Archive for July, 2016


July 16, 2016

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir arrived in Rwanda on Saturday to attend a summit of African leaders, defying an international warrant for his arrest after public assurances from Rwandan leaders that he would not be arrested.

The African Union summit on Sunday is expected to discuss the continent’s uneasy relationship with the International Criminal Court, which some say unfairly targets Africans. Ahead of the summit, some African countries renewed efforts to quit the ICC en masse despite the opposition of some countries like Botswana. Nigeria, Senegal and Ivory Coast have been pushing back as well in recent days.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has led growing criticism of the ICC, calling it “useless” during his inauguration in May, an event that al-Bashir attended. Some countries want a separate African court with jurisdiction over rights abuses.

“Withdrawal from ICC is entirely within the sovereignty of a particular state,” Joseph Chilengi, an AU official, told reporters Saturday. Al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC for alleged atrocities in the country’s Darfur region.

He should be at the ICC answering to charges that include genocide, “not persisting in this game of cat-and-mouse with the court,” Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch said Saturday night. Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said this week that Rwanda would not arrest al-Bashir.

“Africa doesn’t support criminals, but when justice is involved with a lot of politics we take a pause to separate the two,” Mushikiwabo told reporters. The African Union summit also will discuss South Sudan, where clashing army factions raised concerns of a return to civil war. The chaos threatens a peace deal signed last August between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, who is attending the summit, has called for an arms embargo.

Muhumuza reported from Kampala, Uganda.

July 21, 2016

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi has accepted the resignation of six cabinet ministers, his office revealed yesterday.

According to a press release posted on the prime minister’s website, Al-Abadi has accepted the resignation of the ministers of oil, transport, construction and housing, water resources, industry and interior.

Interior Minister Mohammed Salem Al-Ghabban resigned earlier this month following the attacks in central Baghdad that killed 300 people.

Political analyst Haroun Mohammed told Quds Press that Al-Abadi’s acceptance of the ministers’ resignation is an endorsement of the status quo.

“The ministers already resigned about two months ago and stressed at the time that they will not join their ministries whether Al-Abadi accepted or rejected their resignation. But Al-Abadi has filled up the vacuum by mandating their tasks to other minister in order not to lose the quorum,” Mohammed said.

He rejected reports that Al-Abadi accepted the ministers’ resignations due to pressure from the Sadrist movement.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160721-6-iraqi-cabinet-ministers-resign/.

Thursday 21 July 2016

CAIRO – When Shereen heard that a coup attempt was underway in Turkey, her heart rate jumped.

“I almost cried,” said the Egyptian housewife and longtime Muslim Brotherhood supporter. “I remembered the same moment, with the same scenario here.”

Shereen, who declined to use her last name for security reasons, stayed up all night watching the news on television.

“My husband told me not to worry,” she said. “What happened here won’t happen there.”

Across town Shaima Sabry, another housewife who shares mutual friends with Shereen, watched a completely different event unfold: This was a “show” that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had put on “to get revenge and more power”.

Sabry, who supports the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said she was “upset with the way Erdogan and the people treated their military”.

As the coup attempt in Turkey last Friday grabbed the world’s attention, the news hit close to home in Egypt as many, like Shereen and Shaima, saw reflections of politics in their own country in recent years, and their reactions mirror a public that is still deeply divided.

“There is the pro-regime lobby that saw the [Turkish coup] as a victory for the Egyptian regime itself,” said Ziad Akl, a political sociologist and senior researcher at the Egyptian Studies Unit in Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

There is also, Akl said, the anti-government lobby, which is composed of different political forces including the Muslim Brotherhood who “think that [the failure of the coup is] a triumph for legitimacy”.

For them, says Akl, Erdogan’s post-coup actions exemplify “how a coup should be dealt with”.

‘Revolution from inside’

Though the international media had confirmed the failure of the coup in Turkey by the early morning hours of 16 July, headlines in public and private Egyptian newspapers told citizens that the attempt to seize power in Turkey had actually succeeded.

“Turkey’s military disposes of Erdogan…The military rules Turkey and removes Erdogan” the front pages of the state-owned al-Ahram, and the privately owned al-Masry al-Youm and al-Watan read.

Controversial talk show host Ahmed Mousa insisted that what took place in Turkey was not a “coup at all,” but a “revolution from inside the Turkish military forces”.

He told viewers that, in Turkey’s “revolutions… the Turkish military always wins”.

Another host on the al-Balad channel said that the Turkish citizens who took to the streets in opposition to the coup “look like ISIS”.

On an official level, however, Egypt blocked a UN Security Council statement that condemned the unrest in Turkey and called on all parties to “respect the democratically elected government of Turkey,” Reuters reported.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said after the incident that they were only opposed to “the wording” of the statement.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry responded: “It is only natural for those who gained power through a coup to avoid taking a stance against the coup attempt that targeted our democratically elected President and Government.”

Reliving the coup

For many Egyptians, the events in Turkey were like a chance to relive the events of 3 July 2013, which saw a popular-backed coup oust democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi – but now with the benefit of hindsight.

Shereen, the Cairo housewife who supports the Muslim Brotherhood, said that watching the Turkish coup attempt made it clear to her that the power of the people is “the most important thing”.

She was one of the millions who took to the streets to protest the 3 July coup in Egypt and who, like her friends, lost loved ones when Egyptian security forces violently dispersed the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins staged in support of the Muslim Brotherhood in August 2013, killing at least 904 protesters.

“In Turkey, Erdogan had the support of a large faction of the military, the police, the television channels – and the opposition parties stood with him,” she said.

“Here, it was the opposite. We had a really weak alternative media. The police, their families, and a lot of people who believed what was happening took to the streets on 30 June,” she said in reference to a day of mass protests against Morsi’s rule.

“It was a lost cause,” she said.

But for Mohamed el-Raai, an independent photojournalist based in Cairo, the coup attempt in Turkey did not make him think too much of Egypt, “because there are a lot of differences between the incident there and the incident here”.

Still, he said, the way the Egyptian media covered the event “was naïve and backwards – we’ve gotten used to expecting this from them. They insist on scaring us with more arbitrariness, lies, and ignorance.”

Raai also said that the support opposition parties gave Erdogan against the coup was “a great response”.

“They put the nation’s interests, freedom and democracy above their personal disagreements with the ruling group in Turkey,” he said.

“It’s not about Erdogan as a person, but about the ideals of democracy.”

Hatem Ali, a doctor and a political activist, said the first thing that came to his mind as he followed the Twitter feeds of Turkish activists were ”the drawbacks that this coup will bring to the Syrian refugees and to Syria”.

It also, he said, brought memories back of the 2013 coup in Egypt, leaving him wondering if a scenario similar to that of Rabaa Square might follow.

“I kept thinking: How many innocent people will die for this? How many of Erdogan’s supporters will have to die?” he said.

“But in the end, there can’t be a comparison between Egypt and Turkey,” Ali said. “Turkey did not have a [Mohamed al-]Baradei or politicians who said we should get rid of the elected government first, then see how we can deal with the army, as was done in Egypt.”

“The difference,” he said, “is that mainstream people in Turkey, whether they support Erdogan or not, are more conscious and oriented with political life than all the Egyptian ‘politicians’ who now express regret for their participation in overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Scarier than Rabaa

Egyptians who fled to Turkey after the crackdown in their homeland also said they had a heartfelt scare last Friday.

Salma Ashraf, an Egyptian human rights worker now based in Turkey, said she initially did not understand what was going on. But when she realized a military coup was underway, she was in “utter shock”.

“It reminded me of when the military in Egypt kept Morsi in secret detention. When Erdogan appeared on FaceTime, I was sure that it was a coup because the exact same things happened with Morsi,” she said.

“[Erdogan’s] calls to the people to take to the streets reminded me of Egypt and, in my mind, I kept saying ‘not again’. I imagined another sit-in, and another Rabaa. My mind just could not take it.”

Ashraf, who was at Rabaa Square in August 2013, said the Turkish coup attempt was scarier for her than Rabaa because it was only later, after the events in the square, that she realized what she had been through. When the events in Turkey began, though, she “quickly felt fear”.

“I kept imagining and remembering everything what I [had] experienced before,” she said.

“People in the streets, helicopters killing them, blood on the streets, protesters shot dead next to us and the whole massacre then: another Egypt, now.”

Ashraf said her brothers, also living in exile in Turkey, admired how quickly the Turkish people reacted to the coup, and that they had had joined anti-coup protesters in the streets.

Ashraf said she was relieved when the coup failed, and her fears that she might be deported began to abate.

But she is watching events closely.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/i-kept-saying-not-again-egyptians-react-turkey-s-failed-coup-1286572154.

By Frank Zeller with Raziye Akkoc in Ankara

Istanbul (AFP)

July 24, 2016

Turkey readied Sunday for its first cross-party rally against the bloody putsch attempt, following the break up of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s presidential guard as sweeping purges of suspected state enemies continue.

The mass rally, to be held under tight security on Istanbul’s iconic Taksim square, was called by the biggest opposition group, the secular and center-left Republican People’s Party.

But in a show of patriotic post-coup unity, it will be joined by Erdogan’s ruling Islamic-conservative AKP party, whose followers have covered city squares in seas of red Turkish crescent flags every night since the failed coup.

Sunday’s mass event, expected to be boosted by free public transport in the city of 15 million, will seek to soothe divisions after the shock of the July 15 coup and the subsequent government crackdown.

“The Turkish republic is stronger than it was in the past,” wrote Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in an editorial in the HaberTurk daily.

“Turkey is on democracy watch … This watch continues until the anti-democratic elements are cleaned out,” he said.

The number of alleged conspirators who have been rounded up has surged above 13,000 with soldiers, police, justice officials and civilians all targeted in a crackdown that has alarmed European leaders.

– ‘Right-hand man’ –

Turkey has undergone a seismic shift since the night of violence when renegade soldiers sought to topple Erdogan but were stopped by crowds of civilians and loyalist soldiers and police in clashes that claimed 270 lives.

In the latest reaction to the coup, Yildirim said Turkey would disband the 2,500-strong Presidential Guard, saying there was “no need” for the elite regiment.

Almost 300 of its officers have been detained after some of them forced TV news presenters to read statements stating that martial law had been declared during the abortive coup attempt.

Under new police powers decreed as part of a three-month state of emergency, all those detained can be held without charge for 30 days.

Also targeted in the sweep was an alleged senior financier for US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen — the reclusive spiritual leader who Turkey accuses of being the mastermind behind the botched attempt to overthrow Erdogan.

Security forces detained the aide, Halis Hanci, in the Black Sea province of Trabzon, a senior official said, describing him as a “right-hand man” to 75-year-old Gulen and responsible for transferring funds for him.

Police also detained Kerime Kurmas — reportedly Turkey’s only female fighter pilot — who is accused of being one of the rebel air force officers who flew thundering F-16 jets low over the roofs of Istanbul on the coup night.

– ‘Come here and see’ –

Erdogan’s government has also sacked tens of thousands of teachers, university lecturers and civil servants and ordered the closure of thousands of schools, associations and charities as it seeks to rid the state of what he has called the Gulenist “virus”.

But European leaders have protested the mass purge, with Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warning that “a country that jails its own university professors and journalists imprisons its future”.

Turkey has argued that EU leaders simply do not understand the seriousness of the threat to Turkish democracy.

“Come here and see how serious this is!”, EU Minister Omer Celik said at a foreign media briefing.

“Those who look at Turkey from far away think it is a Pokemon game,” he added, referring to the viral Japanese cartoon smartphone game.

The coup and the tough response to it have forced government critics and dissidents to walk a fine line: while the putsch attempt is almost universally condemned, many fear being targeted in a retaliatory witch-hunt.

Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, has warned heightened police powers and rule by decree “pave the way for more injustice”.

The turmoil has strained Turkey’s ties with its NATO allies and cast a shadow over its long-term bid to join the European Union.

Celik insisted Ankara remained committed to joining the bloc and would honor a landmark deal with the EU to stem the flow of migrants to Europe.

But Erdogan struck a darker tone, telling France 24 television on Saturday that “for the past 53 years Europe has been making us wait”, and that no EU candidate country “has had to suffer like we have had to suffer”.

He rejected the European criticism of his response to the coup attempt, saying that “they are biased, they are prejudiced, and they will continue to act in this prejudiced manner towards Turkey”.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Turkey_readies_cross-party_rally_against_coup_for_democracy_999.html.

July 22, 2016

Soumaya Ghannoushi

Many masks have slipped since Turkey’s failed military coup last Friday, such that a great many on the right and the left alike, who never tire of eulogizing about democracy and human rights, the masses, and people power have been exposed as little more than pseudo liberals and fake democrats.

Ironically, the same western “experts”, “analysts” and “commentators”, who had in the last Turkish elections gleefully predicted the overthrow of the AKP but were sorely disappointed after its victory, have committed an even more colossal error of judgment this time round.

Instead of expressing a clear principled stance against military coups and in favour of democracy and the popular will, they chose to side with the putschists as they bombed the Turkish parliament with F16s and gunned down peaceful protesters.

They cheerfully sought justification for the plot to topple a democratically elected government when it was under way, heaping scorn on the elected president instead of the generals and soldiers who conspired to overthrow him.

And when the coup was defeated, against all the odds, the tune turned to lamentations over democracy and its terrible plight under “arrogant” and “authoritarian” Erdogan and gloomy warnings of an inevitable slide to repression and tyranny.

A Sunday Times commentator even rebuked the coup plotters, which he referred to using such lofty descriptions as “the guardians of secularism” and “a force for progress”, even as “Modernity” itself, for staging its coup in July when “everyone is soporific with the heat”, suggesting that September would have yielded the desired outcome.

The same symphony of exoneration of the coup plotters and demonisation of Erdogan was played by left-wing media. Hours after the coup’s launch, the liberal, left-leaning Guardian ran a piece that bore the surreal title “Turkey was already undergoing a slow-motion coup – by Erdogan, not the army”.

Neither was the response of western governments any more principled. Resorting to diplomatic sophistry, they initially avoided denunciation of the coup, confining themselves to vacuous calls for “caution” and “restraint”.

Only when the tens of thousands of ordinary Turks who defied the curfew and, unarmed, resisted the attempt to drag their country back to the dark era of military dictatorship, managed to defeat the seceders did these hollow phrases shift towards tepid statements of “support for democracy” and lengthy expressions of concern for the putschists and their fates.

Erdogan may have committed numerous errors, moving as he is in a highly complex local and regional context. What is indisputable though is that his power is founded on electoral and popular legitimacy.

And, like him or loathe him, the Turkish president has done more to democratize the country than any other leader in its modern history, strengthening its civil institutions and corroborating the authority of the people in opposition to a military which had wrought havoc in its political life.

The AKP era has seen the liberation of civil rule from the generals’ hegemony, reform of the military and restructuring of the security service, intelligence apparatus and special forces.

Through the accumulation of democratic traditions, with the liberalization of the country’s political system via successive elections, political pluralism and the widening role of civil society, the Turkish people have grown freer, bolder, and more able to defy the edicts of putschists and generals.

The paradox is that no other leader in the Middle East is more demonized than Erdogan when he is one of the very few heads of state who have actually been democratically elected in that part of the world “we” wish to keep as a “black hole” and “our” antithesis.

As for our allies, who range between seasoned autocrats and bloodthirsty generals, they are safely exempted from our criticism, plots and conspiracies. In fact, they may even do our dirty work for us, as some of our oil rich Gulf friends did in Egypt and continue to do in Libya and other countries in the region.

For this is the deal: either a democracy that yields those we want, that is, those who do as we say and serve our interests, and eliminates those we disapprove of, which is the ideal scenario for us. Otherwise, we must look to our reserves of putschists and generals around the region to do the necessary in quick “surgical” interventions.

Our orchestra of apologists would swiftly move to embellish the ugly spectacle with fact-reversing analyses and commentaries than turn coup-plotters into “guardians of modernity” and “agents of progress” and democratically elected leaders into “dictators”.

As for those citizens who dared defend their electoral choices, they will be painted as zealots and religion-crazed fanatics, or in Turkey’s case, as “Erdogan’s Islamist mobs“, as one British newspaper referred to the anti-coup protesters.

The truth is that the West couldn’t care less about democracy or human rights. They are irrelevant when it comes to its friends and allies and are only valuable as a stick with which it may beat its rivals and enemies. If Erdogan is being vilified today, it is not because he is a not democrat or a tyrant, but because he is not pliant to western dictates and willing to keep to the rules and parameters the West lays down in the region.

The real challenge, then, is: are western powers able to accept and deal fairly with a leader who expresses the will of his people and his country’s interests, which may not necessarily coincide with their will and their interests?

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160722-why-is-turkeys-erdogan-being-demonised-in-the-west/.

July 22, 2016

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s president triumphantly rallied supporters after prayers at a mosque Friday as his government announced new details about the state of emergency imposed after an attempted coup.

The changes included extending the period that suspects can be detained without charges to up to a week. “Victory belongs to the faithful,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told hundreds of people outside a mosque in Ankara, the capital. He said pro-government protesters faced down guns and tanks during the July 15 uprising and accused followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, the alleged director of the uprising, of mocking the Turkish people.

Gulen has strongly denied any knowledge of the attempted military coup. “Here is the army, here is the commander!” the crowd in Ankara chanted. They also called for the reintroduction of the death penalty for use against coup plotters, a request that Erdogan has said he would consider despite concerns that it would violate Turkey’s international commitments and rupture ties with Europe.

Germany has expressed concern about the rule of law in Turkey, saying several people detained in the wake of the failed coup appeared to have been mistreated. “(This) raises troubling questions, if accused people are seen on television or photos bearing clear traces of physical violence,” Steffen Seibert, spokesman for the German government, told reporters Friday in Berlin.

Germany hopes Turkey’s state of emergency will be as short as possible and that it would have no impact on a deal between the EU and Ankara to halt the flow of migrants crossing to Europe, Seibert said.

Turkey’s parliament on Thursday approved the three-month state of emergency, which gives Erdogan sweeping new powers. He has said the state of emergency will counter threats to Turkish democracy, though critics are urging restraint because they fear the measure will violate basic freedoms.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told broadcaster CNN Turk that the period of detention that most suspects can be held without charges will be extended from 1-2 days to about one week in the first stage of the state of emergency.

The Turkish government has already imposed a crackdown that has included mass arrests, mass firings and closing hundreds of schools allegedly linked to Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

Those targeted in the crackdown include prominent journalist Orhan Kemal Cengiz and his wife, Sibel Hurtas, who were detained at Istanbul’s main international airport as they prepared to leave the country Thursday. They were taken to police headquarters for questioning, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim, praised most Turkish media for quickly criticizing the attempted coup but he railed against foreign media reports that he said provided “one-sided coverage under the influence of this organization of assassins,” a reference to supporters of Gulen.

The government says 246 pro-government people — forces and civilians — died during the attempted coup, and at least 24 coup plotters were also killed. Some media have cited concerns that Erdogan’s crackdown is at least partly designed to sideline legitimate opposition to his government and expand his power.

The Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, has asked for access to the trials against alleged coup plotters in Turkey. “Turkey needs to be reminded regularly that, after parts of the military tried to change the country, it would be a bitter irony now if the government would change the democratic state from above,” Michael Georg Link, director of the OSCE’s office for democratic institutions and human rights, told Germany’s rbb-Inforadio.

July 22, 2016

ISTANBUL (AP) — The streets of Turkey’s major cities were calm Friday, a day after Turkish lawmakers responded to an attempted coup by approving a three-month state of emergency that allows the government to extend detention times and issue decrees.

However, in a sign of the underlying tensions in the country, protesters went to the Etimesgut military base in Ankara late Thursday and parked trucks and a bulldozer outside — possibly for fear that tanks might try to leave the facility.

It was not clear what sparked the tension, and power to the base appeared to have been cut. Parliament on Thursday voted 346-115 to approve the national state of emergency, which gives sweeping new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has said the state of emergency will counter threats to Turkish democracy, though critics are urging restraint because they fear the measure would violate basic freedoms.

Even without the emergency measures, Turkey has already imposed a crackdown that has included mass arrests, mass firings and the closure of hundreds of schools. Erdogan said the new powers would allow the government to rid the military of the “virus” of subversion and has blamed the July 15 coup attempt on a U.S.-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen. The cleric has denied any knowledge of the attempted coup.

Those recently targeted in the government crackdown include prominent journalist Orhan Kemal Cengiz and his wife, Sibel Hurtas, who were detained at Istanbul’s main international airport as they prepared to leave the country Thursday. They were taken to police headquarters for questioning, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

July 21, 2016

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey will be able to extend detention times for suspects and issue decrees without parliamentary approval under a three-month state of emergency approved Thursday by lawmakers following last week’s attempted military coup.

Parliament voted 346-115 to approve the national state of emergency, which gives sweeping new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had been accused of autocratic conduct even before this week’s crackdown on alleged opponents. Erdogan has said the state of emergency will counter threats to Turkish democracy.

Even without the emergency measures, his government has already imposed a crackdown that has included mass arrests, mass firings and the closure of hundreds of schools. Erdogan said the new powers would allow the government to rid the military of the “virus” of subversion, blaming the coup attempt on a U.S.-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen. The cleric has denied any knowledge of the attempted coup.

“This is a state of emergency imposed not on the people, but on (the state) itself,” declared Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. “We will, one by one, cleanse the state of (Gulen’s followers) and eliminate those who are trying to harm the country.”

The government hopes the state of emergency will be lifted within 40 to 45 days, said Yildirim’s deputy, Numan Kurtulmus. Turkey immediately said it was partially suspending the European Convention on Human Rights, allowing it more leeway to deal with individual cases, by invoking an article most recently used by France and Ukraine. The Council of Europe said it had been informed of Turkey’s decision, and that the convention will still apply, but that individual exceptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Meanwhile, video emerged of soldiers firing at crowds who rushed to defend the government during the failed coup. Footage from CCTV cameras above the Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul showed soldiers shooting at a man who had his hands up as he approached tanks that were blocking traffic. Other footage, obtained from the Turkish Dogan news agency, showed a mob attacking surrendering soldiers on the bridge after daybreak.

On Thursday, thousands of people again gathered at the bridge to protest the failed coup. Waving Turkish flags, the crowd walked across the bridge linking the European and Asian sides of the city, some defiantly chanting, “Our martyrs are immortal, our nation cannot be divided!”

Since the July 15 coup attempt, the government has arrested nearly 10,000 people. More than 58,880 civil service employees — including teachers, university deans and police — have been dismissed, suspended, forced to resign or had their licenses revoked for allegedly being Gulen followers.

Turkish state media said Thursday that another 32 judges and two military officers had been detained by authorities. The main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, slammed the state of emergency move.

Speaking ahead of the vote, CHP lawmaker Ozgur Ozel said the decision would amount to a “civilian coup” against Parliament and was a display of “ingratitude” to all the legislators who had gathered in the assembly Saturday to oppose the coup attempt.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek defended the move, saying he hoped the state of emergency would be short-lived. He said it would be used to go after “rogue” elements within the state and that there would have been “carnage in the streets” had the military coup succeeded.

Simsek said that “standards of the European Court of Human Rights will be upheld,” but didn’t elaborate. “There will be no curfews. There will be no restriction of movement other than for the suspects,” Simsek said.

Amnesty International said it recognized that the government had to take measures to prevent another coup attempt, but warned that under the state of emergency, dismissed civil servants would not be able to challenge the decrees in administrative courts and detention periods would be extended.

“Our concern is that government is going well beyond what might be considered a legitimate response to the coup attempt,” said Andrew Gardener of the group’s Istanbul office. “People are being pursued without any evidence that they participated in this coup,” he said, adding that the government is “targeting people for their political affiliations. It’s not upholding the rule of law.”

Under the Turkish constitution, the emergency measures allow the government to “partially or entirely” suspend “the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms,” so long as that doesn’t violate international law obligations.

A state of emergency has never been declared nationwide although it was declared in Turkey’s restive, Kurdish-dominated southeast between 1987 and 2002. There, governors imposed curfews, called in military forces to suppress demonstrations and issued search warrants.

Martial law was imposed across the country for three years following a successful military coup in 1980. In other developments, a soldier allegedly linked to the attack on a hotel where Erdogan had been vacationing during the foiled coup was arrested in southwestern Turkey, the state agency Anadolu reported Thursday. The lieutenant was one of about 30 soldiers said to be involved in the hotel attack in the resort of Marmais.

The attackers arrived minutes after Erdogan had left the hotel, according to official reports. In Greece, a court sentenced eight Turkish military personnel who fled there aboard a helicopter during the coup attempt to two months in prison for entering the country illegally.

Turkey has demanded their return to stand trial for alleged participation in the coup attempt. The eight, who deny involvement, have applied for asylum in Greece, saying they fear for their safety if they are returned.

El Deeb reported from Istanbul.

July 21, 2016

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish lawmakers convened Thursday to endorse sweeping new powers for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that would allow him to expand a crackdown in the wake of last week’s failed coup.

The 550-member parliament is set to approve Erdogan’s request for a three-month state of emergency. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party account for 317 members in the chamber. In an address to the nation late Wednesday, Erdogan announced a Cabinet decision to seek the additional powers, saying the state of emergency would give the government the tools to rid the military of the “virus” of subversion.

The measure would give Erdogan the authority to extend detention times for suspects and issue decrees that have the force of law without parliamentary approval, among other powers. Even without the emergency measures, the government has already imposed a crackdown that has included mass arrests and closing hundreds of schools. Nearly 10,000 people have been arrested and over 58,880 civil service employees including teachers, university deans and police have been dismissed, suspended, forced to resign or had their licenses revoked.

Turkish state media said Thursday that a further 32 judges and two military officers had been detained by authorities, Although the state of emergency measure seemed certain to pass, it was slammed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party, CHP, as going too far.

CHP lawmaker Ozgur Ozel said the decision would amount to a “civilian coup” against Parliament and was a display of “ingratitude” to all the legislators who had gathered in the assembly to oppose the coup attempt.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek defended the move, saying he hoped the state of emergency would be short-lived. He said it would be used to go after “rogue” elements within the state and that there could have been “carnage in the streets” had the military coup succeeded.

“We owe it to our people to go after them,” he said. “We will have a legal framework for it.” Simsek said that “standards of the European Court of Human Rights will be upheld,” but didn’t elaborate. “There will be no curfews. There will be no restriction of movement other than for the suspects,” Simsek said.

Under the Turkish Constitution, the emergency measures allow the government to “partially or entirely” suspend “the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms,” so long as that doesn’t violate international law obligations. Lawmakers can sanction a state of emergency for a period of up to six months.

Before the vote Thursday, another deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, said once the emergency measures are invoked, the country would suspend its participation in the European Convention of Human Rights, an international treaty meant to protect human rights and freedoms. He said the move was justified under a convention article allowing for such a suspension in times of emergency.

A state of emergency has never been declared nationwide although it was declared in Turkey’s restive, Kurdish-dominated southeast between 1987 and 2002. There, governors imposed curfews, called in military forces to suppress demonstrations and issued search warrants. Martial law was imposed across the country for three years following a successful military coup in 1980.

In other coup-related news, a soldier allegedly linked to the attack on a hotel where Erdogan had been vacationing during the foiled coup was arrested in southwestern Turkey, the state agency Anadolu reported Thursday. The lieutenant was one of about 30 soldiers who government officials have said were involved in the attack on the hotel in the resort of Marmais.

The attackers arrived minutes after Erdogan had left the hotel, according to official reports. Earlier this week, officials said at least four suspects linked to the hotel attack remain on the run. In Greece, a court sentenced eight Turkish military personnel who fled there aboard a helicopter during the coup attempt to two months in prison for entering the country illegally.

Turkey has demanded their return to stand trial for alleged participation in the coup attempt. The eight, who deny involvement, have applied for asylum in Greece, saying they fear for their safety if they are returned.

Countries around the world are keeping a close watch on developments in Turkey, which straddles Europe, the Middle East and Asia. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Thursday that the expected state of emergency should only last as long as it’s “absolutely necessary.”

Steinmeier said it’s important that “the rule of law, a sense of proportion and commensurability are preserved” and that it’s in Turkey’s interest to “keep the state of emergency only for the duration that is absolutely necessary and then immediately end it.”

Erdogan, who had been accused of autocratic conduct even before this week’s crackdown on alleged opponents, said the state of emergency would counter threats to Turkish democracy. “This measure is in no way against democracy, the law and freedoms,” Erdogan said Wednesday after a meeting with Cabinet ministers and security advisers.

Sarah El Deeb reported from Istanbul. Kirsten Grieshaber and David Rising in Berlin, and Costas Kantouris in Alexandroupolis, Greece, contributed to this story.

July 21, 2016

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish lawmakers are expected Thursday to approve President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s request for a three-month state of emergency in the wake of last week’s failed coup. In an address to the nation late Wednesday, Erdogan announced a cabinet decision to seek additional powers, saying the state of emergency would give the government the tools to rid the military of the “virus” of subversion.

Under the terms of the Turkish constitution, lawmakers in the 550-member parliament have to approve a request for a state of emergency. Of those, 317 are members of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party.

The state of emergency will give the government sweeping powers to expand a crackdown that has already included mass arrests and the closure of hundreds of schools. On Thursday, Turkish state media said a further 32 judges and two military officers have been detained by authorities during the crackdown since last week’s coup.

Already, nearly 10,000 people have been arrested while hundreds of schools have been closed. And nearly 60,000 civil service employees have been dismissed. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Turkey’s state of emergency should only last as long as it’s “absolutely necessary.”

Steinmeier said Thursday that it’s important that “the rule of law, a sense of proportion and commensurability are preserved” and that it’s in Turkey’s interest to “keep the state of emergency only for the duration that is absolutely necessary and then immediately end it.”

Any action stemming from the new powers should only be taken against those with “a provable involvement in punishable actions” and not “an alleged political attitude,” Steinmeier added. Erdogan, who had been accused of autocratic conduct even before this week’s tough crackdown, said the state of emergency would counter threats to Turkish democracy.

“This measure is in no way against democracy, the law and freedoms,” Erdogan said Wednesday after a meeting with Cabinet ministers and security advisers.