Turkey’s Minister of the Interior has accused the US of being behind the 2016 failed coup that Ankara has blamed on a Pennsylvania-based Muslim preacher and businessman, Hurriyet has reported.
Suleyman Soylu told the Turkish daily that the US managed the coup attempt while Fethullah Gülen’s network carried it out on Washington’s orders. In a prompt response, the US State Department called Soylu’s allegation “unfounded and irresponsible”. “The United States had no involvement in the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey and promptly condemned it,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said late yesterday in a statement. “Recent assertions to the contrary made by senior Turkish officials are wholly false.”
The US has long refused to extradite Gülen, whose movement is designated as a terrorist organisation by the Turkish authorities. The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the movement for the coup attempt in July 2016, during which 251 people were killed and thousands more were wounded. Fethullah Gülen has been in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999.
This is one of two major issues which has helped to sour relations between NATO allies Turkey and the US. The other is America’s controversial support for the Kurdish YPG in Syria, which Turkey says is linked to the PKK, a designated terrorist organisation in Turkey as well as the EU, Japan, Australia and the US itself.