Speaking at the White House today, President Obama denied unequivocally that the US had any prior knowledge of last week’s failed military coup in Turkey, calling on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to make sure everyone in Turkey knows the US wasn’t involved.
The early US reaction to the coup has raised a lot of speculation, as Secretary of State John Kerry, during the coup, issued a tepid comment just urging “stability.” The US only condemned the coup when it became clear, later that evening, that it was going to fail.
Turkey cut power to the Incirlik Air Base, where many US warplanes and dozens of US nuclear weapons are based, and jailed the commander as a co-conspirator to the coup. That, and Turkey’s blaming of cleric Fethullah Gulen, exiled to the US, as being behind the plot, are likely the source of a lot of the speculation.
The US has been keen to keep its ties close to Turkey, whoever ends up running it, and the Obama Administration is understandably eager to distance itself from any suspicion. This is a key part of why the US has been so reluctant to seriously criticize Turkey’s post-coup purge, and why Turkey feels comfortable pressuring them to extradite Gulen without any evidence.