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State Cost in Turkey. The United States saw nothing coming

General Dunford with his Turkish counterpart General Hulusi Akar during his visit to Turkey in January (Credit: Dod.Us/B2 Archives)
General Dunford with his Turkish counterpart General Hulusi Akar, the Turkish Chief of Staff, during his visit to Turkey in January (Credit: Dod.Us/B2 Archives)

(BRUSSELS2) “ I really had no indication that the coup was going to happen ". It is in these terms that the chief of staff of the American army, the general of the marine corps, Joe Dunford, expressed himself in front of some journalists "embedded" in his plane after returning from a visit. three days in Afghanistan. " It's a surprise to me that this happened " he added. 

US intelligence is no longer worth anything!

A statement that challenges. Not seeing a coup of this magnitude coming from such a close ally, where contacts are daily, both in Turkey (the Americans are collocated at the Incirlik base) and at NATO headquarters, to all the levels, really lends itself to doubt. Doubt all the more reinforced that Russian intelligence had apparently warned 36 hours before Erdogan that a "coup" was preparing. Either US intelligence is no longer really up to scratch, and this requires emergency measures. Either the chief of staff “embellishes the truth”. In other words, he is talking.

Well-prepared purge lists

What seems increasingly certain, however, is that the purge lists were ready before the coup. To be able in just a few hours to announce a series of arrests and suspensions in the army, the justice system and the senior civil service is not unexpected. A sentiment expressed by some European officials. The Enlargement Commissioner, the Austrian Johannes Hahn, was particularly clear on this point on Monday (July 18), during the Council. " Having lists available so quickly requires a bit of preparation » he explained « This means that they had been prepared for some time already.. Identical sentiment from the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders: “ It seems that there were already a lot of lists with names of people who are arrested now ».

A speed race between putchists and power

The Turkish ambassador in Bulgaria, Süleyman Gökçe, has in a way accredited this explanation going even a little further. In an interview on 'Nova' television (an interview later taken up by several daily newspapers), he explains that the arrests and purges in the army or the judiciary were " programmed ». The putsch was aimed « defeat this preparation ". Which would suggest a sort of race between putchists and power. The diplomat then backtracked in another interview on Bulgarian television, explaining that his remarks had been misunderstood. Those are " the interrogations carried out in the 24 to 48 hours following the putsch (which) made it possible to unravel everything and make the arrests ". And to designate the leaders: The Minister of Finance is involved, part of the judicial system and the administration is also involved. It was an attempt against the constitutional order and they were prepared to take over the state ».

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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