369. Telegram From the Embassy in Turkey to the Department of State0

332. Department telegram 212.1 We have reviewed with [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in detail their reports on Turkes. We feel plans and intentions revealed entirely consistent with our assessment of Turkes. As to likelihood these plans for coup could succeed, following factors need be borne in mind:

Effective power in Turkey today held by established military with no apparent split at top level. We do not consider so-called forces solidarity a separate movement but rather form of undertaking among those presently in control to support certain principles. As long as this unity of purpose continues, it will be exceedingly difficult to organize effective coup.
Most Turks in military and practically all in civilian life today desire return to civil government through free elections. While military and civilians might well disagree on role military to play after elections, there is agreement on basic objective. Therefore any move toward coup would have to run against current of popular sentiment. While many people are concerned about outcome of trials and elections, base for organizing coup hardly exists today.
We do not know size of so-called Turkes organization but what we do know indicates that it comprises relatively junior officers without many people in key jobs. While one must assume there is larger organization unknown to us, there is no evidence to suggest larger organization would include military leaders with important command positions. Turkes also faces problem of operating from outside country.2
[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and Embassy have reports of unrest among junior officers in army. Their restlessness apparently still takes form of criticizing democrats for present ills, belief trials dragged on too long without needed punishment, desire see more reforms before government returned to corrupt politicians. It is our belief this group is unorganized and not one and same with Turkes supporters, [Page 708] though it could easily become fruitful field for Turkes philosophy.

On balance we conclude that successful coup by Turkes in relatively near future unlikely. Different hypothetical outcome of trials and elections would not alter this conclusion. On other hand, if political scene deteriorates seriously after the elections, Turkes and his supporters would be able to improve considerably their position within armed forces and hence chances for successful coup. Question then might be one of timing. If established military moved first to reassume control of government, chances of coup by Turkes against military would be small. But if military allowed things to rock along with civilian government making demonstration of its inability to cope with problems of government, opportunity for successful move on part of younger officers would be enhanced.

Foregoing observations directed primarily to answering Department telegram 212. Fact that our present reading of situation is such as to indicate that coup not logical product should not be interpreted as indicating that we regard present situation including both military and civilian aspects as something about which one can feel relaxed. In addition dissatisfaction of junior officers noted above there is tenseness between political parties and certain air of expectancy among people. If disturbances occur as result trials there is always question in current atmosphere whether ordinary soldier would participate wholeheartedly in repressing civilian unrest even if there were no particular problem at officer level. Hopefully army will, as they repeatedly assert they can, keep situation under control. There is also possibility public reaction may not be as strong as some fear.

In sum we seem to be going into situation where another coup in immediate future does not appear in cards for concern. Turkey will face several moments of truth in next few months and how people and government forces react to each could have determining influence on future course events.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 782.00/9–261. Secret; [distribution indicator not declassified].
  2. Telegram 212, August 24, noted reports of a coup plot led by Alparslan Turkes and requested the Embassy’s assessment “in light uncertainties revolving around termination Yassiada trials and impending elections.” (Ibid., 782.00/8–2461)
  3. Turkes, together with 12 other “radical officers” involved in the May 1960 overthrow of the Menderes regime, had been arrested and flown to Turkish Embassies on November 13, 1960. Turkes was assigned as a political officer to the Embassy in New Delhi.