Defiant Erdogan Marks Third Anniversary of Failed Coup Attempt
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan struck a defiant tone on the anniversary of the 2016 failed coup, hailing Ankara’s decision to purchase Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems despite the threat of US economic sanctions. “We have begun to receive our S-400s. Some said, ‘they cannot buy them’… [but] God willing the final part of this [delivery] will be in April 2020,” Erdogan declared at a rally in the Turkish capital. On Sunday, Turkey received the first shipment of parts for the S-400, which is not inter-operable with NATO equipment and might threaten the security of US F-35 stealth fighter jets in the Middle East. The purchase has caused friction with Washington, which fears that Ankara is entering Russia’s geopolitical orbit. Some 250 people were killed during the attempted coup, which Erdogan blames on his ally-cum-foe Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in the US under self-imposed exile. Ankara’s ties with Washington started to unravel in the aftermath of the insurrection, with Erdogan accusing the US of not providing sufficient support for his regime and its refusal to extradite Gulen. Since then, Erdogan has cracked down on civil society, jailing tens of thousands of alleged “Gulenists” and removing even more from their positions of authority in the military, judiciary and media. According to Turkish news outlets, police raids to capture suspects continue on a near-daily basis.