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Who Is Behind The Coup In Turkey?


We just heard the latest from Istanbul. So now we want to take a few minutes to talk about how Turkey got to this point and what could be next. So joining us here in our Washington, D.C., studios is Al-Jazeera's Washington bureau chief, Abderrahim Foukara. Thanks so much for joining us once again.

ABDERRAHIM FOUKARA: Great to be with you, Michel.

MARTIN: So do you or does your news organization feel it has a handle on who is behind this?

FOUKARA: No, we don't. There's obviously a lot of uncertainty. There has been some expectation that trouble was brewing for some time, especially that he, Erdogan, has been talking about a possible coup for well over a year now.

But he's always accused - well, for some time he's been accusing a former partner of his who is now living in exile here in the United States, Fethullah Gulen, of trying to foment trouble back in Turkey. And he accuses Gulen here in the United States of being at the top of it.

MARTIN: Who is Fethullah Gulen? And can you walk us through the political tensions or the tensions between him and the president?

FOUKARA: Fethullah Gulen is somebody who had partnered with Erdogan to sort of counter in Turkey the leftists and the Kemalists and the liberals - had been very critical of Erdogan, saying that he wants to reestablish the caliphate.

However, a few years ago, they parted company. They disagreed on the strategy. So Gulen is much more than just a religious leader. He's also a businessman. He runs schools, religious schools, even here in the United States. And Erdogan has been pressing the Obama administration to extradite him back to Turkey. But the Obama administration has been saying, look, this is a Turkish domestic row, and the United States has no place in it.

What we've heard from Kerry seems to suggest that issue will be strongly revisited now that Erdogan has yet again accused Gulen of being behind the attempted coup.

MARTIN: What have been Gulen's role in the view of Erdogan?

FOUKARA: Well, his influence is quite tentacular (ph). He has followers inside Turkey, not just among the population. He has followers in the army and the police, in the legal corps inside Turkey. Whether he is actually behind the coup, we don't know. He has actually - Gulen has condemned the attempted coup after it happened.

MARTIN: What has been the reaction in Turkey to the moves that Erdogan has taken in response to this attempted coup?

FOUKARA: There's been a wave of arrests touching various places of political power and military power and legal power in Turkey. But it's quite clear that obviously even Erdogan's critics did rally to his call to actually take to the streets to prevent the coup from succeeding.

What the next step is going to be, we still don't know. The speaker of the parliament has said that the coup will bring everybody closer together - easier said than actually done in the current climate. It's very difficult to actually see what the next - even the next week will bring to the political climate in Turkey.

MARTIN: What do you believe this coup - or attempted coup, rather - indicates about the state of Turkish governance right now?

FOUKARA: The image that it has projected to the outside world is that Erdogan's position is actually - is much more tenuous than we have been led to believe over the last few years. Now he has a divided army. Will he be able now to confront all these external challenges with a fractured army in addition to - once the wave of support has worn out - will he be able to carry the day? There are a lot of questions about that now.

MARTIN: That's Al-Jazeera's Washington bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara. He was kind enough to join us here in our studios in Washington, D.C. Abderrahim, thank you so much for speaking with us.

FOUKARA: Good to be with you, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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