‘AKP government training paramilitary forces for civil war’

Two men posed holding guns and shared the photo on social media recently with the caption, "we will be waiting for those who say 'no' in the referendum as we did on 15 July.' The men were detained and released after questioning.

Former Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy and current leadership candidate Sinan Ogan has claimed that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is training ordinary people for civil war.

In an interview on Wednesday with Sozcu daily, Ogan, who is part of a dissenting MHP group against the constitutional change, which is in favour of the reform said:

“We know that especially after 15 July [coup attempt] civilians who are normally bakers, barbers or shopkeepers are being taken to training camps and taught how to use weapons. They want to have this militia at their disposal to set on people who are against them. But I believe in the common sense of the Turkish people and still have trust in it. Whatever happens they cannot drag this nation into an internal conflict.”

Similar claims to Ogan’s have been made by other circles, who have said paramilitary forces were the first to take to the streets following a call by the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resist the putschists on the night of the coup.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has linked this militia to Sadat International Defense Consulting, an enterprise founded by a retired brigadier general who is an ardent AKP-Erdogan and was given the task of co-ordinating the flow of Islamist and jihadist militants into Syria from the Turkish border according to the HDP.

Commentators have predicted a political crisis in the country if a ‘no’ vote were to emerge from the constitutional referendum to be held on 16 April, with some saying it could lead to conflict between polarised sections of society.

A provincial leader of the AKP, who has since resigned, recently told participants at conference to be ready for civil war if the no campaign was victorious. Calls for personal armament have also been supported by leading AKP figures, including Ankara mayor Melih Gokcek and Islamist writer Abdurrahman Dilipak.

The AKP says it wants to implement an 18-article constitutional reform which Erdogan has called a “presidential system” to strengthen Turkey in its resolve against internal and external threats, which it has listed as the “PKK, Gulenists, Islamic State and western forces.”