The developments in Turkey are taking a dramatic turn. All Indications are that the Turkish government is in possession of definite information that the attempted military coup was orchestrated by the United States. (Anadolu)
The Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag made an open allegation in a television interview,
The US knows that Fethullah Gülen (the cleric who lives in Pennsylvania) carried out this coup. Mr. Obama knows this just as well as he knows his own name. I am convinced that American intelligence knows it too.
Bozdag is known to be one of the closest and trusted political associates of President Recep Erdogan. The well-informed Turkish political commentator Semih Idiz wrote that “This belief (Bozdag’s allegation) goes all the way to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It implies that Washington knew what was coming and did nothing to warn Ankara. The pro-government Islamist media has even claimed that the U.S. tried to kill Erdoğan with this coup attempt.”
The government has taken into confidence Turkey’s two main opposition parties – the Kemalist party CHP (Republican Party) and the nationalist party MHP (Nationalist Movement Party). The ruling AKP (Justice & Development Party) and the CHP and MHP have set aside their political differences and have voiced support for Ankara’s demand to Washington for the extradition of the Islamist cleric Fetullah Gulen. No doubt, this grand reconciliation could have implications in the downstream for the fractured Turkish political landscape. (VOA)
The MHP leader Davlut Bahceli has spoken publicly about a possible deep-rooted US conspiracy to trigger civil war conditions in Turkey. Bahceli also hinted that the coup plot was likely masterminded from the Incirlik air base used by the US forces, under the supervision of the US commander in Afghanistan. Two Turkish generals serving in Afghanistan have been detained by the Turkish intelligence at Dubai airport.
Bahceli has tabled a motion in the parliament seeking clarification on “rumours” that the CIA was behind the coup plot. A falshpoint arises if the government makes the details available. The Turkish media reported that Ankara has warned the authorities in Pakistan regarding the elite schools run by Gulen’s organization in that country. (See the Deutsche Welle report Secular Pakistanis resist Turkey’s ‘authoritarian demands.)
The Obama administration is unlikely to extradite Gulen, given his key role in US intelligence operations in the Central Asian region, while Turkey has made this the litmus test of US’ goodwill and sincerity as ally. Significantly, New York Times featured an article in the weekend authored by Gulen where he urged Washington not to extradite him. Gulen wrote,
His (Erdogan’s) goal: To ensure my extradition, despite a lack of credible evidence and virtually no prospect for a fair trial. The temptation to give Mr. Erdogan whatever he wants is understandable. But the United States must resist it.
Washington probably anticipates that a showdown with Ankara may become unavoidable in a very near future over the Gulen issue. The US State Department has advised dependants and families of US diplomatic personnel posted in Turkey to leave the country. Another travel advisory on Monday counselled US nationals to “reconsider travel to Turkey at this time”. (here)
It becomes extremely significant that amidst all this, President Erdogan will be traveling to St. Petersburg, Russia, to meet President Vladimir Putin on August 9. This will be Erdogan’s first trip abroad after the coup and he is signalling that restoring friendly ties with Russia is his topmost priority. Of course, Erdogan will be keenly interested in close cooperation between the intelligence agencies of Turkey and Russia. The prominent Turkish columnist Murat Yetkin wrote today,
The question lingers in the air about whether Russia, whose intelligence services have been accused by the Democratic Party in the U.S. of intercepting their electronic communications, would provide any material to Erdoğan linking Gülen to the coup plotters. It certainly seems there is a lot of exchange of information going on nowadays, as was revealed by Çavuşoğlu, who said that Turkey has warned a number of countries, including the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, about a possible coup plot by Gülenists who infiltrated the state apparatus there through their school network. Moscow has already closed Gülen’s school network in Russia, accusing it of cooperating with the CIA.
The meeting between Putin and Erdogan promises to be a defining moment in Russia’s relations with the West in the post-cold war era. If a major NATO country such as Turkey crosses the ‘red line’ by forging ties with Russia at the present juncture that will be in strategic defiance of the US’ containment strategy against Russia. It can turn out to be a far bigger setback to the US regional strategies than the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, because it weakens the entire western alliance system.
Europe, in particular, will be holding breath over the fate of its moribund ‘one in, one out’ deal with Turkey over the refugee flow. Erdogan said on German TV on Tuesday that Europe is not a ‘sincere’ interlocutor. The issue is hugely controversial in Europe, given the lengthening shadows of terrorism. German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces growing public demand to quit. (BBC, AFP)