Turkey shakes up security forces after failed coup

Authorities said a total of 10,856 passports have been cancelled "due to flight risk" (Reuters)

TURKISH authorities have announced a shake-up of the security forces a week after a section of the army attempted to overthrow the government in a failed coup.

In the most significant institutional changes since the coup attempt, Interior Minister Efkan Ala said on Friday that the gendarmerie would in future fall under the interior ministry and not the army.

The gendarmerie, which is responsible for public order in rural areas that fall outside the jurisdiction of police forces, as well as assuring internal security and general border control, had always been part of the military and its removal is a blow to the armed forces’ clout.

“The gendarmerie will definitely be dependent entirely on the interior ministry,” Ala said, in an interview with the Turkish news broadcaster, NTV.

Claiming that the coup threat “is not yet over”, Ala also disclosed that authorities had cancelled a total of 10,856 passports “due to flight risk”.

Turkey also detained 283 members of the presidential guard, an official later told Turkish media. There are at least 2,500 members of the guard.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused exiled Turkish businessman and cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the violence and is demanding that the US extradite him.

Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, denied any involvement and condemned the coup attempt.

The Turkish government imposed a state of emergency on Thursday, strengthening powers to round up suspects behind the failed coup and suspending the European human rights convention.

The European Union on Thursday urged Turkey “to respect under any circumstances the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms”,

In a joint statement, foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn criticised as “unacceptable” the  sacking or suspension of tens of thousands of people in the education system, judiciary and the media, adding that they were monitoring the state of emergency “with concern”.

Ala, on the other hand, claimed that the state of emergency would not have any substantial impact on Turkish citizens’ lives.