Why did Erdoğan send an envoy to Gülen?
Erdoğan’s talk of closing the supplementary education institutions and his falling out with Fethullah Gülen over the Mavi Marmara incident were the first signs of a souring in relations with the Gülenists. The 7 February 2012 intelligence agency crisis, in turn, indicated that FETO and the AKP had reached a parting of the ways. As to the 17-25 December 2013 corruption investigations, this was the date on which a struggle to the death broke out among them.
On the first day of my serialised article, informed by the 2004 National Security Council resolution, I dissected the debate between CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and President Tayyip Erdoğan over the birthdate marking the inception of the fight against FETO. In truth, Erdoğan’s initiative one day after 17 December 2013 that he considers to be the birthdate testifies to the soundness of the thesis set out in the CHP’s report. How? Erdoğan’s talk of closing the supplementary education institutions following the 2010 referendum and his falling out with Fethullah Gülen over the Mavi Marmara incident were the first signs of a souring in relations with the Gülenists. The 7 February 2012 intelligence agency crisis, in turn, indicated that FETO and the AKP had reached a parting of the ways. As to the 17-25 December 2013 corruption investigations, this was the date on which a struggle to the death broke out among them. Do Erdoğan’s pronouncements following 17-25 December that, “They became a state within the state” and “What did they ask for that we did not give?” however much they convey accusation and reproach, not also amount to a confession of the support they had given the brotherhood and its leader until that time? With these very events taking place and the 2004 National Security Council resolution - considered by the CHP to be the birthdate - in plain view, a curious development took place in the immediate aftermath of the 17 December 2013 operation. Erdoğan set out to seek dialogue with Gülen on the day following the operation in which four ministers, three ministers’ sons, certain civil servants and businessmen and Rıza Sarraf were embroiled. And he sent somebody who courted the greatest of affection from Gülen, Fehmi Koru, to Pennsylvania to speak to Gülen and sound matters out. Let me now continue by taking excerpts from the CHP’s report:
A fire that had not yet flared up
“In the book he wrote titled, ‘I Saw it Thus’ (Alfa Yayıncılık, 2016) and his interview published on 3 April 2016 in Hürriyet newspaper, Fehmi Koru has recounted that the then President Gül and Prime Minister Erdoğan summoned him on 18 December 2013 and asked him to go to Pennsylvania to find out ‘if Gülenist solidarity was involved in the 17 December Operations or if they were being conducted by certain people on their own.’ Fehmi Koru, who says they sent him to see if the other side really was involved in this business, commented in his book, ‘I set out on the road to put out a fire that had not yet flared up. I went to and fro between Ankara, Istanbul and Pennsylvania, but was unable to succeed. They did not let me succeed.’ Koru, who recalls Gülen telling him, ‘We have no involvement in this business, Mr Koru’ on his Pennsylvania visit, said, ‘The statutory move that would lead to the supplementary education institutions being closed was giving Gülen plenty of disquiet. He stated that if this move was quashed they were contemplating the elimination of all the errors as politics perceived them.’ Koru, after Gülen had sent Erdoğan a letter turning the supplementary education institutions law into a bargaining chip, spoke to Erdoğan again on 25 December. Koru, who asserted that at this meeting he saw Erdoğan gripped by optimism along the lines, ‘Given that such a letter has been written, and given that peace is sought, can this affair possibly be halted here?’ said that the party drew up a report with the heading ‘This is an attempted coup against politics’ and a ‘war process’ was embarked on once Erdoğan endorsed this report. In fact, with Prosecutor Muammer Akkaş compiling a document on 25 December as part of the said investigation so as to summon President Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan in the capacity of “suspect”, a full-blown battle for power truly erupted between the AKP and FETO. Fehmi Koru, who is of the opinion that there can be no simple explanation such as the 17-25 December corruption intercepted transcripts for the AKP-FETO war, has accounted for this in his own assessment as arising from ‘supplementary education institutions, the schools abroad and at home, the Turkish Language Olympics and efforts to raise the new generation’ or in other words, ‘the dispute between FETO schools and the Turkish Youth and Education Service Foundation.’”
Pertinent question in the report
“We ask: Had the corruption and bribery operation remained restricted to ministers and civil servants, had 25 December not extended to his son Bilal Erdoğan and had the ministries of Fehmi Koru whom you sent to Pennsylvania borne fruit, would an understanding have been reached in FETO-AKP relations and would their crime partnership have continued today?”
Bank Asya opening
“The 1996 opening of FETO’s financial institution Bank Asya was attended by then Deputy Prime Minister Tansu Çiller, Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor at the time Tayyip Erdoğan and one of the subsequent founders of the AKP and former President Abdullah Gül. At the opening, Gül referred to Gülen as, ‘The teacher of all of us, a scientist, a venerable scholar.’ While Çiller, Erdoğan and Gül were cutting the opening ribbon, Gülen watched them with considerable happiness.”
2012 Pennsylvania visit
“AKP administrators, who turned Pennsylvania, where Gülen had settled, into a target for visits, occasionally visited Gülen en masse. They did not neglect to take commemorative photographs together with Gülen on their visits, either. For, in those days appearing close to Gülen was seen as being an important advantage in the AKP. In 2012 Gülen once more met with a group of twelve AKP parliamentarians, four of them women, who journeyed to the USA and they took a photograph. Four of these parliamentarians are still MPs in the AKP.”
Hakan Şükür’s wedding
“Most prominent among the figures who at one time were constantly in Tayyip Erdoğan’s entourage was former national footballer and later AKP MP, Hakan Şükür. With Hakan Şükür’s wedding to his first wife in 1995 performed by Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor at the time, Tayyip Erdoğan, Fethullah Gülen acted as witness at the wedding.”
Gülenist-AKP relationship: Mutual commerce!
“The words, ‘We gave whatever they asked for’ are fitting, because until the start of 2012 the ruling body perceived the Gülen Brotherhood as being a movement that had to be supported. When meetings with journalists ended, Erdoğan and Zaman’s Editor-in-Chief at the time, Ekrem Dumanlı, would on each occasion hold a meeting on their own in another room. They were meetings for the purpose of passing on messages. What has been summarised as, ‘We gave whatever they asked for’ was carried out at those meetings through the requests that were voiced. For example, seventeen universities belonging to the Gülenists were set up and Tayyip Erdoğan’s signature appears beneath the founding charters of all of them. From what an AK Party mayor from Istanbul has said, ‘The value of the land that the ruling body sold to the Gülenists in those days at knockdown prices or for free was five trillion lira.’ What Bülent Arınç has referred to as ‘gifted land’ are places that were allocated for schools, supplementary education institutions, dormitories and universities. The Gülenists felt the need to give political support in return. It operated in the form of mutual commerce.”
Everyone was supposedly taken in
Fehmi Koru’s book and interview have brought to public view the huge contradiction that plagues Erdoğan in the fight against FETO. Let us once more recall the comments by Erdoğan and other people from the AKP listed one after the other by the CHP, which adds by way of footnote to the second report, “Dozens of speeches in which chiefly Erdoğan and AKP administrators heap praise on FETO are still present in both the visual and written media. The AKP, which prevented countermeasures from being taken against FETO and supported FETO in all regards, bears first-degree responsibility for the problems Turkey is experiencing today. The AKP cannot erase the memory of its past sins by becoming embroiled in a conflict of interests and turning its back on FETO today!”:
- Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister at the time, 24 November 2013
It is said in some circles that the prime minister is taking these steps because he is angry with the Gülenists. This is entirely an aspersion and a lie. Were the affair to be assessed from the Gülenists’ standpoint, in that case what I wonder have the Gülenists’ notables and members brought to Tayyip Erdoğan that Tayyip Erdoğan has sent back? I mean, with regard to many activities, including steps relating to getting universities ready and granting universities, we did whatever we could. There is nothing that has come back from me. They are witnesses of this. The Almighty knows everything and there is no need to say anything else.
- Binali Yıldırım, Transport Minister at the time, 24 May 2013
Turkish is the language of love, the language of Yunus, who said, “Come and let us be acquainted.” It is the language of Mevlana, who said, “Come, whoever they are, come all the same.” It is a language that calls humanity to peace. It is the language of the gentleman scholar Fethullah Gülen, who says, “Open your bosom as far as you can, let it be as wide as the oceans. Tense yourself with faith and feel love for people. Let there remain no fortified heart from which you have not begged for alms. Absolutely everyone in the world needs love. Tell of its life and let it know it is a medicine. Open your bosom to all, open it, such a medicine.”
- Bekir Bozdağ, Justice Minister at the time, June 2013
I send heart-filled greetings and respect from Antalya to our revered scholarly gentleman Fethullah Gülen, who lit this fire, opened this road and supported those who walked on this road. I thank him. For having nurtured staff who have introduced our Turkish to the world.
- Hüseyin Çelik, Deputy Prime Minister at the time, 20 February 2012
Can a person usurp what belongs to them? They supposedly infiltrated here and infiltrated there. Is this water or damp? That the Gülenists usurped the state and infiltrated the state is a ludicrous proposition. Let us put these paranoias to one side.
- Bülent Arınç, Deputy Prime Minister at the time, 22 May 2013
I raised the matter with his excellency our Prime Minister (referring to Erdoğan) before departing, and said, “If I have the opportunity, I would like to make such a visit. Do you give permission and do you deem it fitting?” He was very happy. In fact, he said, “If only it were possible for me and I could meet him, too.” But his programmes were very full. He did not attach much chance to finding an opportunity from within those programmes and such a far- off visit being possible. But, he said, “You will take my greetings and affection. The first day in particular will be free. If possible, you can make this visit on the fifteenth.” I was there on the fifteenth along with my wife.
Our friends and acquaintances received us and took us on a visit to the place where the Scholarly Gentleman is based. And Prime Minister Erdoğan asked me to convey his greetings, affection and good wishes. He told me to find out, too, if he has any orders or suggestions for us. Undoubtedly, there has of late been a great deal of speculation and certain matters have been penned about. Perhaps you should ask him about these first hand and if he has a recommendation or suggestion on these matters or, if we have any mistake about which we are not aware, you should request that he enlighten us on these points.
- Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Minister at the time, statement to the Parliamentary Investigation Commission
In the assessment I made with our Prime Minister, his excellency Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, prior to my journey, we reached the opinion that Gülen needed to be brought to Turkey under invitations that had previously been made and taken under control due to this structure increasingly becoming prone to be used by anti-Turkish circles.
- Süleyman Soylu, Interior Minister
This is the scenario precisely as on 28 February and precisely in the run-up to 12 September. The deep state moved into action. Pounding the Gülenists and attacking the Gülenists, they tried to affect the direction of Turkey’s change.
- Faruk Çelik, AKP Şanlıurfa MP – former minister
Can people based around human-centred service be told “halt your service.” On the contrary, they should be encouraged and supported and contribution made with whatever comes to hand. Not seeing this truth is to lack wisdom.
- Recep Akdağ, Deputy Prime Minister
It is most ugly and a black stain to engage in accusations against this great individual whose life has been spent in service to humanity. The scholarly gentleman Fethullah Gülen is a person who has been squeaky clean in every period of his life. We owe him a debt of gratitude.
- Ali Babacan, Deputy Prime Minister at the time, 2 June 2013
I extend from here my gratitude to our scholarly gentleman, the most valued Fethullah Gülen, who has given direction to all these splendid efforts and was the source of the inspiration. I wish to convey in your presence from here our respect and veneration to him.
- Egemen Bağış, EU Minister at the time, 28 March 2013
This country’s value is spreading throughout the world. I thank from the heart all the heroes, chiefly our scholar Fethullah Gülen, who have truly set out these schools’ vision.