Let’s tread cautiously for a moment.
If reports are true that the administration is considering delivering Turkish dissident Fethullah Gulen into the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in exchange for easing pressure on Saudi Arabia, then it’s time to rethink where our moral compass is pointing as a nation. Here’s one of the reports, and I urge caution in regards to its validity until we hear more from the White House or see actions against Gulen:
The Trump administration is seeking ways to extradite an enemy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, NBC News reported Thursday, citing two senior U.S. officials and two other people briefed on the requests. The effort is intended to get the Turkish leader to ease pressure on Saudi Arabia over the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
It is at least the second time the White House has sought to remove Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in exile in Pennsylvania. In President Donald Trump’s first days in office, his administration asked the Department of Justice to look into the matter, NBC News has reported.
Set aside internal politics of Turkey itself; support for Gulen, Erdogan, or neither is irrelevant in regards to this action. Let’s instead focus on what this would say about our priorities. I’m not so naive to believe lives aren’t traded in a geopolitical marketplace that thrives on quashing dissidents and sweeping atrocities under the rug, but there are lines that should never be crossed by the United States of America. This is one of them.
Let’s break this down into it’s core components. Again, at this point it has not been confirmed so tread lightly before formulating an opinion.
- Turkish President Erdogan hates Gulen and has demanded his extradition over alleged connections to a 2016 coup attempt.
- Erdogan has pursued Gulen for years, well before the coup attempt.
- U.S. officials have not seen sufficient evidence that connects Gulen to the coup. Gulen vehemently denies involvement.
- Turkey has been spearheading accusations against Saudi Arabia since the early hours following Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
- Turkey trickled information out to the public, holding cards as long as they could in hopes information implicating Saudi Arabia would surface without Turkey exposing their information gathering techniques. In other words, they spied on Saudi Arabia’s consulate and hoped they wouldn’t have to admit to it in order to nail the Saudis.
- Saudi Arabia has pressured Washington DC to help them sweep this under the rug. Turkey has been the loudest voice calling for punishments against the nation, specifically calling for actions against Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
- Ergogan used to see MBS as a protege he could bring under his wing to solidify influence over Saudi Arabia. Now Erdogan views MBS as a threat to his standing as the default leader of the Middle East Muslim world.
- The U.S. has almost certainly asked Turkey to stop. Our alliance with Saudi Arabia is more important than the death of a single journalist, at least in the eyes of many DC politicians.
- Turkey has ramped up pressure and told DC the only way they’d stop is if they get their hands on Gulen.
Again, this is all a mix of speculation and extrapolation based on the limited facts we know. With that said, I’d say all of these speculations have a high probability of being true.
The only question would be the final bullet point on the list. Is the United States going to give Gulen to Ergogan, effectively signing his death sentence? Is the administration going to help cover up Saudi crimes by sacrificing someone who turned to us for asylum?
Let’s be very clear. I’m not defending Gulen as a person. I don’t know what he’s done, whether he instigated the Turkish coup attempt, or what he’s doing here in America. My only concern is whether or not the administration would trade a human life for mitigated damage to an ally that committed murder.
It’s always best to get the facts before forming an opinion. Until it’s confirmed the administration is doing this, we shouldn’t judge them. If it plays out as the report contends, there will be a lot more questions to ask about our nation’s direction.