Turkish Interior Minister accuses U.S. of involvement in 2016 coup, Washington calls comments “unfounded and irresponsible”

WASHINGTON, D.C. / ANKARA — On Thursday, Turkish Minister of the Interior Süleyman Soylu accused the U.S. of being behind the failed 2016 coup that sought to overthrow the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) accuses outlawed religious and political figure Fethullah Gulen, who resides in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania,  as masterminding the coup. The U.S. has refused repeated Turkish demands that Gulen be extradited.

The U.S. Department of State refuted the validity of Soylu’s accusations and declaring that it had no role or prior knowledge of the attempted coup.

In its statement, the State Department did not mince words about Soylu’s comments, saying, “These remarks and other unfounded and irresponsible claims of U.S. responsibility for events in Turkey are inconsistent with Turkey’s status as a NATO Ally and strategic partner of the United States.”

The recent exchanges come amidst and already tension political crisis between the two nominal allies. The U.S. has adopted sanctions on Turkey following the latter’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, a step that the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump considered as a threat to regional security and a breach of Turkey’s membership in NATO. Tension in Syria, Libya, and the eastern Mediterranean also continue to simmer.

Earlier this week, a national security advisor to U.S. President Joe Biden remarked that the current trajectory of Turkish domestic and foreign policy is a matter of great concern to Europe and the U.S.