Since the failed coup attempt in July 2016 (many believe it was staged by Erdoğan), Erdoğan has used the coup attempt as an excuse and solidified power and arrested thousands of opponents. This recent cnn article sourced from a wall street journal article reveals that former US White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son are being investigated for a 15 million dollar kidnapping plot to bring Muslim cleric Feytullah Gülen from his residence in exile in Pennsylvania to Turkey.
Erdoğan has repeatedly requested Gülen’s extradition to Turkey from both the Obama and now Trump administrations. The US stance has always been that evidence was required of Erdoğan’s coup plot allegations against Gülen and to date none was provided.
If Erdoğan has consolidated his power and has won the recent referendum to change the constitution, why does he still feel so threatened by this exiled cleric? This cleric must pose some kind of existential threat to Erdoğan’s grip on power for him to risk his international reputation in a criminal kidnapping plot.
To note, there are similar parallels in recent history. For instance, where the exiled Shia Muslim cleric Ayatollah Khomenei was able to oust the then shah of Iran in 1979. However, Gülen has repeatedly and unambiguously stated that his mission is educational, interfaith, and religious with no interest in politics whatsoever.