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.


2 Answers 2


There are five tenets of fascism: Ultranationalism (national rebirth into the glory of the 'good old days'), Totalitarianism (citizens are naturally on the leader's side, so everyone against the leader is against the country), Autarky (an isolationist blend of capitalism and socialism that focuses on self-sufficiency above all else), Direct Action (the creation of a scapegoat to justify the creation of a policing military force loyal only to the leader), and last, strengthened age and gender roles (another hearkening to the 'good old days'.

Erdogan has implemented Ultranationalism, Totalitarianism, Autarky, and has strengthened gender roles. Gulen represents the scapegoat to justify military police.

  • Any ties to question despite the last link? Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 7:53
  • I'm not following. I put down all the puzzle pieces but one and showed how Gulen allowed for the placement of the last piece. Unless you have an article with Erdogan explaining his motivations, deductive reasoning is the best and most reliable tool that we have.
    – Carduus
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 14:18

Whenever an entire state targets a single individual, you can all but guarantee that said person is merely a scapegoat used to promote policies convenient for the current government. Some examples:

  • Assassinating Osama Bin Laden was one of the pretexts of the Afghan war and fulfilling that goal in 2011 was promoted as a major success of the Obama administration. Questioning the practical significance of killing a single warlord half way across the world was seen as 'unpatriotic'.
  • China has been attempting to discredit the Dalai Lama for many decades now, even though it maintains 100% control over Tibet and there's absolutely nothing anyone in the world could do about that.
  • Canada recently arrested the CEO of Huawei in Vancouver at the request of the US. Regardless of what crimes Huawei is accused of this is obviously a futile exercise as CEOs could be easily replaced at any time, but the arrest itself is used a way to 'send a signal' to China and as a bargaining chip in trade talks.

Which brings us to your question why Erdogan is 'threatened' by a cleric living thousand of kilometers away. The answer is that practically speaking he couldn't care less about him, but pretending to care while in public gives Erdogan a convenient excuse to prosecute those who threaten his power.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .