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.
The recent politically motivated kidnapping incidents backed by the Turkish authorities which targeted the followers of Gulen movement in Malaysia raise serious questions about the standards of the rule of law, civil liberties, the individual rights and quality of the political system of Malaysia.
One of the most problematic aspects of the war against the Islamic State has been the role of Turkey. On the one hand, diplomats see Turkey as a cornerstone of any diplomatic strategy to counter the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. On the other hand, Turkey—or, at least, elements within the state—appear to back the Islamic State.
There has been no evidence of any terrorist activity by the followers of Gulen in any part of the world including Turkey. In India, they have been running their institutions: schools, coaching Institutes, and dormitories for more than 15 years, but none has been accused of any kind of terrorism and crime.
So, if Erdogan’s narrative is flawed, what are the alternative theories? On the surface, much doesn’t add up. Now, several career Turkish military officers — none of whom are followers or supporters of Gülen — have compiled from open sources a lengthy report analyzing the coup. They have authorized me to share the Dropbox link where they have made it accessible.
Erdogan’s Islamist supporters sometimes suggest that he is on his way to declaring himself caliph. As the 100th anniversary of the caliphate’s abolition approaches, he may find this tempting; depending on whether he uses the Islamic or Christian calendar, that could happen, respectively, on March 10, 2021 or March 4, 2024. You read it here first.