Amid the failed coup attempt, President Tayyip Erdogan issued an arrest warrant for thousands of opponents, including Colonel Ali Yazici.
At least 50 judges and 50 military high-ranking authorities were taken into custody due to their role in the army coup that almost took place last Saturday. Over 6,000 detentions have occurred so far in the so-called “cleansing operation” led by Erdogan. Among those arrested, there’s Gen. Bekir Ercan Van, the leading commander of the Incirlik air base, frequently used by U.S. jets fighting ISIS.
International implications of the coup
President Erdogan states that it was Gulen and his followers who planned and carried out the coup against him. The Obama administration has indicated that they will investigate Gulen’s offenses against Turkey.
It is known that, after the coup attempt, Erdogan talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who expressed his best wishes to Turkish people as they circumvent the ongoing crisis. Back in November, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane as it violated Turkish airspace. Erdogan and Putin convened in meeting face-to-face to discuss the situation and plan for future acts of cooperation.
BREAKING: Turkey's state-run media: Arrest warrant issued for President Erdogan's top military aide following coup attempt.
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 17, 2016
Currently, there are reports of 265 people killed and 1,400 wounded. 104 of the killed were coup participants.
Surviving the coup appears to have increased Erdogan’s acceptance with the people of Turkey. Thousands of his supporters took the streets of Ankara and Istanbul as they celebrated the defense of constitutional order. U.S. analysts suggest that Erdogan’s victory may deteriorate democracy in Turkey, as he has been criticized for electoral fraud, flamboyancy and restricting access to Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
Greek authorities have also reported that eight Turkish military officers arrived on Saturday. They are now facing trial and Turkey is calling for their extradition.
Erdogan increases his power, points fingers on Gulen
Gulen is a 75-year-old imam exiled in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. He is a Muslim cleric advocating for dialogue, as he had met Pope John Paul II in the Vatican in the 1990’s. Gulen constantly kept talks with Jewish and Christian authorities in Turkey to establish bonds and promote religious tolerance.
His following has been named ‘Gulenism’, which falls under Hizmet, a global movement inspired by Gulen that is viewed as pro-Western Sunni, which appeals to many Turks and Muslims all over the world. According to CNN, Gulen has elaborated a “global network of schools and universities that operate in more than 100 countries.” Reportedly, Gulen also has the support of several TV stations in Turkey, newspapers and even gold mines.
President Erdogan has called once more for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen. Gulen stated that he had no connection to the coup attempt, which may indicate that he is being framed as a scapegoat by Erdogan’s attempt to cleanse Turkey of its political adversaries. Gulen is part of the Alliance for Shared Values on Developments in Turkey, who have advocated for peace and democracy for over 40 years.
Not the first time
It appears that Erdogan has an inclination of blaming Gulen for attacks against his administration. Back in January 2014, there was another coup attempt in Turkey. In the past, Gulen was an Erdogan supporter, as his media outlets helped investigations against coup attempts.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responded to Erdogan’s demands. According to The Wall Street Journal, Secretary Kerry told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that “public insinuations or claims about any role by the United States in the failed coup attempt are utterly false and harmful to our bilateral relations.” Nevertheless, Kerry did not deny Gulen’s involvement in the coup. The U.S. Secretary expressed the U.S.’s intentions of helping Turkish authorities investigate the coup attempt, while also asking for respect and cooperation.
According to Turkish officials, an order of extradition against Gulen has been sent to the U.S. State Department, but there have been no reports of its reception.
Gulen met reporters and assured that his religious following was not involved in the coup in any way.
“I don’t know if they are my followers, but because of all things that have taken place (in Turkey) they may have been sympathetic…But honestly, I don’t know any of them,” he stated in a video.
Turkey has not presented any evidence regarding Gulen’s association with the coup.
— CNN Türk ENG (@CNNTURK_ENG) July 16, 2016
President Erdogan has taken the opportunity to “cleanse the virus from all state institutions,” which will allow him to increase his control of Turkey’s civil and political organizations, arguing that every person sent to prison or trial was due to its involvement in the coup.
He acknowledged that the ‘virus’ infected the state, thus suggesting parliament lawmakers to restore the capital punishment on a national basis. Although Erdogan’s rule is, by all means legitimate, it would not be the first time that a democratically-elected president has seized power through radical stances and procedures. In this case, it would be the dissolution of every rebellious cell within the military and the state.