A Turkish lawyer filed a criminal complaint alleging that three U.S. defense officials — Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, CENTCOM Commander Gen. Joseph Votel, and National Intelligence Director James Clapper — were involved in the failed July 15 coup attempt in Turkey. The complaint claims that U.S. officials conspired with and supported the coup plotters at Incirlik airbase, where fighter jets that supported the coup were based. The complaint will now proceed to Turkish prosecutors who will decide whether or not to take further action. Conspiracy theories about U.S. involvement in the coup have been reported in Turkish media and are widely believed among the Turkish public.
The post-coup purges in Turkey have now affected even the country’s soccer federation, which announced yesterday that it has fired 105 people, including “referees, linesmen and national and regional observers,” after an internal investigation about the coup.
The Turkish parliament will vote to relocate the capitals of two majority-Kurdish provinces to more secure cities that have seen significant fighting in clashes with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) over the past year. The move is seen as an effort by Ankara to consolidate control of the country’s southeast. “This suppresses identities and is an act of revenge,” one pro-Kurdish politician tweeted.
United States Delivery of $400 Million to Resolve Trade Dispute Coincided with Release of U.S. Citizens
The United States delivered the first $400-million installment of a $1.7-billion trade dispute settlement to Iran in January, the timing of which coincided with the implementation of the nuclear agreement and Iran’s release of four American citizens from Iranian captivity, the Wall Street Journal reports. U.S. officials say the settlement was negotiated on a separate track from the prisoner release and resolved an ongoing trade dispute at the Hague over an arms deal made with Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi shortly before he was overthrown in 1979. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officials and U.S. politicians opposed to diplomacy with Iran have characterized the payment as ransom for the release of U.S. citizens.
Editor’s Note: The Mideast Brief daily newsletter will cease publication on Aug. 5, 2016. But Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel will continue to be the home of daily thought-provoking content on the politics, trends, and latest news and breaking analysis from across the region.
- Syrian rebels in Aleppo are targeting the district of Ramouseh, where an Assad regime artillery base is located and which provides a strategic corridor to government forces holding western portions of the city.
- An Emirates Airline Boeing 777 made a crash landing at Dubai International Airport; all 275 passengers and crew were safely evacuated from the plane as it was engulfed in smoke on the runway.
- The Islamic State’s internal security and intelligence division, the Emni, under the leadership of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, is making a concerted effort to return foreign fighters from Syria to Germany, France, and Britain to carry out attacks, according to European intelligence obtained by the New York Times.
- A suicide attack in Benghazi, Libya, killed at least 15 soldiers loyal to the country’s House of Representatives; the attack was claimed by the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi.
- The Iranian government approved a new model for oil contracting that would allow billions of dollars each year in foreign investment to develop Iranian oil fields and boost Iranian oil exports.
- The U.S. military carried out two airstrikes in Yemen against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula last month, killing seven suspected militants.
- U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon renewed his criticism of Saudi Arabia’s conduct in Yemen yesterday, saying that he still had concerns about the effect of the Saudi intervention on children despite Saudi Arabia being removed from a U.N. blacklist in June after Saudi diplomats protested its inclusion.
Arguments and Analysis
“Turkey and the West are Heading for a Breakup” (William Armstrong, War on the Rocks)
“Talking to locals where I live here in Istanbul, it seems to have already become accepted wisdom among many that the United States was behind the coup. Such sentiments might not have been voiced so boldly if Turkey’s Western allies had been less seemingly equivocal in their condemnation of it – or if Ankara had not so instinctively reached for anti-Western conspiracy theories in the aftermath. The Turkish government’s legitimization of conspiracy theories is certainly making foreign observers less sympathetic to Turkey’s predicament. Many Turks have also lashed out at media coverage in the West, which they believe has mirrored the failings of Western officials. Foreign journalists on the ground here have told me that they despair about editors’ obsession with President Erdogan. Even while the coup attempt was still underway, the focus of much analysis had already turned to Erdogan’s expected iron-fisted crackdown. That crackdown has indeed been harsh: Tens of thousands of people have been suspended from state institutions and tens of thousands have been detained by police. The government has declared a state of emergency allowing more punitive measures, including its suspension of its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. Journalists and academics, some without any connection to Gülen, have been detained for police questioning. Photos show military officers with severe bruising and injuries apparently inflicted after being detained (which is likely to complicate any extradition request). Amnesty International has reported claims of torture and sexual abuse of detainees. All of this must be monitored vigorously both inside and outside Turkey. But the Western media’s immediate focus on Erdogan’s predicted power grab — even as hundreds were being killed on the night of July 15 and people were being crushed under tanks – left a bitter taste, even among his harshest critics here.”
“The economic crisis and its repercussions” (Abdullah al-Senawi, Al-Shurouk via The Arabist)
“If there are no feasible ways to correct the situation, there is no hope of any social cohesion to prevent sudden collapses. Here is one indicator from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics: 27.8 percent of Egyptians live under the extreme poverty line and cannot afford the basic essentials of human life. That number is an indication of the dangerous level of poverty, which in the countryside of Upper Egypt rises to 57 percent. That is a store of suppressed anger that is likely to explode if the suffering becomes unbearable and the state remains completely irresponsible. The state could take some degree of action to ease the suffering of the poorest parts of society, regardless of its capacity. The same suppressed anger in the middle classes – the main victim of the economic crisis – could lead to unrest, which nobody can predict when or where it will begin. The declining purchasing power of the Egyptian pound, along with the forecasted steady rise in prices for commodities and services and the imposition of new taxes such as the VAT, all represent a dangerous fall in real income and an unprecedented erosion in living standards that cannot be compared with any previous period. When society is on the edge of despair, everything is possible and an explosion can be expected at any time.”
-J. Dana Stuster
ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images