Opposition accusations against gov’t on coup attempt

Opposition accusations against gov’t on coup attempt

Two opposition parties in Turkey’s parliament revealed their objections on June 12 to a parliamentary inquiry report on the July 15, 2016, coup attempt after the document was made public by its ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) chairman, Reşat Petek, on May 26.

The objection reports from the social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have different approaches in their criticism, but both level heavy accusations at the AK Parti government regarding the handling of it, both before and after

Aykut Erdoğdu, the deputy chairman of the CHP, said in a press conference in parliament that the government had “foreseen, did not stop and moved to politically benefit from the consequences” of the “heinous” coup attempt. Erdoğdu confirmed that they were certain followers of Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-resident Islamist preacher who had “conducted activities” prior to the coup attempt. 

He said those names were “civilian individuals, not military officers” whose names were known and should have been placed under surveillance by security and intelligence units, identifying them as Adil Öksüz, Kemal Batmaz, Hakan Çiçek, Nurettin Oruç and Harun Biniş. Underlining that the inquiry report mentions an earlier warning by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) that a coup attempt could occur, probably under the auspices of the Gülenists, Erdoğdu said officials failed to learn their lessons and that a coup attempt was definitely forecast by the government. 

Erdoğdu also claimed that the report failed to explain the relevance of a 6.5-hour one-on-one meeting between Gen. Hulusi Akar, the chief of General Staff, and Hakan Fidan, the head of MİT, on July 14, a day before the coup. The CHP report also said MİT and then the military learned about an attempt to kidnap Fidan on the afternoon of July 15, but again failed to take the necessary measures against a coup attempt.

Erdoğdu claimed that all this showed that the AK Parti foresaw that a coup was coming but did not stop it when it could, hoping to take it under control in order to politically benefit from its consequences. As such, the CHP said the government bears responsibility for the lives of the 249 people killed and 2,301 others wounded by the coup soldiers on July 15 and 16. The CHP spokesman also noted that the state of emergency declared by the AK Parti government after the coup attempt had resulted in the deterioration of democratic rights in Turkey.

The MHP’s objections to the inquiry report was made public by the party’s executive board member Mehmet Erdoğan. Accusing the government of failing to assess the approaching threat by Gülenists, Erdoğan said the necessary information on high-ranking civil servants and politicians who downloaded the encrypted communications program ByLock, which was used by Gülenists on their phones, was known by MİT. He said that despite insistent demands from the inquiry panel’s opposition members, they learned from a TV interview that the panel chairman did not officially ask Akar and Fidan to come and testify before the panel. The MHP’s spokesman claimed that the lack of names of politicians and ranking civil servants who might have been linked to the Gülenists and the lack of interviews with certain key names like Akar and Fidan meant the inquiry report was incomplete and unconvincing.

Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Numan Kurtulmuş put down the opposition claims while “categorically rejecting” the CHP’s claim about a “controlled coup,” accusing the party of diluting efforts in the fight against the Gülenist network and terrorism.

There is almost a month left until the first anniversary of the coup attempt, but the debate about alleged black holes surrounding the attempt are continuing to heat up.