AKP mayors who favored Gülenists untouched by probe: CHP
Deniz Zeyrek - ANKARA
HÜRRİYET photoThe leader of Turkey’s main opposition party has criticized the government for not touching politics and politicians as part of the ongoing probe in the aftermath of the July 15 failed coup attempt, including mayors who provided enormous financial support to the Gülenist network.
“The cost of the coup has been passed on to academics who signed a peace declaration, to teachers registered in trade unions, to the rank and file and to the business world, but not to politics. Politics and politicians are not in any way paying the cost, although they are the most responsible for this coup [attempt],” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), told daily Hürriyet in an interview on Sept. 23.
Kılıçdaroğlu went further, arguing that no action had been taken against mayors who provided a significant amount of financial gains to the Gülenist organization. “You are dismissing civil servants, seizing the assets of businessmen, but you don’t touch [mayors]. The real perpetrators are left unpunished. This is the main problem,” he said. Kılıçdaroğlu did not name which mayors he was referring to.
The CHP leader also made important evaluations on the ongoing cross-border operation into Syria, as he suggested it would take around seven to eight years for the Turkish army to leave the country, adding that this duration could even increase if it goes further south as announced by the government.
“We support the Turkish Armed Forces’ [TSK] fight against ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] and its efforts to protect our borders. But we are against going further south and interfering in Syria’s internal affairs. In any case, it will take seven to eight years for our army to get out of its current position in Syria. A graver picture will appear if it goes further south,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield a month ago along with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to clear Turkey’s border of ISIL jihadists. After pushing ISIL from Jarablus and al-Rai, Turkey announced that it was next targeting al-Bab, a strategic town 30 kilometers from the Turkish border. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said Turkey was eyeing the creation of a 5,000-square-kilometer safe zone inside Syria.
“What point should the Turkish army go to? Where should it stop? These are issues military experts need to address. They should introduce options and politicians should give the final decision. But it does not work like this in our case,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“Yes, the final decision must be given by the political will, but the army should explain the positive and negative points of it to the politicians. I don’t know if these [points] are being sufficiently explained to politicians,” he said.
Cross-border ops ‘won’t fix army’s broken image’
On claims that the army’s broken image due to the July 15 failed coup attempt could be fixed thanks to its Syria offensive, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “The way to correct the TSK’s image is not Syria. It’s true that the army suffers from a tarnished image. But this is because of the Balyoz and Ergenekon processes.”
Balyoz and Ergenekon were two major cases in which hundreds of high-ranking military officers were imprisoned on charges of attempting a coup against the government in the late 2000s. All convicted military personnel were later acquitted and released from prison after it was proven that fake evidence and documents believed to have been prepared by Gülenists were used to charge the personnel.