According to reports out of Turkey, military forces in Ankara have seized control of the government from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. U.S. media is reporting that American officials were surprised by the development  and had no information about Turkey, a key NATO allied that lies astride the Bosporus: the entry to the Black Sea. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he did not know about the coup. Erdogan was not in the capital at the time.

President Erdogan reportedly sought asylum in Germany after the coup. However, his plane was denied landing rights in Germany. According to Reuters, the U.S. government is not certain whether the government or insurgents have the upper hand. The military has imposed martial and claims to have the upper hand. 

Turkey's military released a statement that was read out by a news anchor on TRT television to the effect that it had taken action “to reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for the law and order to be reinstated,” according to the Dogan news agency. "All international agreements and commitments will remain," the military declared." We pledge that good relations with all world countries will continue.”

The statement was issued in the name of a so-called "peace council," according to a local resident.

Erdogan himself, and Turkey’s Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ said today that followers in the military of the U.S.-based imam, Fethullah Gulen – whose organization and members have donated heavily to Hillary Clinton’s foundation – were behind the coup d’etat. The Gulen movement, also known as Hizmet, is a political and religious organization that is influential in education and media. Numerous members have been imprisoned by Turkish authorities. The Turkish government, under President Erdogan, calls it the Gulenist Terrorist Organization.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, said of the coup, “Those who are doing this will be punished in the hardest way.” He added that several key buildings were blocked, while police were placed on alert. He said that the police were loyal to the government and would retaliate. Of those who were against the government, Yildrim said, “We will understand who they are and their purpose soon and will do what is needed. Our nation should keep calm. We will never tolerate such illegal activities that interrupt democracy."

Gunfire was heard at the General Staff headquarters in Ankara as reports came in that a helicopter gunship was firing on men outside the building. According to the Anadolu news agency, the military chief of staff was taken into custody by soldiers supporting the coup. There are reports that there was an explosion at the headquarters of the state-run television agency.

Connections between Hillary Clinton and the followers of Imam Fethullah Gulen have been highlighted in emails revealed by Judicial Watch. President Erdoğan has long opposed Gulen and his Gulenists, despite having was once been allied with Gulen, even personally asked President Barack Obama to extradite the 74-year-old imam, who has lived in a secure compound in Pennsylvania since 1999. Gulen fled Turkey when he was accused of undermining the Turkish government.

Daily Caller alleges that Gulen controls several Turkish institutions, including courts, police forces, and media outlets.

Fox News contributor Richard Grenell, who served on Mitt Romney's failed presidential campaign, opined on Twitter that reporters are "getting Turkey wrong," and asserted that Erdogan had been "scaring" the military generals who are "(mostly) secular."

An email from 2009, released by Judicial Watch, provides an example of the access provided to a donor to the Clinton campaign and Clinton Foundation, while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State. Gokhan Ozkok, a Gulen follower, wrote in April 1, 2009, to ask for connections to Obama. Ozkok is founding board member of the Turkish Cultural Center, which is among the businesses and non-profits affiliated with the Gulen movement, also known as Hizmet. As a U.S. Senator, Clinton spoke at an event at the Turkish Cultural Center in September 2007.

Fethullah Gulen

There are other connections between Clinton and the Gulen movement. Ozkok served as national finance co-chair of the pro-Clinton Ready PAC, and contributed $10,000 to the committee in 2014 and $2,700 to Clinton’s campaign last year, according to Daily Caller.

On the website of the Turkish Cultural Center, he is listed as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, one of the non-profit arms of the Clinton Foundation. He’s given between $25,000 and $50,000 to the Clinton charity.

Another link between Gulenists and Clinton came in the form of a disclosure of a lobbying group that was registering with the Senate. The Alliance for Shared Values, which is Gulen-affiliated, hired the Clinton-connected Podesta Group to lobby Congress on its behalf to promote “peace, tolerance and interfaith dialogue.” Executive Director Alp Aslandogan of the Alliance was once a professor at several universities in Texas. He also contributed to Clinton’s political campaigns.



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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