May 15, 2016

Analysis: Turkey’s Erdogan, Gulen Covert Contest; Where Finish Line? (*)

During the recent years, there rose in Turkey a new movement which owed its existence to the thoughts of Said Nursi, the famous Turkish theologian who lived during the rule of Ottoman Empire.However, the movement has presented a novel model of a social group from different aspects. Mostly branded with the name of its leader Fethullah Gulen, the Turkish movement is active under a couple of names like Hizmet- Turkish word for service- Nursi Movement and also Gulen Movement.

The Gulen Movement is not only seen inside Turkey as a significant group but also beyond the Turkish borders in West Asia region is considered as a very influential organization. Furthermore, during the past few years, the movement has observed an increasing development in such regions as the Balkans, Central Asia, Caucasus, Africa and even the US.

There is a diversification of ideas in Turkey and abroad about the religious Gulen Movement. Some find it as a native group that has originated from the Turkish society’s depth and the people’s religious beliefs while some others go far away, suggesting that the Gulen Movement is an imported-to-Turkish-society entity, with the US and other Western countries are supporting it.

It is noteworthy that Fethullah Gulen has turned into a legendary figure, with him and his partners holding sway in the Turkish political, military and security institutions. But the Movement’s affinity, its Islamic commitments and policies are not apparently manifested yet. In fact, despite its diversity of activities, the group remains ambiguous and even unknown to the public, as many experts, whether inside Turkey or outside it, claim that they have no idea about the Gulen Movement’s long-term goals and intentions.

Nobody yet has accurate figures about the Movement’s financial power and the number of its fans in the country. Additionally, nobody knows to what degree Gulen holds influence in the country’s key administrations, nor does anybody know what pathway the Movement would take once its manages to secure further power in the body of the administrative organs of Turkey.

Commenting on his rifts with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Fethullah Gulen said that the ruling Justice and Development Party tried to depict his movement more powerful than what it really was and so to make the people afraid of them. However, the fact is that the movement has many fans inside the Turkish community. Some of its proponents hold key posts in police, the intelligence agencies, the judicature and even some of them are members of Justice and Development Party, the party of Gulen’s archenemy President Erdogan.

Actually, it appears that at the present time a generation of Gulen’s fans has obtained crucial posts in the government, the media and economy in Turkey, setting in motion a growing influence in the security forces, judicature, the state-run TV and other Turkish state departments, and beginning to make troubles for President Erdogan. That is the reason behind Erdogan, who, according to analysts wants to rule Turkey with an unchallenged power, accusing Fethullah Gulen’s fans inside the government of conspiracy and carrying plans for coup against his government.

The more the process of uprooting the influence of the “deep state” of Gulen in Turkey was completed, the more the signs of gaps between the two sides came to surface. The clandestine differences have led in tangible results like closing down the Gulen Movement-run schools, disclosure of financial corruption inside Erdogan’s government and family, and exchange of threats between both Erdogan and Gulen.

Despite the fact that at the current time Gulen Movement’s strength has seen a damage and decline, in the long run, the movement would restore power in the pattern of administration. To put it another way, the Gulen Movement, with its educational centers, media and economic powers, is not ready yet to stand a fierce face-off with the ruling the Erdogan-led Justice and Development Party, but having in mind that on the one hand the ruling party is tied to the personal approaches of Erdogan and on the other hand the regional as well as international factors are decisive in success and failure of Turkey’s ruling party, it seems that in not a very long time the Gulen Movement would revive itself and build a power enough to take on and deal with Justice and Development Party.

Accordingly, as the two sides are currently in direct and open conflict with one another, it is very likely that the rivalry rolls on between them in the short run, too. But it does not look that any of them would gain enough power to remove its opposing side as the Turkish society is still holding social traditions like ideologism. Such an issue could ensure that the two sides would remain standing.

It should be taken into account that Gulen Movement’s policy is to infiltrate deep into the Turkish community while the pathway of Justice and Development Party is to firmly save the power in its own grasp. So, both of them remain powerful in their specific field of interest and are unable to remove one another.

Editor’s note: Hizmet Movement Blog reaffirms its non-endorsement policy of the various viewpoints expressed throughout the articles that are solely shared for the convenience of the readers.

Excerpt from the article published on AhlulBayt News Agency, 15 May 2016, Sunday