Turkish FM: Expelling FETO won't hurt anti-terror fight
Mevlut Cavusoglu says the Turkish army is not only made up of coup-plotters wearing military uniforms
Turkey’s foreign minister said Friday that dismissals from the Turkish army in the wake of the July 15 coup attempt will not harm the fight against Daesh, the PKK, and other terrorist organizations.
"Confining Turkey's fight against Daesh, the PKK, and other terrorist organizations to the dismissed generals results from ignorance, if there is no malicious intent,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told foreign reporters in the capital Ankara.
When asked about U.S. commanders saying the removal of Turkish generals they had good relations with could harm Turkish-U.S anti-terrorist cooperation, Cavusoglu dismissed this as "nonsense."
The Turkish army is not only made up of coup-plotters wearing military uniforms, he added.
"They are not the only ones who have the ability to fight Daesh, the PKK, and other terrorist groups. If they [the U.S.] say, 'Only the parallel structure [FETO] members are fighting Daesh,' we vehemently reject this,” Cavusoglu said.
"If the U.S. asks, 'The rotten apples have been removed. Does the capacity of the army become weak, or are there any weaknesses in the fight against Daesh and other terrorist groups?' We will say, 'On the contrary, our army will be more reliable, dynamic, clear, and effective in the fight against terror when we remove these rotten coup-plotters from the army',” Cavusoglu said.
Additionally, he stated that Turkey never acts improperly in agreements between Turkey and the U.S.
U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper argued that Thursday that the dismissal of the pro-coup generals from the Turkish army may hinder the fight against Daesh.
Speaking at a security forum in Colorado, Clapper said, "It's having an effect, because it's affected all segments of the national security apparatus in Turkey."
"Many of our interlocutors have been purged or arrested," he added.
He also implied that the dismissals might cause problems for Turkish-U.S. cooperation on security issues.
Speaking at the same forum, Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, said that some officers the U.S. had relationships with have been imprisoned over suspected involvement in the foiled coup.
“We have certainly had relationships with a lot of Turkish leaders – military leaders in particular. I am concerned about what the impact is on those relationships as we continue,” he said.
Asked whether some of the leaders the U.S. has worked with are now in custody, he said, “Yes, I think some of them are in jail.”
The general, who leads the Pentagon’s operations in the Middle East, said Turkey is much more than just a place where the U.S. can “park our assets and launch them.”
“They have been integrated into many things that we are doing,” he said, noting Turkey’s contributions to anti-Daesh efforts and significant intelligence-sharing between the two countries on counter-terrorism.
He expressed concerns that in the long run that the failed coup and Ankara’s efforts to cleanse the military of coup supporters would have an effect on U.S. operations in the region.
“I am concerned that it will impact the level of cooperation and collaboration that we have with Turkey, which has been excellent frankly.”
Turkey has discharged at least 1,684 service members from the Armed Forces for their role in the July 15 failed coup, when a small faction of the military tried to overthrow the government. Along with the Chief of General Staff, the top commanders of the land, air, and naval forces kept their top positions at a Supreme Military Council meeting Thursday.
Asked about the ongoing prosecution of FETO-linked journalists, Cavusoglu said, "There are those who work for the media outlets of this same terror organization, [and were] not only involved in journalistic activities but also in several activities serving the parallel state, including fabricating evidence against third persons in many previous legal cases."
On Wednesday, Istanbul prosecutors ordered the detention of 47 former employees of Zaman daily, a newspaper until recently run by the U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen’s network; 13 are now in custody.
The ex-employees are suspected of having links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETO/PDY), according to police sources.
The government has said the coup attempt was carried out by Gulen-led Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), resulting in the deaths of 246 people and injuring more than 2,100, leading to a nationwide probe to eliminate FETO sleeper cells that infiltrated into state institutions, including the judiciary and the army.
Fetullah Gulen, who heads the Fetullah Terrorist Organization according to the Turkish government, has been living in Pennsylvania since 1999.