Update on the failed Turkish coup. Part 4 Accusations of foreign involvement.
See Part 3 Here.
In the wake of the July 15 attempted coup, Turkish officials have been incessantly alleging that foreign nations, particularly the US, were in some manner involved in it. If we are to believe these allegations, then Western countries intended to overthrow, possibly even kill, Erdoğan and have him replaced with a Gülenist government. Furthermore, Turkey is also greatly offended by Western criticism of their overzealous post-coup response.
Turkey blaming the US
Within days of the coup Erdoğan suggested third countries could be involved.1 Later on he claimed “This coup was not just an event planned from the inside. The actors inside acted out a scenario for a coup written from the outside.”2 Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş claimed one of the aims of the coup was to make “Turkey ready for external occupation.”3 The leader of the nationalist MHP party Devlet Bahçeli was more specific in his accusations speaking of rumors “that an ISAF commander U.S. general was behind the FETÖ coup attempt.” Apparently this general had two pre-coup meetings “full of secrets,” one in Erzurum province and another at İncirlik air base.4 It appears that the rumored mastermind behind the coup was US retired US Army General John F. Campbell, an accusation which the US military has characterized as “absurd.”5
Such rumors were not idle rhetoric as Turkish prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, US Army General Joseph Votel and Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper.6 The complaint claimed that İncirlik air base was the epicenter of the coup, and argued that “It is unthinkable that US armed forces act independently from both the US army chief and the CIA. Therefore, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General [Gen Dunford] is directly responsible for the heinous invasion, the attempted coup.”
General Votel’s crime was commenting that “We’ve certainly had relationships with a lot of Turkish leaders, military leaders in particular. I’m concerned about what the impact is on those relationships as we continue.”7 Erdoğan response to such a seemingly innocuous statement was, “The U.S. general stands on the coup plotters’ side with his words. He disclosed himself via his statements.”8
Even those with military experience are suspicious of US involvement in the coup. Former army chief, İlker Başbuğ, presumed “There was foreign support in this uprising. It’s against its nature if there isn’t. Where does Gülen live? In the U.S. Who gives him the opportunities? The CIA. Does Gülen have a residence permit in the U.S. for nothing? Did you think that the intelligence wouldn’t use him?”9
Other Turkish incriminations against the US have been made. A Turkish indictment filed against coup plotters claimed that “The CIA and FBI provided training in several subjects to the cadre raised in the culture centers belonging to the Gülen movement. The operations carried out by prosecutors and security officials during the Dec. 17 process can be taken as a good example of this.”10 It has also been reported by Yeni Şafak that a Syrian Mukhabarat agent captured by Syrian rebels has, under interrogation, admitted to a CIA, FETÖ, al-Mukhabarat (Syrian intelligence) plot in which this unlikely coalition was “preparing to strike Turkey’s border crossing with Syria in Yayladagi town during the night of the coup.”11 In other words the US, Gülen, and Assad were cooperating in an operation intended “to provoke further tension and lead to the annexation of Turkey’s southern provinces of Hatay and Antakya.”
Possibly the craziest accusation against the US was made by journalist İbrahim Karagül, a close associate of Erdoğan. In an article Karagül declared (emphasis mine):12
“I’ll say it loud and clear: The U.S. administration planned a coup in Turkey through the Gülen terror organization and tried to cause a civil war, make our people kill each other. The U.S. is the one who planned and applied this coup attempt … The U.S. administration which protects a terrorist organization should be declared as a country that supports terrorism … The U.S. tried to kill Erdoğan. I am saying it loud and clear: The U.S. administration directly planned to kill the president of the Republic of Turkey and implemented this plan.”
As if he was not clear enough, Karagül reiterated in another article (emphasis mine):13
“I will write it over and over again: The U.S. is behind this attempt. Some European countries are behind it. This is a multi-national project. It is not limited to changing the internal government alone, it is a Turkey design. The U.S. and Europe have tasked terrorist organizations with such roles as much as they have Gülen and his gang. They are all in alliance for a Turkey without Erdoğan and have made plans for after the coup attempt.”
It should also be noted that the belief of American involvement in the July 15 attempted coup is not limited to the Turkish ruling class or pro-government media, but a majority of the population also shares this belief.14 According to former EU minister Beril Dedeoglu, “almost everyone in Turkey now has doubts about the U.S.”15
Of course the US has denied all of these allegations. A US State Department spokeswoman dismissed them as absolutely “absurd” and “without fact,” while U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass claimed to be “deeply disturbed and offended by the accusations” and emphasized “the United States government did not plan, direct, support or have any advance knowledge of any of the illegal activities that occurred the night of July 15 and into July 16, Full stop.”16 President Obama chimed in that “Any reports that we had any previous knowledge of a coup attempt, that there was any US involvement in it, that we were anything other than entirely supportive of Turkish democracy, are completely false.”17
Turkey angered over Gülen extradition issue
The American attempts at abating Turkish suspicious has been unsuccessful particularly in light of their apparent reluctance to comply with Turkish demands for Gülen’s extradition back to Turkey, where he could face over 1900 years in prison for “attempting to destroy the constitutional order by force, forming and running an armed terrorist group, and financing terrorism.”18 The lack of US cooperation has greatly irked and even befuddled Turkish officials. Prime Minister Benali Yıldırım was “heartbroken at the way that the U.S. has treated this matter. We simply cannot understand why the U.S. just can’t hand over this individual [Gülen].”19 Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag was more admonitory in his response stating “If the US does not deliver (Gulen), they will sacrifice relations with Turkey for the sake of a terrorist.”20 As usual Erdoğan was blunt in his response, warning “Sooner or later the U.S. will make a choice. Either Turkey or FETÖ.”21 He also complained that “At the moment, we are running into the difficulty of not being able to receive a terrorist that we are asking to be extradited. In terms of fighting against terrorism, we have no time to lose, six months or one year, that’s simply intolerable.”22
Turkey’s falling out with Europe
The Turks are also displeased with the reaction of the EU, and its member states, to their post-coup purge.23 European officials are alarmed and concerned that Erdoğan is using the attempted coup as a pretext for conducting a witch hunt against his political enemies and in the process is completely disregarding human rights and democratic principles. To his European critics Erdoğan responded: “Mind your own business. Look at your own deeds.”24 He also warned that those “so worried about the fate of the putschists–cannot be our friends.” According to Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu “the the EU is making some serious mistakes. They have failed the test following the coup attempt. Support for EU membership used to be around 50 percent of the population, I assume it is around 20 percent now.”25 He also claimed that “The Turkish people are traumatized. Rather than helping Turkey, [European nations] are humiliating us.”26
It also seems that these tensions between Turkey and Europe are boiling over into other aspects of their relations. When Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern suggested that EU accession talks with Turkey be suspended, Çavuşoğlu responded, “The Austrian chancellor should first take a look at his own country. One of the trends that is an enemy of human rights and values is racism and today Austria is the capital of radical racism.”27 Another incident involving Austria occurred when an electronic news ticker at Vienna airport displayed the news headline “Turkey allows sex with children under the age of 15.” As can be imagined Turkish officials were not overly pleased with such publicity and in response Turkey summoned the Austrian charge d’affaires.28 Sweden has also become embroiled in this row, after their Foreign Minister Margot Wallström tweeted the headline in question.29
One of the most important issues for Europe, the migrant crisis, is also being affected by the cooling in European-Turkish relations. Once again Çavuşoğlu rears his head telling Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that if the EU does not grant Turkey visa-free travel for its citizens then they would abandon the Turkey-EU migrant deal.30 According to Erdogan “the EU is not behaving in a sincere way with Turkey. … The readmission agreement and the visa liberalization were to come into force simultaneously on June 1. It is now August and the visa liberalization is still pending. If our claims are not met, we will have to stop readmissions.”31 It is interesting to note that potential problems in the migrant deal may be already manifesting. Since the July 15 attempted coup migrant arrivals to the Greek islands have increased 76%.32 We must wait and see if this trend continues or amplifies, which it most definitely would if the migrant deal collapses.
Probably the best summation of Turkey’s current increasingly negative attitude towards Europe can be found in an article by İbrahim Karagül. He writes, “the world no longer consists of the West axis, the Atlantic is no longer the only center. Even though Turkey’s political culture and future perspective were determined in that direction, even though out political cadres, military and civil bureaucracy saw the world through their eyes, this country was under threat and this threat was coming directly from them.”33 It is becoming increasingly evident that since the July 15 attempted coup Turkey is turning away from Europe, with the only uncertainty whether there will be a complete break between the two.
Are the allegation of foreign involvement valid?
With the mood souring between Turkey and the West, and rather wild accusations flying about, one naturally wonders whether these allegations have any veracity. It would not be unreasonable to dismiss them all out of hand as merely nonsense and propaganda spouted by Erdoğan and his minions, intended to create a political boogeyman which the Turkish people can be rallied against. However, is it completely absurd to suspect that the US or other countries may have had some involvement, even just indirectly, in the events of July 15?
It is interesting to note that the Saudi whistle-blower Mujtahid has claimed that the UAE had a role in the coup and that they had also informed the Saudi King before it happened. It is also being reported by the former Emir of Qatar Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani that the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia also had foreknowledge of the coup and that the US and a European country orchestrated it.
It is also rather curious why the US seems hestitant to extradite Gülen back to Turkey. While the US has stated that if there is concrete evidence of Gülen’s culpability in the coup that they would cooperate with Turkey’s extradition request, they do not appeared to be particularly in a rush to do so. State department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said during a daily press briefing that the extradition process can be “very lengthy” and “Sometimes it can be months, it can be years. I’m not going to put a timeline on that.” So she is insinuating that extraditing Gülen could take years. Now why would this process take years? Is it really that legally and logistically complicated to do so in a more timely manner? As such it does seem like the US is trying to protect Gülen, even though many other countries such as Russia see him as a potentially subversive force.
There is also plenty of research indicating that Gülen is connected to the CIA. Intelligence Online, William Engdahl and Sibel Edmonds, among others, have provided evidence of this connection. According to Engdahl “Gülen is a 100% CIA controlled asset. … Gülen has been a decades-long mad project of the CIA to weaponize political Islam as an instrument of regime change.” Apparently when Gülen was seeking asylum in the US, there was “serious opposition from FBI and from Homeland Security Department,” however this was overcome by the vouching of “former CIA officers (formally and informally) such as Graham Fuller and Morton Abromovitz” and Gülen was given his green card.
One may be skeptical that the US would use an Islamist such as Gülen to further their geopolitical aims, but there is plenty of precedent of analogous behavior. During the Soviet foray into Afghanistan the Mujaheddin, which would later morph into al-Qaeda, was trained and equipped by the US via Pakistani intelligence to resist the Soviets. More recently in Syria there is reason to believe that the US helped to train and equip Islamist rebel groups that would later evolve into ISIL. As such is it really that absurd to question whether the US could use Gülen, an insidious and stealthy Islamist, to subvert nations and governments they do not like. It could be that Russian authorities have clamped down on Gülenist organizations in their country because they believe them to be subversionary proxies of the US.
Ultimately it is difficult to say what the current relationship is between Gülen and the US, and whether or not the US was using or supporting Gülen to overthrow Erdoğan. There currently is no direct evidence that the US had foreknowledge of or support the Gülenist attempted coup of Turkey, that is if the Gülenists were actually the main culprits of the coup. However, it does appear that the US and Gülen do have some, rather odd, relationship and that the US is providing some degree of protection for Gülen. It could very well be that the US is getting fed up the obstreperousness of Erdoğan and that they prefer the ‘moderate’ Islamism of Gülen to rule over Turkey. Once again we may need a few good hackers to get to the bottom of this mystery.
 http://shoebat.com/2016/07/25/turkey-threatens-the-u-s-charging-that-the-cia-sent-retired-u-s-general-to-mastermind-the-july-15th-coup/ , http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/top-general-denies-report-on-retired-us-generals-involvement-in-turkeys-coup-attempt.aspx?pageID=238&nID=102136&NewsCatID=358
 http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/03/world/europe/turkey-coup-erdogan-fethullah-gulen-united-states.html?_r=0 , http://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2016/08/06/turks-believe-gulenist-coup-was-backed-by-us-research-reveals
 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/us-calls-claims-of-its-involvement-in-failed-coup-bid-absurd.aspx?pageID=238&nID=102636&NewsCatID=358 , http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/no-us-planning-support-knowledge-in-coup-attempt-in-turkey-ambassador.aspx?pageID=238&nID=102529&NewsCatID=510
 http://en.protothema.gr/76-rise-in-refugee-arrivals-after-failed-turkish-coup/, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/aegean-sea-migrant-crossings-see-hike-after-turkeys-coup-attempt.aspx?pageID=238&nID=102998&NewsCatID=352
 http://orientalreview.org/2016/07/19/theres-more-to-turkeys-failed-coup-than-meets-the-eye/ , http://en.farsnews.com/print.aspx?nn=13950428000616 , http://en.farsnews.com/print.aspx?nn=13950428000572 , https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/former-qatari-emir-voices-solidarity-erdogan/
 https://www.intelligenceonline.com/government-intelligence/2011/01/05/gulen-the-cia-s-favourite-imam,87279114-EVE , http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2016/07/18/newsbud-sibel-edmonds-dissects-the-turkey-coup-attempt-a-cia-gulen-concocted-dry-run/