Why did the US Consulate call a key Gülenist coup plotter on July 21?

Published 02.04.2017 22:12
Updated 04.04.2017 15:16

Turkish people expect the U.S. authorities to answer many questions about the ambiguous statement by the U.S. Consulate about the key Gülenist coup plotter

The public reaction in Turkey about the phone call by the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul to one of the chief plotters of the July 15 coup attempt, college professor Adil Öksüz, is growing.

Öksüz, a theology lecturer in Sakarya University, was one of the five civilians taken into custody in and around the Akıncılar Jet Base in Ankara, which was used as the headquarters of the coup attempt on the night of July 15. Video footage of that night, their travel routes, phone calls and personal backgrounds reveal that all those civilians had clear links to Fetullah Gülen and the coup, while it is understood that Öksüz was "the Imam of the Air Force," the authority in the Gülenist network responsible for the Air Forces in the Turkish Army. Öksüz was hurriedly released after a controversial ruling by judges; nobody else who was taken into custody with him that night tasted this luxury. It is believed that Gülenists still hidden in the judicial apparatus helped Öksüz to escape because of his key role in the attempted coup. He is still at large.

According to the Chief Prosecutor's Office in Ankara, Öksüz, the key fugitive Gülenist coup suspect, was called on July 21, 2016, at 10:22, six days after the coup attempt, from a phone number registered to the U.S. Consulate. U.S. officials rapidly made a written statement last week, claiming that the call was a routine procedure.

"As a direct result of close U.S.-Turkish law enforcement cooperation, a call from the U.S. Consulate General Istanbul to a phone belonging to Adil Öksüz on July 21, 2016, did occur. On that day, the Turkish National Police called the U.S. Mission Turkey to request our assistance in preventing Adil Öksüz from fleeing Turkey. We then revoked his U.S. visa and, as required by U.S. law, tried to call him to inform him of the cancellation. Far from being suspicious, the call from the Consulate General illustrates the close U.S.-Turkish law enforcement cooperation following the coup attempt," said the U.S. Embassy in the statement released on March 29.

Well, the close cooperation between the U.S. and Turkey would bring tears to our eyes, but we still remember how the Obama administration reacted against Turkey's actions following the coup attempt.

John Kerry, then U.S. Secretary of State, for instance, threatened Turkey's NATO membership on July 18, three days after the Gülenists killed 248 people that night, 180 of whom were civilians. At a joint news conference with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, John Kerry said that America stands "squarely on the side of the elected leadership in Turkey," but that they "urge the government of Turkey to uphold the highest standards of respect for the nation's democratic institutions and the rule of law." "NATO would measure its actions," added Kerry according to reports that day, and said: "The level of vigilance and scrutiny is obviously going to be significant in the days ahead."

Since Kerry's comments drew a rebuff, U.S. officials denied his comments on NATO were a threat to Turkey, but former State Department spokesman John Kirby told the Washington Post that NATO would be watching Turkey carefully. There were scores of disappointing statements that frustrated Turkish society in the wake of the attempted coup by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), and Kerry's remarks were only one of them. Ever since the attempted coup, U.S. officials denied seeing the involvement of Gülenists in the coup and chose to stand side by side with the coup plotters instead of the elected government in Turkey.

One of the top U.S. military commanders, U.S. Central Command Commander General Joseph Votel could not hide his astonishment over the Turkish people's victory against the Gülenists. On July 28, 2016, he said at the Aspen Security Forum, a number of the U.S. military's closest allies were in jail, revealing that the Pentagon had a persistent concern over the Turkish state's actions against the coup plotters that tried to overthrow the elected government. Among many sources, Gülenist websites and social media accounts gave wide coverage to those statements, practically showing who were the closest allies that Votel was pointing out.

Kerry, Votel and other U.S. officials who made similar statements perhaps stumbled through their lines as they were shocked since they all tried to turn their statements around. However, those ridiculous statements are still in the minds of Turkish people and remembered as if they were some funny dark scenes of clumsy figures in a Steve Carell movie.

Besides, U.S. officials have denied almost all cooperation requests by Turkish officials against the Gülenists so far. Turkey made an official extradition request for Gülen, the U.S.-based leader of FETÖ, a long while ago, but there is still no sign from the authorities that would make us think that the U.S. is willing to cooperate with Turkey. Since the Obama administration told the Turkish government that the decision concerning the request would be a legal, not political one, which is not true by the way, U.S. officials have not cooperated with Turkey over the formal request for at least a house arrest of Gülen. In addition, Gülenists who managed to escape Turkey after the attempted coup walk freely in the U.S., and none of their U.S. visas have been cancelled so far, and they still get residence and work permits easily. In the meantime, the Trump administration is very busy with their fight against the U.S. establishment, so they still have not focused on the matter as required. Actually, if they spare the time to examine the files and claims of Turkey, they will see that Gülenists are now cooperating in the U.S. with the establishment against the Trump administration as well.

That is why Turkish people are questioning the sincerity of U.S. authorities about the cancelation of the U.S. visa of Adil Öksüz, who carried Gülen's messages to Gülenists nested in the Turkish army and directed the coup attempt on July 15. Ankara now asks Washington to deny other Gülenists' visas. They should also publish a list of Turkish citizens who were called by U.S. consulates to inform that their visas had been cancelled, as the majority believes that the informing call is not a routine procedure. Since U.S. authorities always said: "There is not enough evidence. We can't see the facts connecting the Gülenists to the attempted coup," and did nothing when they were asked to cooperate, now Turkish people really wonder what is so special about Öksüz that made U.S. authorities act without wasting any time.

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