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Turkish Interior Minister Falsely Blames US for 2016 Coup

Turkish army helicopter flies behind a Turkish flag during a military parade marking the 93rd anniversary of Victory Day in Istanbul on August 30, 2015.
Suleyman Soylu

Suleyman Soylu

Turkish Interior Minister

“It is blatantly clear the United States is behind July 15. It was FETO [Gulen organization] who carried it out on their orders.”


In a February 4 interview with the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu blamed the U.S. for helping to orchestrate the failed coup of July 15, 2016, against Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

It is blatantly clear the United States is behind July 15,” Soylu said. “It was FETO [Gulen organization] who carried it out on their orders.”

That is false.

As the coup was unfolding, the U.S. State Department condemned it.

"@POTUS & @JohnKerry agreed all parties in Turkey should support the democratically-elected Gov't of Turkey, show restraint, avoid violence,” the U.S. State Department tweeted on July 15, 2016.

In its response to Soylu’s February 4 accusation, the U.S. State Department noted that Washington condemned the coup attempt as it was taking place.

“The United States had no involvement in the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey and promptly condemned it,” it said in a February 4 statement.

“Recent assertions to the contrary made by senior Turkish officials are wholly false.”

In July 2016, then-U.S. President Barack Obama also condemned the attempted coup and expressed support for Turkey’s democratically-elected government.

“All parties in Turkey should support the democratically-elected government of Turkey, show restraint, and avoid any violence or bloodshed,” he said.

Obama also telephoned Erdogan to voice support for Turkey’s legitimate government and offer U.S. assistance in investigating the coup’s origins. The White House reported that Turkey had requested the extradition of Islamic scholar Fettulah Gulen, head of the international Gulen organization, which Erdogan blamed for the coup.

The U.S. refused to extradite Gulen, citing a lack of evidence. The exiled political dissident, who was an ally of Erdogan and his party until 2013, has lived in the United States since 1999. Gulen accused Erdogan of staging the 2016 coup himself to justify purging the military and state structures.

In December 2017, the Turkish authorities issued a warrant for the arrest of former CIA operative Graham Fuller, claiming he’d met with coup plotters on the evening of July 15, 2016, as the coup attempt was underway.

Fuller responded on his personal blog with a solid alibi: “On the night of the coup attempt in Turkey last year I happened to have been addressing a group of 100 people or so right here in the town in western Canada, where I have been living for the past 15 years.”

He noted he had not been in Turkey for five years.

Since Turkey was formally proclaimed a secular republic in October 1923, the military has repeatedly intervened to exert control over the civilian government. Over two decades in power, Erdogan has sought to re-assert Islamic values while consolidating autocratic power in the presidency, sidelining opponents and jailing journalists.

On July 15, 2016, military officers and enlisted men loyal tried to overthrow Erdogan’s government by launching simultaneous attacks in several major cities, including Istanbul and the capital Ankara. An estimated 241 people were killed and 2,194 injured in the ensuing fighting, during which civilians (including Erdogan opponents) rallied against the rebel military troops.

A host of European and non-European nations also condemned the coup attempt.