Fethullah Gülen is a leading figure in the politics and religious affairs of Turkey, and is exiled in Pennsylvania. According to Erdogen, he played the pivotal role in the attempted coup against his regime earlier this year. The Turkish government thus demands Gülen’s extradition, yet the US State Department requests credible evidence of his “terrorist” activity before they do anything. They could allay doubts by going up to Gülen’s 26-acre compound in the Pocono Mountains at any time – a place once visited by FBI alumnus and recovering neo-con Paul L. Williams – and see his adherents training for an explosive homecoming; but they may bump into the CIA agents delivering shipments of weapons, so have prudently decided against such a trip.
The Turkish demand brings to mind the US ultimatum given to Afghan authorities in 2001: hand over Osama bin Laden or suffer grave consequences. The Taliban similarly requested evidence of bin Laden’s guilt – Bush Jr responded with, “there’s no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he’s guilty” (and there is a glowing example of the Rule of Law he promised to bring to the Orient). Afghan deputy prime minister:
“If the Taliban is given evidence that Osama bin Laden is involved” and the bombing campaign of the country stopped, “we would be ready to hand him over to a third country.”
In response, the Americans intensified the bombing campaign and initiated the ground invasion they’re still mired in. Imagine, if you can, Turkey doing the same to the US right now. Would all those sickening pundits at the Washington Post, the NYT and elsewhere – including such bastions of sanity like the Nation – maintain consistency and cheer on Erdogen’s steely resolution?
In 2015, Gülen was awarded the grandly named, but meaningless accolade The Gandhi King Ikeda Peace Award. This prize appears to be have set up as a vanity project-cum-publicity ploy for the last of those (no surprise there): Daisaku Ikeda, the leader of the cultish and politically savvy Soka Gakhai. Yet notice how the award is described as “prestigious” in the very, very few places it gets a mention on the web. (Interesting further details can be found here.)
If you’re wondering why the CIA would throw their lot in with this preacher and twobit thinker – so much so that former Station Chief in Kabul for the CIA Graham Fuller supported his successful bid for a Green Card. Well: he has a large and devout following, is pro-Israel (just look how that issue in particular has blown up so recently with Erdogen and Trump’s tit-for-tat, highlighting the latter’s desperate need for allies in the region), supportive of big business, is against Assad and for aligning Turkey further with the West, through the EU and NATO.
Don’t misread this and think it’s a defense of the awful Erdogen. Everyone with a shred of decency rightly hates that Islamist zealot and obsessive jailer of journalists. But the above points to another, vital level of understanding that underscores current coverage of US-Turkey relations, and hints at how the world really works.