Friday, August 05, 2016

Turkish coup, Erdoğan and Gülen

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP (Justice and Development Party) is a nominally secular and conservative party that actually has Islamist inclinations. Erdoğan came to national power as Prime Minister in 2003. He became President in 2014. During his years in power, he has become progressively less patient with the processes of liberal democracy.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (born 1954), President of Turkey

In the wake of the thwarted coup attempt of July 15, Erdoğan has been undertaking a drastic crackdown on followers of Fethullah Gülen, an Islamist leader living in the US since the late 1990s, who was a supporter and collaborator of Erdoğan's until 2013. When he first took power, Erdoğan installed numerous Gülen followers in his administration and in justice institutions. And there seems to be good reason to think that Gülen's followers have also establish themselves within the military, as well. Gülen's mevement is called Hizmet.

Fethullah Gülen (born 1941), Islamist rival to Erdoğan

After the break, the BBC News reported (Tim Franks, Fethullah Gulen: Powerful but reclusive Turkish cleric 01/27/2014):

Mr Gulen has been almost universally depicted as being in a virtual death clinch with his erstwhile ally, Prime Minister Erdogan, in a struggle for power and vengeance in Turkey.

Whoever struck first, Mr Erdogan has recently been seeking to curb the reach of Mr Gulen's Hizmet ("Service") movement, whose followers - or "participants" as some of them prefer to call themselves - include police chiefs and prosecutors leading corruption investigations into the heart of government. Mr Erdogan has decried their work as that of "a state within a state".
Timothy Phelps reported for the Los Angeles Times (From his Pa. compound, Fethullah Gulen shakes up Turkey 01/20/2014):

Gulen preaches an unusual mix of Islamic piety and Sufi mysticism, as well as free markets, democracy and religious tolerance. His followers have built a worldwide religious, social and nationalistic movement, known as Hizmet, in his name. They control a network of schools, companies and charities around the globe, including about 120 schools and scores of nonprofit groups in the United States.

Gulen's following is especially potent back home. Inspired in part by sermons on his website, his supporters in the Turkish police and judiciary, backed by allies at the country's largest newspaper, are pushing a corruption investigation into Erdogan's inner circle that has sparked a bitter political power struggle.

The wide-ranging inquiry already has caused three Cabinet ministers to resign and led to dozens of arrests. The economy has taken a hit and the lira, the national currency, fell to a record low against the dollar in the last week.

Erdogan, who once embraced Gulen as a close political ally, has launched an escalating series of counterattacks. The government has closed Hizmet schools and fired 2,000 police officers deemed loyal to the cleric. Erdogan also has announced plans to place the appointment of judges, which Gulen allegedly influences, more under government control.
That was two and a half years ago. So Erdoğan's accusations against the Gülen movement didn't spring out of thin air in the wake of the coup.

Erdoğan is an adherent of the Islamic Milli-Görüs movement. He was a political disciple of Islamist politician Necmettin Erbakan, who served as Turkish Prime Minister 1996-7, having been elected as part of the Islamist Welfare Party.

In any case, Erdoğan blames Gülen and his followers for the coup, and accuses the Obama Administration of having connived in it. And Erdoğan is proceeding to purge accused followers from the military.

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