Turkish Government Arrests Thousands After Failed Military Coup

Turkish Government Arrests Thousands After Failed Military Coup

The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withstood an attempted coup on Friday night. Erdogan, who was on the Turquoise Coast at the time, managed to escape a raid on the resort where he was staying and issue public statements despite the temporary takeover of Turkish media outlets by troops participating in the coup; he encouraged his supporters to take to the streets in protest. At least 290 people were killed in clashes between military forces that tried to take over the government and loyalists. Turkish authorities have rounded up more than 7,500 suspected participants in the coup so far, approximately half of whom are members of the military, including senior officers. Several more have been arrested in Greece as they tried to flee Turkey. Another 8,000 police officers have been suspended from work on suspicion of sympathizing with the coup. Supporters of Erdogan rallied in Istanbul on Sunday and chanted slogans advocating for the reauthorization of the death penalty, abolished in Turkey in 2004, for the coup’s supporters. “We cannot ignore this demand,” Erdogan said of the calls for executions. “In democracies, whatever the people say has to happen.” European officials said today that reinstating the death penalty would end consideration for Turkish accession to the European Union, and the EU commissioner in charge of Turkey’s accession bid noted that the speed with which the arrests were carried out suggests that the Turkish government already had a prepared list of dissidents. “I’m very concerned,” he said. “It is exactly what we feared.”

Since Friday night, Erdogan has suggested that the attempted coup was a plot by members of the Gulenist Movement within the military. He called on the United States to extradite Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in the United States for the past 20 years but retains a large network of influence in Turkey. A one-time ally to Erdogan, the Gulenists have become rivals in recent years and in May the Turkish government declared them a terrorist organization. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that the United States will consider any formal request for extradition that Turkey submits, but that he has not seen any credible evidence to suggest Gulen’s knowledge of or participation in the coup. Gulen himself denied any role in Friday’s events.

Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Attack in Nice

The Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for the massacre in Nice, France, on Bastille Day, though there is still no evidence linking the attacker, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, to the terrorist group. French officials have noted that Bouhlel “radicalized very quickly.” Three people were arrested yesterday for having possible connections to the attack, and four others have been questioned.


  • Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose followers fought U.S. troops during the occupation but who has recently rebranded himself as a political reformer, said on Sunday that U.S. troops fighting the Islamic State in Iraq “are a target for us.”


  • A court in Bahrain ordered the dissolution of Al-Wefaq, the country’s largest opposition group; the organization had its operations halted by court order last month.


  • An online affiliate of the Islamic State that calls itself the United Cyber Caliphate released a list of 264 government employees in Massachusetts for targeting; similar lists of names published by terrorist groups have not generated attacks.


  • Russia delivered the first shipment of missiles for the S-300 air-defense system to Iran, which could have them operational by the end of the year, Iranian media reports; the system was purchased by Iran before international sanctions were enacted and its delivery was suspended from 2010 until earlier this year.


  • The Saudi government is late in paying hundreds of millions of dollars to the construction company, Saudi Binladen Group, responsible for construction at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.


  • The Iraqi marshlands, including three sites of ancient Sumerian cities, have been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.

Arguments and Analysis

Welcome to the Turkish Winter: The Great Purge Is Just Beginning” (Burak Kadercan, War on the Rocks)

“Put bluntly, we have just entered a new phase in the ever-dramatic and hardly predictable story of Turkish democracy, a chapter that could easily be called the ‘Turkish Winter.’ The coup attempt and Erdogan’s reactions to it will be the key drivers of this phase, but they are merely the symptoms of the real disease that troubles Turkey. The ever-struggling Turkish democracy is dying a slow and painful death, and no single political actor has the will, power, and the right set of incentives to prevent this decay. The road ahead is stark: either an absolute presidency that will not only further ossify but also institutionalize Erdogan’s one-man status, or civil strife that will either take the country down the road of Syria or lead to yet another coup attempt.”


Boxed In: Women and Saudi Arabia’s Male Guardianship System” (Human Rights Watch)

“If the Saudi government intends to end discrimination against women as it has promised and to further the reforms it has already begun to undertake, it cannot allow restrictions inherent within the guardianship system to continue. For example, the government does not require guardian permission for women to work, but does not penalize employers who do require this permission. The government does encourage employers to hire women, but requires employers to establish separate office spaces for men and women and to enforce a strict dress code on women, policies which create disincentives to hiring women. The need for substantial, systemic reform is perhaps starkest with regard to the state’s response to violence against women. Saudi Arabia has taken steps to better respond to abuse, but has done so within the framework of guardianship. The guardianship system allows men to control many aspects of women’s lives and makes it difficult for survivors of family violence to avail themselves of protection or redress mechanisms.”

-J. Dana Stuster