Basic questions and answers on the Gülen movement
There are of course many questions about the Islamic ideologue living in the U.S., Fethullah Gülen, and his movement.
The first is why they have not formed a political party, but have instead infiltrated into state institutions. Why has Gülen not tried to persuade people politically, instead opting to train recruits to infiltrate state institutions as his main method?
The answer to this question is the fact that the starting point of the Gülen movement is the idea that if it captures the state, it will also get hold of society. This is why instead of trying to persuade people, it tried to seize the state and form the order it had on its agenda.
What is that order? It is an order according to its own religious mentality. But the ruling government in Turkey is already religious, so does Gülen not regard it as such?
Members of the Gülen movement have always looked down on those pious people who do not follow its religious stance. They never saw them as “truly religious.” They have always tried to give the message that they are different to all their international contacts. They have exaggerated this “we are different” discourse.
But how were they able to reach so far into the capillary vessels of the state? For years, they only invested in education. Their exam preparation schools were all for this purpose. Their investments in teachers were all for this purpose. Their private colleges were for this. They stole the questions for central exams for this. They gathered poor but brilliant students for this. They did it with patience and determination, but most importantly they did it with enormous secrecy.
Well such patience and such huge secrecy both require major organizational skill, right?
They do. Secrecy was very important for them. They said they did not want to show their true colors until the day of victory. Patience was also important. They took a child, raised them, put them in state positions, and then used them according to their aims. But the most important part is the organizational skill. Such an operation requires amazing organizational skill.
To the question of why the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) did not recognize the threat until late, the answer would be that the AK Party saw the Gülen movement as a secret organization to protect it from the wrath of the Kemalist regime and to restrain it. For this reason they found excuses for the Gülenists.
But gradually a new situation developed: The Kemalist regime had been disposed of, and had been replaced by the AK Party. The AK Party’s strategy should have changed as a result, but it didn’t. For this reason, it continued to see no problem in allying with the Gülen movement. Everything was going well, but the government soon found out that the Gülenists were acting as if the Kemalists were still in power. They continued their secret organizing, seizing institutions and conducting operations. When Tayyip Erdoğan noticed this and decided to stop it, the fight began.
Is the U.S. using Gülen? If you ask Gülen, he would say he is using the U.S. If you ask the U.S., they are using Gülen. These issues are like this. After a while, it becomes vague who is using who.
So many generals, colonels and officers… Why do they believe in this guy?
Well, he has an influential side. With his background, his speeches, and his weeping he can create a sphere of influence. He has tricks that can make his loyalists feel “special.” He is like a charmed man. He captivates those around him. The general you are talking about has been under his influence for 40 years. He has been brought up like that from the very beginning.
What was the meaning of the July 15 coup attempt in terms of the Gülen movement?
Well, it was an insurrection day that followed 40 years of labor, secrecy, effort and investment. Everything was done for July 15. It was the final attempt. The Gülenists would either be wiped away or they would seize power to align everybody. So they made a suicide attack, a kamikaze operation. We know the results.
What would have happened if they had succeeded? It would have been a disaster. The mercilessness we were introduced to in the previous Ergenekon and Sledgehammer (Balyoz) cases would have become even worse. The crazed robots who have dedicated themselves only to the interests of their own group would have turned Turkey into a “republic of the brothers.” Gülen would have been the spiritual leader. He would have wanted to be like Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. But he wouldn’t have been able to be that, because even Khomeini had the people behind him.