The European intelligence contradicts the Turkish government’s claim that Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, a cleric living in self-exile whose views inspired the movement, was behind the plot to overthrow the Turkish government.
“The decision to launch the coup resulted from the fears of an incoming purge. It is likely that a group of officers comprising Gülenists, Kemalists [secularists], opponents of the AKP [Justice and Development Party] and opportunists was behind the coup. It is unlikely that Gülen himself played a role in the attempt,” said the report, dated Aug., 24, 2016.
“The coup was just a catalyst for the crackdown prepared in advance.”Despite Gülen and the movement having denied the accusation, Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
In a blow to Turkey’s claims that Gülen masterminded the coup, the European intelligence report noted that Gülen followers were weak in the Turkish army, which until last July remained a bastion of secularism.
“It is unlikely Gülen really had the abilities and capacities to take such steps. There is no evidence that the army, [which] considers itself as the guardian of Turkey as a secular state, and the Gülenists were willing to co-operate with each other to oust Erdoğan. The Gülen movement is very disconnected and somewhat distant from the secular opposition and Turkish army,” the report said.
According to the EU intelligence agencies, the military coup began after reports of a “far-reaching purge” began to circulate in the days running up to the attempted seizure of power of July 15. The expected purge drew in secular opponents of Erdoğan and galvanized sections of the military opposed to Erdoğan’s policies of intervention in Syria and against the Kurds.
During the peace process from 2013 to 2015 with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the military was ordered to turn a blind eye to the PKK militants building up of weapons stocks which were then used against the army when the conflict resumed. Senior military figures were opposed to Erdoğan’s demands for a ground operation in Syria, which began in August only after they were purged.
As part of an operation called Euphrates Shield, Turkey sent tanks across the border on Aug. 24 to help Syrian rebels drive Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from the border city of Jarabulus, in a dramatic escalation of its involvement in the Syrian civil war.
“The Gülenist group of officers in the armed forces was under pressure to carry out the coup due to the upcoming purge,” noted the report.
“The coup was also supported by surviving Kemalist-secularists and some army segments unhappy with the government’s policies, in particular regarding PKK and the Syrian crisis.
“Erdoğan exploited the failed coup and the state of emergency to launch an extensive repressive campaign against the opponents of the AKP establishment,” said the report, dated five months ago. “The huge wave of arrests was already previously prepared.”
Published on Turkish Minute, 17 January 2017, Tuesday