US or­ders con­sulate staff fam­i­lies to leave Turkey

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THE United States or­dered the rel­a­tives of staff mem­bers in its con­sulate in Is­tan­bul to leave the coun­try, warn­ing that “ex­trem­ist groups” are tar­get­ting Amer­i­can cit­i­zens.

The or­der, which was is­sued on October 29, was the sec­ond travel warn­ing for Amer­i­cans in Turkey in less than a week, re­flect­ing US con­cerns about “in­creased threats from ter­ror­ist groups”.

The de­ci­sion to evac­u­ate the fam­i­lies of staff was made “based on se­cu­rity in­for­ma­tion in­di­cat­ing ex­trem­ist groups are con­tin­u­ing ag­gres­sive ef­forts to at­tack US cit­i­zens in ar­eas of Is­tan­bul where they re­side or fre­quent”.

On October 24, the State De­part­ment had ad­vised US cit­i­zens to “care­fully con­sider the need to travel to Turkey at this time”. There is also a long-stand­ing warn­ing against travel to the south­east of the coun­try.

Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan’s gov­ern­ment has placed Turkey un­der a state of emer­gency in the wake on a July 15 coup at­tempt by dis­af­fected mil­i­tary of­fi­cers that trig­gered a crack­down on sus­pected dis­si­dents.

Even be­fore the failed but bloody putsch, Turkey was al­ready fight­ing a re­newed in­sur­gency by Kur­dish sep­a­ratists and deal­ing with the fall­out of the war in neigh­bour­ing Syria, in­clud­ing at­tacks by the Is­lamic State group.

In re­cent months there have been bomb at­tacks blamed on var­i­ous groups in Turk­ish cities, and ten­sions are run­ning high as Mr Er­do­gan purges his gov­ern­ment of al­leged sup­port­ers of ex­iled cleric Fethul­lah Gulen.

Turk­ish me­dia have also been stok­ing anti-Amer­i­can sen­ti­ment, ac­cus­ing Washington of har­bour­ing Mr Gulen in Penn­syl­va­nia while he al­legedly plots the over­throw of Mr Er­do­gan’s gov­ern­ment.

The United States has agreed to study an ex­tra­di­tion re­quest for the preacher, who de­nies any link to the coup, but has warned it must meet Amer­i­can “ev­i­den­tiary stan­dards”.

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