September 13th, 2016

Erdogan wants the US to turn over Gulen

As part of his enormous purge of the opposition in Turkey, Erdogan has now formally requested that the US turn over the man Erdogan alleges is behind the supposed coup attempt, Fethullah Gulen:

Justice Ministry officials told Anadolu the written request sent to counterparts in Washington alleged the Pennsylvania-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen “gave the orders and commanded” the violent coup that killed over 270 people. Gulen denies any involvement.

Turkish officials have been informally demanding the cleric’s arrest and extradition for weeks.

I will be very curious to see how Obama handles this one. He has mouthed some cooperative words, but so far has protected Gulen. If I had to guess, I think he won’t turn him over, and if so, it would be one of the relatively rare times Obama made the right move:

But while U.S. agency spokesmen are trying to be cautious in what they say, skepticism about Turkey’s claims that Gulen directed the plot are widespread in Washington. Last week, in comments that likely burned a few ears in Ankara, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told The Washington Post that he did not believe Turkey had yet offered enough proof to implicate Gulen, who has lived in Pennsylvania’s Poconos region for years.

At this stage, “the rhetoric has been ratcheted so high it’s almost impossible to find a suitable compromise,” said Joshua Walker, a former State Department official now with the German Marshall Fund. “Turkey is too strategically important to lose over Gulen … However, at the same time, the U.S. can’t be seen to be short-circuiting its own legal and due process.”…

Gulen, who says his movement is moderate and dedicated to public service, has large numbers of followers in Turkey. It’s possible some of his followers were involved in the coup attempt, although it appeared to have been led by factions in Turkey’s military, which is not known as a bastion for Gulenists. But finding evidence that directly ties the putsch to the imam in Pennsylvania could be tough for the Turks. The U.S. may also consider whether Gulen will be treated fairly in the Turkish legal system, where reports are emerging of torture against alleged coup plotters. (One possibility, Schanzer noted, is that the U.S. could pressure Gulen to move to a third country.)…

Since the July 15 coup attempt, which left around 300 people dead, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been busy cracking down on alleged coup plotters and Gulen sympathizers. Tens of thousands of people, including soldiers, judges, journalists and teachers, have been arrested or pushed out of their jobs. Erdogan also declared a three-month state of emergency and suspended Turkey’s adherence to parts of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The moves have alarmed U.S. officials, including Obama, who have long been worried about Erdogan’s authoritarian tendencies.

Here’s some background (see this post in particular, as well as this and this) to where I’m at in this controversy: the summary version is that Erdogan is using the coup to solidify his own ill-gotten power. And no, he wasn’t the duly elected leader of the country (you’ll have to read the links if you don’t remember the story).

22 Responses to “Erdogan wants the US to turn over Gulen”

  1. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Turkey is too strategically important to lose over Gulen…” Joshua Walker, former State Department official

    We’ve already lost Turkey. Demonstrated when Erdogan wouldn’t allow us to cross Turkish airspace when we took out Saddam. Now demonstrated by holding hostage American air crew and assets at the main airbase.

    The only consideration should be whether Turkey provides sufficient proof of Gulen’s involvement.

    Bite the bullet, pull out of Turkey and treat them as the hostile party that they in fact are and put real pressure on NATO to kick them out of that org. as well. Turkey joining the EU, which membership in NATO makes more probable would be a demographic death knell for Europe. Long term considerations supersede trying to placate Erdogan in the short term. If we don’t, he’ll demand even more, when the next ‘crisis’ rolls around.

  2. Nick Says:

    It may turn out that “modernized Turkey” was a lie we told ourselves to get through the Cold War, and stopped telling ourselves shortly thereafter.

  3. kevino Says:

    Like the song says, “You can’t always get what you want.”

  4. miklos000rosza Says:

    I agree with Geoffrey Britain above. I feel no need to elaborate.

  5. junior Says:

    It may turn out that “modernized Turkey” was a lie we told ourselves to get through the Cold War, and stopped telling ourselves shortly thereafter.

    The threat was always there, which is something that Attaturk recognized. But the rules that he set up were enough to keep it in place. Unfortunately, Erdogan has managed to largely disrupt the apparatus. And IIRC, the EU helped him during Turkey’s bid to join the organization.

  6. Yancey Ward Says:

    Well, I am sure Turkey will let us keep Gulen for, let’s say, 1.3 billion in Euros.

  7. parker Says:

    IF we had any sense of how to play long range geopolitics we would have long ago (after the 1979 Tehran embassy situation) promoted the establishment of Kurdistan. That would have included showering the Kurds with plenty of arms and providing them air support for as long as needed. This, combinted with naval and air blockades of Iran, Iraq,Turkey, and Saudi Arabia would have made 9-11-01 stillborn.

  8. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    Naval and air blockades of Iran, Iraq,Turkey, and Saudi Arabia would violate the principles of “Just War Doctrine”*, which has been taught in our military academies since the Vietnam War. Our military response must be ‘proportional’ and Just War Theory is the main driver of both the ROE for our troops and the limits that constrain our military and our geopolitical strategies.

    Note: Just War Theory would have prohibited dropping nukes on Japan, had we invaded instead, it would have resulted in 5-25 million deaths rather than the 200k lost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And, if we had done either, Japan’s Bushido culture, not having unconditionally surrendered would still be with us and still be viewed by the Japanese as viable.

    *Principles of the Just War – Mount Holyoke College, a liberal arts college for women in South Hadley, Massachusetts
    [emphasis mine]
    ~A just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified.
    ~A war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority. Even just causes cannot be served by actions taken by individuals or groups who do not constitute an authority sanctioned by whatever the society and outsiders to the society deem legitimate.
    ~A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example, self-defense against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause (although the justice of the cause is not sufficient–see point #4). Further, a just war can only be fought with “right” intentions: the only permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury.
    ~A war can only be just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success. Deaths and injury incurred in a hopeless cause are not morally justifiable.
    ~The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace. More specifically, the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had not been fought.
    ~The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered. States are prohibited from using force not necessary to attain the limited objective of addressing the injury suffered.
    ~The weapons used in war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. Civilians are never permissible targets of war, and every effort must be taken to avoid killing civilians. [no matter how extreme, even if it kills the combatant, they must sacrifice themselves] The deaths of civilians are justified only if they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.”

  9. parker Says:


    Back from dinner and walking the dogs….

    The concept of proportioanl warfare is a suicide concept. Hit me or mine once, I hit back 1,000 times. Take our embassy hostage I believe the appropriate response is annilation. 19 Saudi nationals on 9-11-01 murder 3,000 American civilians and I believe the appropriate respone is blockade to starve you into submission. But, I can be a SOB when it comes to pay back so what do I know about ‘doctrine’. Don’t tread on me means f*ck with me and die, along with your children, goats, and camels.

    We lack the will to fight all out war, thus we are willing PC victims.

  10. geokstr Says:

    “I think (Obama) won’t turn (Gulen) over…”

    Since when has Obama ever passed up an opportunity to help an Islamist take and/or consolidate power. Erdogan is going in the direction Obama prefers.

  11. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    Yes, in attempting to civilize war past the point of common sense, they have made it worse because it can never end.

    Reasonable, well-meaning people do not make war upon each other.

    So, when a reasonable people find themselves at war, their opponent is, by definition ‘unreasonable’. And again by definition, unreasonable people are not open to reason.

    Unreasonable people are also inherently insincere. They seek to take, rather than earn. Such as they… are incapable of sincerely negotiating disputes to gain peace, as peace is neither a goal nor even a desirable consideration.

    Thus, there is only one means of permanently dealing with unreasonable people. Permanently destroying their ability to take from others.

    This brief story brilliantly illustrates the point so many today fail to grasp:

  12. Sergey Says:

    Geoffrey: Brilliant and incisive, nothing to add to.

  13. OM Says:


  14. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    I carefully reviewed everything I’ve written here and can not find a single instance of my repeating myself using slightly different words. Leading me to conclude that you’re engaging in another false charge.

    Just out of curiosity, do you never tire of being “the south end of a northbound mule”?

  15. OM Says:

    Circular argument regarding reasonable disputes in foreign relations. See von Clausowitz (sic) r.g.,war is politics by other means. Do you never tire of puffery and pretentiousness?

  16. Nick Says:

    There is a lot of room for debate about the application of the Just War Doctrine. For example, there were military targets in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If the primary purpose of the nuclear attack was to destroy them, then the civilian casualties could be considered a secondary effect. Also, Japan didn’t have a distinction between civilian and military as we understand it, so the argument could be made that all of Japan constituted a legitimate military target.

  17. Kyndyll G Says:

    The idea of a “just war” is yet another example of lefty assumption that other parties hold the same idealized values and belief sets as themselves. For an ideology which rattles on incessantly about “diversity” and “multiculti” this-that-and-the-other, they are remarkably resistant to the idea that people, and cultures, are different.

    We are dealing with cultures that are different than ours, which view policies like “just war” as a weakness to exploit.

  18. Nick Says:

    Kyndyll – How so?

  19. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    “~The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered. States are prohibited from using force not necessary to attain the limited objective of addressing the injury suffered.
    ~The weapons used in war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. Civilians are never permissible targets of war, and every effort must be taken to avoid killing civilians. The deaths of civilians are justified only if they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.”

    The military targets at Hiroshima and Nagasaki could easily have been struck with conventional explosives. The point of using atomic bombs was NOT to utterly destroy those military targets but to bring about unconditional surrender by demonstrating our ability and, if necessary… our implied willingness to destroy the entire country.

    IMO, it was clearly a grave violation of Just War Doctrine.


    There’s nothing ‘reasonable’ about Erdogan’s demands or behavior. When did you become an advocate of dismissing due process?

  20. J.J. Says:

    The problem with Just War doctrine is that it only seems to apply to nations with a strong military and a Western civiiizational orientation.

    There is nothing “Just” about Fourth Generation Warfare of which terror is a tactic. It openly targets civilians. There is no proportional response, they do as much destruction as they can. There is no humanity in their regular practices of beheadings, crucifixions, drownings in cages, burning alive, disembowelments and more. The very purpose of Fourth Generation Warfare is to take advantage of the ethics and laws of opponents and turn them to their advantage.

    In the field of hand to hand combat there are several versions. Boxing adheres to the Marquis of Queensberry rules – all very ethical and humane. A step down from that is Mixed Martial Arts, where there are a few rules but not so humane as in boxing. A large step down from that is back alley street fights in which there are no rules. Kneeing, biting, kicking, clubs, hammers, knives, and guns are all fair. The one who is willing to kill or maim the other one is the winner. What we are engaged in is a back alley fight where we’re imposing the Marquis of Queensberry’s rules on ourselves while our enemy observes no rules. So far we have been injured and can fight on, but our enemy will, if he can, use any weapon, any tactic, and any barbaric torture in his power with an aim to put us down for the count. Yes, we’re bigger and stronger, but our enemies intend to cut us down to size with any weapon or tactic at their disposal. We are like Gulliver in which our rules of war are the threads that allow the Lilliputians (radical Islamic jihadis) to tie us down.

    Not only do the jihadis follow no rules, but they are motivated by a religious faith, which is the most difficult thing to combat in any human. People will willingly die for their faith, when they won’t die for money, fame, or sex.

    Based on what the above, following the Just War concept is a blueprint for disaster. Time for a reality check.

  21. Cornflour Says:

    Since Obama is working for Iran, maybe he’ll send Gulen to the mullahs, who can then hold him hostage until Erdogan agrees to wage an all-out war against the Kurds in Syria.

    Makes as much sense as anything else Obama does.

  22. OM Says:

    This podcast fro July 2016 has background information on the realtionship between Erdogan and Gulen.–with-ryan-evans

    Erdogan can “talk to the hand” IMO if clarification is needed regarding what is “reasonable.”

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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