Erdoğan ignores coup talk, but sensitivity in Ankara is high, columnist says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a strong speech to his parliamentary party on Wednesday slamming speculation of a potential coup, but the issue is still being widely discussed, both within the ruling party and the opposition, said Hürriyet columnist Abdülkadir Selvi.

“The coup rumours are a new campaign. Nobody should rise to the bait, it is treason to the country, the nation,” Erdoğan said about debates prompted by a U.S. Army-funded report by the Rand Corporation, which cited discomfort within the Turkish military about the effects of a purge of officers that followed a failed coup in 2016. 

“In fact, even mentioning it is a sin for us,” Erdoğan said.

“But I was at parliament yesterday,” Selvi said. “Despite President Erdoğan’s firm attitude, the coup discussions were continuing.”

“Or more precisely, they are trying to understand what is behind those coup discussions, why they started in the first place and what those who started it want to achieve,” he said.

Discussions of a potential coup were mainly brought up by columnists in pro-government media. Following the Rand Corporation report, a row between the government and secular main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on who made up the political wing of Gülen movement further inflamed debate. 

The government accuses the Gülen network of orchestrating the coup attempt, while Kılıçdaroğlu says the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) acted as the movement’s political wing by forging an alliance with it and letting Gülen devotees infiltrate state institutions.

İlker Başbuğ, a former chief of general staff, also accused AKP lawmakers of drafting legislation in 2009 that allowed Gülenist members of the judiciary to prosecute military officers in civilian courts.