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FETO-Meter: Witch-Hunt Deus Ex Machina in Turkey

Such a definitive device with no dials or gears but profoundly real by its swift and commanding auxiliary power to criminalize people in Turkey… If  Hitler had lived long enough to see this ‘meter’, he would have heaped awards on the ingenuity of its inventor. FETO-Meter is the notorious invention of the now-retired Deputy Chief of the Turkish Navy Adm. Cihat Yaycı for seeking and finding the members of the FETO, the derogatory term used by the current regime in Turkey to describe the members and the institutions of the Gulen Movement as a terrorist organization, through an elaborate questionnaire if not with an equipment as accurate as a sonar.

Yes, the second-in-line admiral of the Turkish Naval Forces invented the FETO-Meter to lend an expert hand to the witch-hunt conducted by the Erdogan regime.  Gone are the days when the men in uniform were expected to stay away from daily politics and focus on defending the homeland. For more than the last 60 years, the Turkish Armed Forces made its presence felt in the corridors of power either implicitly or explicitly.  

The Erdogan regime, especially supported by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and other state and non-state actors would not miss the opportunity of using the military-made ‘meter’ for finding and purging Gulenists from all walks of life through witch-hunt and illegitimate practices. Profiling people is not something new to the regime, yet the state has never been surrendered to banditry during its daily routine like this before.

Having wooed the voters with their party manifesto in 2002 that promised eradicating 3Ys [Yolsuzluk (Corruption), Yoksulluk (Poverty), and Yasaklar (Prohibitions)] in the country, the Erdogan regime finally decided to hold a referendum in 2010 for amending more than 20 points in the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey. Most groups in Turkey warmly welcomed the referendum because it would result in significant progress for the country’s democratization. Among the proposed constitutional amendments was revoking profiling by the state, a deep-rooted problem for the people, and the promise of ‘keeping personal information such as names, photographs, and ID information as private and permissible only if the individual agrees to it’. One of the most important elections in the modern Turkish history, the referendum resulted in 58 per cent ‘Yes’ for the constitutional change.

So soon, it was regrettably realized that the Erdogan regime used the turnout of the referendum as another opportunity for profiling people in accordance with their support to the ruling party. It was realized that the regime wanted to consolidate its power for more. In the years that followed, instead of democratization, Turkey slid deeper into authoritarianism through the illegitimate practices of the ruling party AKP of which leader equated democracy with election victories. Using its single-party government as a pretext, the regime continued ignoring the demanded amendments and further violated the Constitution anytime they wished.

The state’s profiling practice skyrocketed with Erdogan’s administration, and they profiled everyone, prioritizing the participants of the Gulen Movement, the Kurds, the Alevis, and the Roma. Something was still missing in this unlawful practice, and the AKP did not know how to justify the profiling.  Cihat Yayci, an admiral, developed a questionnaire he named as FETO-Meter to identify the military officers and the civilians who might be affiliated with the Gulen Movement. According to the daily Sabah, details on categories like personal data, education history, centralized examination results, social life data, professional knowledge, foreign language examinations, and domestic and overseas service record would be collected for each military officer and comparing the data with ‘template’ that defines members of the Gulen Movement, the appraisers would tell whether a person is Gulenist or not.

Surprisingly, this system was not developed to find criminals but the most proficient of the Turkish Military Force. The meter was set to label all the officers who got higher scores from nation-wide tests, knew many languages, and attended foreign missions, as ‘FETOists’. Appraised by the FETO-Meter, the best performing military officers were labeled as Gulenist, dismissed from their posts, tortured under detention, and sentenced life imprisonment.

 Turkey faced many coups and experienced hardships due to frequent military interventions on the society and the politics; however, I humbly think never in the history of the modern Turkish Republic did any civilian or the Turkish Armed Forces suffered under such inferiority. Never in the Turkish contemporary history did the Armed Forces trained their guns on the civilians to ‘stage a coup against a political government’. Contrary to how they had always been before the dawn, during prime-time TV, a coup attempt unfolded live with Turkish Air Force cadets and rankless private soldiers deserted by their commanders lynched by mobs which beheaded five cadets and soldiers on the Bosporus Bridge, special operations officers enticed to murder a high ranked general through the orders of their commander who later ordered the killers to be killed, and so on. Meanwhile at the GHQ, Gen. Hulusi Akar, then the Chief of General Staff now Defense Minister, did nothing to prevent the bloody events on July 15, 2016.

As if all those betrayals were not enough, Admiral Cihat Yayci came forth and asked for more ‘heads’ to hunt. There are numerous military officers who acted shady in lieu of Erdogan’s dirty game, having all united for weakening the Turkish Armed Forces. This was something new in Turkey’s history, and they succeeded in failing the Turkish Armed Forces with nonsense practices.

Having played into the hands of Erdogan by devising the FETO-Meter and leading to the expulsion and torture of thousands of military officers, Admiral Cihat Yayci had expected to write history by becoming the first Chief of the General Staff from the Navy but, Erdogan demoted him brazenly. Yayci had no other option but to resign ‘in dignity’. After betraying his brothers in arms along with other bad eggs in the military, Yayci stayed silent for some time.

However, he did not severe his ties with the media and, as the inventor of the one-size-fits-for-all FETO-Meter, he expanded the scope of his tool to encourage the persecution of civilians and military personnel alike from the TV screens and newspaper pages. He introduced himself as the proponent of the Blue Homeland doctrine against Greece and other ‘enemies’ of Turkey, asserting the Turkish supremacy in the Mediterranean. Even when the Chief of Naval Staff did not patronize such issues, Yayci acted like the media’s Chief of the Naval Staff and helped indoctrinate the regime’s unrealistic and exaggerated discourse. 

Most recently, Cihat Yayci was interviewed by journalist Cuneyt Ozdemir program on the CNN Turk and he talked about various national and international topics. A part in this TV program went viral, triggering discussions among the friends and the foes. While pompously explaining about his FETO-Meter for finding and persecuting the participants of the Gulen Movement in all walks of life, Yayci said, “There is a wedding tradition in Anatolia: Grooms send to the bride’s residence a ram with gold bracelets hooped on its horns. Whoever did not practice this tradition, we classified them as Gulenists and dismissed them from the Military.” These words shellshocked many in the print and social media. I have seen many comments on this viral video but did not see many who knew about this tradition. Even though such a tradition may exist – claimed to be practiced in some villages of Konya – how could such a nonsense reason justify labelling anyone as Gulenist and instigating their dismissal? I am 100% sure that Cihat Yayci even did not follow this tradition in his marriage (someone better ask him to produce a photo or a video if he did it or else), according to his claim, he and the interviewing journalist too should be jailed as Gulenists.

Such men and their associates in all departments turned Turkey into a madhouse, and it seems an intellectual deficit overrides minds at government level as nobody seems stable. The current regime commits a great folly by causing the intellectual drain of the country especially with such nonsense practices. It can be understood that Yayci’s meter is open for manipulation and is used for any reason to profile an opposition group of people as Gulenists, and when the time comes, it may boomerang on the Erdoganists to label them Gulenists with its entire criteria. Erdogan and his party members once deemed it great photo-op to pose so close with the participants and the institutions of the Movement. They visited the Movement’s institutions at home and abroad, deposited money in the Bank Asya for its non-interest and participation bank practices and trusted their children to academic and pastoral care of the teachers working in the Movement’s schools and universities.

Now, who deserves more to be labeled as a Gulenist? The one who did not send to his bride’s residence a ram with gold bracelets on its horns or the Erdoganists who liked posing in the same photo frame with the Movement’s participants and availed the opportunities provided by the institutions of the Movement?

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