Does Gulenism have a future in Turkey?

Translated by: Melissa Clissold /
Orjinal Metin (tr-7/16/2019)

Hello, good day. Yesterday was the third-year anniversary of the July 15 coup attempt. We spoke about it yesterday and today I want to continue on this topic. Today I’m going to evaluate whether or not Gulenism has a future in Turkey. But first, let’s continue from where I left off yesterday – there, I said this: “The ruling Powers, and therefore President Erdoğan, instead of using and seeing July 15 as a foundation to unite Turkey, it preferred to use it as a strategy to polarise society.” To summarise, I showed us certain aspects of the last three years, and last night we saw them all during the commemorations, in the speeches that Erdoğan made.
Again he mentioned “Mr. Kemal” and pointed at Kılıçdaroğlu as a target… and this shows us that Erdoğan’s issue is not about wanting to bring everyone together under the ranks of democracy whilst opposing July 15; it is to use this as a way to protect his power, to distance Turkey more and more from democracy as a more authoritarian leader and politician. That’s the reason I’m actually asking the question “Does Gulenism have a future in Turkey?” What Erdoğan and the ruling powers have done in the past three years – it began a little earlier, but especially after the coup attempt – under the heading of “the struggle against FETÖ”, shows us in fact how ineffective this movement has been made or how it has been made away with, and thus it is now in our current agenda.
Let me say this: So many mistakes were made in the last three years, there was no chance of making things right, because the struggle against Gulenism was not used as a way to make Turkey a more democratic, free, independent country. It was seen and used as a tool to extend the life of the existing political powers. Therefore, it was not possible for this struggle to defeat the concept known as Gulenism, and we can see that it is still not possible. It’s a painful situation that we’re in. We may not be seeing the impacts of this painful situation today, but there is a possibility that in the near future we see Gulenism emerge again. 
I’m not saying that “Gulenism has a future once more in Turkey, it is going to emerge in a strong manner and be effective” – this will most probably not happen. But this is not due to what the government, political powers and those managing the country have done; it’ll be because of what the Gulenists have done. This movement has done a lot of evils to Turkey, and therefore it was actually possible to completely eradicate this movement in Turkey. However, instead of using this opportunity, July 15 was used as a way to extend the life of the current political powers.
And for this exact reason, the political powers managed to actually extend the life of Gulenism too. This July 15 coup attempt took a lot of life from Turkey, but it also extended the life of the current political powers. And under the strategy of “the struggle against FETÖ”, the political powers also undeservingly extended the life of Gulenism too. In normal conditions, Gulenism should have been completely eradicated amongst all fractions of society and because it is also a global movement, it should not have found space to work and move freely within the international arena. This didn’t happen.
Turkey, along with some countries – especially in Africa, Asia and certain Balkan countries – is trying to narrow the spaces of Gulenists, trying to end their activities in their schools through working with governments and creating deals with government heads. Or it is trying to bring certain officials of the movement back to Turkey through working together with intelligence operations. But beyond this, worldwide – especially under the care of Western countries – it has covered a very short distance in terms of showing that Gulenism is an anti-democratic secret organisation.

The reason for this is because the political powers themselves are untrustworthy in the eyes of the Western world – in terms of democracy – secondly, it tried to present the Gulenism issue in a way that wouldn’t harm itself and of course meanwhile, the inadequacy of the actors and the institutions it used, in fact their piteous nature from time to time was also a factor. Remember, after July 15, the first discussions made regarding Gulenism were left to the confessors in Turkey.
Following on, it was left to fractions that had blood feuds with Gülen, but Gulenism was not evaluated cold-bloodedly and seriously within a historical context – it was preferred not to be examined, because if this took place, the serious partnership that had occurred between Gulenism and the AKP would have to be stressed. They wanted to bypass this reality and wanted to present Gulenism as something that was nothing more than a movement relating to the December 17-25 incidents and the July 15 coup attempt. They wanted to cover up the past and the most they could say was “We were tricked, may God forgive us.” Yet, in order to understand this movement, it was necessary for the relationships created between the political powers to be laid upon the table, but this was not desired.
A lot of areas of society were affected with regards to Gulenism, in a very harsh way. Especially, of course, in organisations within the security forces, government bureaucracies, in the Treasury, Courthouse, Internal Affairs. Very serious operations took place, the media was dispensed of, media corporations were taken over, a large portion of journalists were either arrested or they abandoned the country…When we look at it from a societal point of view, anyone who had any relationship to Gulenism by being a member of their syndicates, associations or foundations, anyone working there – from people who had placed money in their bank accounts – were affected. Yet, certain immunities were also granted.
These immunities consisted of certain critical business people and of course politicians for Gulenism. There are hardly any politicians that have been marked with Gulenism – maybe there are none.  But we do know that many people that were and are a part of the ruling party had some sort of direct or indirect relationship with Gulenism. There were wither people who had dedicated themselves to this movement, or there were some people who had formed give-take relationships with this movement and a huge part of them are currently showing themselves as the greatest “anti-FETÖ’ists”, blaming everyone they don’t like to be a member of FETÖ. This is a serious problem. Due to the fact that the political front of Gulenism and the political relationships formed with this movement is not being investigated and not wanting to be investigated by the ruling powers, it has been easy instead for certain politicians disliked by the ruling powers – such as Meral Akşener, Ali Babacan (who they tried but decided against last minute – to be labelled as “FETÖ’ists”.
In order to look at the future of Gulenism, we must also look at the organisation itself. What did the organisation do? We can see that is still trying to survive one way or another in Turkey; but the operations against it are still ongoing. But the organisation has nothing left to say to Turkey. They have still not been able to make any sort of explanation to the public or their followers regarding their relationship to July 15. They are saying something different every day and they are claiming at most that this incident was not a coup, that it was planned, or that their own powers within the military or police were not a part of this – and this does not truly satisfy.
For this reason, we know that there are certain break aways being experienced abroad; certain investigations are being carried out. But up until now, I have not heard of anyone breaking away from this organisation and trying to form another; it does not look like this will happen. We can say that whoever can save their life, is running away; the ones left behind, are staying within the movement with some form of hope, but from what I have seen so far, within three years, when I look at the activities after July 15, when I look at their publications I do not see the power that the movement once clearly had.
They are in a piteous state – a state they deserve – and it looks like they will not be able to save themselves from this situation; but it is important to underline this fact, because an important part of them, important people amongst them being able to live easily abroad and carry out their activities – it makes me think that certain individuals may be supporting these people just in case. Back in the day, around 50 years ago, Fethullah Gülen, with his anti-communist rhetoric, during the Cold War period, came into prominence through fluffing up the appetite of several Western countries and this played an important role in his fast ascent and development.
Will they once more perhaps want to use Gulenism, especially his schools around the world? It won’t be as attractive as before; but they may want to keep it close to hand. But as it is, I don’t think anything other than Fethullah Gülen is keeping Gulenism together. Of course, they may be an element of thinking that a joint crime has been committed, therefore a feeling of solidarity, betweenness and shared fate may be present; but ideologically and morally we can see that is going through a collapse, we can see that a lot of people cannot really defend what they have done.
The most ambitious members abroad, even Gulenists, are not really saying anything clearly to the public or their own supporters, they’re constantly changing the subject. This shows us that the movement does not really have a future; but like I said, it is a movement of almost half a century and during this half a century, its essence has been secretive gathering. Therefore, we must also acknowledge that it can’t disappear easily.
Ok, so Gulenism may not have a future, but perhaps certain religious groups that aspire to be like the movement etc exist? Will “cults” or “sects”, as they say in the West, be formed in Turkey? I really don’t think so; members of the government are not really thirsty to enter relationships with these sorts of structures – but another factor is society. After this calamity that has been experienced, they will be more careful with regards to the schools they send their children, or the charity they provide towards foundations, and will learn a lesson from this. Of course, this does not mean that religious organisations will disappear completely in Turkey; but it is clear that the Gulenist experience has seriously sabotaged the activities in social areas of Islamism or different Islamic groups in the middle and long term.
Now, I don’t think that religious organisations will be able to pull people, children from religious families or the support of religious families towards them through education and media etc. by making certain claims. Therefore, a general answer to the question of whether or not Gulenism has a future, I would answer mostly “No.” But with certain reservations…Yet, beyond this, as a result of the Gulenist experience in Turkey, and the July 15 experience, the bloody war between Gulenism and the political powers using Islam as an excuse – I am of the opinion that the Islamic movement in Turkey – generally does not have a future. 
But we must stress this especially: a large portion of the population of Turkey is Sunni Muslim and a lot of these Sunni Muslims see themselves as religious. This country is generally conservative and Islamic organisations, religious organisations will always exist. Islamic ideology will always exist; yet I am of the opinion that the bright period it experienced during the 1990s-2000s – if we were to use an Islamic term ‘asr-ı saadet period’/ period of bliss -, will not easily be experienced again. Yes, this is all I have to say. Good day. 

Destek olmak ister misiniz?
Doğru haber, özgün ve özgür yorum ihtiyacı
Bugün dünyada gazeteciler birer aktivist olmaya zorlanıyor. Bu durum, kutuplaşmanın alabildiğine keskin olduğu Türkiye'de daha fazla karşımıza çıkıyor. Halbuki gazeteci, elinden geldiğince, doğru haber ile özgün ve özgür yorumla toplumun tüm kesimlerine ulaşmaya çalışmalı ve bu yolla, kutuplaşmayı artırma değil azaltmayı kendine hedef edinmeli. Devamı için

Recent articles (10)
24.06.2020 Turkey-Egypt: The unending fight
27.05.2020 Turkey: Will Erdoğan hold on to his voter base at all costs? Can he retain it?
30.04.2020 Turkey: The search for meaning by children of religious families
05.04.2020 Turkey: A multi-party “single-party state”
24.03.2020 The truth about coronavirus from Fahrettin Koca to Fatih Terim
10.03.2020 What do they want from Osman Kavala?
25.02.2020 As the era of Tayyip Erdoğan comes to an end
20.02.2020 The real story behind the Tayyip Erdoğan-Fethullah Gülen war
18.02.2020 How and why did political Islam collapse in Turkey?
24.01.2020 Erdoğan’s transformation story: Did he conquer the fortress or did the fortress conquer him?
25.09.2020 Kemal Can ve Ruşen Çakır ile Haftaya Bakış (33): Yeni HDP operasyonu, iktidarın geri adımları, İYİ Parti kongresi & Soylu'nun AYM ısrarı
24.06.2020 Turkey-Egypt: The unending fight
12.05.2020 Les guerres post-modernes de la mafia en Turquie
19.08.2019 Erneute Amtsenthebung: Erdogans große Verzweiflung
11.02.2016 Hesabên herdu aliyan ên xelet şerê heyî kûrtir dike
05.05.2015 CHP-şi Goşaonuş Sthrateji: Xetselaşi Coxo Phri-Elişina Mualefeti
03.04.2015 Djihadisti I polzuyutsya globalizatsiey I stanovitsya yeyo jertvami. Polnıy test intervyu s jilem kepelem
10.03.2015 Aya Ankara Az Kobani Darse Ebrat Khahad Gereft?
08.03.2015 La esperada operación de Mosul: ¿Combatirá Ankara contra el Estado Islámico (de Irak y el Levante)?
18.07.2014 Ankarayi Miçin arevelki haşvehararı