Turkey’s Defense Minister and former Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar led the Pentagon to believe that the Turkish military might act against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in order to stop the NATO member’s slide from the alliance when he was in fact coordinating closely with the president in crafting the misleading back-channel messages to the US Department of Defense.
According to the testimony of Col. Orhan Yıkılkan, who served as chief advisor to Akar and had worked with him for years, the top commander was clearly hinting in his private messages to US officials that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) was intent on taking the reins of government when necessary. The message was conveyed when the Erdoğan government was showing a lackluster performance in cracking down on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria amid a growing debate on Turkey’s change of axis in its foreign policy away from the transatlantic alliance under an Islamist president who had increasingly alienated Turkey’s NATO allies.
With direct and secret orders from Akar, a special communication channel was set up with the team of then-US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter through the Turkish military attaché, Brig. Gen. Yavuz Çelik, in Washington, D.C. Çelik’s designation as message carrier was made after Yıkılkan informed Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar that the US Defense Department had set up in November 2015 a five-member working group to study Turkey, develop policies and report to Carter with options on what to do with Erdoğan’s Turkey.
Akar summoned Çelik to Ankara and had a meeting with him at General Staff headquarters at the end of December 2015 or in the beginning of January 2016. “Now this TSK attaché started sending me a report every day to be presented to the chief of general staff. I mean, every single day after this meeting,” Yıkılkan recalled. Military attachés have a separate department at the General Staff, and the reports are supposed to be rerouted through this department for presentation in summary format to the chief of general staff. However, Akar bypassed the standard operating procedures and instructed the attaché in DC to report directly to his aide.
One of the team members who worked for Carter asked a very specific question to the Turkish military attaché, knowing that the response would be provided by Akar himself. “He [Carter’s aide, identified as De Soto] said the current government is pushing Turkey away from the values of the republic founded by Ataturk day by day. In parallel to this, he said, Turkey is moving away from the United States and Western values. Will the TSK take a position on this, and what will it do? What would the attitude of Hulusi Akar and the Armed Forces be in such a situation if this situation continues and Turkey further distances itself from the founding values of the republic? That was the question,” Yıkılkan explained in court.
Court transcript of Col. Orhan Yıkılkan’s testimony revealed that Turkey’s top commander set up a back channel with the US Department of Defense and sent misleading messages:
He added that the military attaché, responding to this question on behalf of Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar, conveyed the following message: The Turkish Armed Forces relies on the most fundamental values of the republic founded by Ataturk. It is also uneasy about the fact that the current government has distanced the country from the values of the republic. If this government takes this any further, if the [principle of] secularism and the rule of law enshrined in the constitution are violated, the Turkish Armed Forces, led by Gen. Hulusi Akar, will not allow such a situation and will intervene.
The message to the Pentagon officials was crystal clear, and assurances were given to the US that Akar would intervene in the government. The message was approved by Akar himself, Yıkılkan emphasized. “Otherwise that man [the military attaché] could not stay even one more day in his job,” he added. Interestingly, after sending this message to the Pentagon, the next day Akar went to the presidential palace to talk to Erdoğan, Yıkılkan remembered, stressing that President Erdoğan was perhaps aware of all this back-channel communication. The messaging took place in April 2016, three months before a failed coup that was believed by many to be a false flag operation orchestrated by President Erdoğan, his military chief Akar and his intelligence chief Hakan Fidan for political gain.
Yıkılkan said all reports and documents about Akar’s traffic including his meeting with the military attaché and secret messages to the US officials were recorded on his computer kept at General Staff headquarters. The computer was seized by the police when he was detained on July 16, 2016 on charges of alleged involvement in the putschist attempt. A technical analysis of the computer mysteriously showed that 52 days of work were somehow erased from his computer, which meant the records about the private and confidential affairs of Akar were destroyed. However, Yıkılkan pointed out that reports about Akar’s messages to the Pentagon could still be found in files that were older than 52 days.
Yıkılkan noticed frequent contacts with Akar’s office and Pentagon officials, especially around the time when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford testified to the US Senate Armed Services Committee during which time the topic of Turkey and military-to-military ties came up.
Yet in the meantime, Akar, under the president’s directives, had been working with the anti-US neo-nationalist (ulusalci) group and Erdoğan-aligned Islamists to orchestrate a fake coup in order to launch a massive and unprecedented purge of NATO officers from the alliance’s second largest army in terms of manpower. In fact, Çelik, the military attaché in DC who was used by Akar to send misleading messages to US officials, was among those who were detained and imprisoned on dubious charges.
Nordic Monitor previously published secret documents that revealed how generals and admirals who served abroad at critical NATO posts as well as liaison officers and attachés at diplomatic missions in ally nations were profiled for a purge.
According to the classified documents that listed the names of purged and/or jailed generals and admirals, serving in NATO missions or posts in NATO countries was sufficient reason to red flag senior commanders for abrupt dismissal without any military, administrative or judicial investigation and later subject them to a witch-hunt prosecution.
The documents confirm the hidden agenda of the Erdoğan government in getting rid of pro-NATO commanders from the Turkish army. Some 70 percent of all flag officers have been dismissed, jailed or forced into retirement since 2016 irrespective of their alleged involvement in the 2016 failed coup.
During the abortive putsch, Akar claimed he was taken hostage; however, evidence has emerged showing that he made up the story about his abduction.
A major blunder the planners of the false flag made was to list events that took place in the early hours of July 16 before they actually occurred, confirming that the intelligence agency had planned several incidents to make the coup attempt appear real.
According to an official document written by Ankara public prosecutor Serdar Coşkun, who drafted indictments in coup trials, the events that unfolded on that night were known by Turkish authorities in advance. The document was dated July 16 and time-stamped at 1 a.m., three hours after the coup attempt began to unfold. Yet, the document mentioned events that took place after 1 a.m., which can only confirm that those events were actually planned in advance by operatives of the Erdoğan government, not the putschists. It also laid bare the fact that Turkish intelligence agency MIT wanted more bloodshed in the chaotic events.
For instance, the document mentioned the bombing of the Turkish Parliament by warplanes and stated that people were killed. In reality there were two explosions in the parliament, one at 2:35 a.m., and a second at 3:24 a.m. Nobody was killed, and it was not entirely clear that the explosion was actually caused by a bomb dropped from a plane. The damage suggested that explosives planted on the site were used to blow up sections of the parliament building.