Asserting the July 15 incident was not a military coup attempt, Rear Admiral Mustafa Zeki Uğurlu said, “None of what was perpetuated that night indicated a coup attempt. I mean, if one wishes a coup to fail, they plan something like this.”
Terming the July 15 coup attempt as a “diabolical scheme”, Rear Admiral Mustafa Zeki Uğurlu, said the perpetrators of the July 15 events had planned every second, considering myriad alternatives. Uğurlu said, “It would not matter if my fellow soldiers had locked themselves in their homes that night or gone out on the streets to protest the coup attempt or even chanted praises in mosques, or evacuated the headquarters and discharged everyone, they would not have been able to prevent what happened. You know, as they say in the Navy, let your seas be calm and your winds be fair, let there be no sailing condition to hinder or endanger your navigation and let your enemies be brave… Unfortunately, we were dealt with the craven.”
Reminding how the Ottoman Empire entered the World War 1 in 1914 after the German battleships Goeben and Breslau slipped across the Dardanelles and, hoisting the Ottoman flag, sailed to the Black Sea to bombard Russian ports, Uğurlu said, “That night, the perpetrators hoisted false flags and false banners like Goeben and Breslau. Unfortunately, our nation mistook them for Turkish battleships Yavuz and Midilli. They carried out bloody operations in several locations like as Marmaris, Akıncılar Airforce Base, Bosporus Bridge, Turkish Grand National Assembly, and the Special Forces Command.”
Rear Admiral Mustafa Zeki Uğurlu, who was dismissed from military service via a statutory decree on July 27, 2016, despite being on duty in the United States on July 15, answered the questions of the dismissed naval staff officers on the YouTube channel, Alesta. Uğurlu made striking assessments on the July 15 coup attempt.
The highlights from Rear Admiral Mustafa Zeki Uğurlu’s statements are:
“I was in Norfolk, USA on July 15. I was stationed at the NATO-ACT (Allied Command Transformation) headquarters. We were on an intensive routine and would hold three or four meetings every day, mostly I used to preside over those meetings. We were at a meeting back then. When we left the meeting, an associate conveyed some updates about strange things happening in Turkey, that the Turkish Armed Forces had carried out a coup d’état, and that the Bosporus Bridge was closed to traffic. I was surprised as I walked to my office and frankly, I did not find the attempt very convincing due to the contradictions in its delivery. I also thought if something like that had been planned, as the most senior Turkish military officer in the US, they should have informed me at first. I immediately tried to reach the Chief of the General Staff, my Force Commander, my batch-mates and my daughter in Istanbul, but it was impossible. It was complete chaos in Turkey. I remembered checking the Istanbul traffic on the Google Maps. Indeed, the Bosporus bridge and all the roads leading there were red.
“NONE OF WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT DENOTED A COUP ATTEMPT”
Actually, when compared to the previous coups in Turkey, there didn’t seem much movement from my military viewpoint. Divisions and brigades were immobile in Thrace, in the Southeast and across Anatolia. Likewise, no news arrived from the Field Commands. Some unusual, simple and serially strange events incompatible with military doctrines and norms kept on happening. None of what happened that night denoted a coup attempt.
IF YOU WISH TO GUARANTEE THE FAILURE OF A COUP, YOU PLAN SUCH
I mean, if you wish a coup to fail, you conduct it in an evening when everyone is on the streets. If you wish to guarantee this failure, you close the Bosporus Bridge to traffic in a metropolis like Istanbul, or you hand 13-year-old cadets’ guns without bullets… or if you wish to lose the sympathy of the people and to provoke and instigate them into resistance, you bomb the national assembly. If you wish to fail, you do not touch political figures and do not impose a serious restriction on the press. What happened that evening was not the style of those smart and experienced generals and admirals I’ve known for years. I know many and worked with some. Many had also received trainings abroad. Probably, they had participated in or planned dozens of peace support operations, war games and joint exercises. They were the military personnel who prepared and periodically updated the actual operational plans of the Turkish Armed Forces. They were commanders in the corps and garrisons that night, and they were stationed on critical missions. They did not have such limited units under their control; they had aircraft squadrons, battleship fleets, armored units, battle tanks, and fighter helicopters. Had they planned or wished to stage a coup, they would not have done and would have planned none of what happened that night.
THEY HAD MANUALLY ADDED MY NAME ON THE PROFILING LIST
That night passed like that… and then, as you know, the historic witch-hunt began. About two weeks later, I learned from the press, like many of my associates, that I had been dismissed from the military service via the Statutory Decree No. 668 without asking me anything or notifying me with anything. Interestingly, months later, I saw my name written by hand on an Excel spreadsheet printout included as a profiling list in court records. So, I had been one of those profiled in the last minute to be dismissed. In the days that followed, 80 percent of my associates who served with me at the NATO Headquarters shared the same fate. There were even some who had been appointed in our places and started to work abroad. They were summoned to Turkey and arrested immediately. Now you know, the authorities harass young cadets who had been in their early teens back in July 2016.
In 1914, Ottoman flags were hoisted on the German battleships Goeben and Breslau, and the ships were dispatched to the Black Sea to bombard the Russian ports such as Odessa and Sevastopol. This led the Ottomans to enter the First World War. In the same way, a group of accomplishes in vile interests, using the state means, hoisted false flags and false banners, just like the battleships Goeben and Breslau. Unfortunately, our nation mistook them for the Turkish battleships Yavuz and Midilli. They carried out bloody operations in several locations like Marmaris, Akıncılar Air Force Base, Bosporus Bridge, Turkish Grand National Assembly and the Special Forces Command.
EVERYONE, INCLUDING THE OPPOSITION, MADE TO BELIEVE IN THE IMPOSED STORY OF THE COUP
That evening and afterwards, we encountered a relentless perception management operation. Despite hundreds of contradictions, some of our associates unfortunately believed or had to pretend to believe this imposed ‘coup attempt’ story. The differences between the things said to us have happened that night and what actually happened surfaced months later. That time, the authorities increased the dose of oppression. I mean, they enacted laws and suppressed the courts to protect the actual criminals, the torturers. They hindered the probes. They silenced the journalists and litigators who did not enter their wake, by threatening and arresting them. They implemented such an effective information war that numerous people, including the opposition, became affected. Even though she knew I had been abroad, even my own mother asked, “Son, were you here that night?”, referring to the night of July the 15th.
THE TERM ‘CONTROLLED COUP’ IS A MILD ONE: THEY HAD PLACED AT LEAST TWO INTELLIGENCE OPERATIVES IN EACH SQUAD
Yet we glean from the evidence that has surfaced these days that everything actually happened as they wanted. It seems they had started the preparations in January 2016, maybe even earlier. They planned so well that they even set up control mechanisms where disruptions could occur. For example, they had dispatched General Sönmezateş (Gökhan Şahin Sönmezateş) to Marmaris and they wanted to set deadly trap for him the same they had done for General Semih Terzi in the Special Forces Command. They wished to guarantee this outcome so much they placed two National Intelligence Operation informants, or maybe more, in the squads. It is certain there were at least two operatives, given their court statements. The informants constantly updated the squads’ location to the National Intelligence Organization (MIT). They delayed the departure time from Çiğli Air Base so the vile preparations in Marmaris could be completed and they allowed departure when it was the time at last. The expression ‘controlled coup’ is mild here; it conceals what actually happened.
A DIABOLICAL PLAN: NO MATTER IF MY FELLOW SOLDIERS WOULD EVEN RECITE PRAISES FROM THE MINARETS, THEY WOULD STILL BE ARRESTED
It seems no matter what our fellow soldiers, who had been deprived of their freedom, did that evening, it was impossible to prevent what happened. I mean, no matter if they had shut themselves up in their homes, taken to the streets to protest the coup attempt, recited praises to the Holy Prophet from the minarets of the mosques, evacuated the garrisons and demobilized everyone, or even if they had sealed the gates of their brigades and had let no one out, they would not have prevented what happened. It is clear those bombs were to explode that night in the National Assembly building and near the Presidential Palace. Those three helicopters, feigned to belong to the Turkish Armed Forces, would fly over Marmaris, the killers with black camouflage masks would rappel on the hotels district, open random fire no different than an assassination team, and would even kill those police officers. No matter what, those cadets would be murdered on the Bosporus Bridge. The perpetrators had been prepared; they lied in ambush. Again, with the profiling lists they prepared beforehand; thousands of people would already be arrested. It’s a diabolical plan and it is an unbelievable case, but this is what happened. You know, as they say in the Navy, let your seas be calm and your winds be fair, let there be no sailing condition to hinder or endanger your navigation and let your enemies be brave… Unfortunately, we were dealt with the craven.
The perpetrators planned and rehearsed that night’s events with multiple alternatives in clockwork manner. It is very clear it didn’t matter which military officer was where or what he or she was doing that night. For example, my classmate, a rear admiral who was the Director of Naval Operations. One cannot plan a coup without him. He was on vacation with his family hundreds of kilometers from the headquarters when the incident started. When he learned about the events, he phoned the Chief of the Navy directly and asked for his orders. The Naval Chief later confirmed this had been the case. My friend then called the Fleet Commander Veysel Kösele and acted on his orders. He stayed with his family for a few more days and then returned to Ankara. Another classmate, an admiral, behaved similarly. Another admiral friend was at a meeting in the United States that night. Even though the arrests and torture against the military personnel had started in Turkey, he had his flight ticket rescheduled and returned to Turkey earlier than planned. Without exception, they were arrested and sentenced to aggravated life sentences.
1600 OF OUR FRIENDS HAVE BEEN SENTENCED TO LIFETIME IMPRISONMENT
We face a grim picture. We have 1600 fellow soldiers who have been sentenced to life in prison. Nearly 100 people, who had been dismissed with statutory decrees, lost their lives in prisons. Such people are denied of their life-saving treatment under severe prison conditions. Nowadays they are transferred to other prisons, far away from their families. Families too are under pressure; almost 70 percent of the children are prescribed with anti-depressants. Suicide rate among people dismissed with statutory decrees is 30 times higher than Turkey’s average.
WE HAVE TO REVERT TO THE WESTERN PATH CHARTED BY ATATURK 100 YEARS AGO
I do not know how to put out this fire or how to treat this wound. I’m not a political scientist or a sociologist, but I can say this: If someone is keen on placing the Republic of Turkey on the path towards the West charted by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his comrades 100 years ago, returning the country to democratic values, and establishing the rule of law, it is incumbent to consider the agony and injustice suffered by a large part of the society and take steps. Annulling the statutory decrees, releasing the cadets from prisons, and re-investigating the July 15 cases by true public prosecutors as per the rule of law and supremacy of justice may be the first steps.
THOSE WHO PLANNED THE JULY 15 LEFT MUCH EVIDENCE IN THEIR WAKE
I am hopeful. They carried out their evil plans on July 15 well, but they also left bulks of evidence in their wake. There are hundreds of video recordings, eyewitnesses, reports and hard evidence about the events in Marmaris, for example. 47 of those evidences have been included in court records. It is impossible to understand why the so-called public prosecutors, who pursue cadets and even expectant mothers, do not wonder who those masked, camouflaged, heavily armed agents flying over Marmaris, creating chaos and martyring two police officers were. Whether they are interested or not, the tale of July 15 is over. With so many partners and so many actors, the planners could not conceal a conspiracy with dire consequences for the millions of people. I think a few questions asked by a true public prosecutor will bring the dissolution of all cases and our friends will regain their freedom.
THOSE IN POWER ARE HEEDLESS, ASTRAY AND TREACHEROUS
The current condition of our country is as in the last paragraph of Atatürk’s Address to the Youth. What was that: “Those who are in power can be heedless, astray, and even treacherous. What’s more, these rulers can merge their personal interests with the political ambitions of the invaders. The nation may be devastated and exhausted because of poverty.” This situation seems much clearer from abroad. Unfortunately, our country has hit rock bottom in recent years. For example, in the Rule of Law Index, it ranks 117th below Russia, China, Zambia and Kenya. It also occupies the lowest ranks in the Liberties of the World report. The peoples of Tunisia, Gambia, and Tanzania are freer than the people in Turkey. Our country ranks in ‘no longer free’ category.
FOREIGN OFFICERS DID NOT HEED THOSE WHO WERE SENT TO REPLACE US
That perception management, fake news and the red bulletins the regime unleashed with all its resources after July 15 caused no hesitation among the foreign officers we worked with at the NATO Headquarters. When I heard I had been expelled with a statutory decree, a military general friend, who was in a meeting in Brussels back then, phoned. He was much upset and tried his best to tell me coherently where the key to his residence was. He said, “You go and settle in my place. We will find a solution when we return.” While empathizing, some officers wept while seeing us off. I frankly did not expect that.
They were not hassled by their religious beliefs or nationalism; they really considered us as their comrades in arms. The foreign officers did not heed to have rapport with those who had been hastily sent in our place from Turkey. The foreign officers wanted to deliver some aid that had collected for us, but we kindly declined. We had Turkish military officers with young children. The foreign officers secretly left relief packets at those officers’ doorsteps and they were upset when our officers kindly declined. One evening, a French general invited us to a cocktail party at his residence. Of course, we attended. We saw generals, admirals and senior NATO bureaucrats among the invitees; I and my wife were the only invitees from Turkey. Despite all the time until now, they still keep in touch with us. Our foreign friends said about us, “Everything was taken away from them, but they did not lose anything from their dignity. What befell them was hefty, but they did not want anything for themselves. Their only concern was their innocent fellow officers and friends in Turkey.” They probably investigated us institutionally. If they had the slightest doubt about us, they would show no gestures.
WHILE OUR HOMELAND DISTANCED ITSELF FROM THE WEST, WE ESTABLISHED CULTURAL AND EMOTIONAL LINKS
If I am to recap the last five years, we have established strong cultural and emotional bonds while our homeland widened its distance from the West. People opened their hearts and homes to us. Believe me, many considered us as one of their family and invited us to their tables on Thanksgiving Days. You know, Thanksgiving is celebrated among families, not friends. We reciprocated: We invited them to our Republic Day celebrations and shared our Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha occasions.
I LOOK FORWARD TO MY DAY OF HOMECOMING
I missed my brothers in arms so much. They suddenly disappeared from my life. I do not have a cohort at my age to sit down and chat with. I cannot even hear the voices of my comrades. I cannot even write letters fearing the regime may bother them. Yet, I think about them and their families a lot. Sometimes even a greeting from them makes me smile for weeks. I miss my hometown so much with its air, water and sea. I look forward to the day I will return to my homeland Turkey where I hope democratic values too will return and the rule of law will prevail again.
“I CANNOT SALUTE THE CURRENT REGIME”
When I graduated from the Naval Academy, I took an oath I would gladly sacrifice my life for my country and nation. I served this oath for 30 years without a single taint. So did my friends who were dismissed unwarrantedly. I have not forgotten or broken this oath. Yet, it is impossible for me to salute the current regime that has suspended the constitution. If a democratic government asks me to return and continue where I left off, I would happily do that for my nation.”