Main opposition MP to be probed for saying 'Turkish army was sold to Qataris' in Ankara-Doha deals

A probe was launched into CHP deputy Ali Mahir Başarır for saying that the Turkish army was "sold to Qataris" in a series of deals signed between Ankara and Doha. The government was outraged by Başarır's remarks.

Duvar English 

A probe was launched into main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Ali Mahir Başarır for saying that the Turkish army was "sold to Qataris" in a series of deals signed between Ankara and Doha. 

Başarır on Nov. 28 slammed a contract signed last year with military vehicle producer BMC, a joint Turkish-Qatari venture, for the mass production of the Altay tank. 

"We are at a point that the state's army is sold to Qatar in a first in the country's history," Başarır said in a program on Habertürk TV, referring to the Tank and Pallet Factory. 

His comments immediately drew ire from the pro-government guests of the show, who denied that the factory represents the Turkish army. 

Başarır's remarks came after Turkey and Qatar signed 10 new deals on Nov. 26 at a joint meeting held at the presidential palace in Ankara.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Qatar's Emir Tamim Hamad al-Thani co-chaired the meeting, which was slammed by the opposition for being held behind closed doors. 

The 10 percent sale of shares of Turkey's stock exchange Borsa Istanbul topped the list of agreements made during the day. With the latest meeting, the total number of agreements between the two countries has risen to 62.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office on Nov. 29 launched a probe into Başarır over "humiliating the Turkish government and the army" following a series of harsh statements from government officials. 

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy leader Mahir Ünal was among the first to slam Başarır, calling him "a lover" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

"This deputy who is not worthy of representing our sacred nation must immediately apologize," Ünal tweeted on Nov. 28. 

AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik said that they "strongly condemn" the main opposition deputy's remarks.

"We strongly condemn Başarır who used remarks devoid of morals about the heroic Turkish army," Çelik tweeted on Nov. 29, adding that Başarır "uses poisonous language." 

Turkish Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun also condemned Başarır. 

"I condemn those who insult our honorable army!" Altun tweeted on Nov. 29, while Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said, "We reject this ugly language." 

The Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said that it will file a complaint against Başarır for "insulting the army and Turkish soldiers." 

Turkey's media watchdog also released a statement on the issue, saying that "an investigation was launched into the broadcast."

"It's impossible to accept the ugly remarks that a guest of a program used against our heroic army," the Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK) said on Nov. 29. 

Başarır, in his defense, said that his criticism was not against the army but the sale of the Tank and Pallet Factory to Qataris. 

"I stand behind my words. They have nothing to do with our army. Selling a military factory of our army to another country is treachery. It's betrayal!" the deputy tweeted on Nov. 29.