An offer too good to pass up
Turkey’s quick transformation since the July 15 failed coup attempt has shown once again how hungry Turkish society is for real change.
Since the Gezi Park protests in 2013, masses have never been so eager to fill public squares, stay up till early in the morning, watch political talk shows and even gather for a million-person rally.
There are several factors to be optimistic about. From the very early stages, the anti-coup demonstrations and fight against the putschists has shown us that conservatives and die-hard President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fans have actually learned from the Gezi crowd in a good way. Whether it is to the Gülenist junta or to the disproportionate violence of the police in June 2013, people have learned their ultimate power to unite, help, resist and defend what is theirs. Even the most devout Muslim learned that he/she can be fooled in the name of Allah, and it is okay to resist tyranny. So yes, let us say it. Gezi and Yenikapı are soulmates from now on. I also would like to think that President Erdoğan also feels that way.
But here is the nut graph of this article. The U.S. has several good reasons to extradite Fethullah Gülen. It is not only the will and the demand of Justice and Development Party (AK Party) or President Erdoğan, it is also the wish of hundreds of soldiers who suffered under the bogus Ergenekon and “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) trials. Washington should be the first to advocate that “justice should be served and served in due time.”
The American establishment, and mainly the neo-cons of the George W. Bush administration, witnessed and maybe even partly participated in the attempts to cripple the Turkish military. The negotiations in Washington in late 2007 and early 2008 (the transition time before U.S. President Barack Obama took over) were circled around the same cause: “Make peace with the Kurds or you will be in trouble.” Erdoğan’s and his allies’ response was quick: “The military does not let us do the things we want to do.” Then Washington and the Gülenists came up with a bright idea: “Let us take care of it.” A senior adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush told me this three years ago in Istanbul: “We did not want the soldiers to be jailed. Your [then] prime minister [Erdoğan] wanted it. Then, he got scared and he lost control”
So Washington should find ways to get rid of this hot potato as quickly as possible. It may see Turkey as an unstable ally, unfriendly government, undemocratic, etc. But come November, there WILL BE a new president in the White House and it is customary to handover the folders clean. Really clean, I mean. Turkey is still a NATO ally and unless Gülen comes back to Turkey and is tried, NATO will never be able to get over its image as a “coup-collaborator” in Turkey. Take one look at the resumes of all high-level putschists. One could easily argue that NATO colleges have been a breeding ground for the Gülen cult. So much for the Greatest Military Alliance in the World. No wonder Russian President Vladimir Putin is smiling.
President Obama has chartered a course for bilateral relations as a “model partnership” during his first trip abroad when he was visiting Istanbul and Ankara. The U.S.’ democratic institutions should be only supportive of “model partner” Turkey after seeing the overwhelming public reaction against a military coup organized by a cult. Here is the model you sought for years. Now let us become the partners we need to be.