Carlton Meyer, “The Empire’s 2016 Coup in Turkey” (Tales of the American Empire, 22 January 2021)
Rather light on the day-to-day details of the attempt by sections of the Turkish military to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government in July 2016, this video concentrates on the role the United States government may have played in encouraging or at least countenancing this coup attempt that resulted in the deaths of 300 people and injured another 2,100. The aftermath of the coup was more important for the Turkish people than the coup itself, as at least 10,000 soldiers and military officers and over 2,700 judges were arrested, 15,000 people in education were suspended and the licences of 21,000 teachers in private institutions were revoked. Over 160,000 people lost their jobs for having suspected ties to exiled Turkish cleric / business entrepreneur Fethullah Gulen who has been accused by Erdogan of being behind the coup plot.
The video states that four months before the coup took place, the US government recalled all its military personnel stationed at its various military bases in Turkey and all its diplomatic staff in that country. Israel did likewise with its military and diplomatic personnel in Turkey. These actions constitute most of the evidence that narrator Meyer cites to support the notion that the US backed and encouraged the coup even if it did not help organise it. The possibility that Graham Fuller, a former CIA station chief in Turkey and who endorsed Fethullah Gulen’s application for Green Card residency in the US in the late 1990s, had some involvement in the coup is considered. Gulen is also thought to have been involved in the coup plotting as well.
A brief history of Turkish-US relations from the year 2000 onward follows: Erdogan is revealed as a leader who will play two opposed sides off each other if there is a gain for himself or for Turkey. While Turkey sometimes co-operates with other members of NATO, the country refused to support the US-led alliance that invaded Iraq in 2003. On the other hand, Turkey has supported the war in Syria (2011 onward) with the aim of deposing Syrian President Bashar al Assad and to get chunks of territory in northern Syria. Turkey has also grown closer to Russia since the 2016 coup attempt, to the extent of buying S400 missile defence systems from that nation.
The centrepiece of the video is a film of Senator Joe Biden’s speech to the editors of The New York Times in 2019 in which he talks about how the US can push sections of the Turkish armed forces or the Turkish government through non-violent means to depose President Erdogan or isolate him. Here the stupid arrogance of the US government in presuming it can force a nation to toss out its leader regardless of his/her popularity with the general public in that nation is breathtakingly immense.
For a video that is fairly well researched, it is a pity that Erdogan’s last name isn’t pronounced correctly and the video regards Erdogan and his government as secular when in fact over the years he has Prime Minister and then President, Erdogan has been shepherding the nation to a more conservative Islamic stance. The video could have included some additional material on what Joe Biden, now that he has been inaugurated as US President, plans to do in the Middle East and with Turkey in particular. The video is best treated as an introduction to the history of Turkish-US relations; viewers wanting more depth and a better understanding of the historical / economic / political context surrounding Turkish-US interactions will need to do their own research.