Turkish President Erdoğan: I Was Fooled, Betrayed By Gülen
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has publicly expressed regret over his once-friendly relations with U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, as he likened what he perceived as “betrayal” by Gülen and the Gülenist movement to being stabbed in the back.
“You have witnessed it. You cannot guess from where the attack will come. You cannot predict from where betrayal will come. You cannot see who stabbed you in the back,” said Erdoğan on Dec. 26.
The president then quoted a traditional narrative about a brave man who was regretful of the fact that he was stabbed in the back. According to the narrative, the man would have had no regret if the assailant had approached him from the front and then stabbed him.
“You deem him a friend, but you may not know and notice that the person you deemed a friend has been marketing his will, comprehension, homeland and nation to dark circles. We are passing through all of this,” Erdoğan said in a speech delivered at “The Great Turkey Symposium” hosted by the Confederation of Public Servants’ Trade Unions (Memur-Sen).
“Let me speak frankly, self-criticism. We were mistaken and deceived on this issue,” Erdoğan said. “Do not forget, the dirty fight of those who betrayed their homeland under the guise of Hizmet is the fight for revitalizing the old Turkey,” he said, after listing a achievements of progress made during his term at the Prime Ministry from 2003 to 2014, as well as during his presidency – progress which particularly appealed to pious people, such as lifting the ban on wearing the headscarf at public offices.
The followers of the Gülen Movement are often referred to as the “Hizmet” (Service) Movement, “Cemaat” (Community) or lately as the “parallel structure,” by Erdoğan and the government.
The government and Erdoğan, who was the prime minister at the time, have accused the Gülen movement of organizing a plot, through a graft probe that began on Dec. 17, 2013. Wiretappings, which include alleged voice recordings of Erdoğan and his family members, along with some Cabinet members and a number of businesspeople, were leaked online simultaneously with the probe last year.
Erdoğan also claims the Gülen movement is involved in espionage attempts.
“Those who drafted a summary of proceedings as saying ‘then-prime minister’ have become today’s hashishis,” Erdoğan said, referring to the term “then-prime minister” which is reportedly used by a prosecutor from the Gülen movement who was in charge of the now-dropped Dec. 17 probe.
By referring to “hashishis”, Erdoğan made an apparent analogy between Gülen and Hassan al-Sabbah. The story is that in the early 11th century, al-Sabbah used hashish to enlist the aid of young men into his private army of assassins.
A court established after the May 27, 1960 coup against the Democratic Party (DP) government, which was led at the time by Adnan Menderes, sentenced the toppled prime minister to death. The government frequently recalls that the court at the time used the word “then-prime minister” for Menderes even before he was convicted.