There has been much speculation in Turkey that the United States was behind the bloody coup attempt of July 15, 2016, when officers linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) tried to overthrow the elected government and failed.
The fact that the U.S. has been extremely sluggish in processing Ankara's extradition request for FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania, and that he is treated more as a guest rather than a coup suspect has raised eyebrows in Turkey. The fact that the U.S. has allowed FETÖ members to roam in the U.S. and continue their activities against the Turkish government has created the impression that the U.S. is more than involved in the coup.
Yet, when we see that U.S. authorities sent Turkey serious evidence incriminating suspects in the Akıncı Air Base trial makes one think what is going on. Akıncı Air Base was the headquarters of the coup plotters on the evening of July 15 when the coup masterminds assembled and wreaked havoc in Istanbul and Ankara. Now, the officers and civilians that were at the base that night and were captured red-handed are facing the court in Ankara. Adil Öksüz, who is regarded as the right-hand man of Gülen and who was caught just outside the base trying to flee, was then released by a judge in the midst of some judicial confusion, which was later seen as a plot to save him and let him flee. Yet another suspect, Kemal Batmaz, was caught and is now on trial. Batmaz and Öksüz are seen in several scenes from security camera footage traveling together to and from the U.S. to visit Gülen and plan the coup.
Batmaz has repeatedly denied he traveled with Öksüz and claimed during their several flights that they were there coincidentally. He denied knowing Gülen or visiting him. He denied everything. Yet the U.S. first handed Turkey the slips Batmaz signed when he entered the U.S., where he declared his address was Gülen's home in Pennsylvania. Another U.S. document sent to the Turkish court showed that Batmaz is a liar and that he actually stayed with Gülen, as he was questioned by customs officials at an airport in New York and said he was staying with Gülen.
So if the U.S. was behind the coup then why should they help us nail one of the leading suspects of the coup?
But then we see that the U.S. is angered by the arrest of one of its Turkish employees at its consulate in Istanbul on charges that he was a Gülen operative. The anger is not manifested in a strongly worded statement or diplomatic note but as a direct action that has the potential to cause deep-rooted harm to Turkish-U.S. relations. In Turkish we have a saying: You do not burn the blanket to kill a flea, which is exactly what U.S. officials are doing in Turkey. They have halted non-immigrant visa services to Turkish nationals who want to travel to the U.S. as punishment for Ankara, which reciprocated by halting visas for Americans. It has serious repercussions and is a real threat to the already shaky relations between the two countries.
Those of us who cherish the value of Turkish-U.S. relations are more than confused over these developments. Who is running the U.S. and who is really in charge after we heard U.S. President Donald Trump recently tell his President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that "Turkey and the U.S. have never been so close before." Is the U.S. our friend and ally or are there those trying hard to turn it into our adversary.
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