Turkish media have been promoting a conspiracy theory that Fethullah Gulen — the Turkish imam living in the U.S. who has been accused of masterminding the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — is a member of a “secret NATO army” that has been lurking in Turkey since the Cold War era.
The UK Express cites Turkish journalist Ozcan Tikit, writing in the newspaper Haberturk: “If one wants to again create relationship of trust with the Western institutions, Gladio in Turkey must be eliminated as it already was in several Western countries.”
The Express explains that Operation Gladio “was the codename for a clandestine NATO operation in Italy during the Cold War to prepare for and carry out armed resistance there in the event of a Warsaw Pact invasion and conquest.”
“Former head of Turkish intelligence services Bülent Orakoglu has claimed NATO’s secret army is working to destroy the European Union,” the Express adds.
Hurriyet Daily News reports a “surprising level of anger and frustration felt against first Americans and then Europeans” by the residents of Ankara. A significant number of them believe some part of the American “deep establishment or some extensions or instruments of it were behind the failed coup,” which leads to variations on the Operation Gladio conspiracy theory — in essence, the U.S. and/or Europeans created a shadowy infrastructure to booby-trap Turkish government decades ago.
According to Hurriyet, some Turks are taking the United States’s refusal to extradite Gulen as evidence of complicity in a Gulenist insurrection plot.
Hurriyet editorializes that American reluctance to comply fully with Turkey’s post-coup demands proves Erdogan is “disliked by the West,” whose leaders are allowing their “personal dislike” to “impair their vision of Turkey. Also, Gulenists have supposedly infiltrated Western capitals and created a network of support. The Gulen movement is described as an aspect of the same Western Cold War strategy that produced Operation Gladio.
Middle East Eye relates a conspiracy theory that the Gulen network in Turkey essentially staged a phony purge in 2007 that fooled people into thinking the Gladio system had been wiped out, a sham in which the United States was complicit.