The realities behind the failed coup in Turkey

The realities behind the failed coup in Turkey

At about 10:00 p.m. on Friday, July 15, 2016, a normally peaceful night in Ankara turned violent as a coup attempt was launched by what Turkish officials would later determine to be a group of Gülenist officers in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) an attempt to overthrow their own government. The Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) has long been of great concern to Turkey and on this day their worries proved to be true.

It was an attack that would sadly end up claiming 294 lives in a blur of chaos. This was the first time in Turkish history a group bombed the Turkish parliament. Although it came as a surprise, the coup appeared to have been well planned and well thought out for months prior. This was no random act; all signs lead to the followers of Fethullah Gülen, a self-exiled Turkish cleric, and what is known as the Gülen movement. 

The severity of this situation is taken too lightly by the Western world. This was a very direct threat on the lives of all government officials in Turkey, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It was very well known that from Aug. 1 through Aug. 4 there would be a Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting. In this meeting, it was assured that the president’s approval of arrests among the followers of the Gülen movement would be implemented within the TSK. The more obvious sign which pointed a finger to the group was the actual responsibility they took for the attack early on. When the coup attempt became evident that night, the president addressed the country and warned those watching of the coup attempt by the Gülenists. This statement could have then been denied and defended by Gülen himself or his followers, however, instead Gülen said nothing of the coup attempt as his followers took to their social media accounts to praise and cheer it on.

Thoughts of a coup attempt had been suspected many months prior. Followers of the Gülen movement began preparations throughout the year. Many converted their Turkish currency into dollars and on the social media accounts of widely known Gülenists there had been secretive messages about a certain forthcoming event that would turn things around in Turkey. There were countless facts and signs that lead to the them as the plotters and assailants.

It is certainly an interesting coincidence that Gülen’s outspoken followers were among those responsible for this coup and blatantly took responsibility, so why isn’t Gülen being held responsible for these horrific events? After control was regained by the government, Gülen spoke to international media, denying the coup allegations, but then went on to imply to the rest of the Turkish public that his supporters were behind the events that unfolded. He condemned those as fools who celebrated stopping the coup. This alone might lead anyone to make assumptions of his guilt, and then he went on to give advice to those arrested to resist interrogation and confessions. Since the attacks Turkey has been working tirelessly to put an end to the terrorism by the followers of the U.S.-based preacher and FETÖ destruction. The Turkish government has taken steps in order to prevent any more tragedies and asked that Gülen be extradited from the United States and face trial in Turkey.

Even with all this proof that has been discussed, Washington officials are asking that Turkey provide solid evidence of any links Gülen might have to the attempted coup before any possible extradition process is discussed. It is being said that any extradition could take years to happen. That in fact is not reality. If a heinous crime like this were the other way around in the United States, an extradition process would be put into effect immediately. It is simply a matter of will and determination. 

The need for “solid proof” sounds like an excuse to protect him for some odd reason. Gülen has already run into issues in the U.S and his current home state. He currently is a defendant in a lawsuit in the federal court in Pennsylvania and Gülen movement entities have come under investigation for potential violations of federal and state law. He has zero respect for the law and could possibly have more plans to execute that must be stopped.

Refusal of extradition could ruin the Turkish-American relationship.

We must not neglect our allies in their time of need. A denial of the extradition essentially is the U.S. giving him a safe haven. Turkey has long been a trusted ally of the United States. 

Perhaps the one positive light this failed coup attempt brought was the realization that Turks will stand together in times of hardship. Those watching the madness did not simply stand by and allow it; they resisted the coup and defended their democracy. It proved the maturity of Turkey’s democracy and the loyalty to their Turkish nation and democratic values regardless of the situation. So it is truly disheartening to not have support during this time. If it was your country and your home you’d want the same justice as well. We ask the United States to do what is moral and assist us in bringing back our peace.

*Ibrahim Uyar is Musiad’s Washington representative and president of the Turkish American National Steering Committee