Turkish civilians celebrate the failure of a likely CIA-inspired coup against their President Erdogan
On Friday night, a portion of the Turkish military staged an attempted coup against Erdogan's government. While there is still the possibility for further internal conflicts between the government and those who supported the coup, at this point it's over. You can read our coverage of the events related to the coup here, in the SOTT editors' commentary section. Analysts in the mainstream and alternative media are now trying to put the pieces together, asking the question: "Who's responsible?" For the most part, the answers they've given so far don't account for all the evidence.

Three main possibilities are currently on offer: 1) the Turkish government's claim that the coup was organized by Turkish exile Fethullah Gulen in collaboration with the U.S. (CIA, NATO); 2) an authentic, Turkey-based military faction (usually identified as secular Kemalists) unhappy with Erdogan's 'Islamist' policies; and 3) the "#TheaterNotCoup" meme sourced to Politico's Ryan Heath, which alleges that Erdogan planned the coup as a false-flag operation, his very own Reichstag to purge opposition and solidify his dictatorial control (unsurprisingly, Gulen supports this version). None of these options quite work. Or at the very least, if one of them is true, it is not that simple.

The fact that the coup failed shows that it wasn't very "professional". It was obviously a 'rush job' and downright sloppy. While the plotters managed to take over some state media, and most social media, they did not get all of it, allowing Erdogan to appeal to the masses via FaceTime on CNN Turk. They failed to get public support by presenting a public face. They took a few key personnel hostage, bombed Parliament, but failed to detain those leaders who really mattered. These facts don't necessarily point to one particular scenario. Due to the nature of compartmentalization, it is difficult to assign blame simply based on the course of events during the coup.

For example, the coup would have proceeded pretty much the same way whether the organizers were strictly Turkish, or whether they were being guided by American 'advisors'. And even if there weren't any American advisors, a Gulenist fifth column could have been acting in the interests of the CIA, and with their blessing, but without any direct support. The result would be the same. If the accounts of the low-level military personnel involved are to be believed, they were told they were engaging in military exercises, not an actual coup. If true, it just demonstrates that such a plan can be put into operation with only a very few knowing all details, and they can be directed from anywhere. So we have to look elsewhere if we want to determine the most likely culprits.

Erdogan is the most obvious beneficiary, but only due to the coup's failure. It gives his government the opportunity to purge either a real fifth column, or anyone they perceive as a threat. But while suggestive, it does not mean or even imply that Erdogan planned the coup. The fact that it failed does not mean that it was intended to fail. The U.S. and Gulen surely had a motive, and would have benefited if the coup had succeeded. Plus, since the Turkish military is essentially a NATO military, it's unlikely a coup could be planned without the U.S. knowing about it. But to make that clear, we need to look at a timeline of some pre- and post-coup events, as well as some historical context.

I recommend checking out past coverage on Turkey and Erdogan from Sibel Edmonds and other writers from Newsbud/Boiling Frogs Post. For example, see her article on the shift from darling of democracy to corrupt dictator in the West's media coverage of Erdogan beginning in 2013 (plus her interviews with James Corbett here and here). Also, some BFP background on Gulen here and here. (Also check out Gladio-linked Graham Fuller's piece here, which contains some suggestive insights.) In a nutshell: First, there is a fairly large CIA/NATO/Gulenist fifth column within the Turkish deep state. It's not simply Erdogan's paranoia. Second, while Erdogan may have followed certain NATO orders (e.g., involvement with the West's regime change policy for Syria), he was anything but a total American puppet. A few years ago he showed signs of strengthening ties to China, Russia, and the wider Middle East, even going so far as saying to Putin, "You tease us, saying, 'what [is Turkey] doing in the EU?' Now I tease you: Include us in the Shanghai Five and we will forget about the EU." Third, Gulen has been integral in the U.S./NATO's jihadi mercenary proxy warfare since the mid-90s, helping to recruit and train terrorists for use in the Balkans, Chechnya, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and now, Iraq/Libya/Syria.

With that in mind, consider the following events:

In March of this year, the anti-Erdogan rhetoric coming out of the U.S. went into overdrive, culminating in a barrage of neocon condemnations of Erdogan. Prior to the neocons' sentence of death (i.e., their open letter calling for Turkey to become a "vibrant and stable democracy"), rumors began to be floated about a military coup in the works, which the military naturally denied. Neocon Michael Rubin penned an article on the 'hypothetical' possibility and prospects of a military coup in Turkey, 'predicting' that Turkey would not receive U.S. support. And on the same day as the letter (March 30), the U.S. Department of Defense ordered the evacuation of U.S. military families (some 670 family members out of the 770 in Turkey at the time) from Adana, Izmir, Mugla, and Incirlik air base, citing "security concerns". The State Department also evacuated diplomats' family members.

Erdogan may seem a tad unhinged at times, but I presume that he's not an idiot. Any world leader on the receiving end of a 'PNAC letter' would get the message. And if he hadn't already been informed of the coup brewing, he would be motivated to look into it at this point. That was four months ago, and during that time it appears to have been business as usual, with regular media reports of Turkish support for terrorists in Syria, crackdown on Turkey's Kurdish population, jailing of journalists, etc. I think there was a red line that Erdogan knew he couldn't cross if he wanted to stay alive and in power. My guess is that it was to continue to allow Turkey to be used as a middleman for the U.S.'s support of terrorist groups in Syria.

But things changed suddenly and dramatically on June 27, when Erdogan apologized to Russia for the jet shoot-down that caused a rift in Turkish-Russian relations (see my analysis here). That was followed almost immediately by the Istanbul airport attacks, which seem to me to have been a message to Erdogan not to align too closely with Russia and Syria - the same thing that had gotten Erdogan in trouble three years before. Keeping in mind that not much can be done in 2.5 weeks - especially considering the entrenchment of a NATO-aligned fifth column in one's country - it does appear to me that Erdogan was genuine about realigning Turkey's foreign policy in a saner direction, at least in the short term, which would necessitate cracking down on covert support of terrorists in Syria by Turkey's deep state actors. So I think the U.S. had the clearest motive to stage a coup at this particular time. Erdogan finally went too far.

But how does this account for the specifics of the coup attempt? It's safe to say that Erdogan knew the coup was coming and had time to prepare for that eventuality. He said as much on TV. See these two tweets, courtesy Moon of Alabama:
7:47 PM - 17 Jul 2016 Mahir Zeynalov @MahirZeynalov

Erdogan acknowledges they knew about a "military activity" at least 7-10 hours before the coup vid

9:34am 18 Jul 2016 Borzou Daragahi @borzou

Turkey official: "Gulenists in military under investigation for some time. Group acted out of emergency when realized under investigation"
Those seeing the coup as an Erdogan false flag point out the swiftness with which thousands were detained after the coup's failure. But this is understandable. Erdogan has been going after this fifth column for years and no doubt had the lists already drawn up. He would've continued doing so with or without the coup. There were actually signs, like the second tweet above, that he was planning a major investigation of the very same parties who went on to stage the coup attempt. Two more suggestive tweets:
6:32 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Ragıp Soylu @ragipsoylu

Journalist @sahmetsahmet says police was to arrest coup leaders yesterday before they mobilise, that led the coup pic.twitter.com/UdXViNUf1V

9:15 AM - 16 Jul 2016 Asaf Ronel @AsafRonel

there's a report saying a anti-Gulen operation was in final stages & ignited the coup attempt - the lists were ready
Katehon writes:
An important factor which incited the conspirators to decisive action was the previous disclosure of Gülen's network of supporters in the armed forces of Turkey. A week earlier, an investigation began on most of the participants of the mutiny mainly involving middle-level officers in the Air Force and Gendarmerie. They were accused of creating a parallel structure tied to Gülen and thus to his American curators. US intelligence agencies gave the green light to a coup in order to prevent the effective liquidation of their networks. ...

The Turkish Air Force is the most pro-US branch of the Turkish military. The coup attempt also reveals the existence of Gulen's network in the Air Force responsible for ruining Russian-Turkish relations, as Katehon explained earlier. According to Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek, among those military men who organized the mutiny "was the man who was involved in the incident with the Russian Su-24." According to some sources, the the pilot was a member of the "gang" of Fethullah Gulen, known as the "parallel state."
I think the best analyses so far have been coming from Katehon, Andrew Korybko, and Sibel Edmonds (the Saker has a decent analysis too). There's only one main point on which I'd disagree with Edmonds: I don't think this was planned as a dry run for another, bigger coup in the future. I think the coup plotters' hand was forced, they jumped the gun, assumed they'd have the support they needed, and it all went pear-shaped. If Erdogan's government succeeds in purging the military, government and judicial systems of the NATO-aligned Gulenists, who will the CIA/NATO rely on to effect the real coup some time in the future? It doesn't make sense to expose your agents in a 'practice run'.

Here's what I think is the most plausible scenario: Rumors of a coup were brewing since March. Erdogan, probably in response, was already in the process of planning and carrying out a purge of the fifth columnists using intelligence sourced either from his own network, or with help from foreign nations (Russia seems likely). Risking immediate exposure, the coup was put into effect prematurely, causing it to fail. Not only was Erdogan prepared for it, the plotters weren't able to get all their ducks in a row. To add insult to injury, the fact that the attempt took place now gives Erdogan the justification to do exactly what he was planning on doing, perhaps more. Korybko writes:
Erdogan didn't need a "false flag coup" to continue with this years'-long and drawn-out agenda, though it did admittedly accelerate his plans. In arguing against the "false flag coup" theory, it's relevant to bear in mind that Erdogan is the consummate politician and never misses a chance to exploit a crisis to his benefit. After the re-establishment of his power in the wake of the failed coup, Erdogan saw an unprecedented moment to take out all of his enemies in one fell swoop, which is exactly what he's in the process of doing right now.
If anything, the aftermath of the coup just reinforces the idea that this was a U.S.-backed coup. I can't think of a good reason why Turkey would deliberately put itself essentially on a war footing with the most aggressive and dangerous nation on Earth, the USA, if it did not actually have a hand in the coup. (Just like I don't think they intentionally put themselves on a war footing with Russia by downing the jet; the bloody knife was figuratively placed in their hand.) Having now implicated the U.S., if Erdogan and his government are smart, they will remove all the Gulenists and do what Assad has done: closely align themselves with Russia (and China). With the integrated fifth column removed, they'll have to plan for the color revolution strategy and other hybrid warfare assaults for daring to 'betray' their masters.

Update on events

Since our last update, here's what's happened: Asya bank, tied to Gulen, has had its activities suspended. Government officials have been restricted from traveling abroad. Germany is threatening to withdraw its troops from Incirlik (Turkey has blocked access of German lawmakers). EU foreign ministers are expressing "concern" over the crackdown, still worried about their migrant deal with Turkey and hinting that EU accession is not guaranteed. Kerry went so far as to threaten expulsion from NATO (umm, yes please?): "NATO also has a requirement with respect to democracy," he said. "Obviously a lot of people have been arrested, and arrested very quickly. The level of vigilance and scrutiny is obviously going to be significant in the days ahead." Prepare for unanimous condemnation of every action Turkey takes from now on (some deserved, some not, all based on double standards). In contrast, Iranian president Rouhani has praised Erdogan for restoring stability, calling the coup a "test for detecting both domestic and foreign friends and enemies", and pledging to "stand by the government of the people of Turkey."

For it's part, Turkey is not backing down. PM Yildirim slapped Kerry back with this: "I am telling the US leadership - there is a global threat here, an attempt to oust the lawful government, directions to destroy the will of the people in the country, there is no religion or cultural values here. What other proof do they need? If, despite this, they will continue demanding evidence, then I apologise but we shall be very disappointed and the need to reconsider our relations may enter our agenda," Yildirim told a government session.

The Greek court hearing against the 8 soldiers seeking asylum there is adjourned for 3 days, giving them the opportunity to prepare their case while in custody. Saudi Arabia has arrested a Turkish military attache to Kuwait (Mikail Gullu) at the request of the Turks. "He was stopped based on a Turkish request and was detained during his attempt to flee over his likely links to the coup in Turkey." Saudi sources say he was headed for Dusseldorf, Germany, via Amsterdam. The deputy mayor of an Istanbul district, Cemil Candas, was shot in the head and is in critical condition. It's unclear who shot him and why.

Ex air force commander Akin Ozturk, accused of masterminding the coup, was first quoted as admitting to his involvement. But this was closely followed by a denial: "I am not the organizer of the military coup. I had no information about who is the organizer of the coup attempt. I have to attend the wedding of the daughter of my friend. But this morning I was in Izmir, I had some business with the notary. I can prove it," he told the prosecutor. The detained commander of Incirlik, Bekir Ercan Van, reportedly approached the Americans seeking asylum, but was refused. Big surprise.

So far, 7,542 people have been detained for involvement in the coup, 316 of them arrested. Thirty governors, 47 local governors, 7,899 police officers, 631 gendarme officers, 2,745 judges, 1,500 Finance Ministry employees, and 8,777 Interior Ministry officials have been dismissed. This amounts to a figurative evisceration of the power structures in Turkey!

Additionally:
The Higher Education Board announced an upcoming "cleaning" at schools and universities. Twenty independent Turkish news sites have been closed. Businessmen and bankers not in line with Erdogan are next. The lists used for these wide purges must have been prepared well ahead of the coup.

3,000 soldiers, conscripts ordered to take part in the coup but also many high officers were imprisoned. These include 103 generals and admirals, many of whom had not taken part in the coup but explicitly spoke out against it. More high officers were relieved of duty. All major units of the Turkish military have lost some of their top commanders.
Erdogan gave a speech today, which he cut off after breaking into tears and in which he said:
"We march in our funeral shrouds, and we will deal with these assassins, this cult, these followers of Fethullah," said Erdoğan on Sunday at a funeral held for those who died in the recent coup. ... At this point, Erdogan broke down into tears and was forced to cancel the reset of his speech, but earlier he vowed to rid Turkish institutions of Gülen's followers. He also claimed that "Gülen group" had infected the armed forces, and vowed to "clean all state institutions of the virus."
It may be shocking, but it seems to me it's the only way to purge one's country of a foreign-backed fifth column. It's either that, or allow your nation to be run from abroad.