The story of Mike Flynn
The retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former director of Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), who called Fethullah Gülen a “shady Islamic mullah” in an op-ed he wrote on the U.S. Election Day, is the subject of this article.
He was appointed as a vice chairperson of Trump’s transition team last week. Now he assembles Trump’s national security team. And after Jan. 20, he is speculated to be Trump’s national security advisor or the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).
The story of Flynn, who will be a key figure in Turkey- U.S. relations in the following period, is also a summary of how Trump was elected president.
He was the director of DIA when I heard about him. He was a legend in Pentagon because of the intelligence operations he directed in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he was also a short-tempered person who did not abstain from saying anything that crossed his mind. For this reason, he was dismissed from his position in 2014. The person behind his dismissal was the DNI, James Clapper, who also said the accusations that Fethullah Gülen masterminded the July 15 coup did not pass the “smell test.”
I have always wondered why Flynn was dismissed, what was the discussion in Pentagon that caused his dismissal. I had answers in 2015 when I saw the DIA report on the 2012 Benghazi attack against two U.S. government facilities by radical groups, resulting in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three American personnel.
When I examine the report in detail, I realized that DIA under Flynn’s direction had designated what happened that night really well despite then-Secretary of the State Hilary Clinton’s efforts to cover it up. In addition, I realized that he also foresaw the collapse in Syria and Iraq earlier in the fall of 2012. It was a faultless work.
After a while, I read that he went to Russia and gave an interview to Russian state channel Russia Today, sitting next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The neoconservatives in Washington were furious. They were questioning the loyalty of a decorated soldier who served the U.S. army for 33 years. But they were missing the fact that Flynn was the first American officer who got into the Russian intelligence building to give a briefing to Russian analysts with White House’s approval.
Another striking point was that Flynn also criticized Turkey during his interview with RT where the downing of a Russian jet in November was discussed, for not preventing the trespassing of foreign fighters of ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and not preventing its oil sales in the black market. In other words, he was in parallel with the Obama administration.
Of course, there were other reasons behind the neoconservative attack on Flynn for his visit to Russia. The reason was the forthcoming primary election season for the Republican Party’s presidential candidate and Flynn had been advising Trump on foreign policy since the summer of 2015. Trump has formed himself a team composed of mavericks, and Flynn was appointed as the national security leader of the team. Flynn got involved in politics.
We could not come face to face then, but I saw his provocative speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He has changed. “Lock her up! Lock her up!” Flynn encouraged the chanting crowd, referring to ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
No, it was not because she kept national secrets in her personal e-mail account, but it was because of Benghazi.
I have met with Flynn on Wednesday at the Trump Tower in New York. We spoke for about 10 minutes. I am not sure if he would write that article about Gülen if he knew that they would win the election. He had no hesitation about the content though. He was dismissed because he was using the term “radical Islam” despite Obama’s warnings. He has been considering the Gülenists as a “terrorist network” since the beginning. Now, Ankara is very happy, but his opinion on the factors that foster the growth of ISIL in Syria and Iraq has never changed. Now a completely new era begins in Washington. The real story will be the revenge that Flynn will take from this city. That’s why his portrait is important.