Does Turkey suffer from Gulenophobia?
About two weeks ago Turkey’s EU Minister Ömer Çelik claimed that European leaders suffer from Erdoğanophobia, which in layman’s terms means an irrational fear of Turkish President Erdoğan.1 I guess in Çelik’s mind this is the only plausible explanation for why EU relations with Turkey are souring. Maybe there are some Erdoğanophobes in Europe, but before Turkish officials cry foul over potentially non-existence collective psychological phenomenon in Europe, maybe they should address their own national phobia, that of Gülenophobia or Fetöphobia.*
It could be argued that I am being unfair, biased and facetious in claiming that Turkey is suffering from Gülenophobia or its concomitant. Possibly to some extent this may be the case, but as I will attempt to demonstrate, based on Turkish reactions towards and characterizations of Gülen and FETÖ, there is ample evidence supporting my contention. In this regard Turkish behavior does appear to be rather irrational and entering into the realm of the phobic. However, I do not Erdoğan and his minions suffer from Gülenophobia. As we will see there is little irrational about their behavior as they know exactly what they are doing in utilizing Gülen as a universal scapegoat of sorts.
Who is Gülen
Lets start with how Gülen and his movement is characterized by some Turkish officials and journalists. First off according to Yeni Şafak Gülen has deep ties with the CIA and the Mossad. Even more troubling is a report by Takvim newspaper which claims he has a Vatican passport and is a catholic agent.2,3 Erdoğan has also stated that “FETÖ is a product of a Jacobin, oppressive educational policy that is both behind the times and far from the core values of society.”4
Not only is Gülen connected to the Mossad but, if we are to believe a Sabah columnist, he is also a Jew, which explains “why this dishonest [person] is close to Christians.”5 Ömer Çelik stated that Nazi’s were like “primary school students” compared to Gülenists.6 While Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, Erdoğan’s son-in-law, warmed that Gülenists are more dangerous than ISIL members because they are better educated and have higher IQs.7
Possibly the most dangerous aspect of Gülen are his purported “metaphysical powers.” The mayor of Ankara Melih Gökçek speculated that Gülen may be able to enslave people through the use of genies.8 The mayor’s allegations were supported by a General Directorate of Security (Turkey’s national police force) report which stated that Gülen uses “metaphysical phenomena such as spells, genies and dreams” to control his followers.9 Furthermore the report claims that FETÖ has developed highly effective brain washing methods able to produce completely servile and robotic followers known as “mankurts.” No wonder Erdoğan is so concerned about the scourge of Gülen and his loyal followers.
Most of Turkey’s troubles result from Gülen
But beyond Gülen being a CIA and Mossad backed Jewish Jacobin catholic agent able to summon genies and completely brainwash people (I am surprised he was not accused of being a Russian agent), his influence is so entrenched within Turkey that apparently most of the woes besetting the country result from his devious and tireless machinations.
One such example, again involves mayor Gökçek, who speculated that a magnitude 5.2 earthquake which struck Çanakkale province last month could have been caused by Gülenists. Gökçek said “They are trying to strike Turkey by causing an earthquake near Istanbul. Some people could laugh at me, but I am worried about it. All submarines and ships with serious equipment in Marmara and Dardanelles, close to Istanbul should be put under control.”10 Gökçek also blamed Gülenists for the failure of his son Osmal to be elected to Ankara’s chamber of commerce.11
Sabotaging of Turkish relations with foreign countries and groups
When not causing earthquakes, Gülen and his followers are busy attempting to sabotage relations between Turkey and Russia. Take for example the November 2015 downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber by Turkish F-16’s. This incident precipitated a serious crisis in Russian-Turkish relations, much to the detriment of Turkey. Immediately following the incident, then Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu claimed responsibility stating “The Turkish Armed Forces carried out orders given by me personally.”12
In June 2016 Erdoğan finally came to his senses and apologized to Putin, which brought an end to crisis between the two countries. Interestingly, following the July 15 attempted coup, the two pilots involved in the downing of the Su-24 were arrested over suspicions they were coup supporters.13 According to Erdoğan “Two pilots who downed a Russian plane have been detained in connection with the coup attempt. They could have links to Gulen organization, but we do not have clear evidence at this point, it will be established by the court.”14
There is no doubt that this is a notable coincidence, but no Turkish official explicitly tied the downing of the Su-24 with a Gülenist plot. However, during a September 2016 meeting Erdoğan told Putin that, “Today we understand even more clear that terrorist organization of Fethullah [Gulen] and those powers that stand behind him, have been undermining our relations with you.”15
When Russia’s ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was assassinated by Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, who most likely was an al-Nusra operative, it did not take long for Turkish officials and media16 to draw connections between the assassin and Gülen. As Erdoğan put it “The assassin of the Russian ambassador is obviously a member of FETÖ. There is no need to hide it. Where he grew up, and all connections reveal this.”17 It seems that Gülen was unhappy with the improving relations between Russia and Turkey and thought assassinating Karlov would be a viable way of sabotaging the ongoing rapprochement.
FETÖ also seems intent on scuttling Turkey’s relations with the EU. I am sure most are aware of the worsening relations between Turkey and West resulting from the migrant crisis, Western support of the Kurds and their lack of action against Gülen, among other issues. Well according to Erdoğan “I believe it is most definitely FETÖ behind the crisis between Turkey and the European Union and Western countries.”18 Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek reiterated the President’s sentiment saying, “Lately, the terrorist organization FETÖ and the separatist group [PKK] are in efforts to poison our relations with the EU, but we will never allow that.”19
If we are to believe Şimşek, FETÖ and the PKK are both attempting to undermine relations with the EU, yet according to Emre Taner a former MIT (Turkish intelligence agency) official FETÖ sabotaged the 2009 talks between the Turkish government and the PKK.20 So it looks like FETÖ doesn’t want Turkey to get along with anyone.
FETO sabotage of the Turkish economy
When Moody’s gave a junk rating to Turkey’s long-term issuer and senior unsecured bonds, the Turkish government was not very pleased with this decision.21 Unsurprisingly, Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli made a series of tweets in which he seemed to be suggesting that the Gülenists movement had some role to play in Moody’s decision.22
Addressing the general economic problems besetting Turkey, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım claimed that, “Since it failed to make its golden shot on July 15, this vile FETÖ is now conducting an unbelievable operation with all its power to ruin the economy, change the perception [about the economy], discourage foreign investors and change their perception about Turkey.”23 We should remember that when Melih Gökçek accused FETÖ of possibly causing earthquakes, the reason for such an attack was to tank the Turkish economy. Gülenists tax inspectors are also accused of orchestrating $4.5 billion tax conspiracy against the Dogan Media Group.24
Other things Gülenists are up
The pro-government Daily star has implicated Gülenists in the deadly New Year’s Reina nightclub shooting, as the company that provided security at the club has connections to the Gülen movement.25 Not only is Gülen implicated in terrorist attacks in Turkey, but Yiğit Bulut, an adviser to Erdogan, wondered whether it was possible that FETÖ was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.26
When MIT trucks full of weapons destined for Syrian rebel groups were fortuitously intercepted at the border, this was not a Turkish intelligence operation gone wrong, but an operation staged by FETÖ intended to discredit Erdoğan.27 The police violence against Gezi protestors in 2013, you guessed it was actually caused by Gülenists.28 Massive leak of personal identity data of 50 million Turks, Gülenists.29 Illicit drug trafficking, Gülenists.30 An attempt to sabotage a Turkish submarine, linked to Gülenists.31 Heck, purportedly they even attempted to poison President Erdoğan himself.32
I am sure there are more examples which I have not covered, but based on the ones that I have adduced it is not unreasonable to conclude that many Turks do in fact have an irrational fear of Gülen. Seemingly every thing that goes wrong in Turkey, can in some way or another, be tied back him and his followers. As Deputy Prime Minister Tuğrul Türkeş joked “When the shock absorber of your car is broken, they put blame on people with ties to FETO.”33
For most people Turkey’s ‘Gülenophobia’ may be a source of laughter. As a CIA and Mossad backed Jewish Jacobin catholic agent who has the ability to cause earthquakes among others metaphysical powers, Gülen would make a great character in a Clive Cussler novel. Especially for those of us who do not live there, it is easy to laugh at what is occurring in Turkey, but the current situation in the country is no joke. As Burak Bekdil writes “Turkey is fun, unless you have to live there.”34
One problem is that Turkey’s Gülenophobia is not an organic societal phenomenon. There may be some Turks, especially rank and file adherents of the AKP, who truly believe that Gülen is a great preternatural threat to their country,** but as for Erdoğan and his minions in the government and media, I do not believe this to be the case.
Of course they may view Gülen as threat to their power, but ultimately, especially following the July 15 attempted coup, Erdoğan appears to be fully ensconced in power. Erdoğan is propounding the Gülenophobia narrative mainly for political reasons, in an attempt to provide a scapegoat for his failings and to further increase his control over nearly all aspects of Turkish society, by labeling his perceived enemies as Gülenists and then purging or socially ostracizing them.
In response to the July 15 coup, a massive crackdown against FETÖ and its alleged members has been unleashed. Already 122,177 people have been investigated, 41,000 are under arrest, 22,085 military personnel have been dismissed, tens of thousands of government workers have lost their jobs, 4,724 companies have been closed down and over 200 companies have been taken over by the Turkish Savings Deposit Insurance Fund, all for being members of FETÖ or having links to this organization.35 Maybe even more troubling than the ostracization of Gülenists from the military, government and corporate world is the dehumanization of them. According to AKP deputy Mehmet Metiner claims of torture will not be investigated if the victim is a Gülenist.36
In many ways how the Gülenists, or more accurately those suspected of being Gülenists, are being treated by Erdoğan in Turkey is reminiscent of how Hitler treated Jews in Germany. Just as the Jews were a scapegoat for all of Germany’s (and the world’s) problems, so too are the Gülenists in Turkey. And just as all that was needed to improve German society was the removal of the Jews, eventually by the final solution, removal of the Gülenists will also improve Turkish society. The only question that remains is whether or not Erdoğan will adopt his own final solution type plan to rid his nation of those deemed undesirables.
It is interesting to me that a Turkish minister accused European leaders of being Erdoğanophobic and Erdoğan himself has just described Germany’s banning of Turkish politicians campaigning in support of the yes vote for the upcoming referendum as “actions [that] are no different to those of the Nazi period.”37 But if one observes what is currently going on in Turkey, if any nation is suffering from a collective phobia it is the Turks with their Gülenophobia, and if any one is behaving Nazi-like it is the Turkish government and media in their characterization and treatment of those accused of being Gülenists.
Hopefully I am wrong and just abiding by Godwin’s law. Maybe Erdoğan will turn out to be a run-of-the-mill dictator, who quells dissent, increasingly controls the lives of his subjects, curtails freedoms, ignores the rule of law, advances his supporters and ostracizes his detractors, and every now and then eliminates those who are particularly troublesome towards him. Or maybe we are dealing with something a bit more serious, someone more along the lines of Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot.
Regardless of the severity of Erdoğan’s despotic tendencies and where they will ultimately lead, with Turkey’s upcoming referendum, those labeled as Gülenists will be further demonized and targeted. If Erdoğan is able to implement his Presidential system and if he is able to reinstate the death penalty then being a Gülenist will become a whole lot more dangerous. Hopefully it will not become like being a Jew during the Second World War or a kulak in the early 1930’s in the Soviet Union.
References and Notes
[*] For those unaware Fethullah Gülen is an influential Turkish Islamic leader allegedly responsible for the July 15 attempted coup in Turkey and FETÖ is his terrorist organization that he uses to infiltrate and overthrow governments.
 http://en.protothema.gr/ankara-mayor-warns-of-manmade-quake-threat-against-turkey/ , http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/foreign-powers-performing-earthquake-tests-near-istanbul-to-destroy-economy-ankara-mayor.aspx?pageID=238&nID=109436&NewsCatID=341
[**] This is not to say that Gülen is some innocent saint. I am sure he an adversary of Erdoğan and would like to seem him gone and if possible replaced by a system of goverment consistent with religious ideology. As such it is plausable that he is attempting to destabilize Erdoğan’s government to a certain extent. However the manner in which he is portrayed in the Turkish media and narrative that he is basically the cause of most trouble in Turkey is overboard to say the least.
 https://www.turkishminute.com/2016/12/30/turkish-minister-122177-people-investigated-gulen-links/ , http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/41000-gulen-probe-suspects-are-under-arrest-justice-ministry.aspx?pageID=238&nID=108062&NewsCatID=509 , http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/total-of-22000-turkish-military-members-dismissed-over-feto-links-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=107148&NewsCatID=509 , https://www.turkishminute.com/2016/12/19/4724-companies-organizations-closed-gulen-links-since-july-15/ , https://www.turkishminute.com/2016/09/29/turkey-confiscates-200-companies-operations-targeting-gulen/