Turkey in shake-up of security forces after failed coup

Interior ministry announces takeover of key security force from army in wake of failed coup.

Turkish authorities have announced a shake-up of the security forces a week after a section of the army attempted to overthrow the government in a failed coup.

In the most significant institutional changes since the coup attempt, Interior Minister Efkan Ala said on Friday that the gendarmerie would in future fall under the interior ministry and not the army.

The gendarmerie, which is responsible for public order in rural areas that fall outside the jurisdiction of police forces, as well as assuring internal security and general border control, had always been part of the military and its removal is a blow to the armed forces’ clout.

“The gendarmerie will definitely be dependent entirely on the interior ministry,” Ala said, in an interview with the Turkish news broadcaster NTV.

Claiming that the coup threat “is not yet over”, Ala also disclosed that authorities had cancelled a total of 10,856 passports “due to flight risk”.

Turkey also detained 283 members of the presidential guard, an official later told Turkish media. There are at least 2,500 members of the guard.

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused exiled Turkish businessman and cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the violence and is demanding that the US extradite him.

Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, denied any involvement and condemned the coup attempt.

State of emergency

The Turkish government imposed a state of emergency on Thursday, strengthening powers to round up suspects behind the failed coup and suspending the European human rights convention.

Turkey criticised over post-coup backlash

The European Union on Thursday urged Turkey “to respect under any circumstances the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms”, 

In a joint statement, foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn criticised as “unacceptable” the  sacking or suspension of tens of thousands of people in the education system, judiciary and the media, adding that they were monitoring the state of emergency “with concern”.

Ala, on the other hand, claimed that the state of emergency would not have any substantial effect on Turkish citizens’ lives.

“[The] state of emergency gives several additional powers to the government, but it does not mean that the government is going to use these powers.

“This is a mechanism that will allow the government to swiftly make decisions. Our citizens should be calm.”

‘Danger has not ended’

Meanwhile, Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned of a possible second coup attempt in speeches after the first Friday prayers since last week’s failed coup. 

Yildirim said the risk of another coup had not disappeared, adding that the government was in control of the situation.

He urged Turks to stay calm and said: “The danger has not ended but our citizens should not be anxious.”

After attending Friday prayers near the presidential palace in Bestepe, Erdogan also told his supporters the coup threat was not yet completely over.

“Our solidarity, our stand is going to continue,” he said. “Stay together,” he added. “God willing, the believers will win.”

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“Up until yesterday there were clashes between the police and members of the military. There are some military bases and installations that have people in support of the coup held up in them,” Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from the capital, Ankara, said.

“This operation by no means is over yet.”

Second coup attempt ‘unlikely’

However, several Turkish commentators said that the Turkish authorities’ claims about the possibility of a second coup attempt were “not realistic”.

“If you look at the political domain in Turkey and the societal domain, and if you look at the dynamics with in the Turkish military at the moment, I think a second coup attempt is highly unlikely,” Metin Gurcan, a Turkish military analyst and columnist for Al-Monitor’s Turkey Pulse, told Al Jazeera.

Turkey: United against a coup, divided on the future

Gurcan explained that along with Erdogan and the government, Turkey’s opposition parties and citizens were also taking a “firm stance” against the coup attempt.

“At the political level, we have no room for another coup attempt,” he said.

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“I had a chance to speak to high-level commanders yesterday, and I saw that they also consolidated their full control.

“As long as they preserve their poise another coup attempt is highly unlikely.”

Some critics of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suggested that the government and Erdogan may be emphasising the possibility of a second coup attempt in order to legitimise their crackdown on Turkish opposition. 

But, Gurcan said that, at least for the moment, the Turkish government deserved everyone’s support and Erdogan’s actions can be judged after “the country fully recovers.

“Turkey needs more time to recover from this deep shock,” he said.

“After that the civil society in Turkey, including me, will be very critical of Erdogan when and if he makes mistakes while managing the very delicate situation.”

‘I call all investors to continue investing’

Later on Friday Erdogan addressed the parliament for the first time since the coup attempt and thanked all political parties in parliament for backing his decision to declare a three-month state of emergency.

“Some thought the economy would collapse if a state of emergency was declared … I call on investors to continue investing [in Turkey] as the public will move forward with major projects,” he said, to loud applause from lawmakers.

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Erdogan previously insisted democracy would “not be compromised” and pointed out that France also declared an emergency in the wake of a series of bloody attacks on its citizens.

Erdogan said 10,410 people had so far been detained, with 4,060 of them remanded in custody, including more than 100 generals and admirals.

Turkey has started to close down schools run by Gulen’s organisation and may set up special courts for coup plotters and restructure the MIT intelligence service, the Hurriyet and Sabah newspapers reported, citing government sources.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag also told CNN-Turk that the period of pre-charge detention would be lengthened.

WATCH: Turkish government warns of second military coup attempt

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies