The world was in mourning today as it became clear that Recep Erdogan of Turkiye had been hit over the head by a banking scandal. But things are somewhat confused as to why the flying missile has turned into “a corruption investigation involving state-run lender Halkbank”.
Much as I dislike what Erdogan is obviously up to, this development has my nose twitching. Who – on a broader scale – wants Erdogan gone? Who is pummeling the Turkish currency to death? The answers for anyone with a brain must point across the Atlantic to our Special Relations.
This post is brief and to the point, in that I am begging a 60m Dollar Question. EU energy, Syrian politics, Greek debt, Russian blackmail, the rape of Cyprus, Israeli propaganda and Turkiye being rewarded for standing by NATO during the Chemical Weapons scam: why are Dark Forces now keen to dump Erdo the Mad? To inform that question, let’s look more closely at the key Islamist rivals to Erdogan in Turkiye – the Hizmet movement inspired by Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen
The influence of the Hizmet movement is very much in the Ankara spotlight today. Ill-feeling between Hizmet and Erdogan is said to have grown since the Turkish government moved to close down a network of private schools run by Hizmet. But Erdoganite suspicion of Hizmet has been around ever since Fethullah Gülen became the first Muslim scholar to publicly condemn 9/11.
Gülen is US based. He is seen by Washington as somebody who believes that Muslims and non-Muslims once lived in peace because the Ottoman Turks established an environment of tolerance. To restore this peaceful coexistence worldwide, he says, Turks should become world leaders in promoting tolerance among religions—and Turks following his teachings should become world leaders. This is in direct contrast to Erdogan, who has overturned the secular tolerant school originally inspired by Kemal Ataturk.
Turkish businessmen are attracted by what they see as Mr Gülen’s international outlook and pragmatic approach to issues like using credit. And Fethullah Gülen himself is a billionaire whose influence extends far beyond Turkey, funding hundreds of Islamic schools, think tanks and media outlets, from Kenya to Kazakhstan. He has attracted millions of followers and further billions of dollars.
In short, his apparently benign Islamic philosophy and material success make him acceptable to the US Establishment. Gülen lives in Pennsylvania, in the Poconos. He is, among other things, a major player in the world of American charter schools. On paper, he looks like the right guy to back.
But others say he is a very, very false flag indeed. Hizmet followers in Turkey hold influential positions in institutions from the police and secret services to the judiciary and the AK Party itself. As far as I can tell, they were with little doubt behind the arrest of bank-scandal criminals close to Recep Erdogan a week ago. Erdogan has, in retaliation to this, effected a Cabinet reshuffle which purged eight Hizmet sympathisers. This is now a struggle for power between the ruling AKP, and Hizmet. “The reshuffle means practically creating a war cabinet,” says Hamid Akin Unver, an assistant professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, “The war is [about] AKP’s political survival, and the battle it is going to rage for control.”
The US State Department and the CIA have built up an impressive track record of backing the wrong folks that is almost (but not quite) as consistent as that of Britain’s FCO and MI5. Bearing in mind this unerring SNAFU facility, Gülen’s detractors are fond of quoting his 1999 speech that went like this:
“You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power centres……Until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria, . . . like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt……The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it…..you must wait until such time as you have all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey”.
My gut feeling is that yet again the US government and its intelligence agencies are bringing a Trojan Horse into the stockade. Just as with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, they see Fethullah Gülen as a more malleable NATO “ally” in the longer term than Erdogan….most likely because they have become suspicious of the close ties he retains to the hated Iranian regime.
These power geopolitics overlay almost perfectly the energy geopolitics involved. Essentially, we are still looking at two rivals, with the EU playing piggy in the middle: Russia, Syria, Iran, and China on the one side, with the US, Cyprus/Turkey, Israel and Greece on the other. Alexis Tripras of Syriza has chosen the US axis. For the US, the unsquared circle remains the vituperative antipathy between Turkey and Israel. Hence (one suspects) Washington’s desire to have “their guy” onside in Turkiye.
Were Angela Merkel not a globally ambitious megalomaniac, the shared interest between her and Obama would be the obvious way to go. But Geli speaks fluent Russian, Vlad speaks fluent German, and they are both former hardline USSR Stalinists. As I’ve posted over and over ad nauseam, there is nothing the German Chancellor would like better than a third global power base in which a Russian-supported EU acts as a power balance between the US and China.
In a very delicate situation, the Americans are not playing the most subtle Bridge hand in this situation. They bet the farm on Geli re the eurozone mess, and they backed the Muslim Brotherhood in Greece and Syria. Both calls have turned bad. Now they may well be backing a harder-line closet enemy in Turkiye than the man they already own there. Not for the first time do I wish the US would stay at home and focus on some serious post-oil energy technology to trump everyone else’s hand.