Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
Our correspondent reports from Turkey, where, until now, arrests of those who planned the coup last July are ongoing
The Turks are happy with reconciliation with Russia. The following day after Putin’s visit to the Bosphorus, they also invited us, a group of Russian journalists, to show this in the most convincing way. We met leading politicians, members of Parliament, and editors of major media. All of them, like the ruling and opposition leaders, welcomed the new rapprochement with Russia. They are happy also by the permission given for fruit and vegetables to return to the Russian market, as well as the return of generous Russian tourists and energy package. Unfortunately, rapprochement on Syria still has not happened, but there is already big progress in bilateral relations, which are extremely important for Turkey and for Russia. It would seem that all is well.
But things in Turkey are not stable. This absence of calm will not be felt by tourists in coastal cities, but in the corridors of power serious concern seems to be palpable. It seemed to me that the coup last July is in the past, and that the proud civil impulse of Turkey again pulled together, but this is not the case.
The topic of the past coup remains on everyone’s lips. In the country the serious cleansing of Gulenists is ongoing in the country. It can be compared with the purge of Trotskyists in Soviet Russia in the 30’s – though not as bloody. Instead of executions and Kolyma, Turkish Gulenists “only” lose their jobs or are interrogated. The number of those who fell under the cleansing is frightening – we were told it was about 70,000 or 80,000 people. These are judges, military officers, officials of the ministries, journalists, prosecutors, and many teachers.
Gulenists – i.e. followers of Fetullah Gulen, a charismatic Turkish “aged man” and creator of a network of schools around the world – are portrayed as stooges of Satan. Ministers and parliamentarians did not spare any black ink in describing them. They are called no less than “terrorist organizations” like ISIS, and all the world is urged to fight against them, like the fight against “Islamic State”. What makes them “terrorists” remains unclear.
It is said that they honor their leader Gulen, that they carry with them one dollar gifted by him, and even sew it in their underwear, because they believe, according to them, that Gulen speaks with Allah. All of this, of course, is unusual for secular people, but it’s hardly terrorism. They are accused of creating networks for mutual help in the theft of curriculum vitaes in order for their supporters to take a significant position in services. But this is not terrorism, but rather infiltration. And the intensity of the fight with Gulenists continues unabated.
The police of Ankara received 40,000 denunciations, which we were told on the day of arrival in the city – the official capital of Turkey. Wives denounce their unfaithful husbands, unreliable tenants are also denounced. Everybody is accused of Gulanism, like it once was in Russia with Trotskyism. Gulen was important for the Islamists of Turkey, as was Trotsky for Russian Communists. He raised a whole pleiad of politicians and state servants over forty years of work.
“If the authorities seriously pursued the followers of Gulen,” says Mehmet, a Turkish friend and editor of a small newspaper in Istanbul, “who would be left to the ruling party? All the Ministers and members of Parliament who went through the Gulen network. It is mostly the small fish that are subject to cleansing; large ones are difficult to purge”.
It is the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who takes this cleansing seriously. Already in 2013 he broke up with his long-time ally Fethullah Gulen. It is said that Gulen demanded from Erdogan 100 seats in Parliament for his supporters, but Erdogan refused. After the failed coup of 15.07.16, Erdogan took the opportunity to reduce the influence of the cleric living in the U.S.
And it at this moment that he pivoted East, to Russia. The blame for the downed Russian bomber was placed – and perhaps justifiably so – on Gulenists.
In the opinion of the editor Mehmet, the sense of self-preservation of the Turkish President is the main reason for the pivot to Russia.
The Americans and their friends in Turkey want to get rid of Erdogan. This week the American journal “Newsweek” published an article of a leading “neo-con” (as they call the vehemently anti-Russian and pro-Israeli American right – who are also enemies of Trump) Michael Rubin, in which he predicts the imminent and inevitable death of the Turkish President at the hands of conspirators. A new coup will occur on the 10th of November, and it is at this time that Erdogan will certainly meet his end, say the newspapers.
Erdogan sees the friendship with Russia and a union with Putin as his only chance to survive and to remain whole, says Mehmet. The Americans want to divide Syria and Turkey, to create a large Kurdish state out of the pieces of Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. Erdogan prevents this, actively fights against the Kurdish rebels in Syria, insists on Turkish participation in the operation to liberate Mosul – instead of the salute to Washington, and executing its will.
“Erdogan is the only supporter of the alliance with Russia in the Turkish leadership,” says Mehmet. “If he is killed – Turkey will immediately pivot to America.” Almost all of the opposition represented in Parliament are set up as pro-American – the effect of many years of NATO membership.
Erdogan is not an angel at all. There are serious signs of his involvement in corruption schemes, say the Turks. But today, he gives Russia a chance to win in Syria and to withstand in the world. Another pro-American leader, would already blockade the Bosphorus. “I rely more on the Russian than the Turkish President,” says Mehmet. “It would be good if he sent Russian special forces to defend Erdogan from hitmen!” Never say die, and hope for the best – I think I’m fruitlessly trying to translate this proverb that gives hope.
Copyright © 2022. All Rights Reserved.