Which United States?

By: Sinem Köseoğlu*

He said that they will support the efforts of the Turkish government to bring the perpetrators to justice, and there are already some initiatives on this issue. He told that the cooperation against the security problems Turkey, USA, and the allies are facing will continue. He emphasized that in fact, two days before the coup they held a meeting with two of our ministers on the fight against terrorism, and this was the second meeting after the attack on Ataturk Airport.

He briefly conveyed what happened at the US Embassy on the night of July 15. John Bass had returned to Ankara from Istanbul with the 7:00 pm flight. By 11:00 pm, they had rushed to the embassy, and around 11:00-11:15 pm, an official from the Turkish foreign affairs had called him and told him that the things he had been hearing [regarding the jets, gunfire, conflict, etc.] were an illegal coup attempt and the government was not involved, and asked him to relay this message from the Turkish government to Washington for their support. (On this extraordinary night, written information was probably passed 1-2 hours later) Ambassador had passed this information to his head office as it was.

In short, John Bass is saying, “We have repeatedly condemned the coup attempt, and we did not know about anything. Why do you still think we are part of this coup attempt?” As a diplomat, he carried out his duty from his perspective. But from Turkey’s side, there are problems and serious black holes. Let’s talk so that our ally can switch to an ‘understands’ mode from a ‘trying to understand’ mode.


Mr. Ambassador, as mentioned above, emphasizes that they were completely unaware of the coup attempt. He even says, “İncirlik base is not a base that belongs to us. We merely operate in that base. We do not have any presence in Malatya base, and we have very little presence in Diyarbakır base.” At this point, I am copying this passage from my article last week, and pasting it here exactly as it is:

Forget the details… CIA, NSA, and DIA (American military intelligence) knows who, when, and in which bathroom stall has flushed the toilet (please excuse the expression, but it is necessary). We all agree on that, don’t we? Especially when one third of B61 hydrogen bombs of NATO (roughly 60 bombs) are in this base! So, do you think that the cliques of the organization, which has surrendered its strings to all non-national owners, within TSK (Turkish Armed Forces) could have embarked on such a thing at the expense of jeopardizing the base, without the masters of İncirlik knowing? I can hear you all saying ‘no’, that’s that…

Dear USA, if you have no information of all these developments in a base that is so critical for USA since flight periods are out of normal, it means you are already in trouble. While we are criticizing our national intelligence agency, even though it prevented this bloody coup from having more severe costs, it fared ill that you pretended not to have heard. Especially when you have an intelligence agency that even listens to squeaks of cicadas. Therefore, Turkey will continue to ask, and to question. The right thing is, USA should pull its intelligence agency’s ear.


A point that the ambassador frequently emphasized in his speech was that legal and judicial system’s of the two countries were different from one another, and the processes were handled differently. Actually, the key stone of Gülen’s return process is American legal system. It is the American legal system that does not issues a green card to Gülen until all the way to 2008, but then issuing it after ‘serious reference letters’ coming from the CIA. Though, even if Obama says ‘Extradite Gülen to Turkey’ today, we may face a very long process. However, an important detail for the bureaucrats that are following this subject is this: If any of the evidence related to a legal matter in dispute, is much debated publicly before the judicial process, American judges can count this evidence as unacceptable.

We can not get a satisfactory answer with regard to Gulen’s extradition and the proposed commission of inquiry. Because Bass states that there is no exceptional situation regarding the extradition of criminals. However, my personal opinion is that they have stepped back from this commission proposal.

Stating that ‘Turks thinking USA played a role in this coup and Americans are now starting to become afraid to come to Turkey is saddening’, Bass tells that the charter schools that the organization holds may be closed if evidence is found.  Though, the fact that an FBI investigation on these schools in 4 American states is still ongoing is concrete evidence of some corruption.


On the other hand, the Ambassador had some ‘recommendations’… Suggesting to mingle with the resident foreign press in Turkey, describe yourself… He also expressed his sadness that the victory of Turkish people did not find enough space in the foreign press. However, yesterday, articles with quite an attitude against Turkey were published in two of America’s most widely read newspapers, New York Times and Wall Street Journal Post. New York Times claimed that the evidence against Gülen was inadequate, and used the expression, ‘They have reminded the Turks that Gülen has legal rights since he is in the US, the Ministry of Justice must follow a through process before making the extradition decision, and in particular, there was evidence of torture based on received reports. Turkey should put conspiracy theories aside and must find the truth behind this coup attempt.’

On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal claimed “that the US authorities did not find the evidence sent by Ankara convincing, and were concerned about the threatening statements made by Turkish authorities”. Subsequently, a US official making a statement to us denied the news of Wall Street as follows:

“Today we saw the news published on the WSJ and claiming that Gülen will not be extradited. This article is based on an anonymous source. It does not reflect the official policy of USA on this matter. Whoever made this statement, is not talking about our true position. We have a serious attitude about investigation of this matter; consequently, a group of technical experts from Turkey will travel to the USA to investigate the subject. The news in question should not be taken seriously; because it is not reliable. As US officials repeatedly voiced, and Ambassador Bass mentioned yesterday, we are focused on cooperating with Turkish authorities and helping them to bring the perpetrators to justice.”


USA is reproaching Turkey, but unfortunately, its own media’s biased attitude and ambiguous, open-ended declarations of its officials serve to reinforce the anti-American perception in Turkey’s public opinion, as if this is what they prefer.  Though it might be better to call this an anti-Washington perception because it is obvious that Turkish public is not making any accusations against the American public, but rather making accusations against the political and bureaucratic mechanisms. However, statements coming from USA seem to be disproving each other.

Then, we should not hesitate to ask this question: Which USA is our ally and friend, and which USA is Gülen’s friend? Washington urgently needs to make this distinction. Because I can not help ask this question as well: If Usame bin Laden had residence and work permit in Turkey and we prolonged the situation by saying ‘our legal system is like this, and like that’, would you get bombs raining on our heads, or would you wait for the commission of inquiry? What Gülen’s done is obvious, he killed hundreds of our people, and he led this massacre from your lands. He put the safety of our people, our country in danger. Does Washington, daring to interfere with the other end of the world by saying ‘our priority is the safety of the American people‘, think that lives of Turkish citizens are cheaper than American citizens?

And we need to know… Which United States are we speaking to? Which one is speaking, which one is implementing?


*Sinem Köseoğlu is a Turkish columnist. She writes for Yeni Şafak Turkısh newspaper.

(Published in Yeni Şafak in Turkish on Saturday, August 6, 2016, and translated for MEO)