Turkish interior minister blames US for failed 2016 coup
His comments provoked an angry response from Washington.
Ankara has long blamed the coup on Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan who is now exiled in Pennsylvania. Following the coup, the Turkish government launched a widespread crackdown on individuals suspected of ties.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told Hurriyet that the United States had managed the coup attempt while Gulen’s network carried it out, adding that "Europe was enthusiastic about it".
"It is blatantly clear the United States is behind July 15. It was FETO who carried it out upon their orders," Soylu added, using the Turkish government's acronym for an alleged "terrorist" organisation led by Gulen.
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Soylu's statements came at a time when Turkey is trying to improve strained relations with its NATO ally
In response, the US State Department issued a statement saying, "The United States had no involvement in the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey and promptly condemned it. Recent assertions to the contrary made by senior Turkish officials are wholly false.
"Unfounded and irresponsible claims of US responsibility for events in Turkey are inconsistent with Turkey’s status as a NATO ally and strategic partner of the United States."
Washington has repeatedly rejected Turkish demands for Gulen’s extradition, citing a lack of credible evidence from Ankara.
Turkey has tried to repair damaged ties with the US, after Washington imposed sanctions on the country during the Trump administration over Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 air defence systems.
Erdogan's spokesman and adviser Ibrahim Kalin spoke to US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan earlier this week, marking the first official contact between Ankara and the new Biden administration. Erdogan and Biden have not spoken on the phone yet.
Ankara previously expressed outrage at comments Biden made during his presidential campaign describing the Turkish president as an "autocrat," and suggesting that Washington should support the Turkish opposition.
Turkish deputy foreign minister Faruk Kaymakci said in January that Ankara also hopes to improve strained ties with the European Union.