Purges put Turkey’s NATO membership at risk.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues to purge those allegedly involved in the failed coup on Friday. Today, the Education Ministry sacked 15,200 teachers, canceled 21,000 licenses at private schools, and asked deans at universities to leave:
“Our ministry is carrying out extensive efforts aimed at public personnel in central and rural districts who have connections to FETÖ. As of today, 15,200 public officials have been suspended and investigations were launched into them,” the statement released from the ministry’s Twitter account read.
- 100 at the National Intelligence Organization (MİT)
- 257 at the Prime Ministry
- 35,000 soldiers, police, judges, and civil servants
- 492 from the Religious Affairs Directorate
- 393 from Family and Social Policies Ministry
- 16 from Development Ministry
- 1,500 at the Finance Ministry
The Higher Education Board (YÖK) also demanded that deans at the private and state universities resign:
The resignation of 1,557 deans was demanded by YÖK, of which 1,176 are from state universities and 401 are from private universities.
52,958 people purged due to alleged cooperation in the failed coup or alleged tied to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), run by Fethullah Gülen, an enemy of Erdoğan. The president insists Gülen and his followers did the coup even though he has not presented any evidence to show his conclusions:
“We have more than enough evidence, more than you could ask for, on Gulen,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters outside parliament. “There is no need to prove the coup attempt, all evidence shows that the coup attempt was organized on his will and orders.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said the government will do everything they can to eliminate the Gülen movement from Turkey:
“I’m sorry but this parallel terrorist organisation will no longer be an effective pawn for any country,” Mr Yildirim said, according to Reuters news agency.
“We will dig them up by their roots so that no clandestine terrorist organisation will have the nerve to betray our blessed people again.”
The government will not allow the prisoners to meet with lawyers or family.
— Conflict News (@Conflicts) July 19, 2016
Secretary of State John Kerry warned Turkey these purges could harm their NATO membership:
“A lot of people have been arrested and arrested very quickly,” Kerry told journalists. “The level of vigilance and scrutiny is going to be very significant in the days ahead.”
He noted that NATO, which Turkey has been a member of since 1952, “has a requirement with respect to democracy, and NATO will indeed measure very carefully what is happening.”
“We will certainly support bringing the perpetrators of the coup to justice but we also caution against a reach that goes beyond that and stress the importance of the democratic rule being upheld,” Kerry said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has reassured Kerry and the West that they will “respect the democratic process.”
However, NATO would have a difficult time removing Turkey since the U.S. uses an air base from there to conduct airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria. Turkey also holds “fifty US B-61 hydrogen bombs, placed there in the Cold War for the hour’s flight time to the Soviet Union.” NATO said, though, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will keep an eye on Turkey:
Mr Stoltenberg said: “Being part of a unique community of values, it is essential for Turkey, like all other allies, to ensure full respect for democracy and its institutions, the constitutional order, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms.”
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