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27 Jul 16

Turkey Eyes Dahlan's Role in Failed Coup

Turkish authorities say they will investigate whether Mohammed Dahlan, a Gulf-based Palestinian opposition leader with Serbian and Montenegrin citizenship, had a hand in the recent failed coup.

Dusica Tomovic BIRN Podgorica
Aleksandar Vucic, Mohammed Dahlan and Milo Djukanovic at Vucic's home. Photo: inlightpress.

Turkey is looking into the role played in the recent failed coup by Mohammed Dahlan, an exiled Palestinian official who lives in the United Arab Emirates but who also holds Serbian and Montenegrin passports.

The Palestinian opposition leader who is an adviser to Prince Muhammad Bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, has been described as a "friend" of both the Montenegrin and Serbian Prime Ministers, Milo Djukanovic and Aleksandar Vucic.

A leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP, Ahmet Varol, last week claimed Dahlan had close links with followers of President Recep Erdogan's arch-foe, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen - whom the Turkish authorities accuse of attempting to overthrow Erdogan. Turkey has demanded Gulen's extradition to Turkey to face trial.

The AKP leader admitted there was no hard evidence of Dahlan’s involvement in the failed coup but added that the authorities were "continuing its investigation, and we will not hesitate to punish and hold accountable those who were involved in harming our country".

Dahlan and his wife obtained Montenegrin citizenship in 2010, although his children were refused citizenship on the grounds that economic dependants do not meet the “state interest” criteria for offering fast-track citizenship to foreign nationals.

Official documents obtained by BIRN show that Dahlan was honoured on the suggestion of Djukanovic, who has described him in parliament as a “friend”.

Djukanovic wrote that Dahlan was responsible for building bridges with Abu Dhabi’s royal family, and “for their arrival in Montenegro”, which he said had resulted in significant investment.

Dahlan and six associates obtained Serbian citizenship in 2013 and 2014, as Belgrade also courted UAE investors.

In February 2015, Ivica Dacic, then Serbia’s Foreign Minister, confirmed that Serbia had granted Dahlan citizenship in 2013.

Dahlan reportedly promised Serbia millions of dollars in investments from the United Arab Emirates, where he had been living since 2011. The Serbian government has refused to confirm whether the investments were the reason for giving him citizenship.

Turkey has launched a major crackdown since the failed July 15-16 coup, arresting thousands of people and mulling reintroducing the death penalty.

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