With the failed/staged Turkish coup quickly fading from memory and media attention, just as Erdogan likes it, and opposition from "western democracies" to a historic purge virtually non-existant aside from the occasional media soundbite, overnight Erdgoan implemented his first decree since imposing a state of emergency in the country last week, and tightened his grip on Turkey by ordering the closure of thousands of private schools, charities and other institutions in his first decree since imposing a state of emergency after the failed military coup.
In his first "emergency powers" decree, published by the Anadolu state news agency, Erdogan authorised the closure of 1,043 private schools, 1,229 charities and foundations, 19 trade unions, 15 universities and 35 hospitals over suspected links to the Gulen movement. The government also announced it would seize the properties of all these schools, universities and private institutions.
As documented, Erdogan has accused U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who has many followers in Turkey and abroad, of masterminding the failed coup, in which at least 246 people were killed. Gulen denies the charge and has condemned the coup.
In the decree Erdogan also extended to a maximum of 30 days from four days the period in which some suspects can be detained. It said this was "to facilitate a full investigation into the coup attempt."
State broadcaster NTV reported that Turkey's Supreme Military Council (YAS) will meet under Erdogan's supervision on July 28, a few days earlier than originally planned, a sign that the president wants to act fast to ensure the armed forces are fully under the government's control. Reinforcing that message, the YAS meeting - which usually takes place every August - will be held this time in the presidential palace, not as is customary at the headquarters of the military General Staff.
Further pointing that the coup had been staged, on Friday evening Erdogan held his first meeting since the coup with the head of the national intelligence agency, Hakan Fidan, after complaining of significant intelligence shortcomings ahead of the coup attempt. Despite media speculation, however, he did not sack Fidan. Naturally, this would be the first person that should be fired. Alternatively, in case Hakan was the person orchestrating a staged coup attempt, he should be promoted and decorated as the final outcome could not have been better for Erdogan.
On Friday, Turkey's ambassador to the US announced that Turkey had formally requested the extradition of Gullen, although there are conflicting reports over exactly what happened. Turkey expects to complete within a week to 10 days a dossier requesting Gulen's extradition from the United States, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told private broadcaster NTV in an interview. Confirming that the entire process will be at best farcical, Washington has said Ankara needs to provide clear evidence of Gulen's involvement before it can agree to extradite him. Lawyers say the process could take many years.
The farce wouldn't be complete without continued Turkish support to "democracy" - speaking at a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers in China on Saturday, Reuters reported that Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said Turkey would strongly adhere to democratic principles and the rule of law.
Meanwhile, the comedy for public consumption hit new highs yesterday, when the European Union urged Turkey "to respect under any circumstances the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms", foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said in a joint statement. They slammed as "unacceptable" the sacking or suspension of tens of thousands of people in the education system, judiciary and the media and said they were monitoring the state of emergency "with concern".
So as Europe complains about "unacceptable" practices, here is a summary of what is taking place at this moment in Turkey:
- The massive crackdown continues: the number of sacked/suspended rises to 76,644 and counting. More than 11,000 detained.
- Turkey shuts down 15 universities, 934 schools, 104 foundations, 109 dormitories, 35 hospitals, 1,125 associations, 19 unions today.
- The properties of all these schools, universities and private institutions has been seized.
- Erdogan's decree has imposed such draconian measures for fired public employees that sacked police can't even get a job as a private guard.
We can only imagine what the independent media's reaction would be if the same putsch had taken place elsewhere, like for example in Russia.