US would be indulgent towards Turkey's coup plotters if they succeeded, Brookings expert Shadi Hamid says

Published 18.08.2016 00:00
Updated 18.08.2016 02:24

Those who carried out an attempted coup in Turkey were well aware of the U.S.'s failure to stymie previous military overthrows, particularly in Egypt, an expert said Wednesday. Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, also added that the US would be "indulgent" towards coup plotters if they succeeded.

Hamid also stated that he has no doubt the coup plotters thought to themselves "well, hey, in previous coups that happened in the Middle East, including the one in Egypt, what was the U.S. stance?"

"That precedent is a dangerous one that the coup plotters had to be aware of," he said during a SETA Foundation panel discussion in Washington. SETA is a Turkish think tank.

If the July 15 coup attempt had been successful then the U.S. would have been tolerant towards coup plotters, Hamid said, adding, Secretary of State John Kerry harbors a "soft spot for dictators."

"Let's be honest about it, he does," Hamid said. "His inclination would have been to make peace with the coup if that's where Turkey was going."

Still, Hamid cautioned against conspiracy theories of U.S. complicity in the putsch, noting that President Barack Obama has worked to disentangle the U.S. from the Middle East.

"To be involved in a coup plot takes a lot of time, effort and attention, and that is not something that Obama could conceivably be involved in from any reasonable standpoint," he said.

Relations between Ankara and Washington have soured since rogue members of the Turkish military attempted to overthrow the state last month.

Turkey is actively seeking the extradition of U.S.-based fugitive preacher Fetullah Gülen, who masterminded the bloody coup attempt.

The foiled putsch, which left 240 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured, was organized by the Gülenist terror-cult led by the Pennsylvania-based ex-imam.

Kadir Üstün, the executive director of the SETA foundation's DC office, sought to throw cold water on such concerns, saying PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's trial was certified fair by European observers and the same could be expected for Gülen.

"A fair trial is perfectly possible. We have actually precedent for that," he said.

The Obama administration has insisted on fulfilling legal obligations under a 1981 treaty signed between Washington and Ankara.

"The administration is right to point to the legal process, I think Turks perfectly understand that, but there's also the political side of this," said Üstün.

"You need to assure the Turks who are going through this trauma that the U.S. will be there as their ally, politically, but also legally," he added.

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