Turkey revisits discussions over FETÖ’s political links

Turkey revisits discussions over FETÖ’s political links

It’s been more than three-and-a-half years since Turkey survived a notorious coup attempt at the hands of FETÖ that claimed the lives of 250 people and wounded more than 2,000.

FETÖ, designated as a terror organization in Turkey, is believed to operate under the leadership of Fethullah Gülen, residing in the United States since 1999.

The aftermath of the July 2016 coup attempt has observed a massive purge that resulted in the dismissal of tens of thousands of military and civilian bureaucrats and the arrest of thousands of them, including four-star generals, judges and prosecutors, teachers, academics, etc. with links to FETÖ. Yet, the police investigations to bring more hidden FETÖ members under the light continues with no end in the near future.

This anti-FETÖ campaign has become an important source of tension between the government and the opposition parties as the latter criticized the ruling party for ignoring the political links of this organization.

A recently sparked row between former Chief of General Staff İlker Başbuğ and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has led this discussion to be back on the country’s agenda once again.

Başbuğ, who had served behind bars for 26 months between 2012 and 2014 on terror charges as a result of a FETÖ plot against him, has argued that a law amendment in June 2009 that paved the way for the prosecution of the military officers in the specially authorized courts was imposed by FETÖ.

The former top soldier recalled that this amendment was not on the original drafted omnibus bill but was introduced in a snap move after midnight without prior consultation.

Thus, if there is a will to find out the political wing of FETÖ, it would be very useful to find out which lawmakers had suggested this amendment, Başbuğ suggested.

As expected, this call by the former four-star general has led to a massive reaction from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP, institutionally. Six senior AKP lawmakers have filed a criminal complaint against Başbuğ on grounds that his statements were an offense against the parliament and the national will.
Implying that the lawmakers were influenced by FETÖ is constituting a crime and Başbuğ’s personal experience with this organization in the past does not provide any privilege to him, the AKP spokesmen said.

The discussion will likely escalate in the coming period as the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Good (İYİ) Party and even some Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lawmakers will continue digging out the issue in light of Başbuğ’s remarks.

They suggest that the AKP and FETÖ were in cooperation until 2013 and their partnership could have had an effect on the latter’s operatives’ infiltration into the state system, paving the way for the coup attempt.

This week will be important to this end. CHP chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has already said he will expose the political leg of FETÖ with concrete names during his party’s Tuesday parliamentary group meeting.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s attack comes after a surprise attack by the MHP. The nationalist party filed a criminal complaint on a potential role of Kılıçdaroğlu in one of Turkey’s ugliest political conspiracies that resulted in the resignation of Deniz Baykal from the CHP leadership 2010. The MHP argues Kılıçdaroğlu had cooperated with FETÖ for the removal of Baykal from the post.

It will be quite interesting to see how all these discussions and judicial acts will be evolved in the coming period and whether they would bring about a clear picture of the role of the politicians in the growth of FETÖ within the state system.