Coup commission report fails to shed light on July 15, repeats gov’t narrative

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (C) poses with head of Turkey's intelligence service Hakan Fidan (R) and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, who he accused of failing to inform him about a coup attempt on July 15 despite the fact that they had learned of the coup plan seven hours earlier, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Nov. 18.

The chairman of Turkey’s parliamentary Coup Investigation Commission, Reşat Petek, on Friday unveiled a draft report prepared by the commission about a failed coup attempt on July 15 that fell short of casting any light on the putsch and repeated the narrative of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

The 630-page-long report was prepared in four months, 15 days. The Coup Investigation Commission has attracted widespread criticism for not hearing key figures such as Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan.

The report accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of masterminding the July 15 coup attempt, a claim made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan while the coup attempt was still unfolding. However, the report bases its this accusation on the testimonies of some coup suspects such as Col. Levent Türkkan, who held Gülen followers responsible for the coup attempt in his first testimony but admitted at a court hearing earlier this week that his first testimony was false because he gave it under torture.

Türkkan, aide-de-camp of Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar, is among 221 suspects accused of being ringleaders of the failed coup attempt on July 15 whose trial began at an Ankara court on Monday.

“I didn’t make a truthful statement [in that testimony]. I was totally destroyed. I was receiving IV fluids. They X-rayed my brain. I didn’t make a single truthful statement,” Türkkan said during a court hearing on Tuesday.

Petek, who spoke at a news conference to release the draft report, said the commission has so far been unable to obtain any answers from Gen. Akar related to the coup attempt. Akar was taken hostage by the coup plotters on the night of July 15 and was released on July 16 when the coup attempt was suppressed.

The commission’s report admits that there was an intelligence failure that prevented authorities from taking measures to prevent the coup attempt, which claimed the lives of more than 240 people and injured a thousand others, from being staged.

Despite the apparent failure of the Turkish intelligence authorities to gather intelligence about the coup plans, no intelligence official has resigned or been fired by the government.

In the report, Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose views inspired the Gülen movement, is shown as being closely linked to former CIA agent Graham Fuller, and it is claimed that the Gülen movement has connections to foreign intelligence services.

According to the report, the Gülen movement promotes inter-faith dialogue as part of a Vatican project.

The report claims that Gülen made a TL 5,000 donation to the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in 1967; however, this claim was immediately denied by the CHP.

In a statement later on Friday, CHP Deputy Chairman Aykut Erdoğdu said the receipt of the donation, which is included in the commission’s report, is fake. He said the receipt is one of those sold on the Internet and that it was filled in by someone else later.

Erdoğdu said the commission’s report is filled with slanderous accusations and aimed at shielding those involved in the political phase of the coup attempt.

On Thursday, one of the suspects in an ongoing trial into the failed coup attempt on July 15, Col. Fırat Alakuş, said he had received an order from Lt. Gen. Zekai Aksakallı on the night of July 15 to get ready for a terrorist attack and did not know a coup attempt was unfolding.

Alakuş is among 221 suspects accused of being ringleaders of the failed coup attempt on July 15 whose trial began at an Ankara court on Monday.

There are over two dozen former Turkish generals among the 221 on trial.

Official statements and testimonies are contradictory concerning the role of Lt. Gen. Aksakallı, who ordered noncommissioned officer Ömer Halisdemir to kill Brig. Gen. Semih Terzi during the night of the coup.

“Semih Terzi [who was killed by Halisdemir] was invited to Ankara by Zekai Aksakallı,” said 1st Lt. Enes Yılmaz in March during a hearing at the Muğla 2nd High Criminal Court, where the team that targeted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s hotel in Marmaris on the night of July 15 are standing trial.

“I think this was a civilian coup attempt under a military mask,” Brig. Gen. Erhan Caha, one of the 221 suspects said on Wednesday at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court, adding: “This dire and abominable coup attempt was carried out with a plan, within the knowledge and control of the chief of general staff [Gen. Hulusi Akar], the commanders of armed forces and the [National Intelligence Organization] MİT undersecretary [Hakan Fidan]. This will be seen when they come to testify, even as witnesses.”

During Tuesday’s hearing Col. Ali Yazıcı, a top military aide to President Erdoğan who was arrested in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt on July 15, said Erdoğan’s advisors used to make coup-related jokes before the putsch.

 

As many questions still persist as to what happened before and after the coup attempt on July 15, Major O.K. said in his testimony that he personally went and informed MİT at 14:30, about seven hours before the coup attempt started.

Why MİT Undersecretary Fidan informed neither President Erdoğan nor Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım during those seven hours, despite the fact that he had learned of the coup attempt at 14:30, is one of the questions being asked by many people. Fidan did not testify to a prosecutor or to the parliamentary Coup Investigation Commission.

It was also revealed in February that Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar and MİT Undersecretary Fidan had a six-hour meeting in Ankara a day before the failed coup.

The testimonies of officers who were part of a 37-strong team of Special Forces members that was sent to take President Erdoğan from his hotel in Marmaris on July 15 have presented conflicting details of the operation.

Brig. Gen. Gökhan Şahin Sönmezateş, the commander of the team that targeted Erdoğan’s hotel, said in court in February that they received an order from the Office of the Chief of General Staff but were intentionally deceived and kept waiting for four hours.

“The order came from [Brig. Gen.] Semih Terzi. He said the Turkish Armed Forces had taken over control of the country. He said the order was from the Chief of General Staff’s office. I have no links to FETÖ [a derogatory term for the Gülen movement]. We were sent into a trap. Who kept us waiting for four hours before taking off?” Sönmezateş said during his defense at the Muğla 2nd High Criminal Court.

“While the whole world knew the president had gone to İstanbul, we were sent there, into a trap. … I am trying to find an answer to the question of ‘Who deceived us and kept us waiting for four hours?’”

“It was a coup attempt designed to fail,” said main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said last month.

More than 240 people were killed, while a thousand others were injured in the coup attempt.

President Erdoğan is named as a co-plaintiff in the trial, while chief of General Staff Gen. Akar, who was taken hostage by the coup plotters, is cited as a victim.

Immediately after the putsch, the AKP government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

According to a statement from Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on May 6, 149,833 people have been investigated and 48,636 have been jailed as part of an investigation targeting the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey.

Contrary to accusations made by President Erdoğan and the Turkish government, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament concluded in March that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind the failed coup in Turkey.

The UK Parliament statement came a week after Germany rejected Erdoğan and the Turkish government’s accusations against the Gülen movement about July 15.

The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup in July.

Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he has not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the putsch in Turkey.

In addition, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge.

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