Turkish government, opposition engage in war of Reyhanlı words
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
This file photo shows the aftermath of the May 11 attack in the southern province of Hatay’s Reyhanlı, which killed more than 50 people near the Syrian border. DHA photoThe prime minister and the main opposition leader of Turkey have hurled severe charges against each other over their approach to the twin-bomb attacks that killed 52 people earlier this month.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan overtly accused the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) of provoking people, while remaining vague about a game being played with sectarianism initiated by forces outside Turkey.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu harshly criticized the government for the alleged failure to act on time concerning the attacks in Reyhanlı, the town on the Syrian border which was hit by two car bombings on May 11. This failure took place despite intelligence, Kılıçdaroğlu said, quoting the exact date of the intelligence submitted by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT).
Speaking at a parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdoğan argued that certain forces were attempting to play a dangerous game in Hatay.
“So much so that this game is being planned outside Turkey. With its extensions inside Turkey, it is being attempted by deceiving the citizens of the Republic of Turkey. Here, a political sectarianism is being created. This is a very dangerous game,” Erdoğan said.
He accused the opposition, primarily the CHP, of provoking Hatay and Turkey before anything was clear after the Reyhanlı incident. He noted that they knew that “very severe and very dangerous attempts for provocation” were taking place in the region and that they were closely monitoring it.
“Activities at the level of treason by some dark people in disguise as journalists, traders, and businessman have been detected in Hatay and they are being arrested and submitted to the judiciary. Unfortunately, contacts between these people and some deputies inside the CHP have been confirmed with evidence and documents. For example, the Hatay representative of a newspaper close to the CHP has been arrested with quite obvious evidence of espionage. In rallies, demonstrations in Hatay and its towns, the effects of these structures with roots on the outside [of Turkey] have been detected, especially in attempts of attacks against refugees,” Erdoğan said.
For his part, Kılıçdaroğlu questioned the details about the attack. “When was the last time that MİT warned the officials?” he asked, and continued by saying, “Should I give the date? May 9, 2013. I am saying the date as well. I am asking you questions you cannot overcome. When I tell you ‘You are the murderer of those 52 people’, there are things I know.”
Turkey blamed Syria for the bombings, with the government officials.
‘CHP not responsible for 52 causalities’
“The intelligence organization works to determine the vehicles, it has tracked them since April, it announces it to the concerned authorities; and they [government] are waiting. An explosion happens, 52 people lose their lives. Who is responsible: the CHP,” Kılıçdaroğlu said bitterly.
“MİT is not tied to any ministry. It is directly tied to you. It is giving you information. Now you get up [and say] ‘There is a lack of coordination among intelligence organizations,’” he said, adding that they knew that the intelligence organizations had made the last warning on the phone. Kılıçdaroğlu argued that the intelligence had done its part, yet the government failed to perform its duty.
Kılıçdaroğlu further accused the government of igniting the conflict in Syria, saying, “They are sending these militants to Syria saying ‘Go kill your brothers.’ They are handing them arms and putting money in their pockets.”
“I wonder, how did those vehicles come to Turkey from Syria?” Kılıçdaroğlu asked, arguing that the Syrian border had been left without surveillance. He further criticized the lack of border control saying “How come there are no security cameras? Because they are training the militants of the terrorist organization.”
He said if there were security cameras, such training would be detected and the removal of cameras was a form of logistic support.