Why won’t Obama extradite Gulen?

Turkish and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen
Turkish and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen


Date posted: March 12, 2014

ASLI AYDINTASBAS

Last week during a TV interview, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he had complained to President Barack Obama about Fethullah Gulen in phone conversation. Erdogan added that Obama had responded favorably.
The White House retorted in unusual language, telling journalists: “The response attributed to President Obama is not accurate.”

I am amazed how naive our government can be. As far as I understand, they are not aware of how fast their image is collapsing and how the United States handles such issues. Let me explain:

Obviously from the beginning Washington didn’t want to get involved in the tensions between the AKP [Justice and Development Party] government and the Gulen movement [Cemaat]. This is why there was an instant stern reaction to Erdogan’s remarks targeting US Ambassador to Ankara Francis Ricciardone, along with the behind the scenes message saying, “Don’t get us involved in your internal squabbles.”

I don’t believe that the United States takes a side in this fight. On the one hand there is the Gulen movement‘s strong civil society network that extends all the way to Washington, and on the other there are the deeply rooted, institutional ties with the legitimate Turkish government. Instead of taking sides, the United States prefers to watch the fight from the sidelines.

To request Gulen’s deportation to Turkey means asking the United States to take sides. This is not practically or politically feasible. Those who know a little about the United States know that the country was established by clerics and religious people who had escaped from European political oppression. This explains why US politics is sensitive to religious and political freedoms.

Erdogan’s style of approach to Gulen and the judicial process he has initiated against him has not endangered Gulen’s position in the US, but rather reinforced it. Erdogan’s threatening narrative against Cemaat and his demand for the extradition of the religious leader of Cemaat has the potential of automatically branding Gulen, in American eyes, as an internationally wronged victim equal to the Dalai Lama or Li Hongzhi, the leader of the Falun Gong sect that the Chinese Communist Party has been fighting against for years.

Faced with such an offensive, neither the existing US legislation, nor Congress, nor Obama, nor administrations to come will allow the deportation of Fethullah Gulen. As long as Erdogan maintains his offensive, Gulen is safe.

Fine, but what happens should the accusations of [building a] “parallel state” against Gulen become a concrete judicial process? What if coordination is exposed among some prosecutors and police chiefs close to Cemaat and their relations with Pennsylvania [Gulen’s residence] is established?

At that time, judicial mechanisms will enter the picture, but I still don’t think it will result in Gulen’s deportation to turkey. Let me say this: As long as you can’t prove that Gulen is planning a suicide bombing attack from his room in Pennsylvania, nothing will change.

Why not? Several reasons. First of all what we have is a political conflict. There is no terror crime. In his talk with Obama, Erdogan reminded him that the United States from time to time requests extradition of some figures from Turkey. But all these are al-Qaeda related issues.

In the eyes of the West, the Gulen movement, just like the AKP, is an Islamic model that must be supported as an alternative to al-Qaeda. An American congressman years ago had simplified the issue to me as, “Aren’t they [Gulen] anti-mullah Muslims?” The West looks at the Islamic world from a wide perspective. In the geography that extends from Pakistan to Libya, you don’t have to have brains to understand the attraction for the West of a conservative group that has adopted the Western education system and democracy, especially if it is so influential and well organized.

One of the reasons why Prime Minister Erdogan has already started 0-1, behind in the international match against Gulen, is his bruised personal image as a result of the Gezi Park events. Western public opinion does not anymore see him as the “Muslim democrat” who was once on a Time magazine cover. Let me sum it up: A leader who is talking of banning YouTube and Facebook cannot possibly find the institutional support he expects from the West. Since the Gezi Park protests, the United States and European media have described Erdogan as a rigid leader dragging Turkey into authoritarianism. Foreign media outlets frequently report their perception of Erdogan trying to cover up corruption investigations.

Unfortunately, although there are government advisers who speak English, very few of them understand the Western world. For example, it is impossible for a Dane, German or French person to feel at ease with massive crowds in election rallies and young people dressed in robes and approve of the government’s thesis, “We will settle the corruption issue at the ballot box.” These are countries where every single lira is audited, where absolute power is feared and where solid governments have been toppled because the state funds were used to buy an air ticket for a politician’s wife. These countries will not easily accept the Turkish democracy’s equation of “oratory + power = legitimacy.”

When you put all these together, the picture that emerges is the government’s wrong course not only in the domestic arena, but also in relations with the outside world. I am sure that many world leaders, including Obama, are guessing that Erdogan is a strong leader and he will come out the winner from the March 30 elections.

But this doesn’t mean they will do everything he wants. This is why legitimacy is an important element.

Source: Al Monitor , March 11, 2014


Related News

Alevis voice unease over lack of promised rights at Abant meeting

Alevis have expressed at Abant meeting their uneasiness over pro-government comments claiming that the Gezi Park protests were an “Alevi uprising,” warning against a “dangerous approach that encourages wrong perceptions.” The title of this year’s Abant Platform, which started on Dec. 13, was “Alevis and Sunnis: Searching for Peace and a Future Together.” It was organized by the Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV), a group affiliated with the Gülen Movement.

M. Fethullah Gülen: educator, mystic, peacebuilder

Remarkably, President Erdogan has zero evidence to back up his charge that Mr. Gülen was behind the failed coup. If extradited to Turkey, Mr. Gülen would appear before a kangaroo court and be sentenced to death.

Calgarian held in Turkish prison granted a lawyer but confined to solitary

Calgary-based Imam Davud Hanci was arrested on allegations that he was the mastermind behind a failed coup attempt in July to remove Turkish President Recep Erdogan from power — allegations Hanci’s family called “ridiculous.”

Unaffected by tension, TUSKON promotes Turkish economy

The Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) has had its share of these provocative media reports. Regarding the recent media reports criticizing TUSKON’s lobbying efforts for Turkish firms abroad, TUSKON President Rıza Nur Meral told Sunday’s Zaman that allegations against TUSKON “do not make sense” and that the confederation has always supported Turkish businessmen who want to branch out into global markets. “We will continue our support [for Turkish entrepreneurs],” Meral added.

Zaman journalists defy threat of arrest with heads held high

Scattered across a newsroom producing Turkey’s largest-circulating newspaper, the Zaman daily, journalists from the Feza Media Group remain confident while waiting for police officers to come and handcuff them.

Chronology of Dec. 17: The stones are settling into place…

İSTANBUL Dec. 17, 2013: On the morning of Dec. 17, Turkey wakes up to a bribery and corruption operation. Simultaneous operations in İstanbul and Ankara take place after an investigation that included allegations of land being opened up to illegal city zoning, bribery and money laundering. The operations, which are carried out on the orders […]

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

GYV to deliver awards to peace projects

How strong is the Gülen movement in France?

New Book – “Beginnings and Endings: Fethullah Gülen’s Vision for Today’s World”

Turkish charities in Somalia for long haul

Pioneering Turkish teachers realize long-sought dream

My husband is being tortured and I am worried about his life

Something rotten within the government?

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News