Turkish air base used by U.S. gets power back after coup attempt

INCIRLIK AIR BASE , Turkey, July 22 (UPI) — Electrical power was restored Friday to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, used by U.S. forces for airstrikes on Islamic State targets.

Power to the base in southern Turkey was cut off July 15 during an attempted, unsuccessful military coup. The base was powered by backup generators until Friday, when the U.S. European Command announced it had an adequate supply of electrical power, water, fuel and hot food.

The base relies on electrical power for runway lighting and air operations systems, as well as refrigeration, air conditioning and other living requirements.

The coup attempt prompted the announcement of a three-month state of emergency in Turkey, but on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said: “Our aim is to keep the state of emergency as short as possible,” USA Today reported.

The Turkish parliament endorsed sweeping new powers for the president, a move made, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, to preserve democracy, but seen by some as a threat to democracy, given Erdogan’s poor human rights record and increasing authoritarian rule.

“In the wake of the violence surrounding the attempted coup, taking measures prioritizing public security is understandable,” Amnesty International‘s Andrew Gardner said in a statement. “But emergency measures must respect Turkey’s obligations under international law, should not discard hard won freedoms and human rights safeguards, and must not become permanent. In a situation where almost 10,000 people are currently in detention, amidst allegations of ill-treatment in custody, and when government ministries and media institutions are being purged, the enhanced powers afforded by the state of emergency could pave the way for a further roll back on human rights.”

Thousands gathered on Istanbul’s Bosporus Bridge on Thursday night in a rally supporting the government in its defeat of the coup.

Since the coup attempt, thousands of military and police officials have been arrested or dismissed, as have prosecutors, judges and education ministry employees, including university professors and school teachers. Amnesty International added that 20 websites have been blocked, 25 media outlets have had their licenses revoked and 34 journalists have lost their credentials.

Erdogan seeks to extradite a Muslim cleric, Fathullah Gulen, whom he accused of establishing schools that have produced supporters who work in Turkish government agencies and intend to bring down Erdogan’s government. The Turkish Anadolu news agency reported 626 schools across Turkey have been closed. Gulen, based in Pennsylvania, denies any involvement in the coup attempt, and suggested Erdogan staged it himself to consolidate power.

The issue could cause a rift in relations between the United States and Turkey, both members of NATO. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said Friday he is ready to discuss Gulen’s extradition with Washington.

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