BELGRADE – The Erdogan regime continues to play with fire renewing accusations that the United States spearheaded a complex conspiracy to overthrow the Turkish government.
A Turkish prosecutor claims that the CIA and FBI provided training to followers of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara initially called the “mastermind” of the failed attempt to overthrow the Erdogan regime on July 15 that left hundreds dead and thousands more wounded.
An indictment, prepared by the Edirne Public Prosecutor’s office and submitted to the local Second Heavy Penal Court, seeks the harshest possible punishment for 43 suspected coup plotters. In the indictment, the prosecutors allege that members of “the Fethullah Terrorist Organization” (FETO) were trained by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“The CIA and FBI provided training in several subjects to the cadre raised in the culture centers belonging to the Gulen movement,” read the indictment. “The operations carried out by prosecutors and security officials during the Dec. 17 process can be taken as a good example of this.” The “Dec. 17 process” refers to a high profile corruption probe that targeted senior government officials in 2013.
“The [failed coup] attempt aimed to weaken the state with all its institutions by getting rid of the government completely,” stated the document. “Those in the Gulen movement who work in the judicial and security institutions and who received the aforementioned training, took on the task and moved into action.”
The prosecutor’s claims were alluded to in part by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who said Friday in response to criticism by US CENTCOM Commander four-star General Joseph Votel, “My people know who is behind this scheme… they know who the superior intelligence behind it is, and with these statements [condemning the post-coup purge] you are revealing yourselves, you are giving yourselves away.” The statement was interpreted as an accusation against US intelligence agencies.
On Saturday, the Turkish President continued the theme of subtle accusations calling US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen “a pawn” backed by a “mastermind” which has also been interpreted as suggesting that the US agencies supported the failed putsch.
US military and intelligence officials have been the target of scorn and accusation from Turkish leaders in the wake of the failed coup starting with the country’s Labor Minister who said on July 16 in an interview with HaberTurk that “the United States is behind the coup.”
These accusations were forcefully denounced by the State Department which called the claims “utterly false and harmful to our bilateral relations.” However, on July 17, Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the country was ready to go to war with “any” country that backed Fethullah Gulen, viewed as a reference to America’s refusal to extradite the suspected coup leader.
These accusations have grown in recent weeks with Erdogan alleging that CENTCOM commander General Joseph Votel was siding with the coup plotters and with the country’s leading pro-Erdogan Islamist newspaper Yeni Safak printing a picture of American three-star General and commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) John F. Campbell under the headline “The Man Behind the Failed Coup in Turkey.”
The result of the shocking allegations has been an emboldening of anti-American fervor in the country with over 5,000 protesters marching towards the Incirlik Air Base on Thursday chanting “death to the US” and demanding that the United States leave. That incident came on the heels of a massive fire near NATO’s Izmir base with officials suggesting the cause was “anti-American sabotage” as reported by Turkey’s T24 News.
On Saturday, 7000 armed police officers supported by heavy vehicles blocked all access to NATO’s Incirlik Air Base. Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported that Adana Police received a tip of a brewing second coup attempt, but the country’s European Affairs Minister Omer Celik downplayed the sudden show of force calling it a “general security check” and asserting that “nothing is wrong.”
During the temporary blockade of the Incirlik Air Base, a group of several hundred anti-American protesters assembled near the scene chanting for the base to be shut down as confirmed by video accounts on the scene although some Western outlets have provided conflicting reports that the protesters preceded the blockade and that Turkish police were there to disperse the crowd.