Three orders to prevent the coup attempt
Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar spent most of his office hours on July 15, 2016 in preparations for the upcoming Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting, due to convene at the beginning of August. Together with Commander of the Land Forces Gen. Salih Zeki Çolak, Akar went through the lists, reviewing names one by one.
At around 4:20 or 4:25 p.m., Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler entered and whispered into Akar’s ear about the phone call he had just received from National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan.
This Akar-Güler dialogue lasted five or six minutes, according to the statement given to the prosecutor by Gen. Çolak. When Güler left, the two top generals continued to work on the YAŞ list for another 20 minutes.
Soon afterward, a top MİT executive met with Güler and told him that an army aviation pilot had come to the MİT and was called back from vacation. He was told that they would have a night flight tonight and they would “take” Fidan.
Güler immediately went to Akar’s office to convey this information. Two of them stepped into a side meeting room. Çolak was asked to continue working on the list on his own or take a break. Once inside the meeting room, Akar agreed to call Fidan. Fidan was invited at 4.40 p.m., according to the MİT.
Akar then asked Çolak to join too. In his statement Çolak reportedly said the following: “I joined the meeting. I took notes from the information conveyed to me. I was told that a major had tipped off the MİT that from 7 p.m. tonight three helicopters would make unauthorized flights, that these flights would continue until late, and that MİT chief Hakan Fidan would be kidnapped. The second pilot assigned in the same task was from the Gülen movement, as well as the major, and a pilot lieutenant colonel would also accompany them.”
While generals Akar, Çolak and Güler conferred, at about 6:00 or 6:05 p.m., MİT chief Hakan Fidan joined the meeting. Çolak stated that he left the headquarters of the General Staff at around 6:15 p.m.
After the MİT’s reporting, Akar gave three orders. In his written answers to the Parliamentary Inquiry Commission, he explained as follows: “In order to confirm and clarify the information provided by the MİT, I asked the Commander of Land Forces to immediately visit the Army Aviation Command. I asked him to make another excuse so that this visit does not draw any suspicion. I told him to take Deputy Chief of Staff Uyar along, as well as personnel from the judicial advisory and central command, in order to make arrests and detentions at the site if the need arises. I ordered him to check the situation of the planes and helicopters at the hangars, to inspect the validity of the intelligence, and to take every measure he finds necessary.”
According to Güler, Fidan told Akar that the incident could be the part of a larger incident. “Upon this, Chief of General Staff Akar immediately took the phone and told the duty officer at the operations center, Brigadier General İlhan Kırtıl, that he had banned all kinds of military flights in Turkish air space,” said Güler.
In his statement to the prosecutor on July 18, 2016, Akar also said he was aware that this information could be part of a bigger plan. A similar expression was also included in Akar’s answers to the parliamentary commission.
In other words, Akar did not regard the matter as only an act limited to the targeting of MİT Undersecretary Fidan. He was suspicious that there was a bigger plot at work. Akar and Fidan were in agreement on this.
“We considered this could be part of a bigger plan and we did not suffice with the measures we took. I phoned Ankara garrison commander Lieutenant General Metin Gürak and ordered him to personally go to the Etimesgut Armored Forces Division to take measures in order to not allow any tank or armored vehicles on any account to leave the premises of the contingent,” Akar stated.
Apparently, Akar did not regard the matter only as the unauthorized flight of helicopters and thus gave a third order trying to prevent the possibility of tanks leaving the barracks.
The next question that arises is this: Under what circumstances do tanks leave their barracks?