Who was behind the July 15 coup attempt remains an enigma with more questions than answers. And the question never loses its relevance and freshness after series of challenges to the government’s coup narrative are emerging one after another.
Turkey’s main opposition party leader repeated his claim that the failed coup was a controlled one, with the government had prior knowledge but allowed it to take place so as to solidify its power.
In a meeting on Monday along with other senior party members, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu once again raised the issue that deeply divided the country.
“Would it be a coup at 9:30 pm, I asked them. They [the government] said they [putschists] were deciphered before,” Mr. Kilicdaroglu said in his renewed questioning of the events of July 15 that befuddled many as most coup attempts take place early in the morning with swift action, and without much resistance.
“It means they [the government] were previously informed about the coup well before [it took place],” the CHP leader said, voicing skepticism that resonated across the wide segments of opponents who are critical of the government’s pitched narrative.
According to the government’s master story, a group of plotters within the military planned to topple the government on July 16 morning, but when the intelligence agency unearthed the plot, they hastily acted on July 15 night to prevent government counter-move.
And the military insurrection ultimately failed in a bloody and dramatic episode that left deep wounds within the army and society.
According to critical and alternative views, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government, National Intelligence Organization (MIT) were monitoring the dissent within the ranks of the military and watched their every step. They were kept informed in advance about plans and intentions of putschists, struck a deal with Chief of General Staff and other key ultra-Kemalist figures to abort the attempt.
Those who defend this line of the argument believe that Mr. Erdogan was able to master control over the course of events played that night; he was sure that no harm would occur to him; he let a small group of putschists try their chance rather than outright stopping them well before they took action.
Mr. Kilicdaroglu claimed that he possess files about July 15, and he would hold a special press meeting for it to make it public. But he said it was not the subject of the day, and he went on to talk about his party’s campaign to advance the standing of No vote in a looming referendum on constitutional changes that envision to vastly expand powers of presidential office.
The opposition leader launched new tirades against the government for giving shelter to 120 to 180 AKP lawmakers who downloaded ByLock, a smartphone app that authorities cite as evidence for arrests against perceived members of Gulen movement within the bureaucracy.
For judicial scholars, imprisonment of thousands of people for just having an encrypted app on their phones devoid any legal basis and undercut entire post-coup trials. While the opposition share similar line of thinking, it still uses it as a tool to hit back the government for selectively targeting ByLock users.
According to media reports, there are more than 100 ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers who once downloaded ByLock program. For this reason, CHP urges the government to take action against those lawmakers over supposed links to Gulen movement.
His remarks about possession of classified information about the July 15 abortive coup that could undermine the government’s narrative stirred sharp rebuke from President Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
Both the president and Mr. Yildirim called on CHP Chairman Mr. Kilicdaroglu to release any documents he has about the July 15 coup, even threatened to take action against him.
“July 15 was a controlled coup… If you have any documents, release them. After April 16, they would be no use to you. Unveil now,” President Erdogan challenged the CHP leader.
The cloud of uncertainty and riddle still surrounds failed July 15 coup that rattled the nation, killed 246 people and wounded more than 2,000.
The government accuses U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the coup attempt, a claim that has yet to convince Turkey’s allies, the U.S. and European countries alike, despite for months of efforts. Mr. Gulen also denies coup charges.
“Turkey has tried to convince us of that every level, but so far it has not succeeded,” BND President Bruno Kahl told Der Spiegel two weeks ago.
U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes echoed a similar view, saying that he has not seen any evidence showing Mr. Gulen behind the coup. Former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said last year that he did not believe that the Turkish authorities presented a convincing evidence about a Gulen link.
In a lengthy report, the U.K. House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said that “there is a relative lack of hard, publicly — available evidence to prove that the Gulenists as an organization were responsible the coup attempt in Turkey.”
“While there is evidence to indicate that some individual Gulenists were involved, it is mostly anecdotal or circumstantial, sometimes premised on information from confessions or informants, and is — so far — inconclusive in relation to the organization as a whole or its leadership,” the report clarified.
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