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Turkish army ridicules talk of ‘anti-Erdogan coup’

With the president out of the country for almost a week on a visit to the United States, some media outlets had carried reports speculating over the possibility of a military coup in Turkey.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is out of the country for almost a week on a visit to the United States. Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service, Pool via AP
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is out of the country for almost a week on a visit to the United States. Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service, Pool via AP

ANKARA // Turkey’s military on Thursday angrily denied suggestions it could be planning a coup against the increasingly controversial president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

With Mr Erdogan out of the country for almost a week on a visit to the United States, some media outlets had carried reports speculating over the possibility of a military coup in Turkey.

An opinion piece published in US magazine Newsweek entitled “Will there be a coup against Erdogan in Turkey?” gathered major attention inside and outside the country.

The Turkish military has stepped in on three occasions to oust elected governments – in 1960, 1971 and 1980 – and in 1997 forced out Mr Erdogan’s late mentor, Necmettin Erbakan, from the premiership.

“Discipline, unconditional obedience and a unified chain of command are the basis of the Turkish armed forces,” the military said in a rare political statement on its website.

“There can be no talk about any illegal action that is outside the command structure or which compromises it.”

The military said it would take legal action over the reports, without specifying which ones, and complained that “such baseless news” was undermining morale in the armed forces.

The army was historically considered a major force in Turkish politics, able to oust governments who it believed were eroding the secular principles of the modern republic set up by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

But Mr Erdogan, in power as prime minister and then president since 2003, clipped the wings of the military through a succession of legal cases to ensure its loyalty.

Most analysts have believed the military poses no threat to the rule of Mr Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The president left for a trip to the US on Tuesday amid growing signs of a major rupture in relations between Washington and Ankara as well as controversy over press freedom in Turkey.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: March 31, 2016 04:00 AM

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