FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Erdogan Moves Against the Gulen Movement in Turkey

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan started to use his powers under the newly-declared state of emergency today to close 15 universities and over one thousand schools alleged to have links to the Gulen movement, which is accused of having staged the failed military coup on 15 July.

The extent of the closures underlines the sizable nature of the network of influential educational establishments, charitable institutions and other associations built up by followers of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen in the last thirty years. Those now being shut include 1,043 private schools, 1,229 charities and foundations, 19 trade unions, 15 universities and 35 medical institutions.

Mr Erdogan has brought forward a meeting of the Supreme Military Council to 28 July, at which he will discuss with military chiefs his plans for purging and restructuring Turkey’s 600,000-strong armed forces – with the aim of bringing them under tighter government control. At least 124 generals and admirals out of a of 358, or over a third of the total, have been detained as it becomes clear that the conspiracy to subvert the armed forces was far larger than the small clique that the government originally alleged had taken part. Mr Erdogan has also used the powers granted by the state of emergency to extend the period in which some suspects can be detained – from four days up to a maximum of 30 days.

The attempted coup has provoked a serious row between Turkey and the US over the extradition of Mr Gulen, amid Turkish accusations that the US knew about the coup. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that a dossier requesting the extradition of Mr Gulen, and providing evidence of his guilt, will be ready in a week to ten days. The 75-year-old cleric has vigorously denied involvement, but non-governmental experts on his movement in Istanbul say that they have no doubt that Gulenist officers organised and conducted the coup attempt.

Mr Gulen’s nephew, Muhammed Sait Gulen, was detained in the northeastern Turkish city of Erzurum and will be brought to the capital Ankara for questioning, the Anadolu state news agency claimed on Saturday. Among possible charges that could be brought against him is membership of a terrorist organisation, the agency said.

There is a widespread popular conviction at all levels in Turkey that US government and its intelligence agencies were complicit in the coup. The Daily Sabah newspaper is asking its readers to vote on the question: “which institution of the US provided largest support for the Gulenist terrorist group?” They are asked to mark the appropriate box for the CIA, FBI, Department of State and the White House. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called for the US to extradite Mr Gulen and to “stop standing up for savages who run over citizens with tanks, who strafe people from land and the air.”

President Obama has firmly denied Turkish allegations and demanded evidence of Mr Gulen’s involvement in the attempted putsch, but this is unlikely to dispel Turkish suspicions. Accusers say that the Gulenist movement is tightly run from the top, as in other religious cults, and is wholly under the control of its charismatic leader who is seen by some as having semi-divine powers. US security services were once interested in cultivating supposedly moderate Islamic movements such as the Gulenists as an alternative to salafi-jihadi extremists and this may explain their cosy relationship with Mr Gulen.

This war of words is unlikely to die away and Turkish leaders are angered by what they see as a tepid display of solidarity by Western leaders during the coup – followed by patronising admonitions not to over-react in purging those who tried to overthrow the government. Mr Erdogan complained about this on Saturday in an interview with France 24 television saying he could not understand why Turkey’s Western allies did not see that he had to impose stringent security measures after a coup that had killed 250 people. He said that “I’m under the impression that they [Western leaders] will only see that once all the political leaders of Turkey are killed, and then they’ll start to dance for joy.”

It is becoming clear that – leaving aside government paranoia – a large number of units from the Turkish armed forces took part in the coup on 15/16 July and that it nearly succeeded. The latest to be detained are 283 members of the presidential guard, which numbers 2,500 men. The hard core of the plotters were in the gendarmerie and air force and had allocated an elite unit to detain Mr Erdogan at his hotel in Marmaris on the Aegean coast at 3am on 16 July. But he had already left by the time they attacked because the plotters in operational charge of the event, fearing the imminent discovery of the coup, had brought forward its timing by six hours and were unable to tell this to the soldiers targeting Mr Erdogan who escaped shortly before they arrived.

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail