Comedy at the army aviation base on July 15

Comedy at the army aviation base on July 15

The Turkish public still does not have an answer to the question on whether or not the tip off provided by pilot Major O.K. in the early afternoon of July 15, 2016, by personally visiting the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) headquarters, was properly assessed. 

Undersecretary of MİT Hakan Fidan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, upon the warning given by O.K. that “Helicopters will take off from the Army Aviation Command and will kidnap MİT chief,” first wanted to confirm the information. 

This is understandable because at several times there were tip offs to MİT for a coup, and each time they proved wrong. Thus, they were cautious. But there is a counter-risk in this line of action: That the tip off is correct and when you cannot confirm it or while trying to confirm it, the coup happens. 

We need to admit that in the incident Turkey experienced on July 15, 2016, the course of action taken to confirm the tip off has been a failure. 

The method for confirmation was the Chief of General Staff sending Land Forces Commander Gen. Salih Zeki Çolak, together with Land Forces Chief of Staff Gen. İhsan Uyar, to the Army Aviation School Command at Güvercinlik. Çolak was tasked with finding out any suspicious activity.  

The real intention of Çolak’s visit to the base was “masked.” Çolak called the base commander and asked him to prepare a plane for a flight. 

Çolak entered the base at 6:36 p.m. and he phoned Akar at 7:12 p.m., reporting that everything was calm there. He then went to the hangars, spent about an hour there – again hiding his intention. He called Akar for a second time and reported “nothing extraordinary.” Akar this time ordered Çolak to “talk to the pilots, have tea with them and try to wangle words out of them.” A conversation over tea at the pergola with top officers of the base followed this. According to camera footage, Çolak left the base at 9:08 p.m. after this conversation.  

The second call of Çolak at around 8:15 p.m. is critical because the undersecretary of MİT was sitting beside Akar at that moment, waiting, together with Akar, for the report to come from Çolak. 

MİT wrote to the parliamentary commission, “Undersecretary of MİT continued waiting for, at the office of the Chief of General Staff, the report of the Land Forces Commander. Upon no confirmation from the Land Forces Commander of any attack, the MİT Undersecretary left the headquarters of the General Staff at 8:20 p.m.” Apparently, Akar and Fidan regarded Çolak’s second phone as an adequate confirmation, and upon this Fidan went back to MİT headquarters. 

The paradox here is that most of the officers Çolak spoke to during his inspection were members of the Gülen movement, putschist officers who had pledged to stage a coup after midnight at 3:00 a.m.  

The “sitcom” that went on was this: The people the commander - hiding his intention - was trying to find out what they were after were the people who have lived all their lives engaged in trickery, hiding their intentions and practicing the teachings of deception. 

In this context, the question is “Couldn’t the monitoring mission at the Güvercinlik base been performed differently?” 

We have to remind ourselves at this point that in the Army Aviation Command indictment, according to security camera footage, while Gen. Çolak was inspecting the hangars, three of them Cobra, one ATAK, four attack helicopters (for the coup operation at night) were parked at the open runway. Despite this, in his statement to the prosecutor on July 18, 2016, Gen. Çolak said, “During this supervision, we saw that helicopters were in hangars; landing and take-off fields of the base were calm and there was nothing extraordinary.” Apparently there is a contradiction here. 

Another situation that was not noticed during the supervision has also been revealed in the same indictment. Ammunition boxes have been loaded into the attack helicopters during the day. Meanwhile, the apparatuses to transform personnel from air to ground were mounted on two Sikorsky helicopters. 

The naked truth is this: In this inspection, the intensive coup preparations in the Güvercinlik base that the coup plotters conducted in the last 48 hours have not been able to be recognized. 

As a matter of fact, this inspection was the last chance in terms of acknowledging the coup preparation and confirming the tip off.