribution also got personal. Russian defense officials called an unprecedented news conference to reveal satellite and spy plane video of what they said were oil shipments to Turkey from ISIS controlled areas of Iraq and Syria.
Defense officials told journalists they believed the family of President Erdogan were intimately involved in the illegal trade and were profiting from it. President Erdogan strenuously denied the allegations. For months it seemed the bitterness between Putin and Erdogan would never heal: a battle of wills between two autocratic hardliners at odds over Syria.
But then, suddenly, something changed.
The Turkish leader unexpectedly moved to heal the rift with the Kremlin, writing a letter expressing “regret” to the family of the pilot who was killed in the shoot-down.
Turkey’s attempt to restore ties to Russia was driven by desperation,” said Fadi Hakura, Turkey specialist at the Chatham House think tank in London.
Turkey needed to restore economic and trade ties to Russia. Turkey needs Russian tourists to flow back to the Turkish resorts. Turkey also needs Russia to try to restore some of the lost influence it once had in Syria,” he told CNN.

Within days of the Erdogan letter, the foreign ministers of the two rivals were meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi and Putin was lifting sanctions, beginning what he said was the process of normalizing trade ties. Then the situation took a dramatic turn, with events in Turkey giving Erdogan’s rekindled ties with Putin unexpected significance.

A failed coup in Turkey gave way to a widespread crackdown by Erdogan on his opponents. Many Turks believed their allies in the West had failed to condemn to coup attempt in harshly enough, and were too critical of the mass arrests.
For Turkey, the détente with Russia was now an opportunity display its strategic options.
Turkish officials deny they are turning their backs on the West. But Erdogan’s cordial trip to Russia, a nation at odds with the West on a host of issues from Syria to Ukraine, may give Turkey’s allies pause for thought. And amid Ankara’s strained relations with the West, the Kremlin also senses an opportunity to win over a NATO member, said Alexander Shimulin, of the US-Canada Institute in Moscow.
To increase divisions within the Western community and in NATO is one of the purposes and one of the goals designed by Russia,” he added.

Erdogan Stages Mass Rally In Show Of Strength After Coup Attempt

President Tayyip Erdogan has told a rally of millions of people in Turkey that the failed July coup would be a milestone in building a stronger Turkey and defying the Western criticism of mass purges.

He also vowed to destroy those behind the putsch.

The “Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally” at the Yenikapi parade ground, built into the sea on the southern edge of Istanbul, was a show of strength by Erdogan.

He was angered by European criticism of his combative response to the coup and by U.S. reluctance to hand over the man he accuses of masterminding it.

Banners in a sea of red Turkish flags read “You are a gift from God, Erdogan” and “Order us to die and we will do it”.

It was the first time in decades that opposition leaders joined a rally in support of the government, with pockets of secularists, nationalists and others alongside his core Islamist supporters.

He said that the July 15 abortive coup, draw parallels to times past when Turkey was occupied by foreign forces.

“That night, our enemies who were rubbing their hands in anticipation of Turkey’s downfall woke up the next morning to the grief that things would be more difficult from now on.

“From now on, we will examine very carefully who we have under us.

“We will see who we have in the military, who we have in the judiciary, and throw the others out of the door,’’ Erdogan said.

The report said that the parade ground, built to hold more than a million people, was overflowed, with the streets of surrounding neighborhoods clogged by crowds.

It said that one presidency official put the numbers at around five million and the event was broadcast live on public screens at smaller rallies across Turkey’s 81 provinces.

Turkey Arrests 11-man ‘Death Squad’ Over Erdogan Hotel Raid

Turkey has arrested 11 fugitive soldiers suspected of involvement in an attack on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hotel during the night of the failed coup, the deputy prime minister said Monday.

Erdogan was staying in the western seaside resort of Marmaris on July 15 but dashed to Istanbul just before the hotel came under attack from rebel soldiers determined to oust him from power.

“Eleven of them were captured in Ula,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told a press conference after a cabinet meeting, referring to a town near Marmaris.

He said one soldier was still at large.

Erdogan earlier said his swift escape had saved him from being killed or taken hostage.

An interior ministry official, who declined to be named, described the arrested men as members of a “death squad” and said the overnight operation to catch them followed a tip-off from local villagers.

The soldiers had been hiding in the wild landscape above Marmaris since the military action, and the villagers spotted them while they were out boar-hunting.

“There was an exchange of fire during the operation,” the official added. “Drones and helicopters were used to pinpoint the location.”

Since the coup, Erdogan has launched a massive purge of Turkish institutions, especially the military, with more than 3,000 armed forces personnel dismissed.

Credit: Guardian

Failed Coup: President Erdogan To Close 17 Turkish Schools In Nigeria

Ripples of July 15 botched coup in Turkey have berthed in Nigeria with the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Hakan Cakil, urging the Federal Government to shut  17 Turkish schools in Nigeria.


The ambassador, who made the call when the vice chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Shehu Sani, paid him a courtesy visit, said the Turkish Government had nothing to do with the schools.
The ambassador said investigations by the Turkish government showed that a movement led by US-based Fethullah Gulen was responsible for the failed coup attempt, which claimed over 200 lives. The movement is believed to have interest in the 17 schools in Nigeria.


He said the Turkish government was dissociating itself from any school bearing the country’s name in Nigeria, adding that while the country had schools in other countries, it had none in Nigeria.
“We are requesting the Nigerian Government to close down the schools. I have requested officially, both orally and in writing, the closure of these schools. Also, I have sent a letter to Mr Geoffrey Onyeama (Foreign Minister) and Mr Abba Kyari (Chief of Staff to the President) about this subject and requested their support for the closure of the schools.


“I will also send letters to the Chairmen of Committees on Foreign Affairs in the National Assembly as well as the Senate Majority Leader over the issue and I am going to enclose some documents in English on how the group members are engaged in the army, police and the Judiciary. In Nigeria, there are 17 schools, which belong to the Gulen Movement, one in Kano, one in Kaduna, one in Abuja, Lagos etc and they are offering scholarships.
“We are starting some legal procedures to take the name of Turkish out of the name of the schools. They are not the schools of the Turkish Government.


“They are misleading the public and allocating scholarships to the children of the high bureaucracy and after they graduate from school, they send the children to Turkey to attend their universities,’’ he said.
Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sani, said Turkey had the legitimate right to be concerned about its security in view of the failed coup attempt.
He, however, urged the Turkish government to operate within the ambits of the law in bringing those responsible for the coup to book.
“I think the world should identify and reason with you because if the coup had succeeded there could have been bloodshed.


“One thing I will say is that I will urge you to use the instrument of democracy, liberty and constitutional right to bring to book those who are involved in the coup,” he said.
The ambassador said the Turkish government had closed down all schools linked to the movement in Turkey.
“Turkish government has already closed down all primary, secondary, high schools and universities owned by the group in Turkey. In our system, it is allowed for the foundation to establish schools if they fulfill some requirements and that is how they established these schools.


“This is an issue that the Turkish Government has attached so much importance.
“Recently, my Minister called Mr Onyeama and briefed him about these schools because they are raising funds through the schools and they are using these funds for illegal activities.


“This is a matter of national security for us in Turkey. I have instructions from my government to follow up this matter and we will be very happy to obtain the support of Nigerian legislators on that issue,’’ he said.
He promised to engage other relevant government officials on the matter, adding that “I will take the matter up to the Federal Executive Council. I have also requested an audience with the Minister of Education.
“You may be aware that the government of Turkey started to investigate those responsible for the coup attempt.
“It is really clear that the Gulen Movement is behind the coup. There are some testimonies by detained military officials.


“They are confessing that they are in connection with the Gulen Movement and they have been members of the Gulen Movement for a long time and they have been planning this coup for a long time, nearly five months.
“The Government of Turkey has started to take some legal actions against the leader of the movement. He is now based in the United States. His extradition is a legal matter between Turkey and United States,’’ he said.
On the relations between Nigeria and Turkey, the ambassador said he was optimistic that the trade between the two countries, which declined due to the drop in oil price, would pick up soon.

Erdogan To Visit Russia On August 9

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Russia on August 9 for his first face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin since Moscow and Ankara mended ties damaged by the downing of a Russian jet last year, Turkish officials said Tuesday.

“The ambassador has informed us that our dear president (Erdogan) has confirmed that he will be in Saint Petersburg on the 9th (of August),” Russian news agencies quoted Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek as saying.

An official in Turkey confirmed the date, saying that Erdogan and Putin had agreed to meet ahead of the G20 summit in China in September.

Simsek is the highest ranking Turkish official to visit Russia since the November downing of the Russian jet on the Syrian border sparked an unprecedented crisis in relations.

He said he was in Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart Arkady Dvorkovich in an effort to “normalise the situation and our relations as soon as possible and at an accelerated pace”.

The plane downing led to a bitter war of words between the two leaders, with the Kremlin strongman calling it a “stab in the back” and accusing the Turkish president of involvement in the illegal oil trade with the Islamic State jihadist group.

But after the Kremlin claimed last month that Erdogan had apologised to Putin over the incident, Moscow ordered the lifting of a string of economic sanctions including an embargo on Turkish food products and the cancellation of charter flights to the country.

The punitive measures had dealt a crushing blow to the Turkish tourism industry, which is hugely reliant on Russian tourists, especially on its Mediterranean coast.

Putin called Erdogan earlier this month to express his support after the failed putsch in Turkey, and the Kremlin confirmed at the time that the two leaders would meet in the near future.

Credit: Guardian

Breaking: Turkish Airlines Fire 250 Personnel Over Failed Coup

Turkey’s state-run Turkish Airlines fired more than 100 employees, including management and cabin crew, as part of a purge at state institutions to root out supporters of an abortive coup, Turkish media reported on Monday.


The dismissals at the national carrier occurred late on Sunday after it was determined the employees were linked to a religious movement President Tayyip Erdogan has said attempted to overthrow the government on July 15, Sabah newspaper said.


An official at Turkish Airlines, Europe’s fourth-biggest carrier, declined to comment.


Other reports said the dismissals were due to “inefficiency.” Thelira.com, a financial-news website, said about 250 cabin crew were dismissed, along with 100 management and administrative staff.

Erdogan Chairs Security Council As 50,000 Hit By Turkey Purge

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday chaired a crunch security meeting for the first time since the failed coup, after a widening purge that has seen around 50,000 people either detained or sacked.

The Turkish air force meanwhile launched its first strikes since Friday’s putsch against targets of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, in a sign Erdogan has regained full control over the armed forces.

The coup bid by rebel soldiers was the most serious blow to Erdogan’s 13-year domination of Turkey, and the president has said he came within 15 minutes of being killed or kidnapped by the plotters before escaping.

The putsch left more than 300 people dead and caused scenes of devastation, especially in Ankara where raids by fighter jets and attack helicopters on strategic targets terrified residents and turned parts of parliament and the police headquarters to rubble.

More than 9,000 suspects have been detained, including some of Turkey’s most senior generals, who are accused of being the ringleaders of the plot.

In total, about 48,800 state employees, including police and teachers, have been dismissed from their posts or detained, according to figures published by the Hurriyet daily and CNN-Turk.

Ankara says the coup was masterminded by US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen and the massive crackdown appears to be targeting individuals suspected of any connection to Erdogan’s ally-turned-foe.

The purges have stoked alarm that Erdogan was using the coup plot to crack down on opponents, with Turkey’s Western allies urging the authorities in the strategic NATO state to obey the rule of law.

The president returned to the capital late Tuesday for the first time since the coup and was chairing a meeting at his presidential palace of his national security council, composed of top military brass and security ministers.

He will then chair a cabinet meeting, also at the palace, whose immediate vicinity was bombed during the military power grab.

Credit: Guardian

16-year-old Student Arrested for ‘Insulting’ the President

A 16-year-old high school student has been arrested in central Turkey for “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by accusing him and his ruling party of corruption, sparking angry criticism on Thursday from the opposition.

The boy, identified by his initials M.E.A., was believed to be a member of a leftist organisation, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.

He delivered a speech on Wednesday in the central Anatolian city of Konya, a bastion of Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), in memory of a young secular teacher killed by Islamists in 1930, according to the newspaper.

The boy, who was arrested by police at school, is now facing up to four years in prison if convicted on the charge.

It was the latest controversial arrest in Turkey in recent weeks. Recent police raids on media outlets affiliated with Erdogan’s top foe, the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, sparked an angry exchange with the European Union, which said the arrests undermined media freedom.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu supported the court’s decision on the juvenile’s arrest.

“Everyone must respect the office of president whoever he is,” Davutoglu said, quoted in Turkish media.

In his testimony to prosecutors, the boy denied links with any political party and said that the local governor’s office granted permission for the commemoration ceremony organised through social media.

“I’ve made the statement in question. I have no intent to insult,” he reportedly said.

The boy’s lawyer, Baris Ispir, submitted a petition to the court, together with around 100 colleagues who came from Istanbul in a show of support.

“Even if he is convicted, he is 16 years old which requires a one-third reduction in his penalty,” the lawyer said, according to the private Dogan news agency.

Riza Turmen, lawmaker of the secular opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), denounced the arrest as a violation of the UN charter on children’s rights.

“Regimes taking children out of classes by police force and putting them in jail are fascist regimes,” Turmen, a former judge at the European Court of Human Rights, wrote on Twitter.

“This goes against the UN charter on children’s rights.”

Turkey’s government faced an unprecedented wave of protests in 2013 against what was seen as authoritarian policies from Erdogan, who was then prime minister.

Credit: www.vanguardngr.com