The West Keep Reading Turkey Wrong: It Is A Shame!

Mr. Fuller in his lengthy comment argues that the Gulen Movement (GM) is a civilian movement that has nothing to do with violence and political ambitions. Well, based on our experience in recent years, I would say, in the simplest words, the following: That’s what we thought so, Mr. Fuller, but it was a long time ago! It is over now, we have changed our minds dramatically in recent years about the possible real intentions and ambitions of this so called “movement.”

The West Keep Reading Turkey Wrong: It Is A Shame!

Mustafa Acar - Turkey

On Friday night July 15, 2016, history was rewritten in Turkey: we witnessed a coup attempt first and then we saw how a people can save democracy by reacting immediately and decisively. It was obviously one of those historical moments that changed the Turkish political history forever. We witnessed simultaneously both a coup attempt and the resistance by democratic forces at the same time, at the same night; everything happened right before our eyes. Turkish people from every corner, be it leftist-rightist, young-old, Alevites-Sunnis, Turks-Kurds, or conservative-liberal altogether have been celebrating the democracy festival since then, every single day, starting from dawn to dusk.

What happened on July 15, Friday night? Well, first a small group within the army, apparently acting outside of the command-chain, tried to topple down democratically elected President and the government through a coup d’état, by blocking the major highways, bridges, airports, cutting the communication channels, controlling the TV stations, newspapers, news networks, and declaring the martial law across the country. They used tanks, helicopters, even F-16 warrior jets, bombing the Parliament, Presidential Palace, the hotel where the President was residing, Special Forces Headquarters and satellite communication center. That’s was around 10:00-11:00 pm. Then the second stage began: resistance by our leaders, political parties, members of the Parliament and the people all hand-in-hand, in solidarity. Mr. Erdogan, democratically elected Turkish President, by using social media and the cellular phones, asked people to come out to streets and squares and resist against the military intervention. And that’s what people did: millions went out to streets, walked against the tanks, prevented them from moving further. People chanted together: Not this time! Enough is enough! We will die but not return. Leaving behind some 240 dead, 1400 injured, we saved our democracy that night.

It was a historical moment. Because for the first time in the long history of military interventions and memorandums (1960, 1971, 1980, 1997 and 2007), Turkish people openly and courageously resisted against a coup. It was a shame that many Turks felt deep inside since the execution of Mr. Menderes, the then Prime Minister during 1960 coup, in early 1960’s that people did not went out and resist against the coup and stand by him. On July 15, 2016 however, it was time to go out and do what should be done. One would say that Turkish people in a sense took revenge of Mr. Menderes and all others who suffered from all the military interventions conducted in the last four decades. No matter from what angle you look, it was a night we can be proud of and tell our children and grandchildren; we paid the price of freedom and saved our democracy that night. Our political leaders were in solidarity and agreed upon for the first time on an issue for a long time, not typical in Turkish political scene. People from every walk of life were out to streets and squares across the country to save democracy and push the soldiers back to the barracks before the sun rise in the next morning.

Normally one would expect that the Western countries and the media to applaud this historical moment. After all, the West is known to champion and support democracy and democratic values, right? Yet, the Western media seemed to fail badly once again to cover this very critical, once-in-a-lifetime event in Turkey objectively and accurately. Many of them were either biased, or ill-informed, even worse, skewed and corrupted in their reporting. The following piece gives you an idea on how many of the Western media circles read Turkey wrong by drawing our attention to 10 Shameful Examples of Western Media “Reporting” on Turkey Coup You might be critical of Erdogan and some of his policies; you may not like some of the things he does, his style, his vision, etc. I myself am critical of some of his policies as well. But let me make one thing clear: Erdogan is not a dictator, on the contrary, he is one of very few elected leaders in a vast Muslim geography. He came to power through free and fair elections, he is the most charismatic leader in recent Turkish history with a tremendous popular support.

Another discouraging example on reading Turkey wrong is the comment in his blog by Graham E. Fuller, a well-known analyst and a former senior CIA official, as well as author of numerous books on the Muslim World,three of which2 have been translated into Turkish by myself. Mr. Fuller, who generally has quite plausible observations and experience on what’s going on in the Muslim world, says something on July 15 incidents one can hardly agree with: …But looking at the dramatically failed coup attempt against Erdogan last week, I believe it is unlikely that Gulen was the mastermind behind it. Of course in the absence of evidence so far no one can speak with certainty. Gulen’s social movement probably has well over a million followers or sympathizers who are not under centralized control. With the arrests of tens of thousands this week and the use of torture already evident, there is no telling what kind of “confessions” will be generated(“Islamists at War in Turkey,” July 22, 2016, ).

Mr. Fuller in his lengthy comment argues that the Gulen Movement (GM) is a civilian movement that has nothing to do with violence and political ambitions. Well, based on our experience in recent years, I would say, in the simplest words, the following: That’s what we thought so, Mr. Fuller, but it was a long time ago! It is over now, we have changed our minds dramatically in recent years about the possible real intentions and ambitions of this so called “movement.” Leaving aside the theological contradictions and deficiencies, our minds have become mixed whether we should call this a “movement” or “terrorist organization.” Since early 2012, we have witnessed so many occasions, attempts or findings, and heard so many “confessions” by the former members of this organization on the dirty political calculations and plans to seize the power and control the state, that we have no doubt at all now that this movement is not an innocent philanthropic organization. We figure out that its ambitions go much beyond the relatively innocent educational and social assistance activities. We see a secret illegal parallel structure within the state (recently referred to as the “Parallel State Structure”) which placed its members in many critical state institutions including army, security, judiciary, education and other branches of bureaucracy.

One would wonder why a philanthropic civilian movement would want to control the secret intelligence agency, public order and security agency, the army, police and the judiciary? What kind of an explanation would be offered for illegal phone listening, tapes, secretly recorded private inappropriate bedroom images? What about distributing the questions to its members right before the exams to enable them to have undeserved advantage over the others for employment and educational opportunites? What about the Judiciary operations to unleash the MIT’s secret assistance trucks and calling Erdogan as “Jihadist” in the media outlets? Last but not least, Chief of Staff Gn. Akar reportedly said that the organizers of the July 15 coup attempt wanted to put him in that night in contact with Fethullah Gulen, their “opinion master”. Once upon a time, many of us believed that they were good guys with good intensions, focusing on education and social programs, hence sending our children to their schools, prep schools/ tutoring centers, and even contributed to their philanthropic activities. But not anymore, because they lost our trust through these several dark, illegal, illegitimate, ill-intentional activities and operations one after another in the last couple of years.

Well, one would argue that by controlling the state they might have been trying to feel safe from the government’s any possible persecution they faced in the past. I would understand this, however, even if this argument is true, this is not the way to go.

In a democracy, if anyone wants to rule the country, or control the government, the way to get power is simple and obvious: fair and free elections. You should openly involve in the political power game, set up your political party, draft your program, go to the public, introduce yourself and talk about your programs, and ask people to vote for you. If you get the majority support, then come to power and rule the government, control the bureaucracy. There is no other, legitimate way to use power in a democracy.

Being involved in a coup attempt would be the worst thing a “civilian” movement to do; that would be a suicidal thing to finish all your legitimacy in the eyes of public and that’s exactly what this movement did last week, hence virtually finished itself.

Another example for reading Turkey wrong is the comment in Newsweek Magazine a few months ago by Mr. Rubin, demeaning Erdogan and predicting a possible coup in Turkey 4 months ahead, interesting. () A dear friend of mine, Mr. Onder Uluyol commented on Mr. Rubin’s misperceptions and ill-informed analysis. Let’s listen to him:

A good example of how many friends in the West read Turkey wrong.

The author (M. Rubin) is not a clueless person, Newsweek is not a fringe publication either. This article represents the state of media that many friends in the West get their information from about Turkey.

So what is wrong with this article?

It does predict the coup 4 months in advance. It also does predict the tacit approval the coup would have gotten from the Western leaders had it been successful.

Where it fails is how it portrays the Turkish people. It equates Erdogan with Saddam, and portrays the Turkish people as voiceless and clueless herd.

I was in Turkey when the coup was attempted. My immediate reaction which I shared on my Facebook wall was that it was a suicidal attempt that would fail.

I thought it would fail because I knew two things: 1. People in Turkey believe deeply in the democratic process as the best way to reflect their wishes, and don't believe that a military intervention solves any political or economic or cultural issue. 2. Neither the Gulenist nor ultra Kemalist officers who may have been behind the coup have any support among the masses.

Many of my western friends though think the opposite. That there is hardly any democracy in Turkey, and Erdogan is ruling with an iron fist, and that Gulen is the only voice for moderation.

Well my friends, your sources of information have failed you.

Democracy won in Turkey. Almost all people opposed the coup, all media and all political parties stood together against the coup. Yes Erdogan won - not through an iron fist but because of his appeal to people and because of people's belief in democracy.

As a final note, please think about what would have happened to democracy and (maybe more importantly to many of you) to secularism had the coup succeeded and Gulen took control of Turkey.”


Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Ağustos 2016, 23:28