U.S. holds split view of cleric Erdogan blames for Turkish coup

The Wall Street Journal reports: [Fethullah] Gulen’s championing of Turkish democracy and nonviolence discredits to many the idea that the spiritual leader could have played a role in the coup, even if followers within the military did.

Still, supporters of Mr. Gulen have directly challenged Mr. Erdogan in recent years.

Their break was sealed in 2013, said Turkey watchers, when Gulenist media and supporters in the judiciary and police force made public tapes implicating Mr. Erdogan and other members of his government in an alleged kickback scheme. Mr. Erdogan’s government has responded by purging the ranks of both institutions in recent years.

Mr. Gulen, in the past, hasn’t made secret his hope that his supporters, who promote Turkish nationalism and Islamic values, would gradually dominate the ranks of the country’s bureaucracy.

“You must move into the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power centers,” Mr. Gulen said in a famous 1999 sermon to his supporters that was broadcast on Turkish television. “You must wait until such time as you have got all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institution in Turkey.”

Mr. Erdogan said Monday that his government is days away from compiling evidence to submit to the U.S. for Mr. Gulen’s extradition, and once more demanded Washington hand him over. While toning down previous statements by his government—his prime minister said over the weekend that any country refusing to hand over Mr. Gulen would be in a “war” with Turkey—Mr. Erdogan nonetheless was insistent.

“We are strategic partners, we are model partners,” Mr. Erdogan said in a CNN interview. “And the U.S. has to extradite that individual to Turkey. I do hope that the U.S. will do that.” [Continue reading…]

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