Analysis. Seventeen more journalists have been arrested as the Turkish purge continues.

The Sultan challenges the world: ‘Mind your own business’

According to Turkish military sources, at least 35 members of the PKK were killed by an air strike after an attempted attack on a base in the southeastern province of Hakkari, near the border with Iraq. A few hours later, other Kurdish rebels tried to storm a military base in the same area. In the clashes which followed, at least 25 soldiers were wounded.

Again, the fighting in Kurdistan restarted after the events that led to the attempted coup and Erdogan’s reaction to it. Turkey, a NATO country, in agreement with the U.S., classified the PKK as a ‘terrorist group’ and although a year ago a ceasefire was reached, the shooting restarted in the southeastern regions of the country. The climate in the country remains one of extreme tension. Saturday, an Istanbul court validated the arrest of 17 of the 21 Turkish journalists arrested after Monday, when an arrest warrant for 42 reporters was issued. They were suspected of being part of what has become the justification of everything to Erdogan, that is to belong in some way to the Fethullah Gulen’s “network,” accused of orchestrating the failed coup.

The images of the reporters in handcuffs, marching under the watchful eyes of the police, have traveled around the world. The other 21 included in the arrest warrant are still being chased. Among those arrested, on charges of “being part of” Gulen’s “terrorist organization,” there is also the reporter and former parliamentary representative Nazli Ilicak, 72 years old. Instead, the former head of digital content at Hurriyet, Bulent Mumay, was released. And it is just Nazli Ilicak, a veteran of the national journalistic world and a recognized name on prestigious newspapers and television stations, who declared that she has no relationship with the Fethullah Gulen followers; a distancing that however, did not spare her jail time.

Speaking of arrests: Saturday, Ankara decided to release 758 of the 989 military recruits arrested in connection with the coup attempt. And to understand the air in the country, it is enough to listen to the words of Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, according to whom followers of Gulen are lurking even within the president’s AKP party.

A sign of the paranoia and the intention to clean up once and for all by the ‘Atlantic Sultan’: in case some Gulen followers may have been infiltrated in the party, the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also part of the AKP, said in an interview with the Hurriyet newspaper that “it is possible because for many years there have been people who belonged to this organization and who were part of the AKP establishment.”

“Unfortunately,” he added, “they were tolerated. Some were even appointed ministers.”

Kurtulmus also announced that the Gulen followers will be cast away from the AKP just as they were thrown from the upper echelons of the state, from the judiciary to the army. Erdogan has not spoken on this subject. On Saturday, instead he focused on replying tothe criticism coming from the Western world. “The European Union and the United States,” said the president, “should not give advice to Turkey, but mind their own business.”

Erdogan commented this to reporters in Ankara about the fears expressed by the West after the purges that followed the failed military coup of July 15.

The Turkish interior minister, Efkan Ala, announced Saturday that 18,044 persons have been arrested for the failed coup d’etat and that 9,677 of them have been sentenced to prison. “Some people give us advice. They say they are worried. Mind your own business! Watch your actions,” said Erdogan, as quoted by local media. “Not a single person presented us his condolences, and then they say that Erdogan is so angry.” The president also announced that he withdrew the complaints against “those who insulted me.”

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