US cable encouraging army intervention on Feb. 28 under investigation

August 17, 2012, Friday/ 15:38:00

The parliamentary Commission to Investigate Coups and Military Memorandums is due to investigate a claim that the military intervention of Feb. 28, 1997 was encouraged by the US, based on a diplomatic cable reportedly sent by then-US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, in October 1996, to Ankara and other US missions in Turkey's neighborhood.

The former chairman of the Felicity Party (SP), Recai Kutan, announced that he has the original cable. He was a colleague of the late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, whose government was the target of the intervention.

According to a report in the Milliyet daily, the head of a sub-commission 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 claim had first been voiced by Erbakan.

The cable, a copy of which was published in Turkish in Milliyet yesterday, states serious concerns on the part of the US 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 remaining a key strategic partner, the cable suggests that the Turkish military should be forced to exert more efforts in the direction of obtaining such an outcome.

The cable, which the commission requested from Kutan, is reported to have been mailed to Abdullah Gül, then a 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 by an unidentified party in Switzerland.

The Feb. 28, 1997 military intervention, termed “postmodern” due to its unconventional nature, aimed for the removal of the elected government headed by Erbakan due to his Islamist inclinations, 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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