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Fethullah Gulen stirs fresh tensions between Ankara, Washington

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is clamoring for the head of Fethullah Gulen, but Washington says adhering to legal procedures is paramount before Gulen can be extradited to stand trial for masterminding the coup attempt in Turkey.
Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania September 24, 2013. Born in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Gulen built up his reputation as a Muslim preacher with intense sermons that often moved him to tears. From his base in Izmir, he toured Turkey stressing the need to embrace scientific progress, shun radicalism and build bridges to the West and other faiths. The first Gulen school opened in 1982. In the following decades, the movement became a spectacular success, s

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may have averted a military coup, but the domestic and international fallout from the violent attempt to topple him on July 15 is set to continue for quite some time. Turkey’s ties with the United States — already strained over a host of issues, including the state of Turkey’s democracy and Ankara’s discordant positions on regional issues, such as the Syrian crisis — are in line for what might be their most serious stress test to date.

At the core of the problem is the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, Erdogan’s one-time ally and current archenemy, whom Mustafa Akyol and Murat Bilgincan have profiled for Al-Monitor, providing background on Gulen and his war with Erdogan that has now taken an even nastier turn with the blood spilled by rebellious soldiers during the coup attempt that caught everyone by surprise. The coup organizers are accused of being members of the FETO — the so-called Fethullah Terrorist Organization. The group is also referred to as the “parallel structure,” because its sympathizers are said to have infiltrated organs of state and established a “state within the state.”

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