The European Union intelligence had found that the failed coup attempt on July 15 was in response to an incoming purge in the military, and dismissed Ankara’s claim that a U.S.-based cleric was the mastermind of the plot and instead pointed to a coalition of forces in the military as the primary culprit.
The Aug. 24, 2016 classified European intelligence document, reported by The Times, said it is likely that a group of officers comprising “Gulenists, Kemalists, opponents of the ruling AKP and opportunists” was behind the coup. It is unlikely that Mr. Gulen himself played a role in the attempt, the report claimed.
At least 271 people, most of them civilians, were killed in July 15 failed coup attempt, prompting a massive crackdown on the military, media, civil society and non-loyalist bureaucrats. At least 105,000 have been detained on coup charges since then and 136,000 bureaucrats were dismissed from their jobs.
The EU intel report deals a blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s claim that Gulenist officers, at the order from Mr. Gulen, plotted the coup against him last summer. Mr. Gulen denies the allegations. The report said the coup was just a catalyst for the crackdown prepared in advance.
The report said although Gulenists spent decades to place their sympathizers in senior positions in the police and judiciary “to influence the situation in the country,” circumstances had changed since Mr. Erdogan launched purges of the police and bureaucracy in 2014.
The intelligence report said Mr. Gulen’s followers were weak in the Turkish army and that it remained a bastion of secularism until last July.
“It is unlikely Gülen really had the abilities and capacities to take such steps. There is no evidence that the army, [which] considers itself as the guardian of Turkey as a secular state, and the Gülenists were willing to co-operate with each other to oust Erdogan. The Gülen movement is very disconnected and somewhat distant from the secular opposition and Turkish army,” The Times quoted the report as saying.
The EU intelligence agencies agreed, according to the report, that the Turkish authorities were preparing to purge non-loyalists in the army en masse before the coup, drawing in secular opposition and consolidated sections in the military opposed to Mr. Erdogan. The plotting officers were also opposed to Mr. Erdogan’s policies to tolerate the Kurdish rebel group PKK and his interventionist policies in Syria.
Weeks after the failed military coup attempt followed by purges, the Turkish military was ordered into Syria, and is now facing an uphill battle to capture the town of al-Bab. At least 50 Turkish troops were killed during the 6-month war in northern Syria.
Shortly after the failed putsch, 6,325 military officers, including 168 generals, were arrested, according to the Turkish Interior Ministry. Most of the arrests were from Air Force — more than half of Turkish jet pilots were put behind bars, crippling the air force.
The European intel report noted that Mr. Erdogan exploited the failed coup and the state of emergency to launch an extensive repressive campaign against the opponents of the AKP establishment.