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Is the anti-Americanism prevalent in Turkey and throughout the world directed against the American public or the government?

by Doğu Ergil on . Posted in Fethullah Gülen and the Gülen Movement in 100 questions

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Fethullah Gülen

Concerning hostility against the USA, which has increased lately, especially the intensive anti-Americanism observed in Turkey, Gülen advises moderation: “Hostility against nations, against people is not something which brings much benefit.” But he interprets the reaction displayed against the USA as a sentiment felt against the foreign policy of that country and the administration. He adds: “I do not believe in the existence of any problem between the peoples of the respective countries.”[1]

When the events of the past few years are recollected, Fethullah Gülen’s statements become even more meaningful. When the USA applied a weapons embargo against Turkey in 1974, as a reaction to the Turkish government landing at Cyprus, with the rising leftist thoughts in Turkey, the public’s anti-imperialist reaction increased. The Islamic movements also were taking hold in the country. This psychology in the society was further sharpened through the belief that the United States protected Israel and the grave injustices committed against the Palestinians. But the real break off point came by the “Hammer Force” operations in 1990s, first by limiting the influence of Saddam Hussein’s government in the Iraqi-Kurdish area and then preparing a setting for an autonomous Kurdish administration by occupying Iraq. Turkey was struggling against terrorism, as it was unable to solve the problem of ethnic Kurdish separatism. Now was added another problem from abroad: dealing with the problem of Northern Iraq which really constituted the nucleus of a future “Greater Kurdistan.”

Turkey had a great difficulty in accepting this reality first, and it acquired a concern that these developments would lead to fragmentation. In this milieu, the anti-Americanism in Turkey increased more than what it was in many Arab countries. After Barrack Obama became President, the sense of anti-Americanism has diminished somewhat, but it is still too high. All of these are directly related to the foreign policy of the United States and the way in which the Turks perceive this policy.

[1] Sevindi 2002, 100.