The Brotherhood-like Group Behind the Failed Coup
08 July 2016
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Those who rushed to analyse and take positions on the coup in Turkey have
another chance to re-evaluate the situation. Neither the army as an
institution nor the secular opposition was responsible for the attempted coup.
Rather, the attempted coup was undertaken by Fethullah Gulen's Islamic
movement that Erdogan describes as a ''parallel structure'' and who he accuses
of striving to seize power. The movement is similar to the Muslim Brotherhood
in terms of its message and structure, even though it is not linked to it.
Hundreds of investigators and security officials in Turkey are pursuing the
organisation which is considered the largest Islamic group in Turkey and
central Asia. Its leader Sheikh Fethullah Gulen is accused of masterminding
the attempt to seize power through the coup, and Erdogan's government has
requested the US government to hand him over.
After the surprising events that have taken place during the past few days, I
believe that members of the Muslim Brotherhood and sympathisers of groups of
political Islam must understand what happened in Turkey. Those who betrayed
Erdogan and tried to overthrow the legitimate government belong to a
politicised Islamic group that used some of its secret members who are
officers and government employees (including employees working in the prime
minister's office), and relied on a secret organisation that consists of many
judges and teachers.
Those investigating the coup attempt are not looking for weapons in the homes
and offices of suspects. Rather, they are searching for religious books and
publications written by the group's leader to prove their association with the
Islamic group. The investigators' questions to defendants revolve around their
relationship with the group.
According to the official news agency Anadolu Agency, religious books written
by the group were found in the possession of suspects. The news agency also
mentioned that a book entitled ''Emerald Hills of the Heart'' written by
Fethullah Gulen was found in the office of one of the defendants, an assistant
professor at Sakarya University.
It is notable that the majority of those punished are not part of the army,
they are members of the judiciary, university professors and teachers and more
than 30,000 of them were arrested. In contrast, the number of army members who
have been arrested is around 9,000. This large number shows that the movement,
and not the army, is accused of plotting the coup. Those soldiers who were
involved are members of the Gulen movement and an example of this is the
Deputy Chief of General Staff Levent Türkkan who admitted that he has been
associated with it for years.
The Turkish Gulen group is an Islamist movement that resembles the Arab Muslim
Brotherhood which also depends on the establishment of a parallel state
structure that competes through social, educational and banking activities to
reach the roots of society and control it. The Gulen movement, like the Muslim
Brotherhood, exercises dissimulation when prosecuted; it secretly works for
change and publicly denies that it is a conspiratorial movement.
The Turkish authorities have had doubts about the intentions of the group for
a long time. It decided to banish Gulen from Turkey because of a video that
appeared on YouTube in which he admits to his group that he wants to change
Turkey's secular system. The former Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit asked
Gulen to leave the country so that he would avoid a jail term on charges of
conspiracy. Gulen travelled to the United States, where he is currently
residing in the state of Pennsylvania.
Gulen is like other preachers who claim that the angels descend on them and
speak to them, and presents himself as someone who can perform miracles. He
said that he memorised the Qur'an at the age of four and that his mother would
wake him in the middle of the night to complete the memorisation. Gulen was
sincere to his project and spent nearly forty years preaching in mosques
across Anatolia. He built a giant organisation of hundreds of religious
schools in Turkey, and later extended his educational and charitable
activities to central Asian republics after the fall of the Soviet Union.
He caused a crisis with the government of Kazakhstan which complained to the
Turkish government that he was organising plots and conspiracies. Gulen built
a so-called ''parallel structure'' consisting of charities, giant financial
institutions, radio and television stations and newspapers in Turkey. He
became so influential that he helped the AKP and supported Erdogan in the
elections before this one, but the two men fell out and parted ways three
Gulen has succeeded in bringing about changes in Turkish society and in
creating a popular base, taking advantage of the great freedoms and economic
openness that have been prevalent in the country since the eighties. It turned
out that President Erdogan, who knows him well, was right when he expressed
misgivings about Gulen's secret group early on, as it seems that it succeeded
in sneaking into the military; a heavily guarded institution in Turkey.
Al Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the
former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly
magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of
Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass
communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is
currently based in Dubai.