In his latest political maneuver after the failed July 15 coup, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has expressed regret for his past alliance with the Fethullah Gülen organization, which he accuses of the attempt to overthrow him.Erdoğan said in an address to the Extraordinary Religion Council on Wednesday: We helped this structure with good will, although we were politicians and statesmen with different [world] views. Let me speak frankly. On my behalf, I also helped them on the grounds that we met on common ground, although there were so many issues on which I did not agree with them.
Cleric Fethullah Gülen was a key supporter of Erdoğan’s rise to power as Prime Minister in 2003. However, the two men split amid allegations within the Government in 2013, a year before Erdoğan became President.
Erdoğan now accuses Gülen, who is in self-imposed exile in the US, of organizing a “parallel organization” within Government and public institutions — including the military, judiciary, civil service, schools, and the media — in an attempt to overthrow him. The claim has underpinned the detention or suspension of more than 60,000 State employees since the coup attempt.
The President has asked US counterpart Barack Obama to extradite Gülen, but the US Government is insisting on evidence before any extradition request is considered.
“The Era of Fighting Has Started”
Erdoğan said on Wednesday about his alliance with Gülen:
Despite all our reservations about the leader of this organization, I showed tolerance to them out of respect for their education, aid and solidarity activities in the country and abroad. We showed tolerance as they were saying ‘God’. We said we had common ground.
The President explained that he failed to see the organization’s intentions and long-term objectives until 2010 and that he started to voice his reservations in 2012. He said that he could not convince some of his friends in the ruling AKP about operations such as the recruitment of senior military officers and prominent personalities within the civil service and private sector:
But I know that there are still those who don’t want to believe in it. I know there are still those who look at [it] but can’t see it. From this moment, the era of suspicion is over and the era of fighting has started.
He concluded: Despite everything, I deplore not being able to uncover the real face of this organization. I know that we have to account to both God and the nation. May God and my nation forgive us. www.mesop.de