As Europe's "democratic institutions" continue to stick their collective heads in the sand, pretending to ignore Erdogan's unprecedented crackdown against every political opponent as well as tens of thousands of people who have nothing to do with politics, Turkey’s post-putsch purge of dissent reached deeper into the economy as authorities shuttered scores of media outlets, detained the head of a major oil company and banned the chief strategist of a leading brokerage.
More than 130 media organizations, including 16 television broadcasters, 23 radio stations, 45 newspapers, 15 magazines and 29 publishers were ordered to shut down in a decree published late Wednesday. The Cihan news agency, which has more than 500 employees, and the newspapers Taraf, Zaman and its English-language Today’s Zaman were among them.
This is in addition to the almost 16,000 Turks who have been detained in the post-coup sweep, about half of whom are awaiting trial. Turkey has also suspended or removed at least 60,000 people from jobs in the military, security services, judiciary, Finance Ministry and academia since the failed July 15-16 coup.
It did not give the names of the media outlets to be closed, but according to a list obtained by the CNN-Turk channel they include mainly provincial titles as well as some well-known national media. These include the Cihan news agency, the pro-Kurdish IMC TV and the opposition daily newspaper Taraf.
Also to be shut are the Zaman newspaper and its Today's Zaman English language sister publication which, like Cihan, were part of a holding linked to Gulen until being put into state administration earlier this year. Authorities handed out arrest warrants for 42 journalists earlier this week and on Wednesday issued another 47 for former Zaman staff.
Additionally, 87 land army generals, 30 air force generals, and 32 admirals have been dishonourably discharged over their complicity, a Turkish official said, confirming a government decree, while 1,099 officers and 436 junior officers have received a dishonourable discharge, according to the decree.
In the wake of the coup the military has already lost control of the coastguard and gendarmerie, which will now be the responsibility of the interior ministry.
The Supreme Military Council is scheduled to meet Thursday to replace the dismissed military officers and debate further purges. Erdogan, who’s said he’d sign a bill bringing back the death penalty for crimes including treason, announced a three-month state of emergency last week, giving the cabinet the power to issue decrees with the force of law. According to AFP, the council is due to start at 0800 GMT after paying homage to Turkey's modern founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at his mausoleum in what many will see as delightful irony by a country taking a sharp turn to returning to authoritarian rule.
In a symbol of the military's waning power, the meeting will be held at the Cankaya Palace of the Turkish premier in Ankara and not, as is customary, at military headquarters.
And while we reported yesterday about a stunning, unprecedented escalation when Turkey stripped Mert Ulker, the head of research of one of the country’s largest brokerages, of his license over a report analyzing the impact of the putsch in a way that displeased Erdogan, shocking investors, overnight it turned from bad to worse when Turkey announced the first firing and detention of a head of a top 30 Turkish company, Petkim, a unit of Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR. Pektim said its general manager, Sadettin Korkut, is among dozens of employees that have been fired since the Energy Market Regulatory Authority called on companies to dismiss Gulen supporters.
“If this environment persists, Turkey will reach a point where confidence in its financial sector and economy will crumble, as far as foreign investors are concerned,” Ghanem Nuseibeh, the founder of London-based risk consultancy Cornerstone Global Associates said quoted by Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, the economy is already starting to suffer. Tourist arrivals, a key source of foreign-currency revenue, dropped for the 11th straight month in June, the longest streak of declines on record, data released by the culture and tourism ministry showd Thursday. The government expects the economy to expand 4.5 percent this year, a full percentage point more than the consensus forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.