by Ahmet Aslan (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 6, Shawwal, 1437)
Ample proof has emerged of the Gulenist cult, backed by the US, in trying to engineer the coup in Turkey. This attempt may have failed but another one cannot be discounted.
Middle East history is replete with CIA-engineered coups. It is a well-known fact that when the Washington imperialists concludes a certain government no longer serves their interests, and if other options are no longer feasible, they stage a coup to get rid of the source of the problem. This is precisely what happened on the night of July 15/16 in Turkey. The self-proclaimed Turkish “scholar” Fethullah Gulen gave his followers embedded in the army the green light to initiate a coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP government.
Gulen and his Hizmet movement is a surreptitious cult and have been deceitfully disguising themselves under the mask of “moderate Islam.” Therefore, it has been puzzling for many outsiders to understand how a “religious group” can stage such a sophisticated coup that was about to topple one of the most powerful governments in the region. Due to Turkey’s destructive role in Syria and Iraq, Crescent International has been critical of Erdogan and the AKP government but we have also been noting the malicious nature of the Gulenist movement that is more dangerous and destructive than any other political group in Turkey.
Further, whether one likes it or not, Erdogan’s AKP enjoys mass public support and thus it represents the will of the Turkish people. However, the Gulenist cult has no public backing and aimed to impose its unscrupulous agenda on the people. Thus it must be approached with utmost caution.
The malicious nature of the Gulenist cult comes firstly from their Machiavellian interpretation of religion that equates divine commitment with possession of power by any means and considers justifiable any form of vile act that supposedly helps the cult to fulfill its insatiable desire for power. In order to achieve their ultimate goal, the Gulenists have adopted the way of infiltration into crucial administrative, legislative, and military institutions of state. Under utmost secrecy members of the group who are often recruited from the time they are in high school or university, are ushered into the most sensitive posts through nepotism, fraud, and even intimidation. According to the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT), perhaps the only government body that has remained largely out of the reach of the Gulenists, since the 1990s almost 70% of the most sensitive state posts have been filled by the Gulenists.
Statements of senior members of the Gulenist cult who after the failure of the coup have turned against the group and become informants, say the most crucial drive for cult members is to maintain their disguise at any cost. In order to achieve this, members are told they can breach any rules of Islamic law such as drinking alcohol, abandoning prayers, or fasting, etc. They have been instructed to curse even their group and the leader in order to avoid detection. Going against the rules of Islam becomes easy for followers of the group because they consider their leader Fethullah Gulen to be the awaited Messiah (Mehdi). Thus they obey his orders as they would obey divine rules. His followers often refer to him as qutb al-aqtab (leader of the universe). Such a worldview, accompanied by military grade discipline and unyielding ambition makes them a formidable force.
Second, since the Gulenists have no higher objective than to seize power, they can easily form alliances with powerful entities that may help them to achieve their ultimate goal. In this regard it is no secret that the Gulenists have strong ties with the Zionists and the CIA and other entities within the US government. Gulen escaped to the US in 1999, when one of his video recordings was leaked to the media and consequently he was accused of being the leader of an Islamist group that aims to replace Turkey’s secular system with an “Islamic government.” In the recording he instructed his followers on how to behave in crucial state institutions that they infiltrate “The existing system is still in power. Our friends who have positions in legislative and administrative bodies should learn its details and be vigilant all the time so that they can transform it and be more fruitful on behalf of Islam in order to carry out a nationwide restoration. However, they should wait until the conditions become more favourable. In other words, they should not come out too early.”
Since then he has resided in Pennsylvania and managed his clandestine Hizmet movement from there. One piece of clear evidence that points to Gulen’s connections to the CIA is that in order to back his I-140 visa application, Gulen obtained reference letters from George C. Fidas, the then Director for Outreach in the Office of the Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production, and Morton Abramowitz, former US ambassador to Turkey. Further, Graham Fuller who was the former vice-chair of the National Intelligence Council and CIA Station Chief in Turkey, wrote a letter to the FBI in 2006 to advise that Gulen, who was facing deportation, was a “moderate Muslim” and not a threat to national security. Interestingly, Fuller was the CIA Station Chief when the 1997 military coup took place against Necmettin Erbakan’s Welfare Party and he was believed to have overseen the coup on behalf of the CIA. Gulen and his followers were vocal supporters of the 1997 coup.
Another important evidence for the CIA-Gulen connection is Osman Nuri Gundes’ memoirs. Gundes was the head of MIT in Istanbul region and retired from the agency in 1986. He then served as chief intelligence adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller. In his memoirs, Gundes states that the Gulen movement has provided cover for the CIA in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan since the mid-1990s. But the most important evidence is that Gulen has been residing in the US and it is impossible for him to organise a complicated military coup without the blessing of the US security apparatus and government.
Although Erdogan has maintained close cooperation with the US, he has never accepted to become a US puppet. Erdogan is too proud to succumb to any power as he considers himself to be the heir to the mighty Ottoman sultans. Consequently, he treated the US as a partner, not a master, in regional affairs so long as it also served his agenda. Despite ebbs and flows in this relationship, the US was content to work with him as a stable regional ally until the Syrian crisis. Despite the fact that Turkey fully supported the US agenda to topple the government of Bashar al-Asad, when the crisis got out of control, thanks to the rise of the terrorist group, ISIS/ISIL and the increasing strength of Kurdish separatists in the region, Turkish and US interests started to diverge.
Despite Turkey’s concerns, Washington considers the Kurds as an effective force against ISIS and has supported them. Further, Turkey has been developing independent relations with Russia and Iran that has annoyed the US. The tension in relations between the two countries was clearly visible during Erdogan’s visit to the US in March 2016. The Turkish president received a very cold reception from the Obama administration and the mainstream US media referred to him as a dictator. This was perceived as an indication that the US is no longer interested in working with Erdogan and his end was imminent. Soon after the visit, the US initiated the coup against Erdogan through the CIA’s most important operative in Turkey: the Gulenist cult.
It is no coincidence that the Incirlik Airbase, the main US base in Turkey and run jointly by Turkish and US air forces, was one of the headquarters of the coup. Planes took off from Incirlik Airbase to provide logistical support for the coup attempt. Further, it has been revealed that some of the key military leaders of the coup had been secretly meeting US officials in the same base prior to the coup. In this regard Suleyman Soylu, Turkey’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, openly blamed the US for orchestrating the coup. The Turkish public and the AKP government firmly believe that the US was behind the coup.
The Gulenists initially planned to launch the coup at 3:00am on July 16, but an MIT agent operating in one of the HQs of the coup, informed the agency about the plan at 3:00pm on July 15. When the Gulenists found out about this, they rescheduled the coup to 10:00 pm. This was a fatal misstep for the putschists as the coup attempt lost the benefit of synchronised action. That is why when a large number of military Special Forces that were not informed about the change of time, went to capture or kill Erdogan in a hotel in Marmaris at 3:00am, Erdogan was en route to Istanbul to confront the putschists. If they had captured or killed Erdogan it is almost certain that the coup would have been successful. Once Erdogan reached Istanbul with strong support of the masses, the police and a section of the military, he quickly quelled the rebellion.
Whether one likes or dislikes Erdogan, it must be acknowledged that despite some of his serious mistakes, he is a very popular leader in the eyes of the Turkish public and it is due to this popularity that he is still alive. The coup was carefully planned and executed by one of the most deceitful cults in human history that also had strong backing of the US. The only reason it failed is that the perpetrators could not accurately assess the extent of public support for Erdogan.
It is now up to Erdogan to accept US hegemony and succumb to Washington’s diktat or seek alternative allies against the machinations of the Great Satan. Erdogan’s phone conversion with Russian President Vladimir Putin soon after the failed coup attempt gives indication of Erdogan’s next move but the full effects of the event can only be assessed accurately once the dust settles somewhat.