US role on Feb. 28 coup under parliamentary investigation
World Bulletin / News Desk
The parliamentary Commission to Investigate Coups and Military Memorandums is due to investigate the claim that the military intervention on Feb. 28, 1997, was encouraged by the US, based on a diplomatic cable reportedly sent by then-State Secretary Warren Christopher in October 1996 to Ankara and some other US missions including those in NATO, the UN, Moscow, Athens, Beirut and Sofia.
The claim was first voiced by late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan and later by the former chairman of the Felicity Party (SP) and one of Erbakan's close companions, Recai Kutan, who announced that he has the original cable.
According to a report in the Milliyet daily, the head of the subcommission investigating the Feb. 28 intervention, Yaşar Karayel, said that following Kutan's claim they will examine the document and ask US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone whether it is authentic or not.
The cable, a Turkish copy of which was published in Milliyet, states “serious concerns of the US departments about a possible redirection of Turkish foreign policy towards the Muslim world inspired by the ideology of Prime Minister Erbakan and his government.'' Followed by a statement about the importance of Turkey's obligation to remain a key strategic partner for the US interests, the cable reads that ‘‘the Turkish Military should be forced to display more efforts in the direction to obtain such an outcome.''
The cable, which the commission requested from Kutan, is reported to have been mailed to Abdullah Gül, then the state minister in the Erbakan government. Columnist Şamil Tayyar, currently a Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy, wrote in 2010 that the cable was sent to Gül from an unidentified sender in Switzerland.
The Feb. 28, 1997 military intervention, termed “postmodern” due to its unconventional nature in Turkish politics, aimed for the removal of the elected government headed by Erbakan due to his Islamist nature with a nationwide campaign conducted by a coalition of the top echelons of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), some media members who published in accordance with the orders of generals and some major industry figures. The government, which was unable to resist the pressure raised by fabricated scandals aiming to create the sense in society that reactionary movements were on the rise, dissolved in June 1997.
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