Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has suggested that US presidential candidate Joe Biden's comments in support of the Turkish opposition is evidence that the US was involved in the failed coup attempt in 2016.
In the video clip that went viral on Turkish social media over the weekend, Biden was recorded telling reporters in January that "We can support those elements of the Turkish leadership that still exist and get more from them and embolden them to be able to take on and defeat Erdogan."
He then stressed that he meant, "Not by a coup, not by a coup, but by the electoral process."
Referring to the last remark about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's defeat being "not by a coup," Cavusoglu interpreted it in an interview with the Turkish news channel Canlı TV to mean that "We tried a coup in the past, it didn't happen. So now let's change tactics and methods."
The last coup attempt in recent Turkish history occurred on the night of 15 July, 2016, when sectors of the Turkish military led an armed uprising in major cities such as Istanbul and Ankara before being countered by both Turkish civilians and other military personnel.
Since then, the government under Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been purging state, public, and military institutions of Gulenists – those who follow the exiled US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen – who Erdogan has accused of conducting the coup attempt.
Although there was no evidence of the US government's involvement in that incident, Cavusoglu now suspects the involvement of the administration under former President Barack Obama due to the comments by Biden, who was Obama's vice-president at the time.
In another interview with the Turkish news outlet Anadolu Agency, Cavusoglu addressed Biden's remarks and stated that "We strongly reject such impositions," saying that his open plans to topple Erdogan in the Turkish elections in 2023 are "ignorant" of the Turkish nation and are "strange" coming from a statesman such as the US presidential candidate.
The comments from Biden, although at least eight months old, come amid already increasing tensions between the US and Turkey over the past year due to a myriad of issues including Turkeys purchase of the S-400 missile defence system, its military intervention in Syria, and the US Congress' blocking of arms sales to Turkey.
Overall, however, Erdogan and US President Donald Trump reportedly enjoy a more cordial relationship, with the two often having phone calls and with Trump having shown support for Turkey's intervention into Libya in support of the UN-backed government.