Turkey coup: Erdogan purges 50,000

Turkey vowed to root out allies of the U.S.-based cleric it blames for an abortive coup last week, widening a purge of the army, police and judiciary on Tuesday to universities and schools, the intelligence agency and religious authorities.

Around 50,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended or detained since the coup attempt, stirring tensions across the country of 80 million which borders Syria’s chaos and is a Western ally against Islamic State.

“This parallel terrorist organization will no longer be an effective pawn for any country,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, referring to what the government has long alleged is a state within a state controlled by followers of Fethullah Gulen.

“We will dig them up by their roots,” he told parliament.

A spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan said the government was preparing a formal request to the United States for the extradition of Gulen, who Turkey says orchestrated the failed military takeover on Friday in which at least 232 people were killed.

Seventy-five-year-old Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania but has a network of supporters within Turkey, has condemned the coup attempt and denied any role in it.

A former ally-turned critic of Erdogan, he suggested the president staged it as an excuse for a crackdown after a steady accumulation of control during 14 years in power.

On Tuesday, authorities shut down media outlets deemed to be supportive of the cleric and said 15,000 people had been fired from the education ministry, 492 from the Religious Affairs Directorate, 257 from the prime minister’s office and 100 intelligence officials.

The lira weakened to beyond 3 to the dollar after state broadcaster TRT said all university deans had been ordered to resign, recalling the sorts of broad purges seen in the wake of successful military coups of the past.

In a sign of international concern, a German official said a serious fissure had opened in Turkey and he feared fighting would break out within Germany’s large Turkish community.

“A deep split is emerging in Turkish society,” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. “The danger of an escalation in violence between Erdogan supporters and opponents has also risen in Germany.”

Solidarity

Turkey’s Western allies have expressed solidarity with the government over the coup attempt but also alarm at the scale and swiftness of the response, urging it to adhere to democratic values.

Prime Minister Yildirim accused Washington, which said it will consider Gulen’s extradition only if clear evidence is provided, of double standards in its fight against terrorism.

“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.”

Seeking to quash any suggestion of lingering instability, the army said it had resumed full control. Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus denied reports that 14 naval vessels were missing and their commanders were seeking to defect.

Kurtulmus also told reporters 9,322 people were under legal proceedings in relation to the attempted coup.

Eight soldiers have sought asylum in neighboring Greece and Turkey says they must be handed back or it will not help relations between the neighbors, which have long been uneasy.

Around 1,400 people were wounded as soldiers commandeered tanks, attack helicopters and warplanes, strafing parliament and the intelligence headquarters and trying to seize the main airport and bridges in Istanbul.

The army general staff said it would punish “in the most severe way” any members of the armed forces responsible for what it called “this disgrace”, adding that most had nothing to do with the coup.

Reuters