Turkey Mideast allies rally behind Erdogan, critics silent

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DOHA: Turkey’s regional allies on Saturday condemned a deadly but foiled coup attempt by a faction of the army against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rule, while his opponents abroad kept silent.

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Key regional powers Iran and Israel, which have both had strained relationships with Erdogan’s government in the past, condemned the putsch that began late on Friday.

Despite the enmity between the Turkish and Syrian governments, officials in Damascus did not comment on the failed coup, which was reported by state media including the SANA news agency.

Damascus regularly accuses Ankara of supporting “terrorist groups” fighting regime forces in Syria, while Erdogan has repeatedly called for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Egyptians woke up Saturday to find some newspapers announcing Erdogan’s ouster, even as the strongman loathed by Cairo quashed the coup attempt.

“The Turkish army topples Erdogan,” declared a red banner on the front page of the state’s flagship Al-Ahram newspaper.

While Egypt’s presidency remained mum, the foreign ministry released a statement on consular efforts to help Egyptians in Turkey.

Erdogan is a main backer of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, the President whom the Egyptian army deposed in 2013.

In Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hailed the Turkish people’s “defense of democracy & their elected government” which he said “proves that coups have no place in our region and are doomed to fail”.

“Deeply concerned about the crisis in Turkey,” Zarif tweeted late on Friday. “Stability, democracy & safety of Turkish people are paramount. Unity & prudence are imperative.”

Israel, which last month approved a deal to restore ties with Ankara that were frozen after a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish ship in 2010, also condemned the coup attempt.

“Israel respects the democratic process in Turkey and looks forward to the continuation of the reconciliation process between Turkey and Israel,” foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said.

Iran’s regional arch foe Saudi Arabia also welcomed Erdogan retaking control.

A Saudi foreign ministry official said in a statement that the kingdom “had followed with much concern developments in brotherly Turkey” and “welcomes the return of the situation to normal under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his elected government”.

Gas-rich Qatar, which is close to Turkey, was quick to condemn the coup attempt and congratulate Erdogan.

‘Victory of democracy’

In a telephone call with the Turkish leader, Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani “congratulated (Erdogan) on the support of the people of Turkey on his rule against the failed military coup”, the official QNA news agency reported.

Qatar is Erdogan’s closest Gulf ally, sharing his sympathies for the Muslim Brotherhood that formerly ruled Egypt and which is outlawed in other Gulf Arab states.

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah congratulated Erdogan on “the success of legitimacy and the victory of democracy (of) the will of the friendly Turkish people” who have been spared “much suffering”.

Bahrain made a similar statement, rejecting any attempt to undermine “constitutional legitimacy under the leadership” of Erdogan and his government and stability in Turkey.

Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers, who have friendly ties with Qatar as well as Turkey’s ruling Islamic-rooted AKP party, “condemned the failed coup attempt” and “congratulated the people and the Turkish leadership for successfully protecting democracy.”

Turkey has recently obtained several compromises from Israel over Gaza, including authorization for Ankara to build a hospital in the Palestinian territory.

On Saturday, activists — notably those linked to Hamas — called for demonstrations in solidarity with the Turkish government.

Erdogan called on his supporters to remain vigilant, warning of a fresh flare-up of violence even as his forces regained control.

In Khartoum, President Omar al-Bashir condemned “the attempted coup in Turkey and the disturbance of security and stability in the country.”

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Saturday 161 people — not including the putschists — were killed in the coup attempt, with 2,839 soldiers detained on suspicion of involvement. AFP

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