Turkey orders 1,112 people arrested over Gulen links

Turkey accused Fethullah Gulen, above, of organizing the attempted coup in 2016. (AFP/File)
Updated 12 February 2019

Turkey orders 1,112 people arrested over Gulen links

  • Turkey suspects Gulen in organizing the 2016 coup attempt
  • The operation was focused on Ankara

ISTANBUL: Turkey launched on Tuesday one of its largest operations against alleged supporters of the US-based Muslim cleric accused of leading an attempted coup in 2016, ordering the arrest of 1,112 people, state media reported.

The operation, related to alleged cheating in police examinations, showed authorities were not letting up on their crackdown two-and-a-half years after rogue soldiers used warplanes, helicopters and tanks in a bid to seize power.

More than 250 people were killed in the failed putsch, in which preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of President Tayyip Erdogan, has denied involvement. Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

Tuesday’s operation related to a police force examination in 2010 for those seeking to become deputy inspectors, and allegations that some of those taking part had received the questions in advance, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

So far 124 suspects have been detained in the operation launched by the Ankara chief prosecutor’s office and extending across 76 provinces, Anadolu said. It was not clear how many, if any, of the suspects were serving police officers.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Sunday a “big operation” was looming against Gulen supporters. “Devils would not perpetrate deceptions like they have,” he said. “We will finish them off.”

The government says his network over decades infiltrated state institutions including the security forces, judiciary and ministries, often helped by cheating in exams, to create a “parallel state.”

Purge of suspects

Since the coup attempt, the government has carried out a deep and lasting purge of state institutions while prosecutors have launched a steady stream of investigations against those suspected of links to Gulen.

Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the crackdown, which was pursued mainly under a state of emergency that was declared after the coup and remained in effect until July last year.

Erdogan’s critics accuse him of using the failed putsch as a pretext to quash dissent. Turkish authorities say the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.

More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial since the putsch and widespread arrests are still routine. Authorities have suspended or sacked 150,000 civil servants and military personnel.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, the former chief of staff, has said more than 15,000 military personnel had been dismissed since the coup, including 150 generals and admirals.

Authorities have also taken control of hundreds of firms accused of links to Gulen and his supporters, and shut down more than 130 media outlets as part of the purge.

Ankara has also increasingly targeted alleged supporters of the movement abroad, seeking the extradition of Gulen himself and many others across Europe, Asia and the United States.


Iraqi protesters block commercial ports, split capital

Updated 19 November 2019

Iraqi protesters block commercial ports, split capital

  • Iraqi civilians are increasingly relying on boats to ferry them across the Tigris River as ongoing standoffs shut key bridges in Baghdad
  • The Jumhuriya, Sinak and Ahrar bridges connect both sides of the city by passing over the river

BAGHDAD: Anti-government protesters blocked access to a second major commercial port in southern Iraq on Tuesday, as bridge closures effectively split the capital in half, causing citizens to rely on boats for transport to reach the other side of the city.
Since anti-government protests began Oct. 1, at least 320 people have been killed and thousands wounded in Baghdad and the mostly Shiite southern provinces. Demonstrators have taken to the streets in the tens of thousands over what they say is widespread corruption, lack of job opportunities and poor basic services, despite the country’s oil wealth.
Security forces have used live ammunition, tear gas and stun guns to repel protesters, tactics that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday would be punished with sanctions.
“We will not stand idle while the corrupt officials make the Iraqi people suffer. Today, I am affirming the United States will use our legal authorities to sanction corrupt individuals that are stealing Iraqis’ wealth and those killing and wounding peaceful protesters,” he said in remarks to reporters in Washington.
“Like the Iraqi people taking to the streets today, our sanctions will not discriminate between religious sect or ethnicity,” he added. “They will simply target those who do wrong to the Iraqi people, no matter who they are.”
Over a dozen protesters blocked the main entrance to Khor Al-Zubair port, halting trade activity as oil tankers and other trucks carrying goods were unable to enter or exit. The port imports commercial goods and materials as well as refined oil products.
Crude from Qayara oil field in Ninewa province, in northern Iraq, is also exported from the port.
Khor Al-Zubair is the second largest port in the country. Protesters had burned tires and cut access to the main Gulf commercial port in Umm Qasr on Monday and continued to block roads Tuesday.
Iraqi civilians are increasingly relying on boats to ferry them across the Tigris River as ongoing standoffs between demonstrators and Iraqi security forces on three key bridges has shut main thoroughfares connecting east and west Baghdad.
The Jumhuriya, Sinak and Ahrar bridges, which have been partially occupied by protesters following days of deadly clashes, connect both sides of the city by passing over the Tigris River. The blockages have left Iraqis who must make the daily commute for work, school and other day-to-day activities with no choice but to rely on river boats.
“After the bridges were cut, all the pressure is on us here,” said Hasan Lilo, a boat owner in the capital. “We offer a reasonable transportation means that helps the people.”