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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Unpacking Turkey’s Failed Coup: Causes and Consequences

When President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed the Turkish people via FaceTime on the night of July 15, he pointed the finger of blame for the coup attempt squarely at Fethullah Gulen and his followers in the military.[1]
The Gulen movement, organized around the leadership of the Pennsylvania-based cleric, has been known to be a social movement with a secretive and complicated history. Gulenists describe themselves as Hizmet (Service) because of their emphasis on “creating necessary infrastructure (the movement is famous for its extensive transnational network of schools) to reform society.”[2] For years, the movement has touted itself as a civil society organization that aims to “promote education, tolerance, and peace.” Yet, especially in Turkey, people who follow the movement closely have tried to draw attention to its extensive organization inside the state bureaucracy. According to many in Turkey, the Gulenist aim is not solely confined to transforming society; they also pursue a strategy of capturing key positions inside the state bureaucracy to expand their sphere of influence and power. The few people who have studied the Gulen movement point out its strict hierarchy, operative secrecy, and requirement for obedience.[3]

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