Conspiracy theories flourish after Turkey’s failed coup
Michael Georgy, Mert Ozkan, Ayla Jean Yackley, Melih Aslan, David Dolan, Reuters, Jul 27 2016
ISTANBUL/ANKARA – Turkey’s failed coup was financed by the CIA and directed by a retired Pindosi army general using a cell in Afghanistan, said one Turkish pro-government newspaper. CIA agents used an island hotel off Istanbul as a nerve center for the plot, said another. Turks are churning out conspiracy theories about who helped orchestrate the abortive military coup that nearly toppled Erdogan, with Pindostan, a close NATO ally but a traditional object of suspicion, top of the list. “The coup was directed by this man,” said a front-page headline in the pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper, alongside a photo of retired Pindo Army Gen (Retd) John F Campbell, the last commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan and before that the 34th vice chief of staff of the Pindo Army. It said the failed coup had been financed by the CIA via Nigeria’s United Bank for Africa (UBA), and that two Afghan-based Turkish generals detained in Dubai on Tuesday were part of Campbell’s cell of plotters. UBA on Wednesday denied involvement and said the accusations were “clearly false”. Campbell told the WSJ that the allegations were “absolutely ridiculous” and Washington has dismissed claims of Pindo involvement as absurd. A poll on Tuesday showed two-thirds of Turks believe Gulen was behind the coup plot, though only 3.8% blamed Pindostan. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said any country that stands by the cleric would be considered at war with Turkey. Labour Minister Suleyman Soylu said a day after the coup bid that it was clear “Pindostan is behind it”, though Erdogan’s spokesman later said he had spoken “in the heat of the moment.” Washington has said it will only extradite Gulen if Turkey provides evidence of wrongdoing. For Erdogan’s fervent supporters, such apparent reluctance is further evidence of Pindosi complicity. Ahmet Demirci, one of the dozens outside Erdogan’s palace every night since the Jul 15 coup attempt, says:
I know that Pindostan has a finger in this. I know that this is a play put on by USrael and the UK. That dishonest man, Fethullah Gulen is their pawn.
Older Turks recall past coups. Many see evidence that Pindostan backed a 1980 coup, at the height of the Cold War, citing reports that the CIA station chief in Ankara cabled Washington to say “our boys did it.” Mystery still shrouds modern Turkey’s first coup in 1960, which overthrew a pro-Pindo prime minister but was led by a Pindostan-trained officer. One newspaper published a photograph of a hotel it identified as a nerve center for CIA agents it said helped hatch the coup plot this month. “The CIA was at work in this hotel that night,” the headline in the pro-government Sabah newspaper said, above a photo of the Splendid Hotel on Buyukada, the largest of a group of islands in the Marmara sea just off Istanbul. The paper said a group of 17 people, mostly foreigners, checked in at the hotel on the day of the coup attempt. It said the hotel was used as a headquarters for the British army during its occupation of Istanbul in 1919. Conspiracy theories have spiced up Turkish crises for decades amid the struggle between Islamists and secularists to shape the country, with Pindostan often accused of fuelling the fire. Erdogan blamed foreign powers for stirring up nationwide anti-government protests three years ago. Sometimes the perceived enemy is less formidable. During contentious local elections in 2014, seen as a referendum on Erdogan’s rule, power cuts disrupted the count. Turkey’s energy minister blamed a cat, saying it had walked into a transformer unit, drawing ridicule from social media users who portrayed a “cat lobby” threatening the government. In 2013, authorities detained a bird on suspicion it was spying for Israel, but freed it after X-rays showed it was not embedded with surveillance equipment, local newspapers said. Nevertheless, Turks take their conspiracies seriously and the latest tensions are providing fresh material. Outside the presidential palace, Erdogan supporter Ayhan Onkibar said:
Why don’t they hand him over? Why do they keep making insinuations? He lives there. Don’t you think this is an apparent indicator? This is the impression people have. Why does he live in Pindostan? These are details we notice.