From a Strategic Alliance to a Terrorist Organization: The History of the Relationship Between AKP and the Gülen Movement from 2001 to 2019
The Gülen movement and Political Islamists of Turkey (the AKP) were treated suspiciously by the old secular regime in Turkey, thus, they had to establish a mutually beneficial relationship in 2000s. The AKP reinforced the movement’s social and bureaucratic power and, in return, the movement supported the AKP in bureaucracy and politics. The strategic Alliance delivered benefits for both actors: the AKP successfully eliminated the veto powers in the secular state, while the Gülen movement steered clear of the pressure of the secular establishment and accelerated its penetration of the state apparatus. The end of the tutelary regime in Turkey did not contribute to democratic consolidation. Instead the two groups in the course of their alliance and their subsequent struggle for power undermined democratic politics, the rule of law, civil liberties, and governance capacity of the Turkish state. With the eradication of their common enemy, their alliance turned into a brutal fight. The Gülen movement passed through various stages in the AKP’s description of them: a religious community between 2002 and 2010, a movement referred as Pennsylvania between 2010 and 2013, parallel state between 2013 and 2016, and finally Gülenist Terror Organization’ starting from 2016 and onwards. This chapter tries to illustrate how and why the image of each group has changed according to the other, and in particular, how the movement has changed in AKP’s projection from a faith-based community to a terrorist organization.