Our “ally” in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is keeping himself busy these days. When he’s not off hobnobbing with Vladimir Putin he’s back home taking care of business, and “business” this week comes in the form of raiding private companies in search of even more enemies of the state who may have been involved in the recent coup attempt against him. Let’s just say that it’s been a bad month for anyone who could be imagined as being a friend of a certain Cleric currently living in Pennsylvania. (Fox News)
Turkey’s state-run news agency says police have launched simultaneous raids on 44 companies suspected of providing financial support to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement.
Turkey accuses Gulen of being behind the July 15 failed coup, a claim Gulen denies.
The Anadolu Agency says Tuesday’s raids in Istanbul’s Umraniye and Uskudar districts came after authorities issued warrants to detain 120 company executives as part of the investigation into the coup attempt. The agency did not identify the companies searched.
People continue to disappear on a daily basis and the numbers are adding up to the tens of thousands. With all but state approved media shut down in the country, the rest of the populace has little chance to find out what’s going on and are no doubt extremely cautious about saying anything to anyone which might be construed as criticism of the Erdogan regime. What’s missing from all of this activity is any solid evidence pointing to a connection to cleric Fethullah Gulen.
For his part, Gulen continues to claim that he had nothing to do with the coup and has held to that position from the beginning. Did he? That’s a tough call to make, though it’s fair to say that his previous activity could suggest that he wouldn’t be terribly upset if Erdogan were to suddenly find himself out of power. But how much influence does the cleric actually have and how many resources could he muster inside of the military?
He’s not entirely powerless. The Washington Post did a profile on him shortly after the failed coup and it reveals at least the potential for quite a bit of influence. His organization has spawned more than 160 charter schools in the United States so he has access to considerable funding. Back home in Turkey they make it sound as if he’s an influential figure, but the reports are vague and only refer to members of the police and municipal governments who are his followers.
So perhaps there’s something to the idea that Gulen has some sort of movement behind him, but it was clearly ineffective in attempting a national revolt even if he were the source. Does Erdogan really need to be cracking down to this degree? Far more likely of an explanation is that the cleric has now become “the other” which the President will point to as the root of all evil and use real or imagined associations with Gulen as an excuse to seize or suppress anyone who speaks unkindly of his regime. And in the meantime, he remains a US “ally” with the full support of Washington.
We’ve lived to see strange days indeed.