Erbakan aide: Foreign powers contributed to 1997 coup

October 12, 2012, Friday/ 16:54:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Recai Kutan, an aide to the former chairman of the now-defunct Welfare Party (RP) and former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, has said several foreign countries, including Israel, had a hand in the staging of the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed military intervention in Turkey.

“Feb. 28 was more organized and better planned than other coups. Countries on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and Tel Aviv contributed to the staging of the Feb. 28 coup,” Kutan stated on Friday as he testified to a parliamentary commission set up to investigate coups.

On Feb. 28, 1997, the powerful military forced a coalition government led by the RP to step down, citing increasing acts of religious fundamentalism in the country.

According to Kutan, the tradition of staging coups in Turkey began in the late years of the Ottoman Empire and continued until Feb. 28. “I hope the era of military coups is over for Turkey,” he said, adding that a lack of compromise among political parties of the time about the election of a new president contributed to the staging of Feb. 28. “Coup stagers used it [the lack of compromise] as an opportunity to stage a coup. Had political parties reached a compromise, Feb. 28 would not have occurred.”

In addition, Kutan claimed that the activities of the Aczimendi group and its leader, Müslüm Gündüz, were unjustly linked to the RP and the party was held responsible for those activities, which eventually led to the coup. The Aczimendi group and Gündüz made headlines in the run-up to the Feb. 28 coup when Gündüz was involved in a scandal that shook Turkey. He was arrested by police on Dec. 28, 1996, in a house in İstanbul, where he was found with Fadime Şahin, a 22-year-old female student. The investigation resulted in allegations by Şahin of being shared sexually among the group's leaders. The first indictment into a criminal organization known as Ergenekon claimed this scandal had been purposefully staged to incite public distrust of religious leaders.

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