We have seen many articles in the Western media on the recent Turkish coup attempt, and most of those reports were far away from understanding what actually happened in Turkey. It was the first time the Turkish people took to the streets and stood up to a coup attempt. Unlike most other coups in the Turkish Republic’s history, the 15 July Turkish army coup attempt was not successful. The Turkish people stood behind their votes and gave a democracy lesson for the history books. Unfortunately, foreign experts, journalists, and reporters overlooked these facts and just focused on blaming the governing AK Party and President Erdoğan. In articles, such experts mainly shared their worries about Turkey’s relations with the U.S. and NATO. But they still cannot understand why Turkish people are angry at the U.S administration and Western countries, or why the Turkish people believe that the U.S was behind the coup attempt.
In order to make foreign experts’ job easier, I exchanged Turkey’s and the U.S.’ roles and wrote an alternative coup scenario:
“The Peace in the World Council’ has taken every action to ensure that it fulfills the obligations set by all international institutions, including the United Nations and NATO.’’
These words were the last sentence of the U.S. coup plotters’ statement, which was read on air at CNN. Undoubtedly it was a coup attempt and it was a big surprise not only to U.S. citizens but also for other countries including NATO ally Turkey.
The first statement from Ankara backing the Obama administration did not appear until three hours after the junta soldiers appeared on the streets in the New York and Washington: “All parties in the U.S. should support the democratically-elected government of the U.S., show restraint, and avoid any violence or bloodshed,” said Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister.
President Erdoğan called on political parties and groups to “support the democratically elected president of the U.S.” After that, Çavusoğlu’s second statement was released, in which he said: “I must say, it does not appear to have been a very brilliantly planned or executed event.”
Some U.S. citizens, annoyed by these indifferent statements expressed their reaction to the Turkish administration on social media. In addition, there was a more significant reason for them to be displeased with the Turkish government: the leader of the coup attempt is living in Turkey, and the Turkish government expressed no intention to extradite him to the U.S.
Turkish media coverage of the coup attempt was completely disappointing for U.S. citizens. After the failed military coup, which resulted in the deaths of at least 240 people and wounded over 1,500 others, Turkish media outlets, including some reputable newspapers, seem to be trying to trivialize the coup attempt. They ignore the fact that U.S. citizens sacrificed their lives in the streets in order to protect their democracy. Instead, they prefer to criticize America’s democratically-elected President Barack Obama.
The day after the coup, one of Turkey’s most popular and prestigious newspapers reported the coup attempt with this title: “The counter-coup in the U.S.” In the article the newspaper just criticized President Obama’s policies after the coup attempt and did not mention anything about the coup attempt itself.
The coup attempt leader, who lives in Turkey, continued to send his messages to his followers. He even wrote an op-ed for Turkey’s most influential daily newspaper, titled “I Condemn All Threats to the U.S.’ Democracy.” In the article, he did not accept any responsibility for the coup attempt, instead ironically accusing democratically-elected President Obama of staging the coup. According to him, Turkey must not accommodate an autocrat (Obama) who is turning a failed putsch into a slow-motion coup of his own against constitutional government. After that, the coup leader appeared on a TV program and provided an interview to one of Turkey’s most popular journalists. He blamed Obama again and stated that: “I don’t believe that the world believes the accusations made by President Obama. There is a possibility that it could be a staged coup and it could be meant for further accusations.”
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry confirmed that an official request was sent to Turkey for the extradition of the coup leader, according to media outlets. “We have sent four dossiers to Turkey for the extradition of the terrorist chief,” said the Secretary of State.
In response, the Turkish Justice Minister was quoted as saying that, “We need to see genuine evidence that withstands the standard of scrutiny that exists in many countries’ systems of law with respect to the issue of extradition. If it meets that standard, there’s nothing — there’s no interest we have in standing in the way of appropriately honoring the treaty that we have with the U.S.,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ explained.
Ironically, Turkish parliamentarians have expressed concerns about Mr. Obama’s growing pressure on the independent judiciary and independent press after the failed coup. It is no exaggeration to say that some Turkish experts nearly equalized the coup attempt and the Obama administration’s policies. However, these kinds of reactions are not a surprise for U.S. citizens because the leader of the junta and his followers are influential powerful in Ankara. It was reported that the leader of coup attempt and his followers have secretly funded as many as 200 trips to America for members of the Turkish parliament and staff since 2008. In addition, the junta-linked groups founded many Ankara political interest groups and think-tanks in order to lobby, which has an important role in Turkey’s political system. They also do not hesitate to show their support for candidates who will run for the next President of Turkey.
Some Turkish journalists also published their worries about Turkey-US relations, especially the “anti-Turkey’’ trend in the U.S. In response to these commentators, U.S. citizens and journalists called Turkey’s current policy on the failed coup “hypocritical.”