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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

France disbands Turkish ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves

A man cleans an outside wall of the National Armenian Memorial Centre [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 4 November, 2020

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France has disbanded the Turkish ultra-nationalist group Grey Wolves.

France said it had disbanded the Grey Wolves on Wednesday, two days after announcing a ban against the Turkish ultra-nationalist group.

The cabinet decision came after a memorial centre to mass killings of Armenians during World War I was defaced at the weekend with graffiti including the name of the Grey Wolves.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said in a tweet announcing the group's dissolution that it "incites discrimination and hatred and is implicated in violent actions".

The Grey Wolves are seen as a wing of a party allied to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been feuding with French President Emmanuel Macron on a number of geopolitical flashpoints and recently also France's fight against radical Islam.

The weekend's incident and Grey Wolves ban come against a background of sharp tension in France between its Armenian and Turkish communities over the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Turkey has strongly backed its ally Azerbaijan in the conflict over the region that is part of Azerbaijan but has been controlled by Armenian separatists since a 1990s war as the Soviet Union broke up.

Four people were wounded outside Lyon last week in clashes between suspected Turkish nationalists and Armenians protesting against Azerbaijan's military offensive.

Armenians have long campaigned for the mass killings of their ancestors in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to be recognised as genocide.

In Turkey, the Grey Wolves are closely linked to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) of Devlet Bahceli which is allied with Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Analysts see the MHP as critical to Erdogan's continued domination of Turkey, with the support of Bahceli a key factor behind his victory in 2018's presidential election.

The Grey Wolves are regarded as the militant wing of the MHP and caused havoc on the streets in Turkey during the 1970s and 1980s when its members frequently clashed with leftist activists.

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