Europe and the U.S. have approached the July 15 coup attempt with suspicion from the very beginning, although what happened during the night of July 15 was clearly an atrocious insurrection. They asked Ankara to prove itself although 249 people were killed by tanks and gunfire, the president narrowly escaped an assassination attempt and TV stations were raided and forced to announce the coup leaders' declaration.
Unfortunately, this attitude has persisted, especially in media and some political circles. But this is exactly what Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) leader Fetullah Gülen and the group's members around the world tried to achieve. They wanted people to believe that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan planned the coup attempt and all the incidents were part of a ploy. Anyone who experienced that night in Istanbul or Ankara cannot possibly believe such an argument. In this sense, the extradition of Gülen and Turkey's determined fight against FETÖ have always been approached with biases. And sadly, this attitude has led to the consolidation of anti-Western sentiment among Turkish people. Discourse against the West, especially the U.S., began to prevail in both media and politics.
However, everything could be different if the West approaches Turkey constructively and strives to understand what kind of threats Turkey confronted as part of the coup attempt. Of course, Turkey and Erdoğan can be criticized. What really matters is avoiding completely accusatory and denialist behavior. Last week, the Sabah daily covered a significant interview that reflected an exemplary demeanor. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ankara James Jeffrey, a significant figure in terms of Turkish-U.S. relations, gave an interview to Şebnem Bursalı in Washington, which included some critical observations.
Above all, Jeffrey empathized with what happened on the night of July 15. He has been displaying the same stance from the very beginning of the incidents. Following July 15, we organized a seminar, the Sabah Writers Group in the House of Representatives, in Washington. Jeffrey attended the seminar and showed the same empathy at the time. Jeffrey knows FETÖ from the time when he was in Ankara. In his latest interview, Jeffrey said that he had shared in the past that there were mistakes in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot case, and he saw FETÖ as a major threat even then. He said that he is sure about Gülen's role in the July 15 atrocity since he knows much about the terrorist cult, adding that recognition of this is not easy for the U.S. administration due to the lack of evidence, emphasizing the group's secretive nature. Jeffrey also stressed that the judicial process is of critical importance in the U.S. and that a judicial decision on the matter has not yet been issued. He argues that it is necessary to wait a little more.Jeffrey's approach is crucial. His words must be heeded since he held positions in the U.S., Europe and Turkey and knows FETÖ very well. Ankara, on the other hand, must patiently explain its concerns and attach importance to relations with the West instead of embracing anti-Western discourses. Turkey has to persist expressing itself to the West by remembering the presence of figures like Jeffrey. Otherwise, both parties will be undermined. Integrating with the world rather than being detached from it will render Turkey stronger against the challenges it faces.