Turkey’s Interior Ministry reported Monday that the country’s security force detained 1,210 within the past week alone.
Of those who were arrested, nearly 1,000 – 947 – were held for suspected ties to the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, a past friend and partner of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who today considers the cleric an arch-enemy. The Ankara government alleges that Gulen masterminded the failed July 2016 coup. Gulen, who has lived for years in the United States, vehemently denies the charge. More than 50,000 people in Turkey have been arrested, and another 150,000 were suspended and/or fired across the country in the public and private sectors in the aftermath of the coup, including many in the military, police, judicial and civil service sectors.
In addition to the above, more than 200 others (205) were arrested last week on suspicion of being connected to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) terrorist organization. Another 49 people were detained over suspected ties to the Islamic State terrorist organization, and nine were held for links to “leftist terrorist groups,” according to the Interior Ministry.
Turkey’s cabinet also approved the closure of its air space to northern Iraq, a region controlled by the autonomous Kurdish government, a measure similar to one carried out by Iran, which closed its common border with northern Iraq as well.
Ankara has also been gradually slowing down its agreed-upon normalization of the diplomatic relationship between Turkey and Israel, despite the increase of Israeli tourists who once again were attempting to return to their former favored spots. The obvious hostility against Israel, Israelis and Jews in some Turkish made it clear quite quickly that sadly, perhaps the time had not yet arrived for a return to Israeli tourism in Turkey.
The reconciliation between the two former allies was signed in June 2016 following votes of approval by the ministers of the two governments in an arrangement that included compensation paid by Israel to the families of the armed activists who attacked IDF commandos as they boarded a Turkish vessel participating in an illegal flotilla aiming to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza in May 2010. During the clashes that followed, nine of the attackers were killed; several others plus a number of Israeli soldiers were also injured, including a number with severe injuries.
But Erdogan has publicly castigated Israel and supported violence against residents in the Jewish State on a number of occasions since that time, including provocative statements in support of terrorism; actions clearly not the hallmark of an ally.