Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
has called for international action against the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is accused of orchestrating the July 15 failed coup attempt in Turkey.
“I would like to call on all our friends to take the necessary measures against the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization [FETÖ] in their own countries for the future of their own people and their well-being,” Erdoğan told the U.N. General Assembly late on Sept. 20, referring to the Gülen network.
“This terrorist organization is in a deep mental heresy of subduing the whole world, far beyond Turkey. It is evident from experience that if you do not fight against FETÖ now, tomorrow may be too late,” he said.
Turkey has asked the U.S. authorities to arrest and extradite Gülen, whose followers infiltrated into the armed forces, the police force, the judiciary and civil service over decades. The July 15 coup attempt, during which 241 people were killed, is widely believed to have been led by soldiers who were followers of the preacher.
The government has been pursuing a crackdown on the Gülen network since prosecutors and police linked to the group launched a major graft investigation on Dec. 17, 2013, which included four ministers and many bureaucrats.
In an interview with Reuters on Sept. 19, Erdoğan said the U.S. should “not harbor a terrorist” like Gülen and said his activities around the world should be banned.
“I would also like to state that attributions such as ‘Turkish’ or ‘Turkey’ used by this terrorist organization and the people within it are wrong. [This group] has no association with Turkey whatsoever,” Erdoğan told the U.N. General Assembly.
“I take pride in my nation as my nation defeated this heinous coup attempt by risking their lives. They showed a very noble stance. If I am standing here today before you it is thanks to our nation’s brave and noble stance,” he said.
According to the Turkish president, the failed coup was “aimed at the global democracy as well.”
Gülenists infiltrate state institutions, influence the society and dominate economy “under the disguise of education, dialogue, tolerance, non-governmental organization and ostensibly good intentions,” he said.
The Syrian war and refugee crisis were also addressed in Erdoğan’s speech.
“We cannot lose any more time” in achieving a political settlement to the Syrian conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, he said.
“The [Bashar al-Assad] regime is condemning people to famine and suffering, in order to encourage them to surrender or to die. The U.N. and the U.N. Security Council should no longer tolerate the regime’s policy,” Erdoğan added.
He stressed that Turkey has “no expectations with regard to the territory of Syria” and attaches great significance to an undivided Syria.
Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield on Aug. 24 to “reestablish stability and peace to a region in despair,” Erdoğan said.
Turkish forces and rebel fighters supported by Turkish armor and aircraft “wiped out” Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the area, and resettled the local inhabitants of Jarablus and al-Rai, he added.