Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu cited the United States when reporters on Friday asked him to explain his comments calling the 14 May elections a possible coup attempt against the government.
Mentioning a failed coup attempt against the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016, Soylu said on Twitter on Thursday that the upcoming elections in Turkey aimed to orchestrate such an attempt.
“14 May 2023 is a political coup attempt that will bring together all individual attempts to dissolve Turkey,” he said.
Soylu’s comments have created outrage among opposition voters and parties, who said that the minister saw a possible democratic hand over of the government as a coup attempt.
“Does that not mean calling those who vote for parties outside the government coup plotters?” a reported asked Soylu on Friday in Istanbul.
“Is such a thing possible? I am talking about America,” the minister replied, referring to the United States.
“Do you know about America? Do you know what they did to Iraq and Afghanistan?” he asked the reporter.
Soylu made similar comments later in the day during a speech in Istanbul.
“The made a large-scale experiment on 15 July,” Soylu said, referring to the failed coup attempt. “15 July was their de facto coup attempt,” he added.
“I am saying it here now. 14 May is also a political coup attempt. This is plain and clear. 14 May 2023 is a political coup attempt by the West,” he said.
“I am not saying this. The person who leads the United States at the moment said that years ago,” Soylu said, referring to the US President Joe Biden.
Turkey’s government officials have been targeting the United States over the 2016 coup attempt, particularly mentioning the then US government’s late condemnation of the incident.
Ankara accuses the Gülen movement, a religious group, of orchestrating the 15 July coup attempt. Turkey has repeatedly asked Washington for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, the cleric who leads the group, and dozens of members of the movement.