Iran backs Turkey’s Erdogan as massive crackdown widens

by WorldTribune Staff, July 19, 2016

Shi’ite-majority Iran has said it fully supports the government of Sunni-majority Turkey in the wake of the July 15 coup attempt as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s post-coup purge topped 7,500 arrests.

A senior aide to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Teheran backs Turkey’s elected government and expects Ankara to do the same when it comes to Syria.

Police escort soldiers in a roundup after a military coup in Turkey. /AFP/Ozan Kose
Police detain soldiers in a roundup after a coup attempt in Turkey. /AFP/Ozan Kose

“We disagree with Turkey on some issues, like Syria. We are hopeful that the Turkish government respects the Syrian people’s opinion and votes and lets the Syrian nation choose their government,” Ali Akbar Velayati was quoted as saying by the Tasnim news agency.

Meanwhile, Erdogan’s government continued its crackdown on alleged coup plotters, with more than 7,500 people now under arrest. The crackdown on military officials was expanded to include police, judges, governors and civil servants.

The Turkish Interior Ministry on July 18 moved to suspend nearly 9,000 employees, raising the number of bureaucrats fired or detained to nearly 20,000. Also on July 18, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim suspended annual leave for more than 3 million civil servants.

Western allies have been critical of the scale of Erdogan’s purge in the days after the coup, with many saying the NATO member is on a slide toward ever more authoritarian rule.

“We are seeing a movement towards more authoritarianism,” said Marc Pierini of the Brussels-based think tank Carnegie Europe. This, in particular, “is a dangerous moment for Turkey,” Pierini said of the attempted coup’s aftermath. “There are quite a few disturbing things happening.”

In Teheran, National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani voiced Iran’s support for Turkey’s government and opposition to “any type of coup – either initiated domestically or supported by foreigners.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif praised Erdogan supporters who took to the streets to oppose the coup.

“Turkish people’s brave defense of democracy and their elected government proves that coups have no place in our region and are doomed to fail,” he said.

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