American professor says United States behind failed military coup in Turkey


Good work, prof!

Yes he did! Professor James Petras, according to his bio on Amazon, “is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He is the author of 64 books published in 29 languages, and over 560 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in media such as The New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, and a winner of the American Sociological Association Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Wow! That’s impressive! You’d have to take a guy like that seriously. I was directed the other day to an article he’s had published here, there and everywhere, entitled “Erdoğan’s Turkey Seven Deadly Sins”.


So who’s lurking behind Fethullah Gülen?

Well, as I’m sure you know, the learned professor is referring to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In fact, Prof. Petras doesn’t have a good word to say about Mr Erdoğan, and his incriminating statements about the United States are buried deep in the 1,389-word paper – but there they are:

“Fethullah Gülen, who was conveniently self-exiled in the US and under the protection of the US intelligence apparatus.

“A Gülenists-led military coup was launched in July 2016, with the tacit support of the US military stationed in Turkey.

“The Gülenists coup was authored and led by its supremo Fethullah Gülen, ensconced in his ‘secret’ private estate in the United States. Clearly the US was implicated in the coup and they rejected Erdoğan’s demands to extradite him.

“Erdoğan backed the brief government of Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood after its electoral victory in 2012 following the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising in Egypt of 2011. This led to a bloody US-backed military coup led by General Abdel Sisi in July 2013 — a lesson not lost on Erdoğan.”


A book I heartily recommend. Check out the subtitle

Well, Professor Petras doesn’t include any references or sources – unusual for an academic – so we have to take his word for those assertions, as for all the others in his “paper”.  And by the way, the US denied any involvement in the Egypt coup – or even that it was a coup at all! Nevertheless, I’m led to believe Petras is, himself, a reputable source, so we must assume he has evidence to back up his accusations.

I’m hoping, in the interests of fair play, natural justice and journalistic integrity, that Professor Petras will publish a paper providing a little more detail on the United States government’s involvement in these attacks on the elected governments of allies and sovereign states. Many people in Turkey would like to read it.


21 thoughts on “American professor says United States behind failed military coup in Turkey

  1. “Wow! That’s impressive! You’d have to take a guy like that seriously.”

    Right. Because everyone knows that unless a retired academic references his every assertion as once he did as an academic, despite having a proven track record of telling the truth and of honestly reporting the “facts” on countless issues as he understood them, he may be a fraud and a liar. Fair enough. He may indeed be a fraud and a liar. But how would anyone know that he actually was a fraud and a liar unless they actually caught him out in a pattern of such frauds and lies?

    Do you perchance know of any assertions that Petras has made and that are patently false? I am not aware of a single one. And yes indeed, in my estimation, Petras is an honest and reliable witness.

    You see, I’ve been reading him for years, and have yet to come across anything grossly inaccurate or unreasonable in anything that he has claimed. This familiarity of mine with his work, and not the touting of his “impressive” credentials, is the basis of my trust in him. Certainly, that Petras has been a reliable source of “facts” in the past does not guarantee that he will continue to be so in the future, but it does provides me with the presumption the he will likely continue to be so in the foreseeable future, and that he currently continues to be so. Until I come across any evidence to the contrary, until Petras becomes obviously and habitually unreliable in his reporting, I will take it that he isn’t to be rejected out of hand. But maybe you can be the one to finally catch him out, in the way, for example, that a Norman Finkelstein caught out an Alan Dershowitz.

    Here’s a thought: instead of making snide insinuations about Petras’s integrity and whoever might have recommended him to you on perfectly rational grounds, why not make a list of what you think are dubious and far-fetched assertions being made by Petras and then either a) research the claims independently or b) ask Petras directly to justify them. If Petras is a fraud and a liar, or just an unreliable witness, and is therefore now just pulling things out of his arse, I would think it should thereby become apparent. What do you think, Alan?

    Do let me know what you find or how Petras responds to your queries.

    • Sorry, Norm – I didn’t mean to cast aspersions on your integrity, and I appreciate your passing on that Petras article. Let me give you a brief outline of where I’m coming from re Mr RTE:

      I remember pre-AKP Turkey, having arrived first in 1995: a country ruled by weak coalition governments led by venal politicians; triple digit inflation despite a PM with a Yale degree in economics; platoons of soldiers with automatic weapons jogging round the city streets, a legacy of 3.5 successful military coups from 1960-97; opposition parties with Islamic links, closed down and their leaders banned from participating in the democratic process; Kurds, Alevis, women wearing headscarves and men with beards discriminated against, threatened and physically attacked; RTE himself, a very popular and successful mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s, imprisoned by the “secular” elite in 1997. He is Turkey’s first first democratically elected president, and his governments, all winners at the ballot box, have vastly improved life in Turkey.

      Since AK Party won its first election in 2002, however, they have been subjected to a concerted campaign of vicious propaganda aimed at discrediting them. I have given up trying to offer reasoned responses to these criticisms, because those who make them have no interest in listening. Friends abroad used to send me articles from the NY Times etc criticising RTE and I used to respond carefully and thoughtfully. All I got back was another negative article. In the end, I gave up and may indeed have begun resorting to “snide insinuations about the writer’s integrity”.

      Well, as for Petras’s paper:
      “Turkey has inserted itself into the middle of most of these regional conflicts and ended up a loser” – In fact Turkey has been dragged against its will into these conflicts, most of which were caused by US interference and greed for oil, as any anti-imperialist should know. And Turkey’s economy is pretty healthy, despite, I believe, attempts by the transnational banking fraternity to undermine its currency. Turkey has been trying to cope with 3 million refugees from the Syrian conflict with little help from the wealthy West.

      “This marriage of convenience [with Gülen] was formed in order to weaken the leftist, secular and Ataturk nationalist influenced opposition.” It was formed to pull the teeth of the military, which badly needed doing. Opposition to AKP is by no means united in its leftism, secularism, Kemalism and nationalism. Extreme nationalists are rarely secular or leftist. Extreme leftists tend to support Kurdish separatism or general anarchy, whoever is in power. Kemalism here, like patriotism elsewhere, is often the last refuge of the scoundrel.

      “Initially, Erdoğan failed to recognize that the Gülenists/Hizmet operated as a subversive political organization”. RTE, whatever may be said about him, is a very astute politician and also does his homework very thoroughly. He chose to use the Gülenists for exactly that reason – that their tentacles extended into all facets of power in Turkey.

      “A Gülenists-led military coup was launched in July 2016, with the tacit support of the US military stationed in Turkey. This was foiled by a major popular mobilization with the support of the armed forces.” RT knows the US was behind the coup – but he can’t come out and openly accuse the world’s last remaining super-power, who indignantly demand proof. That’s what I (and Turkey’s govt) would like to see from Prof Petras! And there was no support from the armed forces to resist the coup – it was they who were trying to carry it out!

      Well, that’s jut the first 381 words. As I said initially, I don’t have the time to spend refuting all these black propaganda articles. I do my best on my blog to present an alternative picture of a country I love as my second home. If you have time, click “propaganda” in my “categories” box 😉

    • Another tactic I resorted to, as you may notice on my blog, is carrying the attack to the attackers, ie I post articles pointing out the weaknesses in US and NZ etc democracy in their own backyard. It may not relate directly to Turkey – but my aim is to highlight the hypocrisy of those attacking this country, its government, systems and, by implication, the intelligence of its people.

      • Thank you for your reply, Alan. All of your points are well taken.

        The situation in Turkey, as everywhere else, is complex. No one has a perfect understanding on everything that is happening. All that any person ever has to work with are bits and pieces of impressions, some of which are one’s own, but most of which have been conveyed to us from hither and yon, corrupted by both unwitting inaccuracies and calculated deceptions, all partial and biased.

        Sifting through this jumble of impressions on the presumption that various aspects of our reality must cohere, driven by a desire to understand, we try to hit upon possible interpretations that unify for us in an impression of “sense” or “wholeness” of what otherwise is a hodgepodge of incomprehensible and contingent data. Those impressions of “sense” or “wholeness” that we concoct or that have been concocted for us by others and that unify for us the greatest number of superficially disparate “facts” or “data points,” will be the theories or hypotheses or points of view that for us will be the most probable approximations to the aspects of reality we are attempting to grasp. Such is our intellectual bias as human beings: the more of what before us we can make cohere into a unified pattern, the more we feel that pattern to be an accurate representation of our reality or of some significant aspect of it. We may, of course, be wrong, but that seems to be the bias of human cognition, generally speaking.

        Everyone agrees that something like a coup d’état was attempted in Turkey in 2016. Erdogan, that is to say, the government of Turkey, publicly and officially accuses the Gülen movement as being behind the attempt. Officially, the accusation has also been made by the Turkish government that the United States was complicit in the attempted coup. These things we “know.” These accusations have been made in the manner here roughly depicted, and public and official records exist to corroborate these “facts.”

        Difficulties arise, however, when we begin to try to understand this event in its depth, in terms of “who” may truly have been behind the attempt and what their motivations may have been.
        Anyone who is more or less aware of the history of orchestrated instances of violence against governments, or entire societies, or segments of a population, knows that events are often not what they at first blush appear to be and that official accounts are often deliberate attempts to conceal more than they reveal, to lead by misleading.

        If the latter is true — and it is — it is more rational than not to call into question all official pronouncements by all governments, including those of the Turkish government, as to what the ostensible coup attempt in Turkey was really about.

        Erdogan claims that Gülen, with the tacit connivance of the U.S., was behind the coup. Gülen and the United States both deny all involvement. Indeed, Gülen levels the counter accusation that the coup attempt was a “self-coup” to consolidate his grip on power.

        Who is telling the truth and who is lying? Perhaps both Erdogan and Gülen are lying. Maybe neither is lying and both are merely mistaken about what happened for being out of that particular loop. Not likely, but maybe. For might the operation not solely have been the work of U.S. operatives?

        Furthermore, is the significance of the coup limited only to the contestation of power in Turkey? What about its possible significance or even intended ramifications in terms of the unfolding militarily confrontations throughout the Middle East? Might this coup not have been part and parcel of Turkish (read “NATO”) military designs for the Middle East?

        To my mind, one of the more astute interpretations of what this coup might have been about was penned by Prof Michel Chossudovsky. In a piece titled US-NATO-Turkey Invasion of Northern Syria: CIA “Failed” Turkey Coup Lays Groundwork for Broader Middle East War? and dated August 29, 2016, Chossudovsky adroitly makes the case that the collusion was likely not between Gülen and the U.S., but more probably between Erdogan and the U.S.(although one might plausibly also imagine that Gülen, too, might have been playing an assigned role in the scenario and deception):

        Quote begins:

        The Failed Coup Sets the Stage for a Ground Invasion

        1. Massive purges within the armed forces and government were implemented in the immediate wake of the July coup. They had been planned well in advance. “Arrested immediately were 2,839 army personnel with 2,745 Judges and Prosecutors ordered detained… In under a week 60,000 people had been fired or detained and 2,300 institutions closed” … “ (See Felicity Arbuthnot, Global Research, August 2, 2016)

        2.The coup was intended to fail. Erdogan had advanced knowledge of the coup and so did Washington. There was no conspiracy directed by the CIA against Erdogan. Quite the opposite, the failed coup was in all likelihood engineered by the CIA in liaison with Erdogan. It was intended to consolidate and reinforce the Erdogan regime as well as rally the Turkish people behind their president and his military agenda “in the name of democracy”.

        3. The purges within the Armed Forces were intended to get rid of members of the military hierarchy who were opposed to an invasion of Syria. Did the CIA assist Erdogan in establishing the lists of military officers, judges and senior government officials to be arrested or fired? The Turkish media was also targeted, many of which were closed down.

        4. Erdogan used the July 15 coup to accuse Washington of supporting the Gulen movement while seeking a fake rapprochement with Moscow. He flew to St Petersburg on August 9, for a behind closed doors meeting with President Putin. In all likelihood, the scenario of a rift between Ankara and Washington coupled with the “my friend Putin” narrative had been approved by the Obama administration. It was part of a carefully designed intelligence ploy coupled with media disinformation. President Erdogan, vowed according to Western media reports: “to restore an ‘axis of friendship’ between Ankara and Moscow amid a growing rift between Turkey and the West.

        5. While “mending the fence” with Russia, Turkey’s military and intelligence apparatus was involved in planning the invasion of Northern Syria in liaison with Washington and NATO headquarters in Brussels. The underlying objective is to ultimately confront and weaken Syria’s military allies: Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

        Quote ends.

        (All emphases as quoted from Prof. Chossudovky’s piece.)

        So where in all of this is the truth of the matter? Does anyone really know, including among those who might have actually been privy to and participated in the event?

        Who really is Erdogan? What interests does he really serve?

        You mentioned something the other day about “the “Left” chasing rainbows.” Are you sure that your motivation for wanting to cut Erdogan some slack isn’t a kind of chasing of rainbows of your own?

        I’m a Marxist. Hopefully not in a dogmatic sense, but in the sense that I have read some Marx, and largely concur with his analysis and conclusions about the kind of society most people in the world are currently constrained to inhabit.

        Wars are about expropriating entire peoples and redistributing the ownership of resources that become the additional bases for further expanding the wealth and power of the expropriators. People are expropriated en masse in order to create the supply of labor that capital depends upon to sustain itself, and once expropriated, the people are maintained in a condition of expropriation as a matter of course by the system of capital foisted upon them; the ruling minority, on the other hand, is an oligarchy that is tightly organized and expert in the management of the social conditions that makes for its wealth and uncontested rule.

        The political and corporate elite under capitalism are not on the side of the people, whom they cannot but by the imperatives of capital exploit, manipulate, and murder on an industrial scale if and when they feel they must.

        I don’t think that Erdogan is who you imagine he is. Not under the imperatives of a capitalist Turkey. Otherwise he would not be the president of that “nation.”

        Maybe the fact that Petras also subscribes to a class analysis of contemporary society explains his apparent antipathy for all oligarchs, neither excluding nor especially for RTE.

      • “driven by a desire to understand, we try to hit upon possible interpretations that unify for us in an impression of “sense” or “wholeness” of what otherwise is a hodgepodge of incomprehensible and contingent data.” I guess that’s about what it is. The world could well be a figment of my imagination – though I hope not 😉 I guess where I feel I differ from most outside commentators is, I live here and have closely followed the situation here for more than 20 years, and have read detailed histories of what went before.

        “Are you sure that your motivation for wanting to cut Erdogan some slack isn’t a kind of chasing of rainbows of your own?” I’m pretty sure – I don’t have any kind of stake in RTE’s political fortunes – other than it worries me when I try to imagine what the alternative would be. But thanks for the thoughtful and erudite response. I appreciate your taking so much time to pass on your impressions.

        By the way, I see our comments have been published on 99GetSmart. Let’s see if we get any feedback.

  2. FYI: I left the following as a comment to Petras’s article:

    Quote begins:

    Dear Prof. Petras,

    I had an exchange today about this article with someone currently living in Turkey. You can find his post here, and my (perhaps unfair) reply below his post.

    To quote the nub of his reaction to your article:

    Well, Professor Petras doesn’t include any references or sources – unusual for an academic – so we have to take his word for those assertions, as for all the others in his “paper”. And by the way, the US denied any involvement in the Egypt coup – or even that it was a coup at all! Nevertheless, I’m led to believe Petras is, himself, a reputable source, so we must assume he has evidence to back up his accusations.

    I’m hoping, in the interests of fair play, natural justice and journalistic integrity, that Professor Petras will publish a paper providing a little more detail on the United States government’s involvement in these attacks on the elected governments of allies and sovereign states. Many people in Turkey would like to read it.

    I was hoping that you might in some way be able to allay his doubts about your assertion that the United States was indeed complicit in the attempted coup against Erdoğan, by providing additional supporting references or further elaborating your reasoning on the matter.

    Many thanks,


    Quote ends.

    Last I checked, my request was still in moderation. Hopefully we will get a reply.

    • Thanks, Norm, for following up on this. As you suggested, I put an adapted version of my comment to you on his page – which is also still awaiting moderation. Let’s see what happens – but clearly the professor is not assiduously checking the feedback on his articles. Either that or he is considering whether to just delete and move on.

      I appreciate your conscientious attempt to be fair on this issue, and I can understand your reluctance to dismiss a writer you have found reliable in the past. Clearly Prof. Petras does his homework, and much of what he writes is undoubtedly true. He is to be applauded for his fearless criticisms of Zionist expansion and US imperialism – which makes it all the more difficult for me to understand where he is coming from with respect to Turkey.

      By the way, I have no doubt that the US was behind the failed coup in Turkey. So, if the US is/has been trying to get rid of Mr Erdoğan, by fair means or mostly foul, surely Turkey’s president deserves to be cut a little slack? Instead, Petras almost seems to be arguing that RT deserves to be ousted by the US – not a good look for an anti-imperialist!

  3. The discussion in the comments are more valuable than James Petras’ report.
    Thank you both in your efforts to seek truth.

    I share the chapter “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” from the Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944 book) “to explain why humanity, instead of entering a truly human state, is sinking into a new kind of barbarism.”,%20Max%20Horkheimer.pdf

    Hopefully this comment will reveal to me a way to circumvent the disrespectful programming code in server.

    • Ooops. I guess I replied to my own comment when I intended to reply to you, Ron. Alan will have to clean up, I suppose.

      This be the reply:

      Thanks for that link, Ron. Not a work that I’ve yet read. I’ll have a look when I make time. The file’s been downloaded.

      • Hi Norman, I am glad the comment posted successfully, ever since I switched O.S. from Microsuck to a GNU/Linux distro I found myself a lurker on (all foreign to U.S. based) …

        A modern form of book burning is underway as the official narratives are questioned by the collective masses – some pundits call this a constitutional crisis. However, I ask everyone to consider institutional crisis as governance threaten individual sovereignty while engineering a global civilization.

        This hidden agenda is not new, and modern tech is making the Orwellian nightmare more of a deceptive-reality.
        Everyone, please couple the “The Culture Industry” chapter with Edward Bernays’ Propaganda book, and the volumes of documented evidence of influential organizations steering policies/geopolitics and supranational unions and share your thoughts about connections to current affairs and trends.

  4. Hey, Alan,

    If and when you can make the time, and only if you feel you want to, I’d like to get your reaction to this piece, by Andrew Korybko: Reassessing The Reasons For The Failed Turkish Coup Attempt”

    What in your estimation does he get right and wrong about the socio-political reality in Turkey, or about any other issue that he broaches?

    I’m just trying to get a better sense of what “really” is going on in Turkey. The greater the number of perspectives on the situation with which I familiarize myself, the closer to the “reality” I fancy I may get.

      • Well, I took a look, Norm – and, as I said at the start of this correspondence, I don’t get paid for the time I spend on this business, unlike those writing this stuff, and I’ve long since stopped trying to respond in detail to their nonsense, hence the occasional snide comment I may make. I suggest you pay a visit to Turkey, and I’ll show you around. You won’t find a better guide!

      • Well, I guess that’s that, then.

        And I “get” that you have soured on the thankless task of trying to refute what from your standpoint is all the nonsense about Turkey and the “evil” Erdogan.

        Do you perchance know of at least one author who prints in English and that has what in your opinion is at least a moderately reasonable grasp of the socio- political trends in Turkey? Who in your opinion comes close to having a clue?

      • As far as I know, I am the best (and possibly the only) writer in English presenting this point of view over the broad issues – which is why I spend a good deal of time writing this blog. As Gandhi said, “Even if you are minority of one, the truth is the truth.” My information comes from a wide range of sources: history, current media in English and Turkish, living in Turkey and speaking to a wide range of people.

        I like to think I came to Turkey with an open mind, as a New Zealander, knowing little about the country and with few preconceptions. With respect to the writers you are quoting, most of them, in my opinion, have an agenda of their own. Their articles are a mixture of selected facts, important omissions, and a good deal of opinion. Why do they care so much about Turkey and its president?
        If you haven’t read Stephen Kinzer, I think you should. In fact he is not a big supporter of Turkey or its current president, but he backs up his argument that the USA has been carrying out regime changes in sovereign nations the world over for more than a century, using military, economic and clandestine methods – and it doesn’t take a huge leap of logic to guess that they are doing the same thing now to Turkey.

        By the way, what’s your take on what’s going on in Venezuela?

  5. Why is the alternative media so consistently hostile to Erdogan, and in such an intellectually incompetent way? Just like everyone who supported the al-Qaeda/Taliban overthrow of the Afghan People’s Republic (sponsored by the CIA and Mossad) under any justification possible, they reveal themselves as not too anti-internventionist/anti-imperialist, while also contributing to making the situation worse. Like Elridge Cleaver or Saddam Hussein, people can change in time; I wouldn’t say RTE’s programs or policies are the same as during the Bush era (the Obama admin’s complicity in the coup is testament to that). Now that he advocates for economic protectionism, cracking down on organised crime, not acquiring IMF debt, increased public services, reigning in the military plus intel agencies, and respect among religious groups, so-called progressives still hate him!

      • Right. Because I’m on the side of the murdering imperialists if I’m in any way critical of a neo-liberal capitalist regime, in this instance, that of Turkey among so many others, which just happens to be a member of . . . what’s it called, again? Oh, that’s right: NATO, that international organization headed up by the U.S. of A. and that serves the imperialist ambitions of capital around the globe.

        Yup, there’s a pair of you. Two peas in a pod. All alone against the rest of us. Go figure.

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