On September 11, Turkeyish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used a less than two week-old government decree to sack 28 elected mayors, of whom a dozen were arrested for “actively engaging in acts of terrorism.”
These firings represents a miniscule fraction of the government officials, including the military, who have been accused of conspiring to remove Erdogan from office in July.
In mid-July, Turkey’s major cities experienced a brief period of violence as members of the Turkish military tried to depose Erdogan’s government. Erdogan regained control of the country the next morning. He delivered a televised speech before civilian crowds at Istanbul’s airport, and pro-coup soldiers surrendered to government forces.
President Erdogan has attempted, with less than a wisp of evidence, to pin blame for the coup on the Gülen movement. Run by U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, the movement has a favorable attitude towards secularism. It promotes interfaith dialog between Muslims, Christians, and Jews, and stands against racism and anti-Semitism. The recently sacked Turkish mayors were also accused of ties to Fethullah Gülen.
As Erdogan would have the world believe, the Gülen movement is an allegedly Islamist supremacist organization. Erdogan insists that it wanted to overthrow Turkey’s government and establish a quasi-theocracy.
Like such other hostile states as Cuba, North Korea, and Iran, whose rulers find it useful to blame the U.S. for their own domestic troubles, Turkish officials have also accused the CIA of complicity in funding the coup to remove Erdogan from power.
The Gülen movement was one of Erdogan’s political allies until corruption allegations against members of Erdogan’s political party surfaced in July 2013. Since then, Erdogan has suppressed criticism of his policies by claiming that the scandal was evidence of a “civilian coup” against the government. The Gülen movement, along with other dissident groups, has been termed part of the “Deep State” -- the group of supposedly allied conservatives and Islamists who work within the Turkish government and media to undermine democracy and create a revanchist Ottoman state.
According to Erdogan, the leader of the moderate Islamic movement that favors secularism orchestrated an Islamist coup in July while living in a small town in rural Pennsylvania. This proposition is far-fetched.
However, its underlying argument -- that Islamists have taken control of Turkey’s government -- is fact.
Erdogan himself, both before and after the failed coup, has been working steadily to transform Turkey into an Islamist state. As of today, Erdogan has succeeded. Although not an Iranian theocracy, Turkey’s leadership is explicitly Islamist.
Its values and goals are antithetical to American interests and those of NATO as an alliance of free, democratic states that respect the rule of law.
Such a nation has no place in NATO, despite its previous history as a critical American ally.