An interesting subplot in Turkey that I'm starting to catch up on is the story of Fethullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based Turkish Islamic scholar. He's on President Erdogan's manure list and is being blamed for last night's coup attempt.
Here's a worrying bit of rhetoric from the government today on that front-
Fetullah Gulen, who Turkey blames for the failed coup, lives in the US. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said any country that will "stand by" Mr Gulen "won't be a friend of Turkey and will be considered at war with Turkey".
What's now being reported is that Turkey is shutting off access to Incirlik [Air Force Base] - and so stopping the US jets conducting sorties against IS.
Gulen's problem seems to stem from being popular and independent of the government.
Gülen teaches a Hanafi version of Islam, deriving from Sunni Muslim scholar Said Nursî's teachings. Gülen has stated that he believes in science, interfaith dialogue among the People of the Book, and multi-party democracy. He has initiated such dialogue with the Vatican and some Jewish organizations
He's also not a believer in using violence to advance Islam, preferring a peaceful jihad against the sins of the world.
Nursi seems to be an interesting critter who died in 1960. He was Kurdish with backgrounds in both mainstream Sunni and the more mystical Sufi tradition-
He proposed educational reforms to the Ottoman Sultan AbdulHamid aiming to put the traditional Madrasah (seminary) training, Sufism (tasawwuf) and the modern sciences in dialogue with each other
The science-and-faith dialog has echoes of Modern Orthodox Jewish thought (or post-WWI evangelical moves away from fundamentalist anti-intellectualism), while the Sufi-Madrasa interface brings echoes of John Wimber's "radical middle" Baptist-Pentecostal fusion. It sounds like someone who the west "could do business with" as Thatcher said of Gorby.
It also looks like someone who can ruffle feathers. Having a Kurd as a primary influence isn't going to sit well with Turkish centralizers, being devoutly Muslim will ruffle secularists and being independent-minded will both rub against the my-way-or-the-highway tendency of Erdogan. In addition, a popular movement outside of an autocrat's control will make the autocrat nervous, even if the movement isn't much of a direct threat to the regime; witness the Chinese crackdown on independent Christian "house" churches and the Falung Gong movement of hyper-spiritualized Tai Chi.
The last three years have seen Gulenists ousted from government positions, as Erdogan is seemingly worried over a popular Islamic firth column ("parallel state" being the government's phrasing) being a rival for the affections of the more-religious half of the Turkish population. To that end, the Gulenist main paper was shut down by the government in March. Gulen has been in exile since 1999.
If the Turkish government truly wants Gulen's head on a platter as a cost for friendship, then we're in for a very rough road ahead, for he seems to be one of the good guys, or at least nowhere near as big of a bogey-man as the heated rhetoric of the last few years would indicate; at least I've not seen anything now or in the recent past to justify the apparent paranoia.