Let me just remind you of some examples of the anti-Semitic discourse and hate speech in the Turkish media from the State Department’s report. “In December Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu said that Fethullah Gülen will end up dying in the U.S. and be buried in a Jewish cemetery.”
Like many autocratic leaders, Erdogan was quick to blame members of opposition and sympathizers of Gulen Movement for the coup attempt. He particularly singled out the United States-based Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen as the mastermind of the coup, even when it is on record that the highly-respected cleric publicly condemned the coup when it was still on.
Despite Gülen’s repeated denials of any involvement and his open call for an investigation by an international commission, no concrete effort has been made to find out the true perpetrators of the heinous attempt. Instead, a state of emergency, which still continues today, was declared and is used to silence the opposition and all other critical voices.
After the attempted coup, college professors have been hit especially hard, thanks to Gülen’s popularity inside Turkish higher education. Turks were encouraged to report Gülen’s followers to the government. Universities have been ordered to establish 7-8 member committees looking into anti-government activities of the faculty and administration.
Erdogan became quite successful in his two very basic goals right after the coup. First and foremost, for putting all the blame squarely on the Hizmet movement, led by Gulen, and then carrying on a huge cover-up to hide other segments of the coup plotters. The problem is, while he has been quite successful in Turkey – he was not able to convince many in Europe and in the US.
A year later, Western intelligence officials and top Turkey analysts aren’t nearly so sure of Gulen’s complicity. Earlier this year, German spy chief Bruno Kahl revealed that Ankara has failed to convince the BND foreign intelligence agency that Gulen was behind the ill-planned and executed coup plot. “Turkey has tried to convince us of that at every level, but so far it has not succeeded,” Kahl told the German weekly Der Spiegel in March.
From its founding amid the ashes of Al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS has dealt in deception as well as death. Despite its name, ISIS represents a perversion of Islam. The group’s dress, flags and slogans cannot hide their abhorrent betrayal of the spirit of this major world faith. Denying this barbaric group a geographical base that emboldens them to claim statehood is a worthwhile goal that all Muslims should support.
It’s an old story with dictators. If unopposed, they become ever more brazen in their aggression. Case in point: Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. On May 16, during a state visit to Washington, Erdoğan’s bodyguards beat up peaceful protesters, many of them American citizens, in front of the Turkish embassy. At least 11 protesters were injured.
South Africans know what it means to be detained without trial and tortured. With that history in mind, the ANC-led government is not about to extradite a list of Turkish expats working in South Africa to Turkey, where their detention and torture is likely.
The curious thing about the Flynn-Turkey connection is that it was a very badly-kept secret. Details of Flynn’s connection to a firm that worked on behalf of the Turkish government were known at least by mid-November, and there were hints that something fishy was going before that when he began singing Erdogan’s praises and demanding Gulen’s extradition.
While the narrative voiced by Erdogan and echoed by the Turkish press blamed Gülen exclusively, many Turks and diplomats quietly harbored suspicions that Erdogan planned and staged the coup himself as a Turkish equivalent of the Reichstag Fire. That may once have sounded like a fringe conspiracy, but increasingly it seems the likely genesis of events last July.
If nothing else, the timing of this is certainly interesting. Yesterday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Washington for his meeting with President Trump scheduled for later today. It’s an encounter which I already described as problematic at best, given Erdogan’s new status as a strongman and tyrant, and it doesn’t seem to hold the promise of much benefit on our part.
The Turkish population already is strongly polarized on the AKP regime. A Turkey under a dictatorial regime, providing haven to violent radicals and pushing its Kurdish citizens into desperation, would be a nightmare for Middle East security. I probably will not live to see Turkey become an exemplary democracy, but I pray that the downward authoritarian drift can be stopped before it is too late.
If the three Turks are supporters of Gulen, then there is no case for Malaysia. Gulen is not a terrorist but merely a powerful thorn on the side of the Turkish dictator Tayyip Erdogan. Just because the three opposed the government of Erdogan was not sufficient reason for Malaysia to arrest and deport them. Malaysia is merely doing the “dirty” job for Erdogan.