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"Erdogan’s AKP, Fethullah Gülen’s opium, and the Kurdish Question"

KurdishMedia.com - 15 March 2005 / by Aland Mizell
Recently in a Wall Street Journal article, senior journalist Robert L. Pollock emphasized an important point regarding Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s religious Muslim party and its basic view of the West. Erdogan cultivated a view of the West that polarized Turkey and non-Islamic nations as well as those that supported Kurdish autonomy.

According to Pollock, during the 2002 elections, the relationship with America changed, “The mainstream parties that had championed Turkish-American ties self-destructed, leaving a vacuum,” that was filled by “the subtle yet insidious Islamism of the Justice and Development (AK) Party” (2005). In his view, under Erdogan’s current policies Turkey is again becoming “the sick man of Europe” rather than a model of a democratic, secular government. Its most telling symptom is its abandonment of a friendship with the United States in favor of decidedly “an extreme combination of America and Jew-hatred” (Pollack 2005).
Erdogan deeply desires Turkey to maintain its territorial integrity and the Kurds to assimilate and thereby to avoid independence. To accomplish this end, Erdogan has befriended the once distanced Syria and Iran, adopted an anti-Israeli stance, and shunned the once friendly America. By collaborating with potential allies of the Kurds, Erdogan can prevent Kurds from gaining financial dominance through the oil and water resources. Influenced by the ideology and strategies of Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic scholar with a global network of excellent schools who uses religion as the opium for the masses, Erdogan continues the policies of subjugating the Kurds. Gülen addicts them to his Turkish [fundamentalist] Islam to keep them silent and then uses this opiate of ideology to keep them following him as the mehdi or century’s holy man. Similarly, Erdogan drugs the citizenry with his opium of symbolic democratic initiatives while radically advancing Islamism in Turkey through his domestic and foreign policy.
In 2000, Claude Lorieux described the battle for Turkey in the French newspaper Le Figaro, under the subtitle “The Army of Ankara against Islamists,” indicating that secularists fought against fundamentalists who interfered with justice, as in the case of Fethullah Gülen (Lorieux 2002). Charged with conspiring to overthrow the secular state, Gülen had for years trained his students, at least those of Turkish, not Kurdish lineage, to gain control of the key positions in the government and in other institutions.
Εric Biegala noted in the same newspaper in 2002, that the AKP (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi) is moving closer to fundamentalism, the government has acquiesced to the demands of Islamists who are abolishing Ataturk’s principles of secularism, and the schools of Fethullah Gülen are windows into modern Turkey with their Islamization of the youth and preparation for leaders (Biegala 2002). While petitioning for accession into the European Union (EU), a "re-Islamized Turkey," Biegala claims, will bring about an "unforgettable gullibility" for the EU in a continent with a reputation for Fascism and Nazism. Advocating a secular Turkey with, for example, freedom of clothing as in the European universities, and a respect for human rights, the newspaper denounced an Islam that would come to power under the mask of democracy while violating human rights, as readers would surely think of in the case of the Kurds. A probing of Erdogan‘s influential cadre, most of them affiliated with Fethullah Gülen’s movement, would reveal the mastermind behind the Prime Minister’s thinking and his mentor’s masterwork.
Fethullah, a shrewd leader, does not directly affiliate himself with politics but instead shapes policies behind the scenes and counsels his followers behind closed doors about ways to implement his directives. This is not the first time Fethullah Gülen has influenced politicians. For example, the former president of Turkey Turgut Ozal was also one of his followers, but not until Ozal’s death did any one know that he had studied under Gülen’s ideology. During his administration, the military discharged many of Fethullah’s students. Gülen wanted Ozal to prevent these dismissals, but Ozal could not do more at that time because of the military’s power.
In 1993, Fethullah Gülen sent Ozal to Central Asia to legitimize his movement there, particularly when, for example, Islam Karimov was becoming apprehensive of fundamentalists. On his trip to Central Asia, he spent most of his time in Gülen’s schools, and after his return to Turkey the president passed away, when it was revealed that he was a sakird or student of the Qur’an. Gülen ordered his supporters to participate in a mass ceremony for Ozal to demonstrate that a Muslim leader was beloved by his fellow countrymen. Thus, his custom of secretly infiltrating high levels of the government and the military with his students is long-standing.
During the soft coup in 1980, Fethullah distanced himself from the National Salvation Party’s leader Necmedin Erbakan. After its disintegration, Erbakan, however, followed with the Welfare Party and as its leader was elected Turkey’s first Islamist prime minister in 1995. Fearing that the party was engaging in fundamentalist activity and thereby violating the Constitutions secular principles, the Constitutional Court banned the Welfare Party. In 1999 the reincarnated Virtue Party gained twenty percent of the seats in Parliament. At that time Erdogan was Erbakan’s right hand, but Fethullah ordered his followers to vote for leftists and rightist to balance both groups. In so doing he wanted the leftist party to protect him from being accused of being a fundamentalist and of having a secret agenda to overthrow the secular government. In 1999, as a member of the pro-religious Virtue Party (FP), however, Erdogan was charged with "openly inciting public enmity and hatred by pointing out racial and social differences" and sentenced to a ten-month prison term for quoting a poem, "The mosques are our barracks, the minarets our bayonets, the domes our helmets and the believers our soldiers."
So, the question that scholars should ask Fethullah is that if Erdogan did not have even a party when he -- the former mayor of Istanbul -- was released from prison, how did he so quickly become Prime Minister? The answer lies in Fethullah’s power to direct his followers to vote for Erdogan and thereby make him the majority party and in such a manner as to become a noteworthy comparison to Ozal’s party — the Fethullahci.
At a briefing in 1999, a high level official in the Turkish government told Prime Minister Ecevit that “Gülen’s followers will try to get control of the state,” explaining, “Fethullah Gulen tries to be recognized officially with his ‘goodwill’ contacts to high rank politicians. Gülen’s aim is to bring an alternative to the secular system.” (Briefing 1999). Ecevit refused to accept the warning. Today Erdogan’s clandestine strategies mimic his mentor’s goal to establish a neo-Ottoman Turkey with the aid of Islamic neighbors.
When Gülen’s name is mentioned, the first thing that comes to the mind of his students is Said Nursi, known by the Kurds known as Saidi Keri. But Said Nursi is a vehicle used to recruit Muslim people to his community, his cemaat. His leaders use Said Nursi as a mask. First his students read and study the Risale-i-Nur, Said Nursi’s books, but then little by little they introduce the students to Fethullah Gülen, an idol replacing Said Nursi in reverence and in commitment to his writings. It is true that Mr. Gülen does have a depth of knowledge about Islam but also that he uses it to his advantage. When the question of the Kurds comes on the table, Fethullah Gülen sends a mixed message. He uses religion as opium for the masses to oppress the Kurdish people. His rhetoric claims Islam does not sanction an inferior or a superior status. An individual is deemed superior only if he is close to God. It is true that the Qur’an says that God created all nations and tribes, and therefore no individuals or nations are to be favored because of their wealth, power, or race, but only because of their faith and piety (Qur’an 49:13).
By this criterion, only infidels are inferior. Muhammad said, “An Arab is not better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is not better than an Arab, and a red (i.e. white tinged with red) person is not better than a black person and a black person is not better than a red person, except in piety.” Writing in an article entitled “A Comparative Approach Islam and Democracy, Gülen pronounces, “The Prophet says that all people are as equal as the teeth of a comb. Islam does not discriminate based on race, color, age, nationality, or physical traits. The Prophet declared: ‘You are all from Adam, and Adam is from earth. O servants of God, be brothers [and sisters].’ Those who are born earlier, have more wealth and power than others, or belong to certain families or ethnic groups have no inherent right to rule others” (Gülen 2001). However, Fethullah goes further to claim that Islam can be best represented only by the Turks, thus claiming the superiority of the Turks. When a Kurd says, “I am a Kurd and a Muslim,” then it seems he is insulting his hearer. The Kurd will be chastised for establishing his identity in terms of his ethnicity and be challenged to think of himself as a Muslim only, united with his Islamic brotherhood as the Qur’an requires. If he claims a shared allegiance to his ethnic heritage, he will be asked, “Why are you prejudiced?” and be told, “We are all brothers,” a tranquilizer numbing his followers into submission. Yet, this same examiner will never stand for the rights of this “brother.” Instead, as always, Kurds will be oppressed while the religious demagogies keep silent with the same tactics. When it comes to the Kurdish question, when it comes to many questions about the Kurds, the examiner will note that they are caught in the fire and continue to burn — illiteracy is high, the mortality rate is high, and unemployment is high. Many Kurds are living with their cattle in the winter because they cannot afford to buy enough coal or wood to provide heat for their children during the freezing winter. When the military served as the major police force in that impoverished region, they raped many Kurdish women and killed children and older people as well. These advocates of homogeneity and opponents of racism tried to turn attention to their Muslim brotherhood, pointing to the injustice in Chechnya, Bosnia, Palestine, Afghanistan, and Algeria.
When in early 1990 the Soviet tanks stormed Azerbaijanis in Baku, Fethullah cried and was hospitalized because of his heartache. But when Turkish gendarmes burned more than 5000 thousands villages and imprisoned many Kurds who happened to be at the wrong place under the terrorist campaign, he shed no tears. How many people are still missing? How many mothers have not heard from their sons? Nobody knows their fate. Why did Gülen never become hospitalized for his Kurdish Muslim brothers? The sad thing is that many young Kurds, students, and businessmen accept this opium and become addicted to it. His followers claim that they do God’s will and that God requires them to give to their Muslim brother, and indeed the Qur’an advocates these principles. Does God, however, forbid speaking the Kurdish language and enjoying the culture? Is God on Turkey’s side? God’s requirement can be a sin if it is based on this wrong assumption. Fethullah cried when Bosnia’s Muslims were slaughtered by Serbian butchers, yet when a twelve-year old Kurdish boy was slaughtered by a Turkish death squad, was Fethullah hospitalized? Did he get heartaches for those cruel bullets that killed Ugur? No, he did not because this twelve-year old Ugur Kaymaz was deemed a terrorist, according to their Turkish nationalistic definition. How can the Greek Orthodox devotees open Gülen’s schools in Cyprus, but Kurds cannot have their own education? Why did Gülen open thousands of schools abroad to teach the native language and Turkish, while the Kurds could not learn their language in his and their own country? More than thirty million Kurds demand their minority rights because even though they may live in Turkey, they are not of Turkish origin.
Gülen tries to assimilate Kurds by emphasizing the Ottoman ideology in his school, causing many Kurds to see themselves as Osmanli rather than as Selahattin Kurdi. Many Muslims know Saladin as an Islamic hero for having recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders. Saladin was Kurdish by heritage, and during most of his career he used primarily Kurdish officials as his closest partners, but he is renowned for being Islamic.
Today Christians have begun to translate the Bible into the Kurdish language to ensure that those who want to explore its message can understand the principles. To teach them, these followers of Jesus continue to respect the Kurd’s culture and identity without humiliating them or denying their language. By contrast, Mr. Gülen privileges Turkish identity over Islamic religion. Gülen Turkifies Islam in a nationalistic homogeneity.
His support of the Grey Wolves, a fascist-leaning utlra-nationalist organization in Turkey dating back to the 1960s, demonstrates the degree of his nationalism. As an unofficial branch of The Milliyetci Hareket Partisi (MHP) that argued for a military solution to the Kurdish problem, The Grey Wolves, mostly drawn from Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization’s (MIT) secret service, killed hundreds of Kurds. Despite their militant approach to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) insurgency and to their opposition to Turkey’s granting any concessions to the Kurds, Fethullah attended the funeral of the leader Alparslan Turkes demonstrating support for the Kurdish opposition. Very telling, however, is Gülen’s slogan—and his goal—derived from the MHP banner: "One Turkish world, from the Adriatic Sea until the Chinese Wall," a motto constantly used by the government’s parties and other parties in conformity with the system to establish a greater Turkish Muslim world and to oppress the Kurdish people. With a Turkish nationalism called Turanism, the Grey Wolves’ ideology does not allow any national or personal rights to the Kurds, Armenians, Laz, Arabs, or Syrians in Turkey.
While neither Erdogan nor Gülen claims membership, they share the goal of expansionism of Turkish ideology at the expense of all others, and in the case of the later two, it is that of fundamentalist Islam. This approach of ignoring the rights of ethnic minorities is wrong. Now, thanks to the United States and to President Bush’s administration, Saddam Hussein, arguably one of the world’s most evil people, is imprisoned, and the Kurds are freed from his wrath. Mr. Gülen is sad that Saddam has been removed, but the Kurds are free and will no longer be assimilated because they are studying and trying to rediscover their identity.
Since the collapse of the Baathist regime, Mr. Gülen and his media conglomerate are advocating the rights of 300 or 400 thousand Turkmen in Northern Iraq. In what forum was he voicing protest against the treatment of the Turkmen before Saddam was removed? Did the Turkmen not live there for a long time under the Saddam’s regime? Now he publishes articles on his web page accusing the United States of doing wrong in removing Saddam from his dictatorship? He fears that the Kurds will have access to oil and water resources and consequently will have power in the region, the great fear of the AKP and of Fethullah; as a result, the Kurds will refuse the systematic ideology, the opium.
It is critical to compare the strategies of Gülen with that of his protégée Erdogan in tracking Turkey’s shift in foreign policy and in recognizing the opium effect of using religion to advance his agenda. In reading about Erdogan’s reforms, a casual observer would note a reinforcement of secularism and an effort to modernize Turkey as it allies itself, at least on the surface, with the European Union, but a careful scholar would discover a concerted effort to return Turkey to what a few journalists have astutely recognized as a neo-Ottomanism (Rubin, “Is Turkey” 2004).
From a carefully forged relationship with Israel under Ozal to a reinvented foreign policy of calling Israel a terrorist state, Erdogan has dramatically altered the Turkish-Sinai alliance. He has crafted Syrian and Iranian collaboration with Turkey in agendas to disempower the Kurds, while stiff-arming the U.S. Coming into power with the victory of the AKP in 2002, Erdogan spoke of a secular agenda, yet three years later his policies signal a move toward Gülen’s brand of Islamic fundamentalism.
Writing in the Middle East Quarterly, Michael Rubin explains the AKP’s rise to power in Turkey and its consequential initiation of Islamic referendums, “Erdogan has taken a slower, steadier path, careful not to rock the establishment too quickly while at the same time floating an occasional trial balloon for social reforms to advance the Islamist agenda” (Rubin “Green Money” 2005). He tirelessly works for Turkey’s accession into the European Union (EU), in part to reduce the role of the military in governmental affairs as the EU commission has required and further to dissolve its co-dependency on America as it rebuilds an Islamic world. Violating a ban, his wife and daughter wear scarves at public events, a seemingly insignificant gesture but one signaling his intentions. To gain widespread support for his ideological policies, many of his cosmetic policies address issues that his constituents favor. Incurring popularity ensures an advancement of his goals; winning the favor of the public through decidedly visible reforms masks initiatives invisibly Islamic.
Rubin attributes the rise of the AKP to the reforms such as free textbooks and consumer goods tax relieves but finds the economic Islamic boom alarming, “More troubling yet is the pattern of tying Turkish domestic and foreign policy to an influx of what is called Yesil Sermaye, ‘green money,’ from wealthy Islamist businessmen and Middle Eastern states” (Rubin, “Green Money” 2005). In his view, Abdullah Gül’s background in fiscal affairs in Saudi Arabia prepares Gül for the unannounced goal of constructing an Islamic financial system. “The Islamic banks—and especially those sponsored by Saudi Arabia—regularly channel money to Islamist enterprises. On November 9, 2004, Deniz Baykal, leader of the parliamentary opposition Republican People’s Party, accused the AKP of trying to create a religious-based economy” (Rubin, “Green Money” 2005).
Erdogan’s rapidly accumulated billion dollar wealth goes to subsidize the Islamization of Turkey first and other nations second, through such conglomerates as Ulker and holding companies as Koc Holding. Rubin explains the source of income in spite of the secrecy, “Circumstantial evidence may mean that the AKP has a significant source of green money, but economic interests have resulted in an official wall of silence.” In his view, money from such Islamic countries as Malaysia and Saudi Arabia has fueled the $5 billion dollar growth in the economy since the AKP gained power. What is obvious is that Erdo?an’s power is gaining as that of the Turkish General Staff is waning.
Rubin concludes that the AKP’s increase in power through popular reforms, media control such as that of the Dogan group, and the reduction of alternate authority such as that of the military will change the secular Turkish government that renders hope for minority groups, [such as the rights of the Kurds.], "The AKP is like a cancer. You feel fine, but then one day you start coughing blood. By the time you realize there’s a problem, it’s too far-gone." In advancing the fundamentalist agenda of a neo-Turkish Islam, Erdogan systematically and secretly undermines the Kurdish gains through globalization and EU requirements.
Having been unified as democracies against the threat of militants-sheltering Iran and Syria, Turkey and Israel no longer enjoy a strong diplomatic relationship but have taken on an almost adversarial one (Bar’el 2005). Erdogan attacked Israel for its “state terrorism” after the assassination of the founding Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin in a helicopter strike. Subsequently Turkey’s Prime Minister condemned vigorously Israel’s tactics, comparing them to those used in the Spanish Inquisition in a meeting with Israeli Minister of Infrastructure. He repeated the charge against Sharon’s government calling it a “terrorist state” after Israel raided the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and closed the Palestinian tunnels used to smuggle weapons. As further evidence of this unraveling of Turkish-Israeli diplomacy, Erdogan failed to meet with the visiting Israeli deputy Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, when he came to Istanbul in 2004 (Stahl 2004).
Alon Liel, former Israeli Charges d’Affairs to Turkey in 1992, said that for the first time that Turkey is linking its bilateral relations with Israel to Israeli-Palestinian relations (CNS 2004). Erdogan’s trilateral relations with Syria and Iran hinge on ties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but more immediately, to Turkey’s domestic “question”— its rapport with the Kurds.
In terms of Erdogan’s political policies, the Kurdish card figures significantly, as a consequence of his affiliation with and influence under Fethullah Gülen. In strengthening trilateral relations with Iran and Syria against Israel in order to build a pan-Islamic coalition against the Kurds, Erdogan has forged new agreements with his neighboring dictatorial regimes and taken an anti-Israeli stance. For example, using the commonality of a fear of Kurdish rebels, Prime Minister Erdogan recently visited Iran to convince the government to list Turkish Kurdish fighters as terrorists and to cooperate in fighting the former Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), insurgents reinvigorated as the Kongra-Gel (“Erdogan” 2004).

Setting aside formerly strained relations, Erdogan shared with Iran the concern that the Iraqi Kurds’ move toward autonomy might ignite neighboring Kurds in Turkey and Iran, a worry that caused the Iranian security forces to crackdown on dissidents hiding along the Turkish-Iranian border. Erdogan, thus, has shifted from accusing Iran of sheltering Kurdish dissidents to signing one security initiative and three financial agreements with his neighbor. Yet while Iran may have decreased its support for and pledged retributions against the PKK, the Iranian security machinery continues to sponsor terrorism directed toward Turkey.

After the visit of President Bashar al-Assad, the first Syrian head of state to tap into their shared Muslim brotherhood, Erdogan exchanged visits in a "new era" of Turkish-Syrian bilateral accord. Ankara and Damascus are both apprehensive about the Iraqi Kurds’ aspirations for self-rule. If an Iraqi federation leads to Kurdish autonomy, Syria and Turkey fear the destabilization of their minority populations. Formerly antagonistic because Turkey accused Syria of sheltering Kurdish separatists, Syria in 2003 signed a security agreement with Turkey to stop supporting the PKK, with other security measures that included extraditing terrorists charged in Turkey, as well as economic agreements. Erdogan set aside the issues of water from the Euphrates and the dual claim of the Hatay province to achieve his ends of using the Kurdish card to strengthen Turkish Islam.
Erdogan wants to continue Turkey’s bent toward nationalism and its inclination toward seeing minorities as Turks as a means of ushering in a new strain of Turkish Islam. To achieve his goal, he has negotiated with Iran and Syria, to ensure that the Kurds do not accrue financial and educational power and thereby jockey into a position of creating an autonomous state (Gulerce 2005). Further he has denounced Israel and America in favor of a symbiotic relationship with Europe. Like his mentor Fethullah Gulen, Erdogan has tantalized the Turkish public with the opiate of democratic initiatives until they have become addicted to his popular reforms and are too drugged to notice his return of Turkey to a government ruled by fundamentalist ideology and its misuse to suppress the "mountain Turks.”

1 σχόλιο:

  1. Μια αλλη σκεψη:
    O Oμπαμα κιο Γκιουλεν ειναι δημιουργηματα μιας εναλλακτικης σχολης σκεψης .
    Της "Δημοκρατικης σχολης" της Ουασιγκτον.
    Σκοπος της οσον αφορα την τουρκια ειναι ο ειρηνικος ελεγχος του μουσουλμανικου κοσμου μεσα απο την τουρκοισλαμικη θεωρηση περι ανωτερου τουρκικου ισλαμισμου.
    Ετσι δημιουργειται ενα "κοσμοθεωρικο" δικτυο με σχολεια και ισλαμικο ψευδοφονταμενταλισμο .
    Κινδυνος αυτης της προσεγγισης σε σχεση με την βιαια καθυποταγη του ισλαμισμου που πηγαζει απο τους "νεοσυντηρητικους" ειναι η διαβρωση της Δυσης και η ειρηνικη καθυποταγη αυτης με την σειρα της στον Πανμουσουλμανισμο .
    Εξου και η παραφιλολγια περι παντουρκισμου,μιας και η Τουρκια εχει λαβει το "σφραγισμα" εφαρμογης αυτου του σχεδιου.
    Παντως πιστευω οτι η ολη ιστορια θα προχωρα ως ενα κραμα νεοσυντηρητικου ραπισματος που ταιριαζει πιο πολυ στο ισραηλ και μιας χλιαρης προσεγγισης μεσω χαζοθεωριων τυπου τουρκοισλαμισμου.
    Ο κοσμος εχει ξαναζησει τετοιου ειδους εχθροφιλιες και στο παρελθον.


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