International rumors and accusations are flying in the wake of the aborted coup attempt in Turkey forcing President Obama to walk a tightrope between defending himself and appeasing a pivotal ally – and not being particularly convincing with either position.

Obama has flatly denied that he or anyone in the government had early knowledge of the coup, saying that any “suggestion of that are completely false, unequivocally false.”

He went a step further, calling on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to quash any rumors of U.S. involvement. “Erdogan needs to make sure that not just he but everybody in his government understand that those reports are false.”

Turkey is a NATO ally and home to a U.S. base for anti-ISIS operations, as well as a key player in the European Union’s efforts to manage the mass migration of Muslims onto the Continent.

At the root of the allegations that Obama had advanced knowledge of the takeover attempt, is the presence of the moderate Muslim religious leader, Fethullah Gulen, in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

Gulen, who advocates a more modern and tolerant form of Islam that accepts science and advocates for interfaith dialogue with Christians and Jews, fled Turkey after making corruption charges against Erdogan and is being blamed for the coup.

Turkey has formally submitted a request for Gulen’s extradition, but Obama said the decision is his. “It’s governed by treaties, it is governed by laws.”

Obama’s denials and inaction on the extradition request, however, are viewed by leaders in Turkey as proof of U.S. support for the coup and Turkish Labor Minister Suleyman Soylu went on the record as saying the U.S. “is behind this coup.”

Obama bristled at the accusation, noting that he “deplored the attempted coup earlier than just about anybody,” but the quibbling overlooks the most obvious and concerning fact about the coup.

President Erdogan has been steadily consolidating his power over the past three years, which is why the military moved against him in an effort to protect the country’s constitution.

His brutal crackdown since the coup has made him even more powerful than he had been before.

By voicing support for Erdogan against the coup, Obama proved once again that he will always support Islamic theocracy to democracy.

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