Life in Turkey has changed dramatically in the year that's passed since the failed coup attempt on July 15 of last year. Well over 100,000 people have lost their jobs or been arrested with no credible charges and no supporting evidence. Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says all of these people were involved in the coup attempt, because they had a connection to his former friend, and now enemy, Fethullah Gülen, the 76-year-old political enemy of Erdogan, living since 1999 in self-imposed exile in the Pocono Mountains in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, after splitting with Erdogan. Gülen is a Muslim cleric with a worldwide network of schools and businesses, run by his followers. For Erdogan, this worldwide network was for many years a good thing, a sign of a progressive Turkey, fighting extremism, and providing education and jobs. But relations between Erdogan and Gülen started to sour in 2012, and were severed completely in 2013. Since then, this huge international network has turned in Erdogan's eyes from a good thing to a bad thing, promoting terrorism instead of fighting extremism. Irish Examiner
Erdogan now claims that last year's coup was planned and executed under the direction of Gülen and the Fethullah Terror Group (FETO).
Gülen's name is linked to large numbers of schools and businesses, and Erdogan is accusing anyone linked to these schools and businesses, as being linked directly to Gülen and to last year's coup. For example, anyone who has an account in the Gülen-linked Aysa Bank, who has placed children in Gülen-linked schools, who has participated in fund-raising events for Gülen linked humanitarian causes can be fired or arrested and jailed. Anyone having a phone with the encryption application BYLOCK, allegedly used by the Gülen organization, is also assumed to be guilty of participating in the coup.
There are many reasons why Erdogan's reasons for firing and jailing over 100,000 people do not make sense:
- Obviously, no more than a dozen or so people could have been involved in coup planning, or the details would have leaked out.
- Few people find credible the claim that 76-year-old Gülen orchestrated the coup from his easy chair in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania.
- In fact, Erdogan has repeatedly demanded that the US extradite Gülen back to Turkey, but Erdogan has been unable to provide any evidence that would meet American court standards to satisfy an extradition request.
- Erdogan started his purge well before the coup attempt. In particular, four months before the coup, Turkey and the world were shocked when Erdogan shut down Zaman, the country's major opposition newspaper, the largest newspaper in the country.
- In the days following the coup attempt, an extremely large and complex purge was put into place, with Erdogan giving himself increasingly dictatorial powers. Many analysts believe that the purge was in the planning stages for several months, waiting for the right opportunity to implement it.
- For years, starting long before the coup attempt, Erdogan has been aggregating power to himself, and has been changing Turkey's character from a secular state to a conservative Islamist state. This made him popular with millions of pious Turks who had felt ignored by the old secular elites. This all came to a head in 2007 over the issue of women wearing headscarves. However, Ataturk, the revered founder of Turkey after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, declared that Turkey would be a secular state, with freedom of worship for people of all religions, including Jews and Christians. Ataturk asked the army to be the preserver of the secular state, and many in the army today see it as their job to stop Erdogan's changes. In fact, this split within the army between those who honor Ataturk and those who honor Erdogan may have been the reason that the coup was attempted in the first place...
During the last year, Erdogan's Turkey has been arresting tens of thousands of Turkish citizens, and only occasionally a foreign national. The arrest of German national Peter Steudtner appears to have been a "last straw" for the Germans.... Hurriyet (Ankara) and AFP