Will Trump Extradite Fethiullah Gulen To Turkey?

President Erdogan of Turkey is again requesting for President Trump to extradite Fethiullah Gulen to Turkey for a “trial” regarding his involvement in the “coup” that Erdogan set up against himself in 2016:

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday gave US officials a list of 84 members of Fethullah Gulen’s movement — including the cleric himself — whose extradition Ankara is requesting.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames Gulen — whom he once regarded as an ally — for the July 15, 2016, failed coup plot against him, but calls for his extradition have so far been unsuccessful.

Turkey’s chief diplomat said he did not receive any “assurances” after meeting with his American counterpart Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton during a visit to Washington.

“But we have given this list of the people that we request the US to extradite,” Cavusoglu said.

President Donald Trump “asked Erdogan to send that list and I gave that list to both Pompeo and Ambassador Bolton,” he said.

Trump said on Saturday that he had no plans to extradite Gulen, who strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

“It’s not under consideration,” Trump told reporters, while also saying that Erdogan is “a friend of mine. He’s a strong man, a tough man and a smart man, so whatever we can do, we’ll do… but at this point? No.”

US-Turkish relations have recently been strained, but they warmed up after Ankara’s release in October of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

The fate of Gulen remains a central point of tension between the countries.

In addition to the extraditions, Cavusoglu said he had raised Turkey’s request to make permanent a temporary waiver of US sanctions it was granted earlier this month to allow it to continue to import Iranian oil without penalty. He said a permanent waiver is necessary because Turkey could not make up for a loss in Iranian oil purchases. “We cannot diversify further,” he told reporters at a news conference at the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington.

The Trump administration earlier this month re-imposed all sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the terms of the nuclear deal that the president withdrew from in May. Those include sanctions on countries and companies that continue to do business with designated Iranian firms, such as its state-owned oil company.

Turkish President Erdogan blames Gulen for the July 15, 2016, failed coup plot against him. (source, source)

I wrote about this issue in October 2017, where I noted:

Now, on the issue of whether or not Donald Trump will submit himself to the will of Erdogan, one does not know what he is going to do. He has not said that he is going to turn Gulen over, but he also has not spoken in support of Gulen. Whatever happens to Gulen certainly is also going to go far beyond the direct control of Trump, for as we have noted, he is just the operator of a large political and economic machine that has been constructed over centuries by financiers and industrialists who wield more power than the president and politicians themselves.

Gulen’s case needs to be monitored VERY closely. This is not just an issue of “some Muslim guy getting deported because he made somebody angry,” but it is a case that has long-standing complications for ALL people, especially the USA.

If America were to extradite a man who has gained permanent residence status on the basis of Erdogan’s baseless claims, it would automatically set a precident all over the world, that anybody who Erdogan demands arrested and is originally of Turkish citizenship can and should be deported to him. This would strike fear into Turkish people of good will who do not like Erdogan all over the world.

Likewise, if this deportation was to take place, it certainly would not stop Erdogan, but only would embolden him, except this time to ask for actual citizens of non-Turkish background who have in some way “violated” Turkish laws to be extradited to Turkey. I am not saying the USA would do this in such a situation at the current moment, but if Erdogan knows that he can get a person who is for all intensive purposes a citizen extradited on the basis of his will, why not try for an actual citizen who is not Turkish?

This is fundamentally a power play in which Turkey is trying to assert herself on a global scale in the same manner as the USA. When the USA “demands” that someone is extradited, almost always other nations comply. Turkey is attempting to do for their context what the USA has done for decades, and if there are plenty of cases of questionable or politically motivated charges when the USA does this, one can be assured that Turkey will be far less noble in their intentions and much harsher in their intended punishments.

The elements of this dicussion have not changed at all, but there is one exception, and that is the current ‘migrant caravan”.

I have repeatedly emphasized and attempted to show in my articles about the “caravan” that it is a political ploy meant to rally support for nationalism and which the Democrats also are attempting to use to their advantage to by placing the “compassionate liberals” against the “mean racist conservatives,” when neither side actually cares about the people themselves.

President Trump recently made statements saying that “Obama judges” were preventing him from ‘stopping the caravan,’ and his comments brought about criticism from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who in a rare criticism said that Trump needed to respect the boundaries of the judiciary imposed by the Constitution:

President Trump recently bashed a federal district court judge who temporarily halted a Trump administration policy to bar asylum seekers unless they appear at certain physical entry points on the southern border. Trump called Judge Jon S. Tigar an “Obama judge,” and even took shots at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — even though the temporary restraining order was not issued by that appellate court.

This rhetoric from the White House is not uncommon in modern times. What happened next was uncommon.

Apparently, calling Tigar an “Obama judge” bothered a federal judge. Not just any federal justice, but the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts, who made a rare public statement responding to the president’s barbs.

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” the chief justice told the Associated Press. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.” He added “the independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.” (source, source)

This is a serious criticism coming from a man of standing like Justice Roberts. Without saying such words, his allusion is that Trump’s words are not those of a President, but of a dictator who wants more power and is angry at those who do not submit immediately to his will. In the case of the “migrant caravan,” regardless of what one thinks, there is a due process for dealing with issues such as it, and the process exists so that order and the rule of law would be maintained and not stretched or abused to the point of failure.

Let one say that Trump is able to, or finds a “legal” way to override the courts. What happens then is not a “victory” for the “conservative” movement, but the undermining of the viability of the legal system to serve its function. There are already many problems with the system, but that the fiat of a ruler can completely invalidate its principles is against the principles of what the government is founded upon, and in so doing risks the future stability of the nation.

Consider the above in light of the Gulen scandal. Knowing that Gulen is in the US as a permanent legal resident, and that he would certainly be tortured to death if he was sent back to Turkey, and given how the US and Turkey are major geopolitical allies, what is to stop Trump or ANY president from stripping him by fiat of his residency status? There is nothing at all because even the small protection that the courts provide would be eliminated and the final decision would be the will of the leader.

If such were to happen to Gulen, what is to stop a president from the stripping the citizenship of citizens accused of crimes, both naturalized citizens as well as born citizens? There is nothing to stop it whatsoever because the process by which such a decision would have to be made would either be eliminated or compromised to the point of being nonexistent.

It will be important to watch Trump’s response to Turkey on the Gulen case now, especially with this “migrant caravan” scandal because the two are related in that they represent a principle as to the limitations of the President’s power and the other powers of government that affects not only “illegals” and “criminals,” but also citizens of good will.

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