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Ankara slams US efforts to influence Turkish elections

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during an election campaign rally in Ankara, on April 30, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has lashed out at the United States for leading a Western media campaign to manipulate the country's upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

“The plan by the US intensifies actively," Soylu stated during a press briefing on Wednesday, arguing that "the reason for Western media’s interference is the realization of America's plan [in Turkey].”

He made the remarks in an apparent response to an intensifying media campaign by a number of American and European news outlets describing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a "dictator and tyrant," resembling similar efforts used during elections in other countries where Washington has a favorite candidate of its own.

“Tayyip Erdogan has eliminated all these Western intrusions," Soylu further insisted. "Now, the West started to push its vision [on Turkey]. With our victory in the 2023 election, a hundred-year stability will begin. They see it. There is no election a US ambassador would not like to control."

"They say Turkey's geopolitical priorities do not meet [Western] interests," he then noted. "Turkey did not accept the US’s mandate. They have been trying to take revenge for it for 104 years. Everyone is aware of it.”

The interior minister also alleged last week that the US would attempt a presidential coup during the upcoming election, further blaming Washington for a failed coup attempt in the country in 2016.

He also accused the US of being behind the military coups in Turkey in 1960 and 1971.

In July 2016, a faction of the Turkish military was blamed for an attempted coup to overthrow Erdogan. The Turkish government insisted that the failed coup was led and organized by the US-base Fethullah Gulen and the adherents of the so-called Gulenist movement. Gulen was a former ally of Erdogan that helped him and his Islamist AK Party to rise to power in the strictly secular Turkey at the time.

Turkey reportedly arrested nearly 40,000 people and dismissed about 110,000 public servants alleged to have ties with the Gulenists or the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as well as other Kurdish institutions.

The development came as top diplomats from Turkey, Syria, Iran and Russia wrapped up their landmark summit on the Syrian conflict in Moscow, underscoring Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and setting up a road-map to improve strained ties between Damascus and Ankara.

The foreign ministers made the remarks in a final communique at the end of the four-party meeting aimed at reconciliation and resumption of ties between Damascus and Ankara in various dimensions on Wednesday.

This is while the United State, which continues to maintain an occupational military force in Syria, has fervently opposed the recent improvement of ties with Damascus by nearly all regional countries, especially Turkey, and persistently seeks to internationally isolate Syria in favor of the occupying Israeli regime, which continues to annex the Arab nation's Golan Heights.

Erdogan's top rival in the upcoming presidential election, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has the support of the Kurdish-dominated Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Erdogan's administration, however, insists that the HDP has links with the PKK, which Ankara -- as well as neighboring Iran and Iraq -- has long blacklisted as a terrorist group.

Pre-election polls have not yet shown a clear favorite. If no candidate gains 50 percent of the votes, a second voting round will occur on 28 May.

Some Turkish commentators have also accused the US of planning to carry out a “color revolution” in Turkey during the elections resembling those successfully implemented by the US State Department in West Asia and the post-Soviet European and Central Asian states.

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