Pentagon: General’s comments on Turkey ‘misunderstood’

Other News Materials 30 July 2016 06:42 (UTC +04:00)
The head of U.S. Central Command was misunderstood when he commented about a recent coup attempt in Turkey,
Pentagon: General’s comments on Turkey ‘misunderstood’

The head of U.S. Central Command was misunderstood when he commented about a recent coup attempt in Turkey, the Pentagon said, Anadolu reported.

“Any reports that suggest Gen. [Joseph] Votel expressed support in any fashion for the actions of Turkish military officers who undertook illegal military action against the Turkish government are factually inaccurate,” agency spokesman Peter Cook said during a press briefing.

Cook’s comments comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Votel for commenting that some Turkish officers with whom the U.S. had relations are currently detained for their role in the attempted overthrow.

Speaking Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado organized by the Washington-based think tank, Votel said the Turkish government’s roundup of coup plotters might impair relations between the two militaries.

According to Cook, American and Turkish military counterparts at all levels are in regular communication on a daily basis.

“The United States has repeatedly condemned the failed coup in Turkey and we continue to convey our absolute support for Turkey's democratically-elected civilian government and democratic institutions,” Cook said.

According to Cook, Votel was actually referring to the fact that the U.S. is engaged in active operations with Turkey and some of the officers that the U.S. military personnel were working with are not longer on their posts, which might affect the effectiveness of the operations.

“In some instances a counterpart may not be there who you worked with directly. Now, you need to find out who that new person might be,” Cook added.

In a written statement Votel rejected claims he was supportive of coup plotters but he did not denounce the coup or expressed his views about the coup plotters.

Since the July 15 coup attempt, top Turkish and American political and military leaders, including Erdogan and President Barack Obama have assured each other about continued cooperation and partnership.

The Turkish government has removed more than 1,648 military personnel including 149 generals. But the Supreme Military Council promoted nearly 100 officers to generals to replace those discharged -- undermining Cook’s comments.

Cook told reporters that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford denounced the failed coup and categorically rejected any claims of any U.S. military officer’s involvement in the violent attempt.

Responding to Anadolu Agency correspondent’s question about whether he could assure the Turkish public that none of the coup plotters had good relations with the U.S., Cook did not directly address the question but preferred to say that no Defense Department personnel supported or played a role in the coup attempt.

“It would be a concern if that suggestion is being portrayed out there. It does not reflect the professional military relationship between our two countries,” he said, noting “excellent relations with the Turkish military.”