The Remiss Fondness of Western Mainstream Media for Fethullah Gulen

Deniz Baran Middle East/North Africa, Turkey

The coup attempt Turkey faced on 15th July 2016 had repercussions both domestically and internationally. One of the bizarre things to arise out of the coup attempt was the subjective approach and coverage of Western mainstream media. I allude to this point in my previous article . In this article however, I am specifically analysing the level of involvement Gulenists had in the attempted coup. The discourse highlighted by western news media outlets tend to be subjective, attributing blame at President Erdogan while at the same time, casting a positive image upon the Gulen movement despite their deep rooted involvement. When such international media institutions act blind to facts, bias coverage is inevitable leading to “intentional ignorance”, a tactic deployed more by tabloid journalists used to paint a tainted picture.  I will try to explain with concrete examples why this “naive” approach (or intentional ignorance?)  is completely wrong and why this approach of Western media is actually twisting the truth.

The fondness of western mainstream media for Fethullah Gulen

The Financial Times seems to be a good example because th” to Fethullah Gulen just one day after the coup attempt in Turkey and introduced an editorial agenda thereafter to spread cynicism with regards to President Erdogan’s power gain after defeating the coup plotters. Consequently, we can say that they led the way for other mainstream media institutions to disgrace the resistance of Turkish people. Let’s take a glance at Fethullah Gulen’s words from his interview which was done hurriedly!

“It was said that “17th-25th December case” (He means the tape leaking scandal against the government and Erdogan himself) was associated with Gulen movement. I can swear, I do not know any of those people. They might know me. But just because of the things we write and we talk about or just because we are involved in some other stuff those people are doing, we might be held guilty of that case. We may be known like this. We may be shown such like. The ones in the court or in the police might suppose so.” 

I know it is really difficult to understand what these sentences mean. It is not due to bad translation. Just his sentences do not make sense… Anyway it is not important. What is more farcical is the following statement:

“That case (he means the tape leaking scandal in 2013 again) is from 1-2 years ago. They presented as if our movement did that. It is not true. They are just slandering.” 

Is it slander really? Why were all of the journalists, academics etc. associated to Gulen the ones who put those tapes forward? Why did they start a distinct battle against the government by referring to the “17-25 December case” then? Why were all of their arguments embracing that case for 3 years? Weren’t his well-known supporters in all fields such as media, academy and sport behind that case? It is time wasting to even try to refute his claims when everything is quite clear.

The actual problem is not Gulen’s lies. In his interviews he claimed that Erdogan both orchestrated the coup theater to further consolidate his power in the country and tried to lay the coup plot at Kemalists’ door. Yet the real problem is the attitude of the Western mainstream media which seems to pay too much regard to such outspoken deceiver. They can express his voice in the context of journalism but why are they too silent to his apparent lies? Or do his words serve their purpose to manipulate the trepidation of their own people against the Turkish government?

Why wasn’t the coup attempt atheatre? 

First of all, there is no need to talk about it a lot. There are confessions of soldiers and even generals who got involved in the coup attempt. And not just a few confessions, some of the detainees have sung like birds while their statements were being taken by prosecutors and informed about their affiliation with Gulenists.  It is very easy for Western media to find and read those soldiers’ statements! To make it easy I can highlight only one name (there are more and more confessions): Levent Turkkan. The aide-de-camp of Turkish Chief of Stuff Hulusi Akar, who was threatened by gun and kidnapped by his aide-de-camp…   There are remarkable details in those statements explaining how the Gulenists had restructured the Turkish army for decades[1].

The following arguments I am going to mention is enough for the reader to comprehend that the supposed “ peaceful cleric” Fethullah Gulen’s movement was behind the coup… For the readers who sincerely want the truth.

For those who want more evidence, I can point out the tape records released after the coup. Anybody who listens to those recordings can see how maniac and crazed those putschists were! Obviously they were ready to deploy murdering tactics on their own people! One of them was giving orders to shoot people who were going to Ak Party’s headquarter to resist the putschists, another was proud while calling the protesters, who were on the bridge, as “corpses”. There was also someone ordering soldiers to beat the people if required. I think the most horrifying of all was the invoking of aircrafts against the people on the streets… Everything is clear![2] 

Isn’t it still not enough? 

I can highlight the Whatsapp conversations between the putschists. What they were talking about did not seem to be a theatre…  They also picked an ironic Whatsapp group name: “Peace Within The Country”. Their conversations and dirty plans have been released and can be found easily. [3] (PS: Amazing work from C. Triebert! Thanks a lot!)

Not enough? 

There were documents found in the suitcase of a putschist commander listing the governors, heads of some banks, media institutions, airports who would be appointed by the coup regime, if successful.

This highlighted their well-orchestrated plan which fell through because of the peoples will to uphold democratic values defeating the notion of it being a “fake attempt”!  Furthermore, official correspondence (see below, at the end of 1. Article!) was found proving that coup plotter generals had instructed troops to be ready to start coup operation at 3 am.

Not enough yet?

Then I should remind you that President Erdogan’s plane was harassed by a few military aircrafts while he was flying to Istanbul, Prime Minister Yıldırım’s car was shot at and the highest ranked generals, including the Chief of Staff Akar, were kidnapped. The events that unfolded seemed too realistic to be a theatre![4] 

In fact, the coup plotters were running their operation wisely. They focused on capturing the strategic points in Istanbul and Ankara, the capital city. They bombed the Parliament[5], Turkish satellites (TURKSAT) and the Turkish national intelligence Office (MIT)[6]. They tried to destroy or disarm any force which could resist them. I can suggest a few names for those who may be interested in their stories: Omer Halisdemir (a hero soldier who disrupted the raid of some putschists alone in the headquarters of Elite Forces)[7], Turgut Aslan (the head of Anti-Terror Unit, he was killed at first), Zekai Aksakallı (the head general of Elite Forces who could barely survive the military helicopter attack).

In addition, we are talking about a coup attempt, in which a third of the generals were involved. There was division within army ranks which led to military clashes during the night and for the forthcoming days. It really does not make sense to operate a “fake coup” with numerous generals of who command hundreds of soldiers, almost all of them were from the Air Force. It would be like swimming among sharks. At the end of the day, a big lack of national security and a remarkably weakened army emerged. Such a game would not bring about any benefit for any leader. This is as plain as pikestaff.

What an Amateurish Coup Attempt Is Was! Was It? 

There is nothing to suggest that every coup attempt is successful. They might fail. In fact the honourable popular resistance we witnessed on the night of 15Th July is not unprecedented. We can go back to 1991 and remember how the coup attempt to overthrow Mihail Gorbachov failed.  So nobody should underrate the popular resistance to protect their will and democratic order.

Plus, according to analysts, security experts and former soldiers the coup attempt was not too amateurish at all. Just a few factors (such as the anti-coup forces within the army and police, unity of the media and political parties against the coup, President Erdogan’s vital speech[8] having encouraged people to resist )  fortunately occurred at same time ruined the putschists’s plans , after which the people came out into the streets in droves in defiance.

The timing of the coup was very surprising, the leaking of the plans led to the orchestrators to move ahead with the coup earlier than planned. The planned time of the coup was in fact the break of dawn (3am) of 16th July[9]. The earlier command given meant that the Turkish people across all fabric of society were able to react.The putschists did not do this because they were amateurs but because they had to.  Also it should be taken into consideration that the coup attempt did not happen through a defined chain of command since a trivial part of the army –mainly Gulenists- orchestrated the coup themselves, took the Chief of Staff and other generals hostage. There is no question that this situation made the things more difficult for them. Considering the history of the coup attempts in Turkey, such attempts have always failed. Talat Aydemir’s and Cemal Madanoglu’s failed coup attempts can be checked to see other instances.

What happened was apparently not theatre, contrary to Fethullah Gulens claim. Whatis Gulen trying to hide? 

Let’s come to the point: How can you acknowledge that Gulen and his disciples are behind this wicked attempt? In fact this question should be answered for the Western media and politicians since almost everybody from different political parties is aware of this crystal clear fact.

To see the most concrete fact, again, we can refer Levent Turkkan’s statement (the aide-de-camp of the General Chief of Staff, Hulusi Akar). He confessed his affiliation and involvement with the Gulen movement[10]. There is no question that the Gulenists set up an expansive deep rooted network within the state, no matter which political party or leader was in charge; Ak Party, Democratic Left Party or Motherland Party or anything else could stop them. Even Fethullah Gulen emphasised it once by saying, “We are taking advantage of the gullibility (idiocy) of the system!”[11]

Not only do we know it but also the Western politicians and media know it very well. Anybody can check Wikileaks’ documents to see how much aware the Western leaders and media are of the network and activities of Gulen movements[12]. In addition, this inscrutable network was not set up arbitrarily. There was a competent masterplan executed by the mastermind, Fethullah Gulen, and his most inner circle. The main objective of this plan was to capture the most crucial positions which have strategic significance. We could see it very well in Turkey in the last 3 years.

It should be noted that one of the most efficient methods of the Gulenists was to try take over the crucial positions within the state departments which were in charge of the organisation of general tests, leaking the questions to their member’sensuring their disciples would pass the exams successfully and work in the different parts of the state. It was a “win-win” method which has fortified their “shadow government” year on year. Of course, they did the same thing to infiltrate the army. These “test scandals” were exposed 2 years ago[13].

As I mentioned above, Fethullah Gulen was carrying out a well-planned and competent project in order to infiltrate and then capture the state apparatus. Not only were they infiltrating by nurturing successful and smart students, they were pushing out other people who might be threatening their expansion in public institutions. Such cases have been revealed too in recent years. Just an example: There was some news revealing how tens of military high school students were being pushed out, fired, or forced to leave because they were either entrapped or tormented by the Gulenist soldiers. Nowadays there is much more evidence about it[14].

Another important fact that should be taken into consideration: Since the Gulenists started the battle with Ak Party government and President Erdogan, they were losing their strongholds (which they captured after decades of patience!) within the state apparatus one by one. So much so that that battle became a struggle for existence for them.  They were used to winning battles every single time but this time they hit rough weather. Moreover, at the peak of their power, the Gulenists’ networks within the police, jurisdiction, business world, finance and media&press had already received a big blow before the coup attempt but were still “alive” and had plenty of power to struggle.  Yet the government was preparing to deal them a deathly blow by mopping up the Gulenist inner circle in the army which was untouched yet. According to rumours, they were going to be dismissed from the army in the next Supreme Military Council which was going to be held just a few days after 15thJuly.

Besides there were confessions of some army members, who had participated in the secret activities of the Gulenists previously, exposing the money traffic and secret nets of the movement.  The evidence compiled was ready to dismiss them.[15]

Source: Karar

Well, another question: Did they enough power to attempt a coup?

Firstly, it is claimed that the Gulenist soldiers and generals were constituting the main body of the coup plotters. It is probable that they were reinforced with other parties who were strictly against Erdogan and ready to take part in any coalition to topple him or who were going to benefit. It is still being discussed why some units of the army remained passiveduring that night even though they did not declare any support for the coup. [16]

Other than these assumptions we know two facts very well:

–      Maybe the Gulenists did not have a sufficient number of soldiers to organise a coup at first glance. But we should not think of the quantity only but the quality… The Gulenist network could capture the most crucial seats such as the aide-de-camps of the force commanders, Air Force generals, some elite force teams, the designating office…  The people they situated in the different levels and positions of the army were capable of mobilising many troops due to the hierarchical system, even if they did not intend to be a part of any coup attempt in the army or keeping other troops passive by spreading misinformation. Let’s remember once again that the aide-de-camps of both the President Erdogan and the Chief of Staff Akar were the key actors behind the coup attempt.

–      Secondly, the Gulenist movement has very good ties with some external powers and this is obviously a very important factor for the ones seeking a coup given the history of previous coups in Turkey. I do not want to go into details but the timing of the coup attempt seems very suitable as well in this context. There are a few remarkable articles discussing this issue in detail. Must read!

To prove the relation between coup attempt and the Gulenists we ought to note two attention-grabbing incidents from the day of the event:

As is known to all, a group of elite force soldiers (called MAK in Turkish) raided the hotel where Erdogan was residing. While they were going into combat with the safeguards of Erdogan, allegedly, they said this sentence: “You were going to raid at our caves but now we raided your cave!”[17]If it is true, it directly refers to Fethullah Gulen. Because the metaphor of “cave” was the biggest symbol of the battle between the Gulenists and Erdogan.

The latter is very important. When the people on the streets stopped and captured some tanks at the night of the coup, something interesting happened:  In a tank captured in Istanbul astonishingly, there were not only the soldiers! A former high-ranked police chief who was dismissed before because of his affiliation with the Gulenist network appeared in that tank! What were the odds?![18]

And the last note… There are some serious rumours claiming this coup was planned in the US 8 months ago. As it is not provable, there is no need to go into details for now. But we know something very well that numerous Gulenist people had just fled away from Turkey before 15th July 2016. Suddenly! As if they got information about “something”! Even I personally have witnessed such cases!

Just to add here a very suspicious TV commercial aired by the newspaper (ZAMAN)- belonging  to the Gulenists arm-  released on 5th of July 2015 in order to market that rumour, interesting:

Isn’t it a horrible TV commercial?

After all, isn’t it weird that some authors, journalists and bureaucrats are still creating a “peace loving, innocent, aggrieved image” for Fethullah Gulen and his putschists? Do the people like Graham Fuller really believe that they can fool us?[19] Somebody’s mask has just slipped maybe?


This article was originally published on 





















Deniz Baran is the editor of Turkish daily journal KARAR and a contributor at

He graduated from Istanbul University Law School.