Erdogan in total control again as purge widens HONG KONG
TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday chaired a crunch security meeting in Ankara for the first time since a failed coup, with tens of thousands either detained or sacked from their jobs in a widening purge.
The Turkish air force, meanwhile, launched its first strikes against targets of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq since the putsch aimed at unseating Mr Erdogan, in a sign he has regained full control over the armed forces.
The coup represented the most serious threat to Mr Erdogan’s 13year domination of Turkey, and the president has said he came within 15 minutes of being killed or kidnapped by the plotters before escaping.
The putsch left over 300 dead and caused scenes of devastation, especially in Ankara where raids by F-16s and attack helicopters on strategic targets terrified residents and turned parts of parliament and the police headquarters to rubble.
More than 9000 suspects have been detained, including some of Turkey’s most senior generals, and thousands of officials, police and teachers have been dismissed from their posts.
Mr Erdogan, who was in the Aegean resort of Marmaris when the coup struck on July 15, flew to Istanbul where he had stayed since, appearing before supporters each night in a “vigil” for democracy.
But the president returned to the capital on July 18 for the first time since the coup.
He also held his first international bilateral meeting, hosting Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili at his presidential palace.
The armed forces, meanwhile, carried out their first air strikes against
Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, killing 20 fighters.
F-16 fighter jets hit targets of PKK in the Hakurk region of northern Iraq on July 19.
Former Turkish air force chief General Akin Ozturk, 25 other ex-generals and many soldiers have been arrested, suspected of planning the July 15 coup, in which rebel troops used jets and tanks to try to overthrow Mr Erdogan’s government.
Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the resumption of fighting between Turkish security forces and the PKK after a largely successful twoand-a-half-year truce.
The ceasefire had sparked hopes of a peace deal to end three decades of conflict with the PKK.
Erdogan supporters gather at Taksim Square in Istanbul. The president is back in Ankara after the failed coup.
Jimmy Pang (centre), head of Hong Kong publisher Subculture, speaks to customers at his stall at the annual book fair in Hong Kong yesterday. The city’s feisty publishing industry has vowed to take on China by selling books critical of Beijing, despite the abduction of five city booksellers.