Fars, the semi-official Iranian news agency which claimed a few days ago that the Russians tipped off the Turkish intelligence agency MIT about the coup, is – most unusually – keeping its original report from a few days ago (20th July 2016) still visible on its website.
Fars is not an official news agency in the way that TASS for example is the official news agency of the Russian government. However it is known to be closely supervised by the Iranian authorities. The fact Fars is still showing the report several days after it was first published means it must be doing so with the Iranian authorities’ approval.
It is striking that there has also still been no formal denial of the claim by either the Russian or Turkish governments. As I have said previously, the comments about the report by Dmitry Peskov – Putin’s spokesman – are not a denial.
Elsewhere the usually very well-informed US based and run but independent news site Al-Monitor, which focuses on events in the Middle East, in its extensive reporting of the coup, has confirmed that the coup failed because the Turkish intelligence agency MIT obtained at the last minute information that a coup was about to be launched. However Al-Monitor in its detailed reports of the coup is very careful to say nothing about how or from whom the MIT obtained this information.
Here is how Al-Monitor reports it. Note the careful use of the passive tense.
“The National Intelligence Organization (MIT) had received information about a possible coup attempt. It was not the first time that MIT had received such raw intelligence. Director Hakan Fidan worked diligently from 3 p.m. until early the next morning to abort the attempt. Fidan contacted the top brass at the General Staff and took measures to potentially head off any coup. At that point, the coup plotters, much better organized and greater in number than initially thought, decided to move the timing forward rather than abort the operation. In short, Fidan’s diligence forced them to launch their plot six hours earlier than planned.”
As I have said previously, the Russians will never discuss or confirm action taken by their intelligence agencies. However the Iranians – who work closely with the Russians in Syria and who strongly opposed the coup – are probably of all Middle East governments the ones who are best informed about the situation in Turkey and who are the most likely to have access to secret information from the Turkish and Russian governments.
The Fars report claims it obtained confirmation of the Russian tip off to the Turks from Arab media reports quoting “diplomatic sources” in Ankara. It is likely these “diplomatic sources” are the Iranians themselves. Spreading news by first leaking it to friendly independent media outlets and then quoting their reports is a classic device for concealing a party’s own role in a leak. On this occasion the concealment is very thin, suggesting the Fars report was published with the agreement of the Russians and the Turks.
In summary, though we will not be provided with definite confirmation – at least for a while – all the indications are that the Fars report that it was the Russians who tipped the Turks off about the coup is true.