Army didn’t think Gülen would dare to stage coup: Turkey's top soldier

Army didn’t think Gülen would dare to stage coup: Turkey's top soldier

Army didn’t think Gülen would dare to stage coup: Turkeys top soldier

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The Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) was regarded as a grave threat to Turkey, but no state institution could foresee that it would dare stage a coup and topple the Republic of Turkey, the country’s top soldier has said, contending that the army took all necessary measures to foil the attempt immediately after it learned of a plot.

“The fact that this organization dared to take Turkey and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) under its control by toppling the government in a coup after slowly and systematically infiltrating the state’s civilian, military and police institutions over the years was an unexpected situation for many, including the state’s other institutions,” Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar said May 30 in a reply to questions posed by a parliamentary panel tasked with probing the July 2016 coup attempt.

Akar was subjected to heavy criticism for not cooperating with parliament even though it was soldiers under his command that attempted the coup, which claimed the lives of 249 loyalists. 

The panel disclosed its draft report on May 26 without waiting for Akar’s responses, but Reşat Petek, the head of the panel, said the final report would include the top soldier’s contribution as well. 

Akar’s responses to the questions did not reveal anything unknown about how military officials first became aware of the coup and how the TSK and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) cooperated to stop it.

The top soldier said FETÖ’s actions were well-known by the army prior to the coup attempt and that it was considered a high risk to Turkey. 

Akar described the coup attempt by some personnel of the TSK as a black stain on the history of the Republic of Turkey.

Measures prevented coup 

The military chief said MİT’s initial intelligence from an army officer did not suggest a coup but the kidnapping of the intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan. Akar accordingly instructed land and air forces to halt all military activities and to keep military units in their barracks immediately after the intelligence was provided on the grounds that this could turn into a bigger operation. 

Akar echoed MİT’s report that all the measures pushed the coup plotters to bring the timing of the coup forward and that resulted in the failure of the putsch.  

‘You are turning Turkey into Syria, Egypt’

Akar repeated his earlier testimony on what occurred on July 15, 2016, and recalled that he was taken to the Akıncı Air Base where he was kept until the early hours of July 16. “Although I all lost my liberty to move, I continued to use my liberty to talk as the commander,” he said. “I told them that they were turning Turkey into Syria, Egypt and into a worse shape than during the Balkan wars; I told them so many times that they were ruining the brotherhood between the police and the army,” he said.

He explained that he stood against the coup plotters from the very beginning and warned them that they were committing a very big mistake even when his aide-de-camp held a gun to his head. 

‘I ordered Dişli’s detention’ 

Akar was also asked about the role of former four-star Gen. Mehmet Dişli in the coup attempt. 

Akar told the panel that Dişli was at Akıncı with him and accompanied him to the office of the prime minister after the coup was defeated early on July 16. 

“I told the undersecretary of the prime ministry that it would be appropriate to detain him after summarizing the incidents. I was later informed that he had been detained,” he said. 

Dişli is the brother of a high-ranking official of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Şaban Dişli, who was recently removed from the party’s top executive body.