Turkey’s Coup Plotters and Human Rights Abusers: Made in the USA?

US documents reveal Turkish leaders involved in 1980 coup, 2019 attack on Syrian Kurds likely trained in the U.S. through the IMET program

1980 Coup Perpetrators Allegedly Trained Under IMET

A 1979 diplomatic cable sent by then-U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Ronald Spiers to make the case for increased IMET aid to Turkey named several senior Turkish officers who had been “trained in the United States under IMET auspices” and who, in his words, “represent[ed] a nucleus of personnel who have been extensively exposed to United States’ training and military doctrine as well as American society as a whole.”

An excerpt from the 1979 Spiers cable identifying IMET-trained officers (source).
Turkey’s Official Gazette, dated September 12, 1980, lists the members of the National Security Council, including Şahinkaya and Tümer (source).
Turkey’s Official Gazette, dated September 12, 1980, lists the officers responsible for martial law commands in different provinces (source).

Turkey’s US-Sanctioned Defense Minister Allegedly Trained Under IMET

The role of IMET-trained personnel in Turkey’s most destabilizing and destructive policies appears to be far from a thing of the past.

An excerpt from the IMET Positions of Prominence list referring to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (source). Note: I strongly encourage further investigation into the other officials on this list, particularly Turkish officials. Matching the titles and dates to specific individuals should be possible with research and may reveal actionable information about individuals trained in the US who went on to commit human rights abuses.
Press release from the U.S. Department of the Treasury announcing sanctions on Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar over Turkey’s conduct during its invasion of northern Syria, dated October 14, 2019 (source).

The Need for Accountability

If Turkish military officers serving at the highest levels of government and implicated in serious anti-democratic actions and systemic human rights abuses were trained in the United States via IMET—as the credible U.S. sources laid out here state that they were—this warrants a high-level investigation.



Researcher following Kurdish politics, Syria, Turkey.

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