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A failed coup attempt and the triumph of democracy

By Ersin Ercin

Democracy is the keystone of modern societies. This system has stood the test of time as the most effective method of organizing society. However, democracies are also fragile and unstable unless they are supported by strong pillars or institutions.

As a matter of fact, throughout decades, many aspiring democracies, such as Turkey and Korea, have experienced the interference of these threats and have fought hard in defense of freedom.

July 15, 2016, is a date that marks a very unusual and insidious incident in recent Turkish history. The failed coup attempt will always be remembered as a day of sorrow and betrayal, but also one of perseverance and triumph against an evil perpetrator.

On this day three years ago, a terrorist organization that had entrenched itself deep inside the Turkish state apparatus manifested its ugly face in a deplorable act of violence against Turkish democracy and its people.

Attempting to overthrow the democratically elected government of Turkey, the coup plotters staged a nationwide mutiny, bombing the office of the president, the Turkish Grand National Assembly and other state and public buildings with F16 fighter jets, combat helicopters, armored vehicles and tanks, killing and wounding hundreds of Turkish citizens that took to the streets to fight the mutineers. Some 250 people lost their lives, including civilians, soldiers and police officers.

The following morning, the threat was overcome thanks to the heroic acts of Turkish citizens ― as well as security forces ― and the government eventually restored control over the army and all other state bodies. All political parties in government and opposition, uninfected elements of the Turkish armed forces, the police and the media were united in solidarity against the plotters.

The culprit for this attack was identified as FETO (Fettullah Gulen Terrorist Organization) and it was masterminded by a so called Islamic cleric named Fettullah Gulen. This organization, since its inception in the 1970s, had been plaguing Turkey and clandestinely growing its web of deception and treason inside the Turkish state apparatus.

The objective of this cult was to reinstitute a regime in line with its perverted religious ethos instead of democratic and secular values. Under the guise of a tolerant, educational and philanthropic organization, deceptively preaching for peace and harmony, FETO established and expanded its international network of schools and commercial and cultural institutions and collected fees from its members to finance operations.

Through a systematic method of recruitment, this group infiltrated almost all Turkish state institutions, ranging from the police and military to the judiciary and ministries. Through their connections with foreign governments and intelligence organizations they also succeeded in strengthening their global presence and influence.

The July 15 armed coup attempt demonstrated FETO's determination to unwaveringly use terror and other crimes as a means to achieve its ultimate aim. With this act, FETO clearly showed itself as one of the world's most dangerous terrorist groups.

Three years have passed since this traumatic incident. Those involved were found guilty on several criminal charges and put behind bars. Ever since, members and adherents of FETO have been weeded out of Turkish state institutions. Some of these judicial processes against coup plotters are still under way in accordance with fundamental rights and freedoms as well as the rule of law.

From the global perspective, however, the international community has not yet taken necessary measures against this insidious organization. FETO is still present in about 160 countries, through hundreds of schools, businesses, NGO's and media houses. Its modus operandi is the same all around the world. As it aims to infiltrate and enlarge its global economic and political influence, it constitutes a direct security threat for any country in which it operates.

Turkish embassies worldwide are engaged in explaining the severe threat that FETO poses not just for Turkey but for other democracies. However, in some countries, even those that Turkey calls longstanding allies, FETO and its affiliate groups continue operating under the disguise of benign educational and cultural institutions. Despite many calls for extradition by the Turkish government, it is profoundly disappointing to see that Fettullah Gulen, the ringleader of this organization, still lives in exile in his extravagant mansion in the United States.

Terrorism can only be eliminated through solidarity among nations. Tolerating power-hungry and blood-thirsty terrorist groups just because they pose no immediate threat should not be an option, since even the slightest bit of toleration creates breeding grounds for their twisted ideals and ambitions. Having allegiance to none but their own agenda, they would not hesitate to one day direct their treachery against their host communities. Allied and partner nations should therefore strive to be more sensitive and alert to the calls of their friends and take necessary measures to curb the influence of these groups.

Having weeded out the cancerous cells of FETO from its state apparatus, Turkey is now a much more stable democracy. It is more united and resolute than ever to take on future challenges, despite temporary economic uncertainties in the aftermath of the traumatic coup attempt.

In the meantime, Turkey has also strengthened its foreign policy stance and is now among leading nations that contribute to regional security and prosperity. Besides hosting millions of refugees, it is also the top provider of humanitarian assistance. In pursuit of the "Peace at Home, Peace in the World" motto of its founding leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey is destined for a brighter and more prosperous future while remaining fully committed to fighting the enemies of democracy and freedom worldwide.

Having suffered various threats to their existence and democracies, Turkey and Korea, as two blood-brother nations and longstanding allies, should also stand in solidarity against those who threaten their democratic traditions. Their unity in this issue will not only strengthen their strategic partnership but also inspire courage and conviction in those who aspire for a brighter future.


The writer is the ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to South Korea. The opinion expressed by the writer belongs to him and doesn't necessarily coincide with that of The Korea Times.


By Ersin Ercin

Democracy is the keystone of modern societies. This system has stood the test of time as the most effective method of organizing society. However, democracies are also fragile and unstable unless they are supported by strong pillars or institutions.

As a matter of fact, throughout decades, many aspiring democracies, such as Turkey and Korea, have experienced the interference of these threats and have fought hard in defense of freedom.

July 15, 2016, is a date that marks a very unusual and insidious incident in recent Turkish history. The failed coup attempt will always be remembered as a day of sorrow and betrayal, but also one of perseverance and triumph against an evil perpetrator.

On this day three years ago, a terrorist organization that had entrenched itself deep inside the Turkish state apparatus manifested its ugly face in a deplorable act of violence against Turkish democracy and its people.

Attempting to overthrow the democratically elected government of Turkey, the coup plotters staged a nationwide mutiny, bombing the office of the president, the Turkish Grand National Assembly and other state and public buildings with F16 fighter jets, combat helicopters, armored vehicles and tanks, killing and wounding hundreds of Turkish citizens that took to the streets to fight the mutineers. Some 250 people lost their lives, including civilians, soldiers and police officers.

The following morning, the threat was overcome thanks to the heroic acts of Turkish citizens ― as well as security forces ― and the government eventually restored control over the army and all other state bodies. All political parties in government and opposition, uninfected elements of the Turkish armed forces, the police and the media were united in solidarity against the plotters.

The culprit for this attack was identified as FETO (Fettullah Gulen Terrorist Organization) and it was masterminded by a so called Islamic cleric named Fettullah Gulen. This organization, since its inception in the 1970s, had been plaguing Turkey and clandestinely growing its web of deception and treason inside the Turkish state apparatus.

The objective of this cult was to reinstitute a regime in line with its perverted religious ethos instead of democratic and secular values. Under the guise of a tolerant, educational and philanthropic organization, deceptively preaching for peace and harmony, FETO established and expanded its international network of schools and commercial and cultural institutions and collected fees from its members to finance operations.

Through a systematic method of recruitment, this group infiltrated almost all Turkish state institutions, ranging from the police and military to the judiciary and ministries. Through their connections with foreign governments and intelligence organizations they also succeeded in strengthening their global presence and influence.

The July 15 armed coup attempt demonstrated FETO's determination to unwaveringly use terror and other crimes as a means to achieve its ultimate aim. With this act, FETO clearly showed itself as one of the world's most dangerous terrorist groups.

Three years have passed since this traumatic incident. Those involved were found guilty on several criminal charges and put behind bars. Ever since, members and adherents of FETO have been weeded out of Turkish state institutions. Some of these judicial processes against coup plotters are still under way in accordance with fundamental rights and freedoms as well as the rule of law.

From the global perspective, however, the international community has not yet taken necessary measures against this insidious organization. FETO is still present in about 160 countries, through hundreds of schools, businesses, NGO's and media houses. Its modus operandi is the same all around the world. As it aims to infiltrate and enlarge its global economic and political influence, it constitutes a direct security threat for any country in which it operates.

Turkish embassies worldwide are engaged in explaining the severe threat that FETO poses not just for Turkey but for other democracies. However, in some countries, even those that Turkey calls longstanding allies, FETO and its affiliate groups continue operating under the disguise of benign educational and cultural institutions. Despite many calls for extradition by the Turkish government, it is profoundly disappointing to see that Fettullah Gulen, the ringleader of this organization, still lives in exile in his extravagant mansion in the United States.

Terrorism can only be eliminated through solidarity among nations. Tolerating power-hungry and blood-thirsty terrorist groups just because they pose no immediate threat should not be an option, since even the slightest bit of toleration creates breeding grounds for their twisted ideals and ambitions. Having allegiance to none but their own agenda, they would not hesitate to one day direct their treachery against their host communities. Allied and partner nations should therefore strive to be more sensitive and alert to the calls of their friends and take necessary measures to curb the influence of these groups.

Having weeded out the cancerous cells of FETO from its state apparatus, Turkey is now a much more stable democracy. It is more united and resolute than ever to take on future challenges, despite temporary economic uncertainties in the aftermath of the traumatic coup attempt.

In the meantime, Turkey has also strengthened its foreign policy stance and is now among leading nations that contribute to regional security and prosperity. Besides hosting millions of refugees, it is also the top provider of humanitarian assistance. In pursuit of the "Peace at Home, Peace in the World" motto of its founding leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey is destined for a brighter and more prosperous future while remaining fully committed to fighting the enemies of democracy and freedom worldwide.

Having suffered various threats to their existence and democracies, Turkey and Korea, as two blood-brother nations and longstanding allies, should also stand in solidarity against those who threaten their democratic traditions. Their unity in this issue will not only strengthen their strategic partnership but also inspire courage and conviction in those who aspire for a brighter future.


The writer is the ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to South Korea. The opinion expressed by the writer belongs to him and doesn't necessarily coincide with that of The Korea Times.




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