Themorningbellbd.com desk, July 17: The US has warned Turkey against “public insinuations” of American involvement in a failed military coup, saying such claims are “utterly false and harmful” to their relations.
US Secretary of State John Kerry was speaking after Turkey’s labour minister suggested the US was behind the coup.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the US to extradite US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Mr Erdogan has accused him of being behind the plot, which Mr Gulen denies.
Mr Gulen, speaking from his home in Pennsylvania, denied the claims and said “as someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt”. The attempted coup began on Friday night when a faction of the military took over key bridges in Istanbul and attacked parliament buildings in Ankara.
The government says 161 civilians and police and 104 “plotters” were killed in ensuing clashes, and more than 1,440 injured.
Nearly 3,000 soldiers were detained and some 2,700 judges were sacked on Saturday as the government sought to re-assert its power.
Many within Turkey’s military and mid-level bureaucracy are said to support Fethullah Gulen, the inspiration behind the hugely-influential Hizmet movement.
Once allies, Mr Erdogan has long accused Mr Gulen and his supporters of plotting against him. President Erdogan told the US – a Nato ally – that it had never refused a US extradition request for “terrorists”.
“If we are strategic partners,” he said in a televised speech on Saturday, “then you should bring about our request”.
He said Turkey should “present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny. And the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgements about it appropriately”. The attempted coup happened because Turkey is deeply divided over President Erdogan’s project to transform the country and because of the contagion of violence from the war in Syria.
President Erdogan and his AK Party have become experts at winning elections, but there have always been doubts about his long-term commitment to democracy. He is a political Islamist who has rejected modern Turkey’s secular heritage. Mr Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian and is trying to turn himself into a strong executive president.
From the beginning Mr Erdogan’s government has been deeply involved in the war in Syria, backing Islamist opposition to President Assad. But violence has spread across the border, helping to reignite the fight with the Kurdish PKK, and making Turkey a target for the jihadists who call themselves Islamic State.
That has caused a lot of disquiet. Turkey has faced increasing turmoil and the attempt to overthrow President Erdogan will not be the last of it.
Source: BBC and agencies