How did NATO’s second largest army fail to see a coup coming?

How did NATO’s second largest army fail to see a coup coming?

The release of a report penned by the parliamentary panel tasked with probing the deadly July 2016 coup attempt staged by the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) has ignited fresh debate on how the putsch was able to take place, why the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) and Turkish Armed Forces failed to know about coup preparations in advance, and why the inquiry ignored the role of politicians. 

Reşat Petek, the head of the panel from the ranks of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), announced publication of the 639-page draft report in a press conference on May 26. The release comes after months of work and after the panel listened to civilians as well as high-level former and on-duty officials. 

The report includes a 36-page document submitted by the MİT, which addresses the course of developments on July 15, 2016 and how it reacted after an informant provided information about stirrings in certain military units. It also summarized its analysis of how a primary school graduate cleric, Fethullah Gülen, was able to develop such a large organization inside and outside Turkey. 

On May 30, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar finally sent his own answers to the panel’s questions following heavy criticism by the opposition parties for his non-contribution to the panel’s works. 

Considering all the statements from Turkey’s key security and intelligence institutions, many additional question marks and controversies arise about how the Gülen movement developed and how the threat it posed was regarded by the state. 

As reported in the Hürriyet Daily News, the MİT’s report states that Gülen had links with multiple foreign services in a bid to weaken the state’s key institutions. It cites the example from 2012 when Gülen-linked prosecutors attempted to detain MİT chief Hakan Fidan. It also described the Gülen movement as an organization allying with Turkey’s “regional and global adversaries.”

All reports said FETÖ was staging open attacks against the Turkish government since the early 2010s, citing a number of incidents like the leaking of the minutes of the MİT’s negotiation process with representatives of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Oslo, Norway as part of the peace process. 

Almost all state institutions have been an open effort to cleanse themselves of FETÖ members, aware of the infiltration. That is why FETÖ was long called the “parallel state.” 

Given all this, it was quite stunning to hear from Gen. Akar that no state institution foresaw that FETÖ could dare to stage a coup. 

“The fact that this organization tried to take Turkey and the Turkish Armed Forces under its control by toppling the government in a coup after slowly and systematically infiltrating the state’s civilian, military and police institutions was an unexpected situation for many, including the state’s institutions,” Akar stated. 

This statement of the top commander of NATO’s second largest army should be well noted to illuminate the incompetence and negligence of all state institutions in Turkey, particularly the army and the intelligence agency. Far from bringing all of what happened on July 15 to the surface, all these recent reports and statements only cause even more suspicions to emerge.