ISTANBUL (AFP) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday (Aug 2) launched his most bitter attack yet on Turkey’s Western allies over the July 15 attempted putsch, accusing them of supporting both “terror” and the coup plotters who tried to unseat him.
Erdogan, who blames the plot on the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, also described the coup as a “scenario written from outside” in an allusion to foreign involvement.
Turkey meanwhile issued arrest warrants for about 100 staff, including doctors, at Ankara’s main military hospital, in a new phase of the crackdown after the failed coup that has seen some 18,000 detained and caused international consternation.
“Unfortunately, the West is supporting terror and standing by the coup plotters,” said Erdogan in a typically combative speech at his presidential palace, denouncing “those who we imagined to be friends”.
Erdogan lashed out at Germany’s judicial authorities for not allowing him to address via video conference a weekend rally in Cologne in his support.
“Bravo! The courts in Germany work very fast!” Erdogan said with heavy irony.
He accused Germany of allowing leaders from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to address previous events via video conference.
He said Turkey had previously also handed Germany a list of more than 4,000 wanted militants without having any response.
The president, who had previously alluded to foreign states’ involvement, gave his strongest indication yet that external powers could have been played a role.
“This coup was not just an event planned from the inside. The actors inside acted out a scenario for a coup written from the outside,” Erdogan said.
Turning directly on Washington, he asked: “How can it be, when we are strategic partners and I ask you on behalf of my country to hand someone over on the basis of a national security strategy document, you keep on hiding and sheltering him?”
Already strained ties between Nato allies Turkey and the United States have been aggravated by the failed putsch, with some government ministers even alleging Washington could have had a hand in the plot, which US officials firmly reject.
On a visit to Turkey on Monday, US General Joseph Dunford condemned the coup attempt.
Police searched the Gulhane Military Medical Academy (GATA) hospital in the capital and detained some 50 staff including military doctors, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported, quoting police sources.
A Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed detention warrants had been issued for 98 staff.
The official said staff there were suspected of helping fast-track Gulen supporters into the military by giving them favourable medical reports.
Similar claims have also been made about military schools where officials say exams were rigged. Almost half of Turkey’s generals were fired in the wake of the coup.
This is believed to be the first time a medical establishment has been targeted in a clampdown under a three-month state of emergency which has also hit journalists and academics.
Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999 and has denied any involvement in the putsch.
Turkish authorities stepped up pressure on the United States to extradite Gulen, sending a new package of documents to the American authorities, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said.
Bozdag said “he needs to be arrested urgently as we have intelligence that he might flee to a third country.” Turkey has also launched a sweeping overhaul of state institutions, sacking tens of thousands of civil servants and shaking up the military.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his government had started “virus and traitor cleansing” to weed out Gulenists from state institutions.
The Hurriyet daily said the overhaul would also hit the powerful intelligence service which would be split into separate units for foreign and domestic intelligence, in line with Britain’s system where foreign intelligence is handled by MI6 and domestic intelligence by MI5.
Erdogan has been scathing about the failure of the National Intelligence Service (MIT) to warn him in a timely manner about the coup, complaining he found out when his brother-in-law called up.
Meanwhile, a government minister gave the overall cost of the coup on the Turkish economy, warning the cost could amount to US$100 billion.
“Warplanes, helicopters, weapons, bombs, buildings: 300 billion lira. Maybe I am underestimating a bit,” Customs and Commerce Minister Bulent Tufenkci said, in comments published in Hurriyet.