As new evidence emerges, it becomes harder to deny the connections between Fethullah Gülen’s Hizmet and the failed overthrow of the Turkish government, argues Dani Rodrik:
If what Erdogan said on TV today is correct, there is no longer much doubt about the answer to this question. According to Erdogan, the officers who detained the chief of general staff, Hulusi Akar, on July 15 offered to put Akar in contact with Gulen. As of this writing, Akar has not made any statements confirming this. But if he does, it will be manifest that responsibility for the coup attempt reaches all the way to Pennsylvania. It will be very difficult for the U.S not to extradite Gulen, subject, of course, to (some huge) fair trial concerns back in Turkey.
For its part, the Gulen movement has a long history, going back to the 1980s, of trying to place its sympathizers in the military ranks. And while the high command systematically tried to purge them, it is quite likely that the Gulenists were able to outwit them. To evade suspicion, Gulen is said to have instructed his sympathizers to go to great lengths, including not letting their wives wear the headscarf – a telltale sign of religiosity in Turkey – and even to drink alcohol. The steady stream of document leaks that enabled the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials, as well as the mysterious way in which investigations of these leaks have been blocked, also suggests the presence of a large number of Gulenists in the military.
All of this points to the Gulen movement as the immediate culprit behind the coup attempt. Gulenists had both the capability and the motive to launch the coup. The timing – just after military officers began to be detained and before a major sweep – also supports this theory. Many have suggested that the Gulenists decided to move early and quickly because they learned that the impending sweep had been moved forward. This is plausible, and also helps explain why the coup attempt seemed rushed and poorly planned. Under this theory, the botched coup was a last-gasp, desperate attempt to reclaim their one final remaining institutional bastion and ensure their survival in Turkey.