ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey marked the fifth anniversary of a failed military coup with a series of events Thursday commemorating the people who died trying to quash the uprising against the government.The observances kicked off with visits to grave sites and memorials honoring the dead, where prayers were held. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led a ceremony in parliament before attending other events, including the opening a museum commemorating the crushing of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.On that night, factions within the military used tanks, warplanes and helicopters to try to overthrow Erdogan’s government. Heeding a call from the president, thousands took to the streets to oppose the takeover attempt.A total of 251 people were killed and around 2,200 others were wounded as the coup-plotters fired at crowds and bombed parliament and other government buildings. Around 35 people who allegedly participated in the plot also were killed.“We will never be a be able to repay the brave men who, through their sacrifices that dark night, brought a (bright) morning for our nation and democracy,” Erdogan said Thursday. “Through its resistance on July 15, our people not only averted a coup attempt but also prevented an attempted occupation (of) our country.”Two brothers, Huseyin and Cengiz Hasbag, were among thousands of people who rushed to the streets after Erdogan called on the people to resist the attempt. Cengiz died in violence that took place on the Bosporus bridge, which links Istanbul’s Asian and European shores and has since been renamed the July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge.“I said, ‘Cengiz, I will go out for Allah and the Prophet, and pursue my cause,’” Hasbag told The Associated Press, recalling the night five years ago. “Cengiz said, ‘Brother, I will come too.’”On the bridge, the brothers began to help people wounded by soldiers taking part in the coup. Hasbag said he then heard a noise that sounded like an explosion.“I looked at my brother Cengiz. He was martyred by a bullet that entered his right shoulder and chest,” he said.Turkey has blamed U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally, for the attempted coup. Gulen rejects the accusation. The Turkish government designated his network a terrorist group.Government officials insist that Gulen’s network remains a threat to Turkey. In a speech in parliament on Wednesday, Erdogan said his government was determined to go after the network “until the last member is neutralized.”The government declared a state of emergency after the failed coup and launched a massive crackdown on Gulen’s network. Tens of thousands of people were arrested for alleged links to the coup and to Gulen. Some 4,900 people were sentenced to prison, including around 3,000 who were given life sentences, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.More than 130,000 people were fired from public service jobs through emergency decrees, among them teachers and police officers. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said this week that 23,364 military personnel were fired from the armed forces for their alleged ties to the network.Critics say the arrests and dismissals went too far and Turkey’s broad terror laws were used to target all government opposition.More than 100 people with purported links to Gulen were detained abroad or extradited to Turkey to stand trial, including a nephew of the cleric who was reportedly captured by Turkish security in Kenya.Schools, cultural centers and associations set up across the world by Gulen’s transnational network were shuttered or transformed to institutions tied to the Turkish government.Turkey has also repeatedly requested the cleric’s extradition from the U.S.———This version corrects name of bridge to the July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge., not the July 15 Bridge.——Robert Badendieck and Mehmet Guzel contributed from Istanbul.
The Afghan government’s chief peace envoy has expressed fears that the Taliban will have no interest in a political settlement with the U.S.-supported administration in Kabul after the scheduled departure of American and NATO forcesBy SUZAN FRASER Associated PressJune 18, 2021, 1:46 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleANTALYA, Turkey — The Afghan government’s chief peace envoy expressed fears on Friday that the Taliban will have no interest in a political settlement with the U.S.-supported administration in Kabul after the scheduled departure of American and NATO forces.Abdullah Abdullah, head of Afghanistan’s National Reconciliation Council, said there were signs that the Taliban were seeking military advances ahead of the Sept. 11 troop withdrawal. He warned however that, if so, the extremist Islamic movement was making a “big miscalculation.”In an interview with The Associated Press, Abdullah also said Afghanistan’s neighbors must refrain from interfering and instead seek cooperation with Kabul for the country’s long-term stability.”(Withdrawal) will have an impact on the negotiation with the Taliban,” Abdullah said. “(They) may find themselves further emboldened and they may think — some of them at least — that with the withdrawal, they can take advantage of the situation militarily.”He added however that “it will be a big miscalculation … should they think that they can win militarily. There are no winners through the continuation of the war.”Abdullah said there are signs that the Taliban are trying to take over provincial districts in a bid to take “advantage of that situation.”“But it’s something that defies the lessons of history,” he said. “Should this be the case, it will mean that (the) Taliban are opting for a military solution, which is not a solution to begin with, and it will not happen the way that they envisaged.”By Sept. 11 at the latest, around 2,300-3,500 remaining U.S. troops and roughly 7,000 allied NATO forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan, ending nearly 20 years of military engagement. There are concerns that the Afghan government and its security forces may be ill-prepared for the withdrawal and that the country may descend into chaos.The Taliban ruled Afghanistan until ousted by a U.S.-led coalition after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in America. In recent weeks Taliban fighters have overrun several districts in south and northern Afghanistan, convincing government security forces to surrender and seizing their weapons and military vehicles. The heaviest fighting has been in the northern Faryab province and in southern Helmand.Asked about possible interference from neighbors after U.S. and NATO troops have left, Abdullah said regional countries have declared that they have an interest in a stable Afghanistan and that they should “put those words into deeds.”“There were some countries which had concerns about the presence of NATO troops in Afghanistan, including the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said. “Now, NATO troops are not going to be there.”He was speaking on the sidelines of an international forum in Antalya, on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, where he held separate meetings with the foreign ministers of Turkey, Iran, Qatar and Pakistan.”I don’t think that that they would like to see instability in Afghanistan or (a) return to the old days because we have too much (of a) common interest in the neighborhood as a whole,” Abdullah said.In a further warning to neighbors, Abdullah said millions of refugees had returned to Afghanistan as the country stabilized and added: “Should the situation reverse, the consequences of this will also be reversed.”The peace negotiator said talks between the government and the Taliban, that were scheduled to take place in Turkey before the September troop withdrawal, were not “completely off the table.”“Turkey’s position is that when both sides … are ready for serious negotiations, we are ready to host it,” he said, adding that the Taliban had at times “put conditions” to participate in the talks or engaged in delaying tactics.