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July 18, 2016

Over 250 killed in failed coup attempt in Turkey

Over 250 killed in failed coup attempt in Turkey

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Monday, July 18, 2016

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In an unsuccessful coup attempt apparently by elements of the Turkish Armed Forces in Istanbul and Ankara, 265 people were killed and 1440 were injured, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım reported on Saturday. Following the incident, 2,839 soldiers and officers were detained and, according to another military official, 104 coup plotters were killed. General Hulusi Akar, held by the rebels, was later freed.

File photo of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 2016.
Image: Cancillería del Ecuador.

On Friday, the rebels declared martial law claiming to have “taken control of the country” and said Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan‘s government was responsible for damaging Turkey’s secular tradition. They shut down Istanbul Atatürk Airport and blocked the two bridges over the Bosphorus, with gunfire and, by some reports, jets dropping bombs in Istanbul and Ankara. Social-networking websites were blocked in the country and news channel CNN stopped broadcasting. Tank fire and explosions were reported at the parliament.

Prime Minister Yıldırım declared a no-fly zone over Ankara. Erdoğan was in Marmaris during the coup attempt. Erdoğan after reaching Instanbul on Saturday, said, “Those who betrayed this country will pay for this treachery”((tr)) as he announced he would remain president.

General Zekai Aksakalli told NTV, “Those who are attempting a coup will not succeed. Our people should know that we will overcome this”. Erdoğan supporters were seen carrying the Turkish flag on the streets of Istanbul.

During Erdoğan’s address to citizens, coup supporters were seen surrendering, abandoning military tanks, given citizen opposition to the coup. Eight people fled the country seeking asylum in the Greek city of Alexandroupolis, according to Greek officials.

Officials claimed Fethullah Gülen, who is currently in the United States on an exile, was responsible for the coup; Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported Gülen condemned the attempt.


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November 6, 2007

Bush pledges support for Turkey after meeting with PM

Bush pledges support for Turkey after meeting with PM

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

President George W. Bush meets with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Oval Office on November 5, 2007.

On Monday, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paid an official state visit to the United States. During his visit, he met with President George W. Bush in the White House for talks that centered on the Turkey-PKK conflict and the Iraq War.

Turkey is concerned about attacks by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that originate from within the borders of Iraq. There have been cross-border clashes between Turkey and the PKK. Turkey has threatened a major incursion, something the US seeks to avoid, as it could upset the relative calm in northern Iraq. The PKK has been listed as a terrorist organization by a number of countries and organizations. The PKK’s goal has been to create an independent socialist Kurdish state in a territory which it claims as Kurdistan, an area that comprises parts of south-eastern Turkey, north-eastern Iraq, north-eastern Syria and north-western Iran.

After the meeting, Bush said of the PKK that “they are an enemy of Turkey, they are an enemy of Iraq, and they are an enemy of the United States.” He pledged additional intelligence to help Turkey, an offer that was also made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week, during her Middle East tour.

We talked about the need to have better intelligence-sharing. In order to chase down people who murder people you need good intelligence. And we talked about the need for our military to stay in constant contact. To this end, the Prime Minister and I have set up a tripartite arrangement, for his number two man in the military to stay in touch with our number man and General Petraeus.
 
— George W. Bush

Bush further offered mutual military assistance with both Turkey and Iraq to fight the PKK. “We want to work in a close way to deal with this problem,” he said.

Erdogan mentioned during the post-meeting news conference that the Grand National Assembly of Turkey has already authorized military action in Iraq. He did not, however, say whether such action would be imminent.

There is a lot of difficulty in the region in general. And I believe that it falls to us, it’s a responsibility for us as strategic partners to work to ensure that we overcome these difficulties and solve them. I have also seen that the President and I agree on these points, and I’m very happy to see that.
 
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Neither leader indicated to what level, if any, that direct military cooperation would exist.

Ali Babacan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Turkey, was last week not so impressed by Rice’s offers. “We are at the point where words have been exhausted and where there is need for action,” he said on Friday.

“The Bush administration would like to just kick this can down the road,” said Bulent Aliriza, a political observer for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The problem is, the can has been kicked down the road to the point where now it can’t be kicked anymore.”



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October 18, 2007

Turkish Parliament approves military action in Iraq

Turkish Parliament approves military action in Iraq

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Flag of Turkey.

On Wednesday, Turkey’s Grand National Assembly voted 507-19 to authorize sending troops into northern Iraq to pursue Kurdish rebels. Although the authorization is valid for one year, Turkish officials made clear that it would not necessarily result in military action. Both the United States and Iraq have recently warned Turkey against such an incursion.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that although the motion does not indicate that a military operation is imminent, it is necessary for Turkey to be able to respond to bomb attacks which have been blamed on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels in Iraq. Turkey has been asking for help in dealing with the PKK for months, and the Turkish public has grown frustrated with America’s perceived lack of action on the issue.

Map showing Kurd-inhabited region overlapping national borders.

Both the United States and Iraq have recently warned Turkey against an incursion into Iraq. “The Iraqi government calls on the Turkish government to pursue a diplomatic solution and not a military solution to solve the [problem] of terrorist attacks which our dear neighbor Turkey has witnessed from the PKK,” Iraq government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh said earlier this week. White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe called on Turkey “to continue their discussions with us and the Iraqis and to show restraint from any potentially destabilizing actions.”

Responding to the motion, U.S. President George W. Bush urged Turkey not to carry out an attack, saying “[we are] making it clear to Turkey it is not in their interest to send more troops in… there is a better way to deal with the issue.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad defended Turkey’s decision and criticized the U.S. position, saying “It is important to note that the powers that have invaded Iraq are those primarily responsible for the terror activities and attacks because they control the country.” “We certainly support and back the decisions by the Turkish government in combat against terror and terror activities,” he said.

Murat Karayilan, the leader of the armed wing of the PKK, warned Turkey of the consequences of an attack in an interview with The Times. “If the Turkish Army attacks Iraqi Kurdistan we will struggle and resist against this until the end,” he said. Karayilan nevertheless said he hoped that the crisis could be resolved peacefully but continues attacks on Turkish soldiers, killing 12 in an ambush yesterday.

U.S.-Turkish relations have been strained recently after a U.S. House of Representatives resolution passed committee, labeling the World War I era killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as “genocide”. Turkey strongly disputes these claims. Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the US House of Representatives will vote on the resolution “soon.”

President Bush criticized the resolution at a press conference on Wednesday, saying “One thing Congress should not be doing is sorting out the historical record of the Ottoman Empire.”



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May 2, 2007

AKP calls for early general election in Turkey

AKP calls for early general election in Turkey

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Abdullah Gül, deputy Prime Minister and foreign minister of Turkey.
Image: José Cruz/ABr, 2006.

The ruling party in Turkey has asked the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to approve a general election to take place June 24, 2007. The next general election was scheduled for November.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP), which holds 363 of 550 seats in parliament, apparently feels that it will not be able to achieve quorum in the vote on its presidential candidate Abdullah Gül. Analysts reportedly project that AKP would fare well in the elections.

Just yesterday, the Constitutional Court annulled the first round of voting in the presidential election.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Image: Bertil Videt.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the court’s decision “a bullet aimed at democracy… It has made it almost impossible for the parliament to elect a president in the future.” He also called for the constitution to be changed so that the president is elected by popular vote, instead of the current method where parliament elects the president. Erdoğan also proposed to change the constitution to allow the president to serve 2 terms of 5 years instead of the current single term of 7 years.

The Turkish pro-secular movement first feared that prime minister Erdoğan would run for president. When the ruling AKP chose Abdullah Gül as their candidate instead, they feared that Gül might have a hidden Islamic agenda and be a threat to the separation between religion and state in Turkey. But AKP denies such agenda, and Gül has promised to adhere to secularist principles if he would become president. Gül’s wife has in the past fiercely defended her right to wear the Islamic headscarf.

Meanwhile, the United States has joined the European Union in asking the Turkish Armed Forces to stay out of the process. The military sees itself as the guardian of secular government in Turkey and has toppled the government four times since 1960.

The first rally on April 14 in Ankara.
Image: Selahattin Sönmez.

Two pro-secular rallies with several hundred thousand demonstrators took place in April, one in Ankara and the other in Istanbul. National symbols were strongly present during these protests, and people were chanting “Turkey is secular and will remain secular” and “We don’t want an imam as president!”.

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May 1, 2007

Turkey\’s Constitutional Court invalidates first round in presidential elections

Turkey’s Constitutional Court invalidates first round in presidential elections

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Abdullah Gül
Image: José Cruz/ABr, 2006.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has annulled the first round of voting in the presidential election, ruling that there were not enough members present at the parliamentary vote for it to be valid. The court ruled 9-2 in favor of the challenge.

Opposition parties, who boycotted the vote, challenged the result in court on the grounds that the were not enough MPs in attendance to achieve quorum which is set at two-thirds of the 550 member Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The government argued that only one-third or 184 MPs were needed for quorum.

In Friday’s vote, Abdullah Gül got 357 votes. The governing party, Justice and Development Party (AKP) has 363 of the 550 seats in parliament. The main opposition party, Republican People’s Party (CHP), holds 178 seats. Independents hold the remaining 9 seats.

Government spokesperson Cemil Çiçek said the government will seek to have the required 367 MPs in attendance for a new vote on Wednesday. If the age limit for MPs is lowered to 25 from the current 30, the government is ready to call early parliamentary elections. Early polls have been sought by the opposition and business interests.

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  • “Pro-secular Turks rally against Erdogan’s possible presidential candidacy” — Wikinews, April 15, 2007

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Turkish presidential election, 2007
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April 24, 2007

Turkey\’s governing party names Abdullah Gül as presidential candidate

Turkey’s governing party names Abdullah Gül as presidential candidate

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Abdullah Gül in Brazil in 2005
Image: Jose Cruz/ABr.

Abdullah Gül, current deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Turkey, has been named as the new presidential candidate by his party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

In Turkey, the parliament votes to elect the new President of Turkey. The AKP has 353 of the 550 seats in Grand National Assembly of Turkey. While Gül may not get elected in the first or second round, when a two-thirds majority is needed, their votes are enough to elect the new president at the third or fourth rounds of the election process, when a simple majority is needed. The first round will take place on Friday.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced Gül’s selection on Tuesday. The decision comes in the wake of a very large demonstration aimed at dissuading Erdoğan from running himself. Erdoğan said that Gül was “the person who emerged at the end of our evaluations as the candidate to become Turkey’s 11th president.”

Both the current president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, and the influential head of the Turkish Armed Forces, General Yaşar Büyükanıt have stressed that the new president must defend Turkey’s secular values. To that end Gül said: “the president must be loyal to secular principles… The president must be bound by the basic principles of the constitution… If I am elected I will act accordingly.”

The main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), hinted that it may nominate its own candidate to challenge Gül.

Related news

  • “Pro-secular Turks rally against Erdogan’s possible presidential candidacy” — Wikinews, April 15, 2007

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