Erdogan accuses West of protecting coup plotters, ‘supporting terror’

Erdogan

Erdogan

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday launched his most bitter attack yet on Turkey’s Western allies over the July 15 attempted putsch, accusing them of supporting both “terror” and the coup plotters who tried to unseat him.

Erdogan, who blames the plot on the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, also described the coup as a “scenario written from outside” in an allusion to foreign involvement.

Turkey meanwhile issued arrest warrants for about 100 staff, including doctors, at Ankara’s main military hospital, and even fired football referees in a new phase of the crackdown after the failed coup that has seen some 18,000 detained and caused international consternation.

“Unfortunately, the West is supporting terror and standing by the coup plotters,” said Erdogan in a typically combative speech at his presidential palace, denouncing “those who we imagined to be friends”.

Erdogan lashed out at Germany’s judicial authorities for not allowing him to address via video conference a weekend rally in Cologne in his support.

“Bravo! The courts in Germany work very fast!” Erdogan said with heavy irony.

He accused Germany of allowing leaders from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to address previous events via video conference.

The president, who had previously alluded to foreign states’ involvement, gave his strongest indication yet that external powers could have played a role.

“This coup was not just an event planned from the inside. The actors inside acted out a scenario for a coup written from the outside,” Erdogan said.

Turning directly on Washington over its hosting of Gulen, he asked: “How can it be, when we are strategic partners… you keep on hiding and sheltering him?”

Already strained ties between NATO allies Turkey and the United States have been aggravated by the failed putsch, with some government ministers even alleging Washington could have had a hand in the plot, which US officials firmly reject.

Erdogan also rounded on the European Union, saying it had “not yet lived up to its promises” in a deal on reducing the flow of migrants to Europe.

‘Flee to 3rd country’

Police searched the Gulhane Military Medical Academy (GATA) hospital in the capital and detained some 50 staff including military doctors, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported, quoting police sources.

A Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed detention warrants had been issued for 98 staff.

The official said staff there were suspected of helping fast-track Gulen supporters into the military by giving them favourable medical reports.

Similar claims have also been made about military schools where officials say exams were rigged. Almost half ofTurkey’s generals were fired in the wake of the coup.

This was first time a medical establishment has been targeted in a clampdown under a three-month state of emergency which has also hit journalistsand academics.

Turkey’s football authorities meanwhile fired 94 officials — including referees and assistant referees — in the wake of the coup, the football federation said.

Police also detained at least 36 people over a sex tape scandal that felled the leader of the main opposition party in 2010, with prosecutors linking the affair to Gulen.

Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999 and has denied any involvement in the putsch.

Turkish authorities stepped up pressure on the United States to extradite Gulen, sending a new package of documents to the American authorities, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said.

“He needs to be arrested urgently as we have intelligence that he might flee to a third country,” Bozdag added.

‘Not my son’

Erdogan snapped at the Italian authorities over an investigation into his eldest son Bilal, who was studying in Bologna, on suspicion of involvement in money laundering.

“Let Italy’s judges deal with the mafia, not my son,” Erdogan said in an interview with Italian news channel Rai News24, warning the issue could affect relations with Rome.

Turkey has also launched a sweeping overhaul of state institutions, sacking tens of thousands of civil servants and shaking up the military.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his government had started “virus and traitor cleansing” to weed out Gulenists from state institutions.

The Hurriyet daily said the overhaul would also hit the powerful intelligence service which would be split into separate units for foreign and domestic intelligence, in line with Britain’s system where foreign intelligence is handled by MI6 and domestic intelligence by MI5.

Meanwhile, Customs and Commerce Minister Bulent Tufenkci said the overall cost of the coup on the Turkish economy could amount to $100 billion ($89 billion).