What we have learned from WikiLeaks about Turkey’s coup.


Bernard Owen

At times the French army had the same training sessions as the Turkish : Having seen them manouvering, they appear efficient so that some of us wonder why it is the Kurds that are fighting the Islamic State instead of the Turkish army.
Our question is not based on geopolitics so we thought we would try to find answers in the Wikileaks through different articles found in newspapers such as the New York Times.  One such article reveals Saudi’s  checkbook diplomacy..

International New York Times, JUNE 20, 2015
More than 60,000 documents have been released so far, with WikiLeakspromising more to come. They include identification cards, visa requests and summaries of news media coverage of the kingdom. The most informative are diplomatic cables from Saudi embassies around the world to the foreign ministry, many of which are then passed along to the office of the king for final decisions.
Many of the cables are incomplete, making it hard to determine their date and context, and very few indicate which requests were approved by the king and ultimately carried out. Most documents focus on a turbulent period in the Middle East, beginning after the popular uprisings that toppled Arab leaders in 2011 and continuing through early this year.
Clear in many of the documents are efforts by Saudi Arabia, a Sunni power, to combat the influence of Shiite Iran, its regional rival, as well as Iranian proxies like Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group and political party.
Cables about Iraq suggest efforts to support politicians who opposed Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, then the Shiite prime minister of Iraq, who was close to Iran. One said the kingdom had given 2,000 pilgrimage visas to Mr. Maliki’s chief rival, Ayad Allawi, to distribute as he saw fit.
Another cable from the Saudi Embassy in Beirut relayed a request by a Christian politician, Samir Geagea, for cash to relieve his party’s financial problems. The cable noted that Mr. Geagea had stood up for the kingdom in news media interviews, opposed the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and had shown “his preparedness to do whatever the kingdom asks of him.”
A spokesman for Mr. Geagea did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.
“Are there just more Lebanese begging Saudis for money or does my timeline skew toward Lebanon?” wrote one Twitter user, Laleh Khalili, noting the frequency of such requests from Beirut.
Other cables show Saudi Arabia working to maintain its regional influence. One accused Qatar, another Persian Gulf state known for oil wealth and cash-based diplomacy, of stirring up trouble in Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbor, by backing a rich politician to the tune of $250 million.
Missing from the documents is any evidence of direct Saudi support for militant groups in Syria or elsewhere.
Bruce Riedel, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer now at the Brookings Institution, said that while considerable evidence of such programs exists, they are handled by the kingdom’s intelligence services, and the foreign ministry is often “not in the loop.”
“That allows the Saudis to have plausible deniability and to liaison with other intelligence services aiding the rebels,” he said.
Some found the documents underwhelming, noting that similar activities are carried out by many countries, including the United States.
“There is not really something shocking that compromises Saudi security,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a political science professor in the United Arab Emirates, who had read about 100 cables.
Everyone knows that Saudi Arabia practices checkbook diplomacy, he said, adding that it now had to compete for clients with other rich states, like Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
One surprise in the documents, he said, is that the former Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, had to seek the permission of the king before proceeding with even minor matters.
“It seems that the king is the king in Saudi Arabia, no matter how princely you are,” Dr. Abdulla said.
Many other surprising finds showed up in the WikiLeaks’ net.

JULY 16, 2016
Turkey’s failed military coup on Friday night was fictional and staged by none other than President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself, according to a sensational theory which is taking the internet by storm.
Turkey, a country which has a long history of civil uprisings and military coups in the 20th century, briefly spun out of control Friday night when chilling news reports, confirming that the military had closed two of the main bridges that connect Istanbul’s Asian part of the city to the European side, began emerging from the besieged nation. Within a few minutes, president Erdoğan, speaking to CNN Turk through Facetime app from an undisclosed location reportedly somewhere in Turkey’s port town of Marmaris, said that a small faction within the Turkish armed forces had acted “out of the chain of command” and were attempting to overthrow his civilian government. Vowing that he would fight the military coup to death, he asked his supporters and the civilian population of Turkey to take to the streets in the cities of Istanbul and Ankara to thwart the coup attempt.
Around the same time, Reuters reported that Turkish soldiers were inside the buildings of the Turkish state broadcaster, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), in Ankara. While confusion still prevailed as to who was behind the supposed coup and whether or not it would succeed, world leaders began to treat it as a legitimate coup d’état. Leaders across the world, from Barack Obama to Angela Merkel, expressed their solidarity with Erdoğan, saying that democracy must prevail in the torn Middle Eastern country under any circumstances.
a state where legitimately elected governments have proved themselves ruthlessly authoritarian and murderous time and again, and where the military has historically been the guarantor of secular semi-liberality through undemocratic means.
no one in the West wants Turkey to become unstable and give in to the fanatic militants because that would mean that the war in the Middle East would officially spill over to Europe.
But the irony is that Erdoğan is also massively hated by members of the Turkish armed forces because of his recent approval of a spate of Islamist policies and laws which have brought Turkey back on the brink of becoming a religious state.
He has become a ruthless autocrat, plain and simple, and international calls from human rights organizations asking for a thorough investigation into his role in making modern Turkey an authoritarian state have gathered pace.

It is within this context and recent developments that the military coup — or rather the failed military coup — was attempted last night in Turkey. Based on prima facie evidence, it has failed already, with media organizations like The Washington Post and The New York Times reporting that Erdoğan reappeared at the crack of dawn in Istanbul after it was sufficiently clear that the “breakaway faction” had not been able to carry out its ambitious plan of overthrowing him.
While news reports have quoted Erdoğan’s cabinet ministers as saying that they believe that moderate Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who went into self-imposed exile when he moved from Turkey to the United States in 1999, as the man who could have orchestrated Friday night’s military coup, the possibility that a 75-year-old imam could have hatched a coup in Turkey from a gated compound in a small, leafy Pennsylvania town, borders on the ridiculous.
For many, it is simply a smokescreen and diverts the blame from the original culprit(s).
After all, an orchestrator is needed for any attack — the military coup could not have transpired out of thin air.
Or could it?
According to some journalists and other security experts familiar with the political situation in Turkey, Erdoğan could have staged the military coup himself. It is not an altogether implausible theory. Having been pushed against the wall for his inhuman treatment of journalists and political activists, the Turkish president was fast losing support among progressive circles. He was increasingly being asked to be accountable for his actions and could even have faced prosecution in the future. But, with the failed military coup, now Erdoğan has got a free hand to whip up frenzy in the name of countering insurgency and threats, plus he has managed to gain sympathy from Western leaders in a single stroke of genius.
A Turkish Redditor summed up this theory perfectly when he wrote the following.
“I feel compelled to say, however, that I don’t believe this new coup was an actual coup.”
“If it was a real coup officially organized by the Turkish military, it would have been swiftly and successfully completed before anyone issued any official statement. By the time a General went on TV to announce the military had taken over, they’d have every member of parliament and every cabinet official in jail.”
“If it was a rogue-coup organized by a small group of officers, then the rest of the military would have clamped down on it very quickly. Yet they did not. They pretty much operated completely unopposed, equipped with tanks and helicopters and fighter jets. Yet despite being unopposed, they made zero attempts to arrest cabinet and parliament members and zero attempts to communicate with the public at large. They basically just kinda marched out there with all that military hardware to do…NOTHING. They raided a bunch of news stations for theatrics, and then quietly got arrested by a severely under-equipped civilian police force that they could have almost effortlessly steamrolled through. Sorry, but I ain’t buying this story.”
“What this really looks like is an orchestrated ploy by Erdogan himself. A staged fake-coup that was meant to fail from the beginning, with some casualties for an air of authenticity, allowing him to garner some sympathy and consolidate even more power. Now you just watch in the coming weeks and months. You’re going to see Erdogan start imprisoning and executing anyone who dares criticize him. Journalists and civilians who had nothing to do with the military or any plot of coup will face his wrath. New laws will transfer even more power to the executive, completely eroding whatever little checks and balances we have left.”
We can only wait and watch to see if this theory holds up. It could be wrong, and the Turkish military coup on Friday night could have been initiated by democratic forces within the military who are getting tired of Erdoğan’s regressive regime, but the evidence at hand does not necessarily point that way.
For the theory to be proved correct, however, Erdoğan will have to keep shifting the blame for the Turkish military coup from one cleric to the other, from one military general to the other, while we would never get to know with any authenticity if some external force was responsible for Friday night’s pandemonium in the streets of Istanbul and Ankara. Meanwhile, Turkey will gradually morph into an autocratic state, where the civilian government will tend to shut off more and more channels of dissent.
And in the weeks and months to come, if there is a major — and unprecedented — crackdown on writers, artists, journalists, social and political activists, but most importantly, if there is a great purge within the ranks of the military, a large chunk of whom do not presently share their loyalty to the president of Turkey, we would have received our answer.
[Photo by Defne Karadeniz/Getty Images]

Again from theInternational New York Times:
Obama Calls Turkish and Mexican Leaders on Diplomatic Leaks
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WASHINGTON — President Obama for the first time joined in his administration’s diplomatic repair work in the wake of the disclosure of numerous American cables by WikiLeaks, calling the leaders of Turkey andMexico on Saturday in an effort to smooth things over.
Separate White House statements about the phone calls did not characterize Mr. Obama’s messages as apologies, nor would administration officials. The statement about Mr. Obama’s call to President Felipe Calderón of Mexico began by describing it as congratulatory, to praise Mexico for its work in acting as host to the just-completed Cancún conference on climate change.
But the two presidents also talked about “the deplorable actions by WikiLeaks,” the statement said, “and agreed its irresponsible acts should not distract our two countries from our important cooperation.”
Mr. Obama also called the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He “expressed his regrets for the deplorable action by WikiLeaks and the two leaders agreed that it will not influence or disrupt the close cooperation between the United States and Turkey.”
Overall the WikiLeaks disclosures of diplomatic reports between Americans in Washington and foreign capitals have been more embarrassing than revelatory or harmful to national security, officials and analysts say. Nonetheless, those dealing with Turkey, an ally straddling the West and the volatile Middle East, and Mexico, a troubled neighbor battling a corrosive drug war, illustrate the diplomatic problems created by exposing even routine communications to international light.
Publicized cables about Turkey, a member of NATO, depicted doubts about how reliable an ally the country was, given its mildly Islamist and anti-Israel government. But Mr. Obama and Mr. Erdogan “discussed the enduring importance of the U.S.-Turkish partnership and affirmed their commitment to work together on a broad range of issues,” the White House said.
As for Mexico, American diplomats in the leaked cables quoted officials there admitting pessimism about the nation’s war on drug lords even as the government publicly had boasted of progress, while other cables conveyed Americans’ criticisms of the Mexican military, police and judiciary and of public corruption in the country generally.
But, according to the White House, Mr. Obama and Mr. Calderon “reaffirmed their shared commitment to work together against transnational criminal organizations, to enhance border cooperation, and to improve the economic well-being of people in both countries.”