En Kripto reports on an article by the Turkish Taraf newspaper which uncovers a 2003 plan by the Turkish military to topple the Erdogan government. The plan was based on creating tension with Greece that could lead to a conflict.
The details of the plan went as far as to include the idea of allowing a Turkish fighter aircraft to crash as a result of direct Greek action. Taraf newspaper reports that the plan was set up by 162 officers of the Turkish armed forces of which 29 were high level officers.
The ultimate aim, according to Taraf, was the fall of the Erdogan government and the plan included an air force scenario. The entire endeavour was classified as top secret and dated February of 2003. It was signed by the head of the Turkish Air Force General Ibrahim Firtina.
Under the header “Duty” the plan states: “With the aim of announcing martial law in all of Turkey ... the General Air Force staff will increase tension with Greece, it will provoke the supporters of Islamic backwardness and their actions against the Turkish Armed Forces”.
In another part of the plan the following is stated:
“During flights over the Aegean Greek Air Force aircraft will be provoked and a confrontational atmosphere will be created. If at all possible the crash of one of our aircraft by the Greek Air Force will be provoked and if this fails we will stage the shooting down of one of our aircraft at the right place and the right time by a pilot of the special squadron which has been reorganised. The mass media will receive the news about the loss of our aircraft due to the Greek Air Force and the weakness of the ruling Justice and Development Party on this issue will be made clear.”
According to Taraf the plan to create a conflict with Greece also states:
“In the framework of the General Air Force Staff and especially in the squadrons the hostility and tension towards the Greek Air Force will be increased in a controlled way so that the pilots are more aggressive during flights. It will be unofficially announced to the pilots that in similar circumstances they can even open fire in the framework of legal self defence.”
The newspaper goes on to say that at the same time the conflict in the air takes place the plan aimed at increasing tension on the Thrace border and the creation of a martial atmosphere in the entire area.
From a further passage from the plan:
“The tension will also be increased on the border in Thrace. Patrols will be carried out near the Thracian border and joint Air Force and Navy exercises will take place in the Aegean. The airbases of Balikeshir, Tcigli, Tsorlou and Dalaman will have aircraft on a 24 hour alert which will scramble at the slightest episode. The command of 134 Squadron will perform displays every two days, in different cities, as invitees of the chambers of commerce, business people, bar associations etc. The sympathy towards the Turkish Armed Forces from the people will increase and during the displays gifts will be handed out to the public, especially to children.”
Hellenic Defence News note: It would be interesting to know to what extent the Greek Intelligence Services knew about these plans. It should also be remembered that Captain Kostas Iliakis was killed in May of 2006 during exactly the kind of incident the plan describes. At the time several sources reported that Turkey managed to launch 80 aircraft within a very short space of the crash and the Chiefs of Staff from both sides had to communicate to avoid the worst.