Is Gulen the scapegoat of Ankara crisis?


Date posted: August 18, 2020

Felix Kaiza

In the language of the learned brothers, now the world knows something beyond any reasonable doubt. The fall of the Berlin Wall did not mean the end of the Cold War; just as the hair-split and almost insignificant phonetic difference between wall and war still makes the whole big difference on the global ground.

Three decades on, West and East bloc countries are on each other’s neck more than any time during the hot Cold War period. Relations between China and the US stand testimony to this. As I was writing this piece, the US President Trump was reported as amassing troops targeting Russia — all being done under the so-called post-Cold War umbrella.

Turned in the direction of the Turkish state of affairs what does one see? The people and country’s economy stand very negatively impacted. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lays the blame essentially on the orchestrated failed July 2016 coup attempt, which he places squarely on the brains and shoulders of Muslim Cleric Fethullah Gulen living in US exile and his Hizmet (service) movement.

Turkish history chronicles hold a period of very close ties between Gulen and Erdogan. The two were so close that one would be right to state that Erdogan took hold of the Turkish power reigns because of Gulen backing. But an argument emanating from some quarters at this point in time that Gulen is responsible for what is currently afflicting Turkey and its people, is rendered incorrect.   

A critical mind would instead look into and establish the point at which Erdogan and Gulen parted with each of them assuming the same charge and repelling to the present day, if chemistry could be overstretched to cover politics practices as well.  

In his book titled “Fethullah Gulen: A Life of Hizmet  and sub-titled “Why a Muslim Scholar in Pennsylvania Matters to the World”, Prof. Jon Pahl points to five peace-building findings associated with Gulen. These are learning literacy, non-violent practice of Islam, engaged empathy, principled pluralism and social enterprise – all targeting to “live well and do good.”

Said Nursi professed basically three enemies of Turkey as being ignorance, poverty and disunity. Along these lines, the Hizmet (Gulen’s) Movement spirit became one of bridging faith and science through engaged empathy, discussing how the world can be made of nations with homes enlightened and prosperous as schools and schools as warm as homes besides today’s world state of generating more heat than light leading to all sorts of fatal conflicts as dialogue and consultation enter the society’s list of lost items. The family becomes as a sacred school like a mosque.

The result is what sociologists view as social bonding capital. Empathy-driven education, business and health social enterprises come on board to establish a new power balance of justice, love, respect and equality among people.

It is here that those in political power – those with dictatorial tendencies in particular– don’t trust whoever tries to mould a cohesive and disciplined community through education, mass media and financial networks.  

One Tanzanian Sheikh Ismail Mohammed Salim, founding chairman of the Ishik Education and Medical Foundation that works on the Gulen principles, had time to caution world leaders against demonizing people the like of Gulen “who stand for peace and common good because at the end of time, truth shall prevail.”

The point of truth is virtually nigh. Four years after the coup, whose real perpetrators remain a puzzle, the world is told nearly 600,000 people, most of them suspected Gulenists, have been investigated. About 100,000 have been arrested, some of them for having an account at a bank associated with Gulen.

Former PrimeMinister Binali Yıldırım said: “… July 15 was a project I did not like at all.”  Why? Purge lists were prepared in advance and to be affected immediately after the attempt. About 3,000 judges and prosecutors had been earmarked for arrest.  In the absence of ‘anticipated’ criminal evidence, 2,745 ended up being dismissed any way.

After a coup he was not aware of, one Rear Admiral and top officer at the NATO training command in Norfolk was, two weeks after, charged with taking part in it and dismissed, ending up as an asylum seeker in the US.   

Figures released by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar put the number of servicemen dismissed since the coup at 20,077.  In the echoes of the fourth-year commemoration activities, at least 41 people, many of them soldiers, were detained and warrants issued for more than 25 others. More than 150,000 public employees have been suspended or sacked as part of the Turkish government’s global crackdown on the Hizmet group.

Turkey democracy, according to one professor, “is moving in the other direction now. It looks like freedoms are being curtailed while the ruling party protects its own interest at the expense of others…”  Another professor says: “My experience with the Hizmet Movement has been that it is committed to the most idealistic notions of dialogue, education and social justice and not at all really political in its orientation… When leaders get themselves into difficulty, they might look for a scapegoat. They might look for someone to blame. And this is very unfortunate.

Another opinion argues, “the Hizmet Movement is not interested in attaining power; it is not interested in political power in Turkey or elsewhere in the world, but it wants to adhere to a certain pro-democratic, pro-liberty and freedom agenda so that those who are elected to political power not only have a responsibility to provide economic development and to provide education to their people but, at the same time, are held to the highest ethical standards of conduct.

The above opinions point to the Gulen-Erdogan departure line, which has had effects on the Turkish soil and spilling over to other countries, where the Hizmet Movement has extended its service spirit. It is only unfortunate that the government has taken measures even to curtail the movement’s presence in those countries, Africa and Asia in particular.  

Clearly put, Gulen and Erdogan repelled after the unearthing of the 2013 grand corruption scandal traceable to the presidency, family members and close associates. This was the start of the purges which were accelerated after the coup because the list was there already in advance. And it is ever growing.

Turkey is where it is today, not because of Gulen and the Hizmet Movement but rather as the product of a change of heart in the current government leadership, flushing good governance and tolerance components from the country’s management affairs running systems. Solution to the Ankara crisis can only be found through establishing its root cause rather than finding a scapegoat. The Berlin Wall is indeed no more; but the Cold War on the ground remains hotter than as ever!  It’s far from over.    

Source: PoliTurco , August 16, 2020


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