‘Erdoğan knew of the coup beforehand, he even knew the date, and took a risk’

”A coup whose plotting was known beforehand, a coup not prevented, a coup whose consequences are abused for power is called a ‘controlled coup’. We demanded that all the measures against the putschists would be discussed in Parliament, but they did not… I do know, that there are many dark dimensions behind this coup attempt…”

These were the latest remarks by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition, CHP, in a TV interview. Now busy marching ‘for justice’, his inquisitive tone raises as the first anniversary of the coup attempt that turned Turkey upside down, approaches.

”Just until recently, I had thought that they didn’t know about the date set for the putsch. But there is a fresh finding I have, which I have had confirmed…”

This sensational statement came from Prof Ümit Özdağ, a prominent figure of the ultra-nationalist opposition, known to have ‘deep contacts’ within the Turkish state. In a most recent interview with the nationalist daily Sözcü – whose top editors were arrested lately –  he went on to explain that in hie new book he comes out with revelations about the puzzling coup attempt in Turkley last summer and clarified what he meant:

”I wrote that Erdoğan knew beforehand about the coup preparations and knew who were involved in it. Until most recently I had though that they didn’t know about the date. But there a data that I reached and had confirmed. This tells that they akso knew the date and took measures. To me it looks like he took a great risk…”

So, after nearly a year, we have a coup whose plot is as thick as ever.

Özdağ, who is a maverick in the ultra-nationalist MHP party, injects new allegations and if his finding are true, we have new data that brings us closer to the presumption that this was a coup that could be prevented without a bloodshed.

People react near a military vehicle during an attempted coup in Ankara

People react near a military vehicle during an attempted coup in Ankara, Turkey, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Tumay Berkin TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

But we are still facing all those major questions.

Who were behind the coup attempt in Turkey? Who ‘pushed the button’? Was the uprising possible to stop before it spilled onto the streets?

These three key questions remain as puzzling as ever, for the Turks as well as across the world. Meanwhile Turkey, a powerful NATO ally, is left with its vast repercussions, with a state apparatus in turmoil due to the purges; and an army with almost half of its top brass in jail, crippled in its combat capabilities.

A parliamentary commission set up by four parties was abruptly disbanded early this year shortly after President Erdoğan publicly called its members to ‘end the activity’, although he had no official authority to intervene. The writing of its report was, according to the opposition, done in secrecy; without any consultations. And when the draft report was made public some weeks ago, it was regarded widely as stillborn. Questions, asked since the day after the uprising, remain the same.

Some would even say, they are more then before. It became clear when recently the opposition parties, which had objected to the report, each published their bulky dissenting opinion. Theirs makes an chilling read, raising strong suspicion of a massive cover up.

The MHP, smallest opposition party, for example, stated that it had asked two key figures – prime witnesses – of the coup attempt, namely the Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar and Director the Secret Service, Hakan Fidan, to be called to testify. ‘The chairman (of the commission) assured that our demand be met. But we have learned via his TV statetement after the publication of the report hat he had not even bothered to write to them. Thus, the night of the coup is left entirely in the dark’ it said.

The minority report of the secular main-opposition party, CHP, was far more dramatic. 307 page-long, it argues point after point that Turkey was subjected to what it calls a ‘controlled coup’; that there were some among top Turkish authorities who knew about the coup plans. ”“The treacherous and bloody coup attempt was an unexpected, shocking and appalling development for the innocent citizens of the country. However, there were some who knew that (it) would take place and those who waited for it,” said the report.

Akar and Fidan had that day had met alone for 6.5 hours in the afternoon of July 14, when it became known in 2.20 p.m. that ‘there was a serous threat’, the report underlined, and asked: ”Chief of Staff had sent orders to all the wings in 6.29 p.m. which reacjhed them 7.26 p.m. Yet many commanders attended weddings, to be arrested then. This remains inexplicable.”

The third largest party, pro-Kurdish HDP, calling the coup attempt ‘a pretext for a counter-coup’, questions further why these two top figures failed to inform the president, prime minister and the relevant ministers in due time.W

While the three minority reports unite in claims that what happened in July 15 las year amounted to a ‘hijack’ of the system, by way of a hastily declared state of emergency, there was more to add to the questions.

Speaking to Vocal Europe, a Brussels website operating as a public newsletter service to EU circles, five senior Turkish officers who all defected to NATO countries, gave new details on what may have taken place. that night.

”Frankly, the coup was shocking for all of us, as we never expected it” said one officer:

”…most of those arrested we know would have never thought of organizing a coup against the country’s political authority. It should be said as well that there was a massive resentment among the public and the armed forces against President Erdogan due to the failing of the Kurdish peace process and particularly due to the developments that happened afterwards. Those purged generals and offices had liberal visions to solve long-awaited Kurdish issue, they believed in democratic ways for solving this issue rather than using military might.”

”Two weeks before the coup, some social media accounts that are now gone were referring to a coup in making. It is very clear that the coup was not known to us but it was certainly known to President Erdogan’s close circles” said the other.

Officers asked if the coup trials were so important, why they were not broadcast to the nation. ”President Erdogan does not want the realities of the 15 July to come up to the surface, and to be acknowledged by the public opinion’ said the third officer.

Overall, they were concerned of what they see as dismantling of a key institution, to be infiltrated by Islamists, and warned that ”…if the current setting will continue, we think that NATO will have, in two or four years, a member Army full of extremists and Salafists.”

Such additional data, published by the opposition and fugitive officers are certainly useful in the broader context. Yet, what we know at the time being is scarce; all the input strengthens the views that it was an uprising which involved Gülenists as well as pro-NATO flanks: That the forces who pushed the button remain yet in the dark and, evidence is deeper that the coup attempt was foreseen, with counter-measures ready at hand.

Özdağ was the last man in line to add to the debate.

About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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