October 8, 2014

Gülen warns against Turkey's unilateral war

Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has warned against the dire consequences of Turkey's unilateral involvement in a mission in Syria or Iraq that goes against the mission of the international community. The Turkish authorities should avoid any action that may cause the Turkish people to experience sorrows similar to those of World War I.

In a speech published on Oct. 4 on herkul.org, a website that publishes his speeches, Gülen said those who are working to turn Turkey into an intelligence state -- in a clear reference to the government of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) -- should not be overcome by aspirations to make Turkey enter a war “here and there,” referring to Syria and Iraq, and make people experience a disaster similar to World War I. What Mr. Gulen was referring to is President Erdogan’s insistence that the mission include toppling of the Assad regime.

“My wish from God is that they [government officials] do not enter a war here and there and make the people [of Turkey] experience a new World War I as did the Committee of Union and Progress [İttihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti, which is accused of dragging the Ottoman Empire into World War I] after they [the committee] were overcome by their aspirations and made the Devlet-i Aliye [the Ottoman Empire] victim of an adventure,” Gülen said.

Gülen's speech has come at a time when Parliament voted in a motion to grant unlimited powers to the government for one year to send troops abroad and allow foreign forces to use Turkish territory for possible military operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The motion led to serious concerns that Turkey may be involved in the military campaign against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

Gülen has clearly supported international actions against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is also known as ISIS. In his recent message published in US newspapers, he said “ISIS actions represent those of a terrorist group and they should be brought to justice and compelled to answer for their horrific crimes.” He also said that it is incumbent upon all of us to join hands to counter and defeat, through legitimate means, any extreme ideology or violent radicalism.

Based on his message from yesterday, while he still very much supports international and Turkish action against the ISIL threat, he is against the idea of Turkish government unilaterally focusing on toppling the Assad regime as that would be against the international community’s core mission and will put Turkish people in harm’s way.

Published on Today's Zaman, 07 October 2014, Tuesday