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Responses to Soner Cagaptay

Fethullah Gulen Forum, March 13, 2010

Anybody who studies or teaches Turkish politics was surprised and shocked to read an article written by Soner Cagaptay in a recent issue of Foreign Policy.

Due to Cagaptay’s biased and partisan lens, it is not surprising to see an article from him, but it is suprising to see it getting published in Foreign Policy. It damages the credibility and scholarship of the Foreign Policy.

First of all, Cagaptay’s article is not a new article, several months ago, he published a very similar article (he even used same sentences) in Newsweek. On February 26, 2 days after Foreign Policy article, he published a different small version of the same article again in Newsweek.

In these articles, Cagaptay defames Fethullah Gulen and the movement, and argues that Gulen is behind the latest changes in Turkey, referring the Ergenekon case.

What is the purpose of repeating same misinformation over and over? And what new information Foreign Policy produces?

Other than Foreign Policy being used as a propaganda tool for Cagaptay and certain groups in Turkey, Foreign Policy is used to manipulate the facts in Turkish politics.

Foreign Policy puts itself into a very humiliated position. In his article, if readers have doubts about what he is saying, Cagaptay suggests readers "to call friends in Turkey and ask them what is happening." Foreign Policy should have done the same before it published this biased, partisan and misleading article.

Matter of fact, Foerign Policy would not need to go that far. Even if it had called experts and US government officials, such as, George Fidas who served in Turkey as a CIA officer for several years, Graham Fuller, National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asia and vice-chairman of the National Intelligence Council, and former U.S. ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz, Foerign Policy would have gotten a more accurate picture of what is happening in Turkey.

According to only scientific survey conducted by Dr. Akbar Ahmed from American University in Washington, DC, Fethullah Gulen is supported by the 84% of the Turkish public. In this much wide support, it is natural and absolutely normal to have some sympathetic people to Gulen in the army, police or in any kind of government position or private position. But this does not mean that Gulen is organizing a witch hunt against his opponents.

Gulen is known for his promotion of dialogue, tolerance, and democracy.  Greek Patriarch Barthelomos and Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan are witnesses of this process since the begining.

Cagaptay is defending the interest of a small percent elite population of Turkey, who has controlled the country and not willing to people to control themselves. If  Foreign Policy as an institution attribute any value to democratic and liberal rights of people, it is acting against its values by promoting such kind of misleading articles in American media.

On one hand, one wonders how Cagaptay was able to publish very similar misleading and partisan articles in leading American media in a very short period, but also how Newsweek and Foreign Policy damage their reputation by publishing such biased articles.

Following the publication of these two articles, several responses were published by different scholars.

Responses to Cagaptay’s articles:

The Crisis in Turkey?
By John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown University
March 2, 2010, the Huffington Post

Neo-Cons Attack Fethullah Gulen
By Bruce Prescott, Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists
March 01, 2010, Mainstream Baptist

[Soner Çağaptay finally gets it!] Fethullah Gülen is indeed behind Turkey's democratization process
By Mehmet Kalyoncu, International Relations Analyst
28 February 2010, Today’s Zaman

Soner Cagaptay’s war against decency
By Dr. Lawrence Arthur Forman, Rabbi Emeritus, Ohef Sholom Temple
03 March 2010

Çağaptay Uses Foreign Policy in Smear Campaign Against Gülen
By Today's Zaman
02 March 2010

Çağaptay’s latest: ill-informed, ill-intentioned
By Dr. Ihsan Yilmaz, Fatih University
27 February 2010

Is Soner Çağaptay Walking the Tightrope Between Morality and Subservience?
by Mehmet Yılmaz, Assistant editor-in-chief of Zaman Daily
27 May 2009, Today's Zaman

What is behind Çağaptay’s aggression from the other side of the Atlantic?
By Idris Bal, Turgut Özal University
09 March 2010, Today’s Zaman

RDR LETTER-TO-THE-EDITOR: Cagaptay's distorted portrayal of Turkey's Gulen Movement
By Andrew W. Griffin, Editor
March 2, 2010, Red Dirt Report

Neo-Conservatives Attack Islamic Moderate
Bruce Prescott, Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists
March 8, 2010, Ethics Daily

Following the Money Trail Amid Traps
By Abdullah Bozkurt, Analyst
02 March 2010, Today’s Zaman

The Crisis in Turkey?
By John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown University
March 2, 2010, the Huffington Post

In the past week, several alarmist pieces, including Soner Cagaptay's "What's Really Behind Turkey's Coup Arrests?' and Daniel Pipes' "Crisis in Turkey," have warned of a mortal crisis that threatens Turkey's future and its relationship with Europe and the US. Both are particularly exasperated by the continued arrest and indictment of senior military for conspiring to commit acts of terrorism in a plot to overthrow the government and what they see as an alliance between the ruling AK party and Fetullah Gulen's movement. As Pipes puts it at his most alarming hyperbolic best: "The arrest and indictment of top military figures in Turkey last week precipitated potentially the most severe crisis since Atatürk founded the republic in 1923. The weeks ahead will probably indicate whether the country continues its slide toward Islamism or reverts to its traditional secularism. The denouement has major implications for Muslims everywhere." Not to be outdone, Soner Cagaptay warns: "All signs point to Fethullah Gülen, whose shadowy Islamist movement is rapidly extending its tentacles into all aspects of Turkish political life."

What of the two culprits: the ruling AK Party democratically elected two times and the Gulen Movement are denounced as the major culprits. Their influence, it is charged, signals the current titanic clash between secular and Islamist or religious forces. The legacy of Ataturk's secular state and society and its elites are under siege. What are the ominous signs that have brought Turkey to this precipice? Turkey's entrenched secular establishment, whose status, power and privilege have been challenged by a rising class of well-educated bumpkins from Anatolia, who have been democratically elected and dominate parliament. AK's founders are now prime minister and president. Members of AK and the Gulen movement, emerging alternative elites, have "penetrated" the military and police that, like many institutions of society, had excluded them. Moreover, the Gulen movement is now a significant presence through its impressive network of schools in Turkey and globally that emphasize modern scientific education and religion. They also run prominent media outlets and are a formidable force in the business community.

The old political parties and secular elites have proven impotent, incapable of organizing a broad-based, effective opposition with a popular message that speaks to the political and economic challenges that Turkey faces. In contrast, AK has affirmed the secular nature of the Turkish state, the separation of religion and the state. But, in contrast to its predecessors' hardline secular fundamentalism with its anti-religious bias, AK has insisted that secularism can include a public space for belief as well as non-belief. It has introduced important political and economic reforms, advanced Turkey's cause for membership in the European Union, addressed human rights issues and struggled with resolving the Kurdish and the Armenian "questions." The process has not been without its pitfalls and problems.

Sounding like a mouthpiece for hardline secular elites and the military, Pipes asserts that "Turkey's military has long been both the state's most trusted institution and the guarantor of Atatürk's legacy." So what does the record show? The military has "intervened" four times to "save the Turkish secular state. What Pipes describes as "intervened to repair a political process gone awry" is a clear endorsement of military coups. Both Pipes and Cagaptay conveniently gloss over facts established by Turkish judges that at least 3-4 major coup attempts have been attempted by the military since the AK party came to power in 2002.

Yes, there has been a departure from the legacy of the past with major implications for Turkey and Muslims everywhere. Turkey has become more democratic, with a more open political and social system, a more broad-based electorate and leadership, and a greater emphasis on rule of law that includes the accountability of all institutions, including the military. What we are seeing is not a showdown between secularists and so-called Islamists or the demise of the secular state, but a process of normalization and the maturing of Turkey's democracy, institutions and the rule of law.

Neo-Cons Attack Fethullah Gulen
By Bruce Prescott, Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists
March 01, 2010, Mainstream Baptist

Soner Cagaptay, a Senior Fellow at one of America's most prestigious neo-conservative think tanks, published a couple essays today defaming the Turkish Islamic philosopher and scholar Fethullah Gulen and the movement of moderate Sufi Muslims who are inspired by him. He labels Gulen and his followers as "ultraconservative," allies them with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, and contends that the AKP "has become increasingly authoritarian."

I would differ with Cagaptay on two points. First, my study of Gulen's teachings and my experience with those who are inspired by him indicates that their views are relatively progressive, tolerant and enlightened within the world of Islamic faith. Labeling them "ultraconservative" is a gross distortion. Second, while allegations of illegal wiretapping is a matter of great concern and should not be swept under the carpet, similar allegations have been made against the government in our own country almost on a daily basis since 9-11. There is no doubt in my mind that the current AKP administration is far less "authoritarian" than the administrations set up by no less than three military coup d'etat's since 1960.

Turkey suffers under a French model of church-state relations known as laicism which deprives the citizenry of liberty of conscience and uses the power of government to enforce secularity. The Turkish people would be much better served by the American model of church-state relations which both disestablishes religion and ensures the free exercise of religion.

For Americans to comprehend the situation in Turkey, they need only imagine what would happen if the military threatened to overthrow the government every time the first lady, in accord with her private religious convictions, wore a cross on her necklace in public.

[Soner Çağaptay finally gets it!] Fethullah Gülen is indeed behind Turkey's democratization process
By Mehmet Kalyoncu, International Relations Analyst
28 February 2010, Today’s Zaman

In a recent commentary (“What's Really Behind Turkey's Coup Arrests,” Feb. 25, 2010) published in Foreign Policy magazine, and another one (“Turkey's Turning Point,” Feb.26, 2010) in Newsweek, Soner Çağaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) accuses Fethullah Gülen, 72, a retired preacher, prolific writer, and an advocate of interfaith-intercultural dialogue who lives in a self-imposed exile in a small town of Pennsylvania, of being the one responsible for the recent arrests of the former Turkish army generals who apparently plotted several times to overthrow Turkey's democratically elected Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government.
Although he intentionally interprets and portrays it falsely and misleadingly, Çağaptay finally got at least one thing right. Gülen can indeed be plausibly argued to be a force, albeit indirect, behind the Turkish authorities' recent crackdown on the unlawful, dictatorial and anti-democratic formations nested within the Turkish army, police, bureaucracy, academia, business and wherever they hinder democratization of the Turkish society.

Gülen has so far been denied the credit he much deserves for his efforts to make Turkey a more open, more democratic and more liberal country, integrated into the rest of the international community. It is mostly because of Gülen's humble nature, which instructs him not to claim any credit for the accomplishments of the faith-based civil society movement which he inspired worldwide and which academics and researchers have practically called the Gülen movement. It is also because of the above-mentioned antidemocratic establishment's constant persecution of Gülen and of whoever sympathizes with his ideas. As he alarmingly charges Gülen with leading a shadowy Islamist movement and extending its influence into the Turkish political life, Çağaptay simply illustrates the antidemocratic establishment's infamous attitude toward Turkey's citizens whenever they challenged, through democratic means, the establishment's grip on the state and its resources. That is, Çağaptay and similar voices of the antidemocratic and secularist establishment have always suppressed its challengers by discrediting them in the eyes of the public with false allegations.

Such allegations by Çağaptay should be a wake-up call to any concerned person inside and outside Turkey to really investigate what is really behind the antidemocratic secularist establishment's witch-hunt not only against Gülen, but also against whoever sympathizes with him.
In an article like this or many others, which apparently would hardly, if ever, find a place in the Foreign Policy and Newsweek magazines either because of the magazines' possible bias or because no such article would ever be sponsored by a formidable Washington think tank like WINEP, one can go into detail convincingly disputing each and every allegation made by Çağaptay. But it is neither the right nor ethical thing to do. It is not right because Çağaptay himself apparently knows that what he says simply is not true given the logical problems in his factually baseless allegations. It is not ethical because Çağaptay simply distorts the facts in an attempt to manipulate public opinion; and, as such, dignifying him with a response would simply make his unethical act look legitimate. What one should instead do is delve into the issues, which Çağaptay seems to be portraying purposefully falsely and misleadingly.

Why were the army generals arrested?
In his Foreign Policy commentary, Çağaptay rightly says, “For the last several decades, the Turkish military was untouchable; no one dared to criticize the military or its top generals, lest they risk getting burned. The Turkish Armed Forces were the ultimate protectors of founding father Kemal Atatürk's secular legacy, and no other force in the country could seriously threaten its supremacy. Not anymore.” Çağaptay is perfectly right that just as it would be in any military dictatorship or in an authoritarian society where the elected governments are subservient to the whims and wishes of the army generals, the Turkish military was untouchable, no matter how badly its generals violated the laws, hindered democracy and banned individual human rights and freedoms.

Most probably for this very reason, better to say for this self-entitled military supremacy over civilian subjects, months after the AK Party government took office through free and fair elections, a junta of army generals dared to plot overthrowing the AK Party government through a military coup d'état. On Jan. 20, 2010, the liberal Turkish daily newspaper Taraf exposed a coup plan titled the Balyoz [Sledgehammer] Security Operation Plan, drafted in 2003, shortly after the AK Party government came to power. According to the Taraf report, the masterminds of the plan were the then commander of the 1st Army, retired Gen. Çetin Doğan, then Air Forces Commander retired Gen. İbrahim Fırtına and retired Gen. Ergin Saygun. Soon after the report, a series of voice recordings from the alleged meeting of the generals leaked to the media (also to YouTube) and substantiated the Taraf report.

According to the report, and obviously understood in the voice recordings, the Sledgehammer coup plot was agreed upon at a military meeting attended by 162 active Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) members, including 29 generals. According to the plan, the military was to systematically foment chaos in society through violent acts, among which were bomb attacks on two major mosques in İstanbul during the Friday prayer. Consequently, provocateurs were to incite widespread rallies to protest the AK Party government's inability to ensure public security. Similarly, a series of bombs were to be detonated at museums crowded with children in order to heighten the already emerged sense of insecurity.

In addition to increasing violence in Turkey, the junta aimed to create tensions with Greece in an attempt to demonstrate the government's inability to handle international security threats. In this regard, a Turkish military aircraft was to provoke Greek pilots by entering Greek airspace, and the ensuing dogfight between the Turkish and Greek jets would lead to the crash of a Turkish jet. The plans noted that in case the dogfight attempt failed, then the junta's air force branch would intentionally down the Turkish jet and blame it on the Greeks. In the meantime, media organs close to the junta would accuse the AK Party government of failing to ensure the security of the country. Then, the circumstances would not only justify, but also necessitate the army's intervention.

The coup arrests which Çağaptay so alarmingly mentions in his commentaries are actually the detentions of some 49 retired and active duty military officers as part of the investigation into the alleged Sledgehammer coup plot. Consequently, two of the alleged masterminds of Sledgehammer, former Air Force Commander Gen. Fırtına and retired Gen. Saygun, respectively, were released after testifying to prosecutors. The ringleader, retired Gen. Doğan, was arrested as he was revealed to have already booked his flight to Mexico and was about to flee the country only a day after the police suddenly detained him. At this point, both Doğan and the other generals who have been released are waiting to stand trial in civilian courts. If they are innocent, they will be freed anyway.

What does this have to do with Gülen?
So, what does all this have to do with a retired preacher living in self-imposed exile in a small town of Pennsylvania for the last decade? The answer offered by Çağaptay is the following: “The only quality that ties together all of those arrested is their opposition to the AKP [AK Party] government and the Gülen movement.” What else could one expect? Actually, it would be quite odd if those who plotted to bomb their own people and crash Turkey's own jet did not oppose the AK Party government and the Gülen movement. After all, the latter two are everything that the coup plotters would not like.

A more plausible explanation as to what it all has to do with Gülen could be the following: Gülen certainly is not just a small mosque preacher. Throughout the last four decades, with his writings, public speeches and most importantly with worldwide civil society initiatives, Gülen has revolutionized the Turkish society's imagination. With his help, the Turkish society, which had so far been intimidated and humiliated by the antidemocratic, dictatorial and secularist establishment, has recognized its potential.

Gülen convinced the Turkish people that it was their judiciary, their army, their academia, their industry and their own art and sciences; and as such, they had the legitimate right to claim their place in all these areas of life while preserving their piously Muslim identity. This success of Gülen seems to have scared the establishment to death as it now terribly risks losing its absolute grip on every aspect of life in Turkey.

This point is actually well addressed in Çağaptay's own writing in his Newsweek commentary: “This campaign could become the final battle for control of Turkey.” Çağaptay is right; this is the battle between Turkish society and the dictatorial establishment for the control of Turkey. This explanation is of course an attempt to understand the root causes of the ongoing witch-hunt against Gülen and his sympathizers. Any concerned individual should not suffice with this explanation, but make his or her own judgment by delving into who Gülen is and what the Gülen movement is about.

In the final analysis, suggesting that Gülen is the cause of the recent arrests of the coup plotting army generals is tantamount to merely distorting the facts, and attempting to manipulate public opinion against both Gülen and whoever sympathizes with his ideas. This is exactly what Çağaptay seems to be doing, and it does not look credible even if his allegations appear in credible publications like the Foreign Policy and Newsweek magazines. It is also hard to argue that Gülen and the individuals associated with him are the only force behind Turkey's consistent march toward democracy. However, it is certainly plausible to argue that among Turkey's other democracy and freedom supporters, Gülen and whoever is associated with him are a formidable force behind Turkey's recently accelerated march toward democracy.

Çağaptay not only keeps distorting the facts about the ongoing judicial process, but also violates fundamental human rights of a prominent Turkish intellectual by constantly accusing him with baseless allegations. What Çağaptay does is not an objective intellectual engagement, but a mere witch-hunt and a campaign to discredit. Neither Gülen nor anyone who feels threatened by Çağaptay's baseless accusations should try to respond to him. Yet, they should immediately take Çağaptay's case to the courts of justice and make Çağaptay himself substantiate his allegations.

Soner Cagaptay’s war against decency
Dr. Lawrence Arthur Forman, Rabbi Emeritus, Ohef Sholom Temple
03 March 2010

My name is Lawrence Arthur Forman and I am the Faculty Advisor of the Turkish-Muslim Better Understanding Club of Old Dominion University, where I am an adjunct Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion.   I am also the rabbi-emeritus of Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk, Virginia, where I served as senior rabbi for 30 years, and my wife, a clinical psychologist and I, have been affiliated with the Rumi Forum in Washington, D.C. for many years.

I was privileged to take a trip to Turkey 3 years ago.  There I met with prominent business leaders, educators, scholars and many average citizens. We toured and examined Gulen schools and Universities, and we  learned much about Turkey and especially, about Fethullah Gulen, scholar, philosopher, educator and brilliant intellectual and moral guide for his people and our world.

F. Gulen’s progressive ideas of pluralism, mutual respect, science, education, social and political justice, the economy and finding a place for the Islamic people in a post-modern world, are a monument to the enormous humanity and spirituality of the man.  Mr. Cagaptay has totally distorted Mr. Gulen’s perspective and teachings.  He seems to have been influenced by negative and underhanded forces that would discredit our teacher and leader, F. Gulen.  In American democracy, we vote our conscience as individuals, we do not allow military coups to run rampant.  The Gulen philosophy and theology is totally opposed to getting one’s way through intimidation and repression.
Harmonizing many Western ideas of democracy, freedom and justice for all, educational opportunities for women, men, and all children, Gulen’s ideas of bringing together all peoples for the common good through the creation of schools that teach democratic values and his interfaith work through dialogue and non-violence have never been more needed than they are today.

At a time when the Islamic world itself is filled with misunderstandings of the Koran and the Taphsir, when dictators and petty tyrants attempt to subvert decency and justice for their own people as well as for us in the West, when perverted misinterpretations of Islamic literary source documents are used to vilify Mr. Gulen, those of us who have been privileged to learn and read his excellent and enlightening works must speak out on his behalf.

F. Gulen, a true man of peace, devotes his time to healing and reconciliation between religions, cultures and peoples of every race, creed and color.  He is an avid reader who bases his understanding of service upon the Turkish guiding principle, ‘living to let others live.’  Gulen, his philanthropy, his philosophy and his ethical actions and influence reassure us all that a Muslim cannot be a terrorist and a terrorist cannot be a Muslim.

Please be aware there are many others like myself, who represent strong coalitions, who support and understand the greater mission of love, peace, understanding and Shalom that M. Fethullah Gulen represents.
With every good wish to our brothers and sisters in Turkey,

Çağaptay Uses Foreign Policy in Smear Campaign Against Gülen
By Today's Zaman
02 March 2010

Observers have said the article, published on Feb. 25, seriously distorts realities surrounding the ongoing Ergenekon probe -which aims to expose the deep state nested within the military, academia and the business world- and targets the faith-based civil society movement inspired by Fethullah Gülen.

Though the article contains numerous allegations and accusations against Gülen personally and his movement as well as the Turkish government, Çağaptay does not provide a single piece of evidence to support his arguments.

In a piece titled “What's Really Behind Turkey's Coup Arrests?” Çağaptay claims that the power behind the launching of the Ergenekon probe is Gülen. “The only quality that ties together all of those arrested is their opposition to the AKP [Justice and Development Party (AK Party)] government and the Gülen movement. Zekeriya Öz, the chief prosecutor leading the Ergenekon case, and Ramazan Akyürek, the head of the police's domestic intelligence branch, as well as other powerful people in the police, are thought by some to be Gülen sympathizers,” the analyst alleges.

However, what apparently infuriated Çağaptay is the detention of about 50 retired and active duty members of the military on Feb. 22 on charges of plotting a coup. This was the highest profile crackdown ever carried out on the military. The detainees are accused of involvement in military coup plots titled Balyoz (Sledgehammer) and Kafes (Cage). The plots include blowing up mosques during Friday prayers, setting off explosives in a museum during a visit by young students and turning stadiums into open-air prisons to hold people who challenge coup troops.

The Ergenekon probe is believed to present a historic opportunity for Turkey to confront its dark past and call to account coup instigators -- be they members of the military or civilians. Çağaptay's piece caused disappointment and surprise among many Turkish and foreign observers, who termed it “cheap conspiracy.”

“This piece is merely an example of a distortion of facts and misinformation. It's very biased. The Ergenekon probe is of the utmost importance for Turkish democracy,” stated Orhan Kemal Cengiz (President of Human Rights Agenda Association). Cengiz also expressed his disappointment with Foreign Policy for publishing such a controversial piece that lacks any proof for its arguments.
“It raises eyebrows to see such a piece in the international arena. How could Foreign Policy publish that piece? I wonder how such a cheap conspiracy made its way into a serious publication. Çağaptay's piece has no depth. It is filled with groundless accusations. It does not include a single statement with veracity,” Cengiz said. Çağaptay was not immediately available for comment despite repeated attempts by Sunday's Zaman to reach him.

In his piece, Çağaptay argues that the government's intention with the Ergenekon probe is to intimidate the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), rather than proceed with an indictment against high-ranking officers. At this point, however, the analyst fails to inform his readers that civilian prosecutors have thus far prepared three separate indictments against Ergenekon suspects that amount to several thousands of pages. The suspects are accused of establishing an armed organization with the ulterior motive of overthrowing a democratically elected government and Parliament.

İhsan Bal, head of the Terrorism and Security Studies Unit at the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization (USAK), indicated that military preparations for a coup d'état and documents detailing such preparations have been verified by civilian and military prosecutors.

“All [coup] documents have been proven genuine. Simultaneous operations [against Ergenekon suspects] have been launched. Are all prosecutors engaged in a conspiracy? That is ridiculous. Which of Çağaptay's allegations should I respond to? What we see is that even serious publications can make mistakes,” Bal added.

One of many controversial points included in Çağaptay's piece is his effort to link the Gülen movement to the AK Party: “A mountain has moved in Turkish politics. All shots against the military are now fair game, including those below the belt. The force behind this dramatic change is the Fethullah Gülen Movement (FGH), an ultraconservative political faction that backs the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). … It is a conservative movement aiming to reshape secular Turkey in its own image, by securing the supremacy of Gülen's version of religion over politics, government, education, media, business, and public and personal life.”

However, Gülen stressed on various occasions that he does not harbor any political ambitions and does not throw his support behind any political party. In an interview with Foreign Policy in 2008, for example, Gülen said: “I have never had, nor will I ever have, any [political] ambitions. The only thing on which I have always set my heart is being able to gain God's good pleasure and, therefore, trying to make him known correctly and loved by humanity.”

According to Çağaptay, the Gülen movement controls the national police and its powerful domestic intelligence branch and exerts increasing influence on the judiciary. “Criticizing the Gülen movement … has become as taboo as assailing the military once was. Today, it is those who criticize the Gülen movement who get burned,” he remarks. The analyst's argument is, however, strongly opposed to by Michael Thumann, Die Zeit's Middle East bureau chief in İstanbul.

“The sentence regarding the Gülen movement and its control of the national police is very hard to substantiate. The idea that Gülen is behind [the Ergenekon probe] is preposterous. Nobody can tell to what extent. No single proof. Why should journalists not be interested in those coup plans without being on the payroll of someone?” he asked. Thumann also expressed disapproval of Çağaptay's opinion of the Taraf daily. In his piece, Çağaptay said, “Specifically, the officers were charged with authoring a 5,000-page memo that was later published in Taraf, a paper whose editorial policy is singularly dedicated to bashing the military.”

“I am very happy that Taraf exists. It is a good source for us. They cannot disclose their sources, of course, but for me it is a very important source as a foreign journalist here. It is a newspaper accused of being close to the government. [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan was very angry when Taraf called him ‘Paşasının Başbakanı' [The Pasha's Prime Minister]. Çağaptay is entirely misrepresenting Taraf. Taraf is a newspaper which has driven the political process with its publication. It's important for freedom of the press in Turkey. Some people try to depict Taraf as a supporter of the government; that's a misrepresentation,” Thumann added.

Çağaptay also accuses “the Gülen-controlled parts” of the judiciary and police of illegally wiretapping those entangled in the Ergenekon case and subsequently leaking details of their intimate lives, such as infidelity, to pro-AK Party and pro-Gülen media in order to damage their reputations. Not surprisingly, the analyst does not point to any evidence to solidify his argument, nor does he mention the wiretapping of prominent figures from various circles by Ergenekon members. A police raid at an ultranationalist newsweekly in 2009 discovered sound recordings of phone conversations of the prime minister, several Cabinet members, journalists and mayors.

Furthermore, the analyst claims that the Gülen movement supported a coalition government led by the now-defunct Welfare Party (RP) in the late 1990s. Sources close to Gülen, however, strongly denied the claim.

Assessing Çağaptay's writing style, Alper Görmüş, a columnist from the Taraf daily, told Sunday's Zaman that they can see Çağaptay's fundamental characteristics in this article, too. When asked what he meant, he said Çağaptay puts forth claims but offers no evidence.
“We know him; it is very natural to see such articles be written in his militant writing style. But it is impossible to understand how a journal like Foreign Policy, which is highly concerned about the level of academic rigor the articles it publishes contain, can run such an article,” Görmüş noted.

Criticizing Foreign Policy's publication policy, Görmüş said it is clear that, following Sept. 11, fast-growing Islamophobia has replaced Americans' cool-headed demeanor. “In the 1960s Turkey had the goal of being a ‘small America.' Following the change in atmosphere that dominated American media and politics after Sept. 11, I wrote in my article that ‘Turkey could not become a small America but America has become a big Turkey.' It seems such a process is continuing in America as such an article managed to be published in Foreign Policy,” Görmüş concluded.

Twisting the facts
According to Emre Uslu, an analyst working with the Washington-based think tank The Jamestown Foundation, Çağaptay twists many facts to use them as a basis for his arguments in his piece.

“For example, he says police interrogated Türkan Saylan for allegedly plotting a coup from her death bed. However, no such thing occurred. Police searched Saylan's house and office after discovering that the NGO she was leading was being used as a means to infiltrate the military. I cannot understand how Foreign Policy published a piece that dramatizes an incident that never occurred,” Uslu said.

Professor Saylan, the founder of the Support for Modern Life Association (ÇYDD), died in May 2009 shortly after a police raid at her house and office as part of the Ergenekon probe. Evidence uncovered in the investigation has hinted that the ÇYDD may have served as a sub-unit of Ergenekon.

“Çağaptay also says the only quality that ties together professors Kemal Gürüz and Mehmet Haberal is their opposition to the AK Party government and the Gülen movement. However, no one can find a single word the two used against the Gülen movement before the launch of the Ergenekon probe. How does he derive an anti-Gülen position for the two professors?” Uslu asked.

Both Gürüz and Haberal were detained and later arrested last year on suspicion of links to Ergenekon. Gürüz was released pending trial while Haberal remains in a hospital for alleged health problems. “I would not expect such twists from an intelligent writer like Çağaptay and such a biased publication from Foreign Policy. The piece does not reflect the truth in Turkey. It has problems both in content and meaning,” Uslu added.

Not Çağaptay's first time disseminating misinformation
The analyst also attempted to misrepresent facts regarding the Ergenekon case with a highly controversial piece he wrote for the March 8 issue of Newsweek magazine. In his piece, titled “Turkey's Turning Point,” Çağaptay alleged that the AK Party and its ultraconservative allies in the Gülen movement, known as Gülenists, have been deploying friendly police agents to wiretap and arrest top military officers on coup charges.

The analyst sparked a heated debate in Turkey with his article, with many writers calling on Newsweek readers to take Çağaptay's conflicting arguments with a grain of salt and take a deeper look into the various Turkish media outlets to gain a better understanding of the Ergenekon case.

In an op-ed he wrote for The Washington Post in February 2009, Çağaptay claimed that Turkey, under the AK Party's governance, was turning its back on the West and abandoning its commitments to US policy. In response to the analyst's assertion, a senior AK Party politician said Çağaptay's op-ed contained “grossly misleading information.”

In his latest piece for Newsweek, Çağaptay targeted Ergenekon prosecutors, calling them “Gülenists” who were arresting secular prosecutors who were investigating fundraising networks run by the Gülen movement and its connections to terrorists in Chechnya and Hamas.

Çağaptay’s latest: ill-informed, ill-intentioned
By Dr. Ihsan Yilmaz, Fatih University
27 February 2010

A piece titled “What’s Really Behind Turkey’s Coup Arrests?” by Soner Çağaptay, who works for the pro-Israeli Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), was published very recently by the Foreign Policy journal.

He starts his unsubstantiated claims by saying that the Gülen movement is a shadowy Islamist movement. I have written here several times that unless you call every single practicing Muslim an Islamist, Fethullah Gülen and his movement can never be called Islamist. Quite the contrary, the movement has always stayed away from politics. It is well known that if someone is called Islamist, it is implied that he is not an ordinary Muslim but is instead a radical and possibly a pro-violence one. Some hooligan right-wing Islamophobic tabloid journalist could write such a thing, but an academic such as Çağaptay must know that serious academics never call the Gülen movement Islamist. Even this misuse of the term shows that Çağaptay is not objective or unbiased toward the movement.

Çağaptay tries to dilute evidence against the coup attempts and writes: “When I asked a former US ambassador to Turkey for his views on the news, he thought the scenario was ridiculous. ‘If the Turkish military was going to do a coup, they would not be writing a 5,000-page memo about it,’ he stated.” But on Friday the military prosecutor confirmed that experts agreed that the coup documents were authentic. I am sure the experts know this better than a former ambassador who only relies on speculation. What is more, we know that the coup-plotter generals say in the recording that they themselves recorded and archived that the plan they imitated was the Flag (Bayrak) Plan which was a written document prepared to plan Sept. 12, 1980. The fact that the plan is longer this time is only a sign that coup-plotting junta knew that this time civil society is much stronger thanks to the Gülen movement and many others, so the plan had to be more detailed, careful and vigilant. They recorded everything, and one reason could be that they did not trust each other. On March 9, 1971, some generals betrayed their colleagues and the leftist coup and sided with the rightist generals who successfully staged a coup on March 12, 1971, and the next generation of coup-lover generals never forgot this.

The fact that no one has been prosecuted for the wiretap of the chief of General Staff is interpreted by Çağaptay as a sign that the balance of power in Turkey has shifted decisively. Bu he never mentions that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself and several other Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputies also were wiretapped and that Ergenekon suspect Doğu Perinçek’s newspapers and TV stations published them. They were not prosecuted, either. Çağaptay prefers to give us half the picture, as he has done many times before, for instance, when he was arguing that Turkey was changing its axis from a Western-alliance position to pro-Iranian, etc., position. This was repeatedly and vehemently denied by the US State Department, EU politicians and Eurocrats. Not surprisingly, only rightist Israelis, Likudniks, Zionists and some neocons advocate these views, which are not based on evidence and facts but on pure conspiracy or speculation. It has repeatedly been shown by academics that the main engine behind the success of the AK Party, the Anatolian middle classes and the nascent elite, are fully supportive of the EU process and that is why they support the AK Party. Otherwise they would support Necmettin Erbakan’s Felicity Party (SP), which has an anti-West and anti-EU discourse.

Speculation and accusations

Çağaptay tries again to blacken the Gülen movement by labeling it an “ultraconservative political faction.” What is conservative? What is ultraconservative? Why is it political and why is it a faction? Çağaptay simply borrowed all the negative words and terms that would irritate the Western reader, but none of these are true, and clear definitions are never given. Again, he writes that the movement aims to “reshape secular Turkey in its own image, by securing the supremacy of Gülen’s version of religion over politics, government, education, media, business, and public and personal life.” But these are pure blanket accusations, mind-reading and pure speculation without a shred of evidence.

He also claims that “today, it is those who criticize the Gülen movement who get burned.” It seems that Çağaptay never reads Turkish newspapers and never watches Turkish television. The lies and accusations that Çağaptay is fabricating here are not original whatsoever. Every day on television and in newspapers several pro-oligarchy journalists, so-called writers, academics and so on keep repeating these conspiracy theories. Nothing happens to these people. In the past, Gülen always sued them and got compensation for libel, but as far as I can see, Gülen is no longer interested in them; maybe he does not want to make those marginal voices happy and famous.

Çağaptay states that “Zekeriya Öz, the chief prosecutor leading the Ergenekon case, and Ramazan Akyurek, the head of the police’s domestic intelligence branch, as well as other powerful people in the police, are thought by some to be Gülen sympathizers.” Everybody who is anti-oligarchy or not corrupt is thought to be a Gülen sympathizer. What can Çağaptay say if I write here that Çağaptay is thought to be a Mossad agent by some as he always writes along the lines of the pro-Israelis, and what is more he works for an openly pro-Israeli think tank? Writing this here seriously would be ridiculous, but this is what so-called academic Çağaptay does when it comes to police officers and prosecutors without -- again -- any shred of evidence.

Çağaptay portrays Türkan Saylan as just a grandmother; he never mentions that she could not explain a document discovered on her computer mentioning encouraging girls to make every sacrifice needed to become close to young officers. Several other original documents that were filed by the prosecutors also show similar activities.

No proof or evidence
Çağaptay writes without any proof or evidence that “the Gülen-controlled parts of the judiciary and police have also wielded illegal wiretaps against those entangled in the Ergenekon case, leaking intimate details of their private lives.” But is it a coincidence that several Ergenekon suspects were caught with those recordings and pictures and sometimes they were caught not by the police but by the gendarmerie? Remember when former Land Forces Commander Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt was to be appointed the chief of General Staff; there was a bombardment of every single cell phone, e-mail inbox and Internet Web site accusing him of being everything from a secret Jew to a corrupt officer and so on. The oligarchy’s men instantly blamed their scapegoat Gülen at that time, but afterwards all these materials were found in the office of Büyükanıt’s rival for the position of chief of General Staff, Gen. Şener Eruygur (an Ergenekon suspect ), well protected in the army compounds. Gen. Eruygur today claims that he cannot remember anything. What is more, referring to this, Gen. Büyükanıt himself said he was also a victim of Ergenekon. One wonders why Çağaptay never mentions these important details but instead talks about rumors ,repeating what the Ergenekon suspects keep saying.

Çağaptay also claims that “the military … opposes the AKP and the Gülenists because it sees itself as the virtual guardian of Turkey’s secular polity à la Atatürk’s vision, serving as a bulwark against religion’s domination over politics and government.” But why does Çağaptay not look at the EU progress reports on Turkey that totally discredit his claims and ask for a more transparent, democracy-friendly and accountable army? Why do EU officials always reiterate that the Ergenekon case gives them hope for the future of Turkish democracy? It seems that everybody in the EU has become Gülen sympathizers! It seems that they are not as intelligent as Çağaptay!

Çağaptay also allegedly writes that Gülen said “to his followers in a message broadcast on Turkish TV in 1999 that ‘every method and path is acceptable [including] lying to people’.” Even in the doctored video that Çağaptay mentions , he never said this. Also, a staunchly secularist prosecutor prepared an indictment against Gülen based on this doctored video recording, and the Feb. 28 coup’s mighty generals openly supported him, but the courts, including the highest court, the Court of Cassation, found Gülen not guilty, as Çağaptay mentions only briefly.

A Gülen-Erbakan alliance?
He claims that the Islamist Welfare Party (RP) government was supported by the Gülen movement. I am sorry, but this is a very silly lie. It is known by everyone in Turkey that Gülen and Erbakan do not like each other. Gülen never supported Erbakan. Çağaptay seems to be ignorant of Turkish social and political history. Gülen always said that mixing religion with politics is a satanic act. There are countless documents, evidence and academic studies to show this. Diametrically opposed to what Çağaptay writes, Gülen did something very “unGülenic” and appeared on TV at the time and stated very powerfully that Erbakan should quit the government because the situation was extremely tense and he feared a coup that would end with bloodshed. It is easy to find newspaper pieces, comments on this and even the recording of the broadcast itself. Can Çağaptay show us even a single piece proving that Gülen supported Erbakan for one moment in his entire life? What actually happened was that after getting rid of the Islamic government, the anti-Islam coup went after all religious people, banned the headscarf at universities, banned parents sending under 15-year-olds to mosques in the summer holidays to receive religious education, tried to bankrupt religious businessmen and so on. Today, almost everyone remembers those days with a feeling of total disgust. Did you also know that the coup’s leader, Gen. Çevik Bir, said publicly that the AK Party was beneficial for the country?

Çağaptay also claims that “the AKP … is largely a reincarnation of the banned RP,” but there is no evidence to support this. Erbakan went on to establish his own party, and he accuses Erdoğan and his friends of being children of the Byzantine Empire and sheepish slaves of the West. Çağaptay and his friends can never explain why the Armenians in Turkey reportedly voted for the AK Party in the July 22, 2007 general elections, when the AK Party got 47 percent of the vote. Is it again a case of those people not being as intelligent as Çağaptay? I must note that I submitted a paper on the AK Party and its non-Islamism to a respected journal, and one of the reviewers was upset by the information on the pro-AK Party Armenian voting and did not hide his feelings, saying that this information was irrelevant. I wonder why?

Çağaptay is himself solid proof that the conspiracy theories he repeats about the Gülen movement are based on fabrications and lies, blanket accusations without any evidence, mind reading and disrespect for the judicial process in Turkey. These desperate attacks on the movement by Çağaptay, Michael Rubin, Rachel Sharon-Krespin, Barry Rubin and so on, will only strengthen the movement’s respected peaceful and pro-dialogue status.

Believe me, if he had any evidence against the Gülen movement, instead of humiliating himself once more and abusing Foreign Policy and its readers, Çağaptay would not hide it from his readers, unless he is also a secret Gülen sympathizer sacrificing himself and his academic career by way of strange tactics.

I did not write this piece because I take Çağaptay and his friends seriously. I do not. Google the net, and you will find thousands of conspiracy theories about Gülen (by the way, none of their writers got burned) on marginal anti-Islamic or ultra-nationalist Web sites. But I take Foreign Policy seriously, and I am sure they will tackle this abhorrent abuse of their good intentions.

Is Soner Çağaptay Walking the Tightrope Between Morality and Subservience?
by Mehmet Yılmaz, Assistant editor-in-chief of Zaman Daily
27 May 2009, Today's Zaman

As an enthusiastic Newsweek reader, I would like to express my disappointment over a recent article titled "Behind Turkey's Witch Hunt," written by Soner Çağaptay.

I would like to state at the outset that this article has surely cast doubt on your credibility as a renowned journal, for anybody who is familiar with the societies and politics of Turkey and the United States would instantly notice that most of the author's arguments are flawed and were written with less than benevolent intentions. Evidently, by penning this article, the author has tried to ingratiate himself with certain circles in Turkey that have been trying to dilute and obscure the ongoing Ergenekon case, in which a significant number of white-collar people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in various terrorist activities, aiming to ultimately overthrow the government by plotting a military coup.

The author's main argument is that the current Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government is trying use the Ergenekon case as a means to curb freedoms and more importantly to edge out people who seem to be opposing the AK Party's policies. The author indicates that there is a symbiotic relationship between the AK Party and the Gülen movement, a pacific spiritual social movement which the author wrongly calls a "tarikat" (Islamic order), and that the Turkish National Police Department is nothing but a tool for the realization of the AK Party's goals. The author implies that: i) The National Police Department works under the command of the AK Party government; and ii) The Gülen movement supports the AK Party; so iii) The Gülen movement must also support ― and since it is a powerful movement, it must control ― the National Police Department. Doubtless, the syllogism here is way too simplistic, lacking credible evidence to substantiate it. Still, in an effort to undergird his arguments, the author uses some statistical data selectively and manipulates them to serve his purpose. Such efforts indeed run counter to his expected goal as one cannot help but think that this article is nothing but a manifestation of the author's lack of moral and ethical scruples. For example, in regards to the number of people who are under surveillance, he wrote the following: "On April 26, Turkey's justice minister said that police intelligence listens to the private conversations of 70,000 people; almost one in every 1,000 Turks lives under police scrutiny today. In the United States, that ratio is one in 137,000." The author is wrong about the numbers as evidenced by the justice minister's response at the Turkish Parliament to an interpellation vis-à-vis the number of wiretappings. In his response, the justice minister stated that he has no statistics regarding the number of wiretappings and instead sufficed to say that 12,888 recordings from the years 2006, 2007 and 2008 had been destroyed.

Although the abovementioned ratio, not the numbers, were articulated by Fethi Şimşek, president of the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB), there are two problems with the citation of Mr. Şimsek's statement. First, the author used the information in a self-serving manner, disregarding the fact that Mr. Şimşek also said the number of wiretappings in Turkey is not beyond European standards. Second, not only in this quote but throughout the article, the author deliberately used the term "police" in the discussions of surveillance of people's private communications, when he is expected to know as a "Turkey expert" that the National Police Department is not the only organization involved in surveillance activities in Turkey. For instance, in Turkey all interceptions of wire, oral and electronic communications follow a legal process, i.e., applications are processed by the TİB; accordingly, not only the National Police Department, but also the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the gendarmerie are granted permission to implement these interceptions. In addition, in order to listen to the private conversations of 70,000 people simultaneously, there would be a need for 70,000 people. Since the number of officers in the National Police Department is about 200,000 and the majority of them are not involved in intelligence activities, it is practically impossible for all wiretappings to be done by the police.

Moreover, in recent years there has been a significant improvement with regard to Turkish law enforcement agencies' adherence to democratic policies and implementation, due perhaps, largely, to these agencies' conspicuous efforts to adapt themselves to the globalizing world, as well as to the positive influence of the democratic reforms made for EU accession. Contrary to Çağaptay's portrayal of the situation in Turkey, I feel confident in saying that the common perception among people in Turkey is that the National Police Department, especially, has been working meticulously to make sure that all wiretappings and other surveillance activities are done within the confines of the law. In fact, this kind of work in turn has borne fruit in the sense that the National Police Department was able to capture documents and tapes containing private information, conversations and video recordings that belong to nearly 2,500 prominent Turkish citizens. These data were illegally stored by an army general while he was working as the head of intelligence at the gendarmerie who aimed most probably to use those recordings for blackmailing purposes, or in other words, for his own "witch hunting." In parallel, he was arrested based on his involvement in the Ergenekon group, allegedly a terrorist organization. But somehow, the author and the like choose to remain aloof to these facts and still try to obscure the Ergenekon case by saying that it is not possible to plot a coup with the "few" bombs that were found by the police, while the numbers indeed are flabbergasting.

On the other hand, the author mentions that the ratio with regard to the people under surveillance is one in 137,000 in the United States while it is one in 1,000 in Turkey. This, however, is another demonstration of fact distortion by the author, given that in Turkey almost all interceptions are done because of terrorism-related crimes, whereas by a simple Google search, a careful and well-intentioned person would realize that people involved in terrorism-related crimes are not included on the list of people under surveillance in the United States.
In fact there is an enormous body of literature, as well as serious debate, over the issue of unlawful wiretapping in the United States, which has reached alarming levels, especially after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City. What is ironic, as much as stunning, is not only the distortion of the facts about the figures in the US, but also the author's comparison of Turkey with the United States in the first place. For the notorious civil rights violations under the rubric of "pre-emptive" anti-terrorism measures by the quondam US administration led by former President George W. Bush left indelible marks on the US's image as a benign hegemon or the leader of the free world, and his successor, President Barack Obama, the man of hope, and his security team's efforts to restore that tarnished image seem only to be exacerbating the damage caused by his predecessor.

To give an example, despite some positive initial attempts with regard to upholding individual rights and freedoms, President Obama has lately started to recoil from that position as he has recently suggested the notion of "prolonged detention" on a perilous premise that prolonged detentions are necessary for some people who cannot be incarcerated for their past crimes because the evidence may be tainted. When the euphemisms are stripped away, what President Obama suggested is "indefinite detention without charges" or "preventive incarceration," which is nothing but the continuation of the same old policies of the Bush administration. Thus, as the author has been living in the United States for a long time and following the sociopolitical developments of the country as an expert at a well-known think tank, his indifference to the omission of terrorist-related crimes from the above-mentioned list and his selective usage of the data seem to be more than carelessness on the part of the author.

All in all, while the author's intention, by singling out the police from the group of organizations involved in the interception of private communications in Turkey, seems to serve his attempt to endear himself to the known circles via building a case by creating a link between the police and the Gülen movement ― i.e., the former is controlled by the latter ― you can rest assured that his unsubstantiated arguments have done nothing but marred the impartiality and credibility of your publication. Moreover, I have to admit that given the author's perception of the Gülen movement, i.e., he claims not to share the sinister view of "most Turks" about this movement's spiritual message, the abovementioned link that the author suggests between the police and the Gülen movement perplexes more than it clarifies the reader about the nature of that supposed link. While trying to manipulate the reader by portraying the movement as a pernicious one, mentioning that the court filed a case against Gülen and that Gülen left Turkey and settled in the US, he does not mention that Gülen was acquitted of the charges of creating an illegal organization for the purpose of overthrowing Turkey's secular state and replacing it with one based on Shariah. This, too, stands as another example of the author's selective use of information.

On a penultimate note, I would like to attract your attention to the author's attempt at offering remedies, which is even more problematic, as he suggests that "there is a way out of this conundrum if the AK Party turns Ergenekon into a case that targets only criminals." Clearly, the author presents nescience, or simply acts pretentiously, about the notion of the independence of the judiciary and advocates instead the kibitzing of the ruling party with the ongoing legal process.

Finally, as I urge you to triangulate the information presented in the articles of this author that you plan to publish in the future in your magazine, I hope that you will take this letter merely as constructive criticism.

What is behind Çağaptay’s aggression from the other side of the Atlantic? (part 2)

By Idris Bal, Turgut Özal University
09 March 2010, Today’s Zaman

The impact of the Turkish struggle for democracy has already surpassed the boundaries of Turkey. Now all trump cards have been played.

On one side of the game are those who advocate a real democracy similar to that in Western European countries and the United States and the universal values of human rights, equality and justice for all to be established in Turkey. Today, the common people, whose importance has until now been downplayed, want to be on an equal footing with everyone else. They want to get rid of the ridiculously degrading humiliations of the elite; firmly establish the real rule of law in the country; stop the unsolved murders, the number of which has reached thousands; make the statesmen realize their role of serving the public through an embracing collaboration; and ensure harmony between all organs of the state. Whereas on the other side of the game, the unmitigated conformists are thrashing about to protect their own interests in the status quo and are disconnected from the general public, where both the civilian and military bureaucrats are disobeying rulers representing the common people and governmental, legislative and judicial powers are not properly separated and where the legal structure is more defiled than at any time before.

It is exactly in this atmosphere that Soner Çağaptay has written an article about the coup attempts in Turkey. I wished Mr. Çağaptay, whom I know personally, would posit himself on the side of supporting universal values, democracy and equality. In the meantime, all indications reveal that the throne of the bigheaded elitist mentality that has no sincere belief in democracy is now shaking and doomed to lose, while those who disdain their own people are now drawing their last gasp and are exhibiting an urgent need to hear even the weakest voices from the other side of the Atlantic. It is obvious that this mentality of protecting one particular group’s benefits, which is facing ferocious criticisms both inside and outside the country, begs for any kind of help from whatever source...

In this context, Mr. Çağaptay wrote a very simplistic article which was really unworthy as it gave a voice to the bitter thoughts of those status quo adherers, but at the same time, the article needs to be taken into consideration since it is full of mistakes that may deceive people which need to be corrected and clarified. His motives for writing the article, whether it was his own will or a made-to-order piece, are unknown.

Mr. Çağaptay, a historian, starts his article as follows: “For the last several decades, the Turkish military was untouchable; no one dared to criticize the military or its top generals, lest they risk getting burned. The Turkish Armed Forces were the ultimate protectors of founding father Kemal Atatürk’s secular legacy, and no other force in the country could seriously threaten its supremacy. Not anymore.” When you read these lines, you get the impression that the writing will carry on with sentences stating that everything in Turkey is now settling on the right track, the rule of law is now being firmly established, everybody will be equal, nobody will have immunity before the law, nobody will be given any preferential treatment and every deed will be open to question and transparent and so on. But the article continues in a completely contrary way and advocates the rule of state instead of the rule of law and demands to sentence Turkey to a democracy suppressed under the ward of an elitist mentality.

Çağaptay’s lack of informed analysis
In his article, he also mentions the soldiers who were arrested on Feb. 22 and says: “When I asked a former US ambassador to Turkey for his views on the news, he thought the scenario was ridiculous. ‘If the Turkish military was going to do a coup, they would not be writing a 5,000-page memo about it,’ he stated.” As Mr. Çağaptay writes about Turkey, we assume that he must be reading Turkish newspapers and following Turkish television channels and the related Internet sites. If he is really following the Turkish news, he would know that the originals of the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) plan and other coup plans have been obtained and that democracy-advocating military officers themselves have been providing information and documents, and he must have also known that there are voice recordings, letters, confessions and statements by anonymous witnesses revealing all these plans.

Thus, would I now believe all this concrete evidence, or a timid former ambassador who does not even have the courage to reveal his identity? Neither myself nor anybody else of sound mind could take such a silly claim seriously. Besides, we are not in a situation where we would regard every utterance of a “former American ambassador” as undisputable, divine words anyway. If this were the case, these diplomats would never allow the US to fall into the present awkward and cumbersome situation in Iraq and in Afghanistan. In any case, one of the main dilemmas of American foreign policy is that it preaches everywhere about the worthiness and virtues of democracy and openness on one hand and cooperates with dictators and repressive groups on the other. This is one of the biggest handicaps of the American policies. In this respect, when we compare the reactions of the US and the European Union regarding the coup attempts, we can see that the EU exhibits a firm, venerable and pro-democracy attitude, while the US, winking at both sides, acts unscrupulously in a Machiavellianist way. We do not think that this type of behavior will be of any benefit to the US in the long term.

Again in his article, in a manner that is seen in third world countries, Mr. Çağaptay is trying to bend the truth by emphasizing “who” says it, rather than focusing on “what” is said. With sentences such as, “Specifically, the officers were charged with authoring a 5,000-page memo that was later published in Taraf, a paper whose editorial policy is singularly dedicated to bashing the military,” he is trying to turn attention away from the real statements, documents and evidence to accusations of Taraf being anti-military, Vakit being a fundamentalist newspaper and so on. Nowadays, however, thanks to the very sophisticated means of communication and the vast reach of information, distorting the truth is not that easy anymore.

On the other hand, in a democratic country, no person or organization can be free from accountability or closed to any criticism. Everybody who lives in the US is well aware of this fact, as Mr. Çağaptay should be. This means that newspapers can fiercely criticize the government. Taraf has the right to criticize both the government and the military, and it does so. Whenever the level of criticism, however, reaches the point of telling lies or personal defamation, then the independent judicial system will certainly interfere. There are already many cases in the courts being tried in this context. So why are you disturbed about being criticized? Or is it because you are afraid that your period of playing fast and loose is now ending? Are not the documents seized from suspects’ offices and houses, voice recordings, authentic personal signatures and the statements of so many anonymous witnesses -- all of which reveal that some individuals with stripes on their shoulders within an organization responsible for the external security of the country and their civilian supporters are doing everything they can to stage a coup and overthrow a democratically elected government and force the country to engage in a war with a neighboring country by planning and determining every individual action, from soldiers in disguise bombing mosques and a bomb exploding in a museum when it is full of children to killing non-Muslim citizens and attributing these attacks to Muslims and thus dragging the country into real chaos -- worthy of inspecting thoroughly? Did you ever think what the reaction of the public and the judiciary in the US would be if such claims, evidence and displays occurred ithere?

By labeling this newspaper as anti-military or that newspaper as fundamentalist or by claiming that recordings are not legal, Mr. Çağaptay is trying to obscure and darken the clear evidence and apparent coup attempts. Thanks to new technology, law enforcement agencies are able to do voice recordings and listen to conversations without difficulty. While this is the case, we know that military coup hawks have covertly listened to many, even the prime minister. There are assassination plans in the hands of the courts. All the recent arrests in Turkey were carried out in full accordance with the law, all the evidence is collected legally and the voice recordings that led to these arrests were done under judicial approval. The authority that decides and will issue decrees on these cases is the judiciary (the courts), not the government. One also must remember that most of these voice recordings and other pieces of evidence were provided by both military and civilian individuals who firmly believe in democracy, and there are many anonymous witnesses who are ready to supply more evidence on cases which are endangering the future of our country.

Why are Mr. Soner Çağaptay and the like trying to cast doubt on coup attempts and preparations in Turkey?
And why do they deliberately ignore clear evidence, recorded conversations, seized weapons and ammunition, confessions and the statements of so many anonymous witnesses? Has Turkey never suffered through military coups staged for this reason or that? Who launched the military coups of 1960, 1971 and 1980 and the postmodern military interventions many years later? Who unjustly executed Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and two ministers of a democratically elected government? While even primary school children know the truth about these facts today in Turkey, should we not take even the slightest sign of a coup very seriously? Or is this callous behavior and turning a blind eye to these events and even distortion of the truth the exact mentality of the coup hawks?

Mr. Çağaptay writes in his article “What’s Really Behind Turkey’s Coup Arrests?” published by Foreign Policy on Feb. 25, that “a mountain has moved in Turkish politics.” You then expect that he will say things such as “everything in Turkey is now returning to normal” and “democracy is now being established more firmly.” Alas, in a very confusing way, Mr. Çağaptay starts defending the continuation of the very problematic status quo. We have had many governments in Turkey that were elected by the people but were never able to govern independently. These governments were always challenged by groups in the military and civilian bureaucracy. Meanwhile, there are structural and implicational problems in our legal code, and especially in our Constitution. Many of these codes were formed during junta rule. Human rights were violated and many murders still remain unsolved in this country. While the European Union questions all these defects during negotiations, they push and insist that Turkey do its best to be fully governed by the rule of law and for it to firmly establish democracy in every part of the country. Similar criticisms sometimes also come from the US. Nevertheless, Mr. Çağaptay still wants business to carry on as usual, leaving us all to wonder why.

All dictators and elitists play target diversion games to be able to continue their existence and influence. They always want to exist by diverting the attention of people elsewhere or by creating and presenting new enemies. In this respect, take a look at what Çağaptay says: “All shots against the military are now fair game, including those below the belt. The force behind this dramatic change is the Fethullah Gülen Movement (FGH), an ultraconservative political faction that backs the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).” That is, the army and some people must never be criticized. If they are criticized, this means they are the enemy. Do things happen like this in America? Or do you have special formulae for Turkey that you deem suitable for third world countries? Çağaptay does exactly what those who are cornered do and that is to try and pervert the course of justice and cause confusion before finally letting the cat out of the bag and pointing his finger at the Gülen movement. If this movement is really behind Turkey’s democratization process, then should we not thank it?

Lawful mobilization
As Mr. Çağaptay himself knows very well, lobbies are one of the main dynamics of the US system. The US has a pluralistic democracy. Being an academic who studied in the UK and served as a visiting lecturer at Harvard University, I also know very well that Americans feel very proud of having a pluralist system and being open and transparent. In Turkey, too, as is the case in every democratic country, there can be, and there should be, various movements, lobbies and trends such as the Gülen movement that can mobilize lawfully. Why should there not be a pluralist and transparent democracy in Turkey? Hence, what he really means is that democracy, plurality, openness, transparency and the rule of law suit America, but when it comes to Turkey, where his Excellency was born, a suppressed and defective democracy, an elitist government, the rule of state instead of the rule of law, a society in which covert and clandestine acts are conducted instead of an open transparent society and even single-party rule all fit well. Even if you regard these bad clothes suitable for Turkey, we and a vast majority of our people do not. We now know what is good and what is bad for us, and thanks to this awakening, Turkey is now an illuminating star on the rise. That is why US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton describes Turkey as “an emerging global power.” And this is why US President Barack Obama made his first overseas visit to Turkey. That means Çağaptay, having buried his head in the sand, does not want to know anything about these things.

Despite having worked and continuing to work in the US, Mr. Çağaptay prefers to write in a language and terminology of a third world writer. “However, these allegations are part of the Ergenekon case -- a convoluted investigation that so far has produced nothing in the last three years but a record-setting 5,800-page indictment, hundreds of early-morning house raids, and the detention of many prominent Turks, including university presidents and prominent educators such as Kemal Gürüz and Mehmet Haberal,” Çağaptay writes. How can highly respected people be arrested even if they are found guilty!? He means that those who received a certain education and occupy certain positions can never commit a crime, that they should be subject to favoritism and that the judiciary can never try them. However, do you have anything to say about claims, crimes and murders that stand as testimony against these “respectable” people? Were these people arrested while walking innocently on the street, like many victims during junta rule? Why did one of the former prime ministers, Mr. Bülent Ecevit, have to flee from a hospital? Everyone is equal before the law and that is and should also be the case in our democracy. If claims and accusations are put forth, the judiciary is there to investigate.

One must not distort reality and cause confusion. One must also not forget that the Turkish judiciary is neither under the command of the AK Party government nor does it belong to the Gülen movement. In a democratic country, everyone who works in the judicial system should be completely independent and free from every ideology. In any case, this is one of the targets of the changing process in Turkey. If the judiciary is under the control of the government or a special group, then the AK Party would not face threats of closure from the Constitutional Court and Gülen would not have had to leave his country because of hostile pressures.
Indeed, all these are signs of a normalization process in Turkey that should have been conducted much earlier. Turks deserve to enjoy a first-class standard of living, the rule of law and democracy just as much as Americans, the British or any other nation in the world.

RDR LETTER-TO-THE-EDITOR: Cagaptay's distorted portrayal of Turkey's Gulen Movement

By Andrew W. Griffin, Editor
March 2, 2010, Red Dirt Report

Upon reading Soner Cagaptay’s piece in Foreign Policy today titled “What's Really Behind Turkey's Coup Arrests,” I was inspired to write to you and express my dismay at Cagaptay’s attempted demonization of the moderate and thoughtful “Fethullah Gulen Movement.”

First, Mr. Cagaptay portrayed the “Fethullah Gulen Movement” as “ultraconservative.” This, in fact, is inaccurate. As someone who is interested in other faiths and cultures, I’ve come to find out that Muslim scholar and thinker Fethullah Gulen and his so-called movement are merely interested in promoting religious moderation, scientific inquiry, and inter-faith dialog, something that has developed here in my own city of Oklahoma City as evidenced by the local Interfaith Dialog organization.
This Gulen-inspired “service to the common good” has only been a positive result of Gulen’s teachings, which are not “ultraconservative.” They are merely human. Although Gulen’s words have gotten him in trouble in his native land, particularly among those in the secular military, leading him to seek exile in the United States, he has sought to find common ground between religious and secular people. And that includes common ground and dialog between different religions and within his own religion of Islam. Is this somehow a shadowy, "ultraconservative" threat, Mr. Cagaptay?

As a Catholic and an American who recently visited Turkey and immediately fell in love with that country and its people, I have taken a particular interest in its politics and culture. The recent Ergenekon scandal, reaching the highest levels of the all-powerful Turkish military, has exposed serious weaknesses in the military structure. A coup was allegedly planned and was ultimately exposed. As a Turkish friend recently told me, there are upwards of 100,000 members of the Turkish military whose only job is to work in a casino or serve food in a cafeteria. Many don’t know how to fire a weapon, I'm told, which is troubling if Turkey were to ever be attacked.
That said, it is surprising to see Mr. Cagaptay’s portrayal of the Turkish military as a "secular bastion" (your shorter column in 3/8/10 Newsweek) against religion’s domination over politics and government, when it is the military that appears to be at the heart of the troubling Ergenekon case, if these numerous arrests are to be considered.
It appears priorities need to be reassessed. Going after the Gulen Movement seems silly in light of the real issues Mr. Cagaptay could be addressing.

As the Lebanese-American poet Kahlil Gibran said:  “And is it not a dream which none of you remembers having dreamt, that built your city and fashioned all there is in it.”

Ataturk wanted a secular Turkish society but that didn’t mean all religious life was to be washed away. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who came out of the moderate Islamist AKP political party, was formerly the mayor of Istanbul and did much good for that wonderful city.

Don’t forget that the Gulen movement, which appeals to modern Muslims who are often involved in the business world, promotes a “flexible, modern Islam in a globalized setting,” as noted at “It is likely to have a lasting impact on the modernization of Islam and it’s opening to engagement with Western ideas.”

Neo-Conservatives Attack Islamic Moderate
Bruce Prescott, Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists
March 8, 2010, Ethics Daily

Soner Cagaptay, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy – a prestigious neo-conservative think tank with ties to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – has been publishing articles defaming Turkish Islamic philosopher and scholar Fethullah Gulen and the movement of moderate Sufi Muslims who are inspired by him.

The Washington Institute is headed by Robert Satloff, a frequent apologist for Israel's apartheid wall in Palestine and an outspoken critic of former President Jimmy Carter's diplomacy in the Gaza Strip.

Cagaptay directs the Institute's Turkish Research Program and has been a staunch supporter of military control, as opposed to civilian control, over the levers of power in Turkey.

Recently, the democratically elected civilian government of Turkey arrested and charged military leaders with plotting to overthrow the government. In an article in Foreign Policy magazine titled "What's Really Behind Turkey's Coup Arrests," Cagaptay attributes the arrests to a "vendetta" by the Gulen movement against the army.

Many of Gulen's followers are ardent supporters of the currently ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey. Cagaptay knows they have ample reason for animosity toward the military.

Before the turn of the century, when the military was firmly in control of Turkey, Gulen was charged with corruption and "anti-secular" political activities. In 1999, Gulen fled to the United States for asylum. He was later acquitted of all charges.

In an article for Newsweek titled "Turkey's Turning Point," Cagaptay labels Gulen and his followers as "ultraconservative" and contends that the AKP "has become increasingly authoritarian." These allegations are devoid of proper contextualization.

In the eyes of intolerant "secularists," all religious people appear to be "ultraconservative." Gulen and those who are inspired by him need to be placed within a much broader context of political and religious thought.

My study of Gulen's teachings indicates that, within the world of Islamic faith, both his political and religious views are relatively progressive, tolerant and enlightened. My experience with his followers has demonstrated that they conscientiously attempt to practice what he preaches. From this broader perspective, to label them "ultraconservative" is a gross distortion.

Cagaptay's allegation of "authoritarianism" makes much ado over evidence obtained by illegal wiretaps. While allegations of illegal wiretapping are a matter of great concern and should not be swept under the carpet, similar allegations have been made against the government in our own country almost on a daily basis since 9/11.

In my own mind, I am convinced that the current AKP administration is far less "authoritarian" than the administrations set up by no less than three military coup d'etats since 1960. For those interested in an in-depth look at the Gulen movement and its relations with the military, I would recommend Muhammed Cetin's recent book, "The Gulen Movement: Civic Service Without Borders."

Turkey suffers under a French model of church-state relations known as laicism, which deprives the citizenry of liberty of conscience and uses the power of government to enforce secularity. The Turkish people would be much better served by the American model of church-state relations, which both disestablishes religion and ensures its free exercise.

For Americans to comprehend the situation in Turkey, they need only imagine what would happen if the military threatened to overthrow the government every time the first lady, in accord with her private religious convictions, wore a cross on her necklace in public.

Following the Money Trail Amid Traps
By Abdullah Bozkurt, Analyst
02 March 2010, Today’s Zaman

The continuing attacks by analyst Soner Çağaptay, who has rehashed the same old arguments and baseless claims against the ongoing Ergenekon trial, in which dozens of military officers have been charged with plotting to topple the democratically elected civilian government in Turkey, were repeated again last week in an opinion piece posted on the Foreign Policy magazine’s Web site.

Though his arguments are far from convincing, as usual -- and the piece is full of weak points and unsubstantiated claims, as Today’s Zaman detailed in a report published in Sunday’s edition -- it revealed something else, a more subtle yet more dangerous, though not completely unexpected, tactic employed by the pro-Israeli establishment in the United States in light of the recent flare-up in tensions between Turkey and Israel.

Simply follow the money trail, and you find the rabbit hole easily. The unscholarly and utterly misleading article penned by Çağaptay shows how his view on developments in Turkey is very much shaped by who pays him. In this case it is the pro-Israeli Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which was established by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

In a piece last year titled “Talking Turkey about Israel,” Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, a contributing editor for The American Conservative and a member of the American Conservative Defense Alliance, argued that “a review of Cağaptay’s writings reveals that he is AIPAC’s go-to guy for any argument that Turkey is becoming more anti-Western and religious.”

Giraldi was responding to arguments raised by Çağaptay in an op-ed piece titled “Turkey’s Turn From the West,” published in the Washington Post just four days after the Davos spat during which Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan harshly criticized Israeli President Shimon Peres for Israel’s Gaza onslaught. Ironically the forum was moderated by David Ignatius, from the same newspaper. Giraldi said, “AIPAC’s Turkey expert might be surprised to learn that most of the world, which saw the images of dying Palestinian children on nightly television, would probably agree with Erdoğan.”

Giraldi ended his piece by saying, “Israel’s attempt to portray itself as always the victim of a global anti-Semitic, anti-Western conspiracy just will not stand any more, no matter how many Soner Cağaptays are paid by AIPAC to write for the Washington Post.” The Gaza onslaught alone left thousands dead, including many women and children, and many more wounded as the UN-backed Goldstone report unequivocally found.

Giraldi also warned that “attempts to label [Erdoğan] anti-Semitic and to denigrate the Turks in general will certainly have some impact, most certainly on the US Congress, which will rapidly fall into line and comply with AIPAC’s instructions on an appropriate punishment.”
The million-dollar question is what the appropriate punishment would be.

We might have an answer to that. In an excellent piece published today in Today’s Zaman, Desmond Butler hinted at what that might be. Talking about the Armenian genocide bill now on the agenda of the House Foreign Relations Committee, he said the following: “The committee is strongly pro-Israel, and prospects for passage could be affected by rising tensions between Turkey and Israel, as well as Turkey’s relatively warm relationship with Iran. In the past, Turkey and Israel had friendlier relations and Israel had quietly lobbied against the resolution.”

Though the bill may eventually find its way to the floor, it is highly unlikely that it will get the endorsement of the full Congress after pressure from the White House. The Obama administration would not want to risk US national interests in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Turkey plays a crucial role in supporting US missions, and will certainly rally against the bill eventually.

Nevertheless, it would give credence to claims that the Israeli state and the pro-Israeli lobby want to exact revenge on Turkey’s increasingly vocal opposition to Israeli policies in the region. The Armenian genocide bill is just one theater they would like to exploit, and there are many other theaters where the Israeli government is advancing its agenda against Turkish national interests in order to punish Erdoğan’s government. We all remember the report about the involvement of Israeli intelligence and military operatives, disguised as businessmen, training peshmerga troops in northern Iraq and providing them with equipment, which irked officials in Ankara.

Even in the Ergenekon case, which Çağaptay unsuccessfully tries to portray as a witch hunt, some analysts in Turkey have started to question whether Israeli spy agency Mossad may have had a role in a dozen unsolved high-profile assassinations. Şamil Tayyar, a columnist and author of a best-selling book on the Ergenekon case, said in his column in the Star daily that the spy agency is actually the external arm of the Ergenekon terror octopus. Whether that allegation would hold any water in the court of law remains to be seen.

But the perception alone has started to take its toll, and Turkish public opinion has been swayed against Israel. The staged humiliation of the Turkish ambassador to Israel by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon recently added fuel to the controversy and outraged Turks across the country. In a January Jerusalem Post piece titled “Offending the Turks,” Çağaptay tried to avert the crisis by suggesting that Israeli officials single out the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) as a target and avoid attacking Turkish pride, as if the two were mutually exclusive. He seemed to have forgotten that the party received one in every two votes in the last national elections and still enjoys a huge popular mandate.

He repeated similar nonsense once again in his recent Foreign Policy piece by attacking Fethullah Gülen’s faith-based civic movement, which enjoys remarkably high respect not only in Turkey but abroad as well. By staging a character assassination assault against Fethullah Gülen, whom he claimed is behind the Ergenekon trial, he has shown how desperate he is. The claims against Fethullah Gülen he cited were refuted in a court of law, and Fethullah Gülen was acquitted of all charges.

If the cooler heads in AIPAC need to listen to anybody, I would suggest Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whom I had a chance to speak with at the Israeli ambassador’s residence during his visit to repair relations with Turkey. He said on Friday at WINEP’s office in Washington, “I still believe that we do not need to create a new rival in Turkey.” Instead of listening to the hysteria uttered by WINEP analyst Çağaptay, our Israeli friends should pay attention to Barak, who made more sense when saying Israel would be better off to “have a partner, understanding the limitation of this partnership.”

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Semih Gunesli says:

Is Soner Cagaptay really an academician who received his PhD from an American University? If that is the case, the American University system must review its credibility and reliability.
Abubakr says:

I totally agree with Semih. His or her feedback about the discrepancy between how he is acting and how he should be as an academician.

Good job!
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