August 3, 2016

Respect the truth and accept reality

Several remarks by Turkish ambassador Basak Turkoglu in the letter “Setting the facts right on attempted coup” (The Star, July 27) about my column, “Turkey on the brink” (Sunday Star, July 24) contain errors that bear correction and clarification.

The column observed that some shots and explosions at certain venues seemed to signal the end of the alleged coup attempt, but Turkoglu took this to mean these few incidents comprised the entirety of the occasion!

The multiple acts of violence throughout the hours of July 15, including a helicopter attack on a Marmaris hotel as the column had noted, should be obvious enough to anyone.

She also took issue with the public opinion survey showing that a third of Turks did not believe it was a genuine coup attempt. The source of the survey finding which I cited, but which she omitted mentioning, was Streetbees of London.

If she has any issue with the finding she should take it up with Streetbees, whose survey result had been published in various international mainstream media.

This shows the importance of reading the full sentence, the whole paragraph and the entire article before taking issue with anything that has been written.

She also cites the reported confessions of several Turkish figures as proof that it had been a genuine coup attempt, but little is known about the conditions under which those confessions were obtained.

She refers to Fethullah Gulen’s movement, Hizmet, as the terrorist organisation FETO, which is not its name but an epithet coined by its adversaries in Ankara.

By this, Ankara has demanded Gulen’s extradition from the US where he has been resident since 1999.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has responded by asking Turkey for actionable evidence of Gulen’s guilt rather than mere allegations, but no such evidence has been forthcoming.

With the US leading the global anti-terror drive, Gulen would have been deported forthwith or denied asylum in the first place if there was any truth to the allegations.

The scale of arrests in Turkey amid the supposed innocence of Ankara until July 15 implies a plot of great magnitude and a serious lapse in the security services.

However, many observers within and outside Turkey have a healthier respect for the country’s security agencies than the official narrative suggests.

Turkish officials can be expected to advance the official narrative, but the irregular circumstances of the alleged coup attempt would give any reasonable mind reason for pause.

A diplomat may be tasked with offering the official version of events, but respecting the truth and acknowledging the realities without distortion or denial is at least as important.

Published on The Star Online, 3 August 2016, Wednesday