Erdoğan says new anthems needed to describe July 15 ‘legend,’ Afrin operation

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the country is in need of new anthems like Turkey’s national anthem to describe events such as the public’s resistance against a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and an ongoing military operation in the Afrin region of northern Syria called Operation Olive Branch.

Speaking at the 46th meeting of neighborhood heads, or muhtars, at the presidential palace on Wednesday, Erdoğan said even his grandchildren are parading around the house to the sounds of the Mehter March (of the Ottoman Janissaries) and that Turkish soldiers should march to the accompaniment of new anthems similar to the Mehter March.

“For instance, we don’t have a poem, a march, that truly describes our 34-year-long fight against [Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)] terrorism. I recently talked to friends about this. Why can’t we write a song for the ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Afrin? I don’t want to say like Turkey’s national anthem because they would not live up to that level, but one like the Mehter March? We also don’t have a poem or anthem for the July 15 legend that will describe it like in the words of [Mehmet] Akif in the Çanakkale [poem] and the national anthem,” Erdoğan said.

The lyrics of Turkey’s national anthem, officially adopted on March 12, 1921 — two-and-a-half years before the Oct. 29, 1923 establishment of the nation — was written by prominent Turkish poet Mehmet Akif both as a motivational musical saga for the troops fighting in the Turkish War of Independence and as an inspirational anthem for a republic that was yet to be established.

On the night of July 15, 2016, Erdoğan called on the people to take to the streets to resist the coup plotters, as a result of which 249 people were killed and a thousand others were injured.

Yet, there is widespread suspicion that Erdoğan knew about the military coup preparations in advance but failed to take any action in order to use the coup attempt as an excuse to punish critics and launch a massive purge in the state bureaucracy of the followers of the Gülen movement.

Even as the coup attempt was unfolding, Erdoğan accused the Gülen movement of masterminding it, a claim strongly denied by the movement.

The movement, inspired by the views of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, has been exposed to ever-increasing pressure by the Turkish government since the outbreak of a corruption scandal in late in 2013 in which Erdoğan’s close circle was involved.

At the time, Erdoğan again accused the Gülen movement of orchestrating the corruption investigations despite denial by the movement.

In his Wednesday speech, Erdoğan also said he believes Afrin will fall as of Wednesday evening, meaning that the Turkish military and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which launched the operation on Jan. 20 against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the PKK, will take control of the city.

The Turkish government and President Erdoğan have reacted strongly to people who oppose the operation, and prosecutor’s offices have initiated investigations into those who share social media messages critical of the operation.

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