Who Is Behind The Coup In Turkey? The coup in Turkey failed but the country is far from stable. The president accuses a religious leader in the U.S. of involvement. Al Jazeera's Abderrahim Foukara talks about the next steps in Turkey.

Who Is Behind The Coup In Turkey?

Who Is Behind The Coup In Turkey?

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The coup in Turkey failed but the country is far from stable. The president accuses a religious leader in the U.S. of involvement. Al Jazeera's Abderrahim Foukara talks about the next steps in Turkey.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We just heard the latest from Istanbul. So now we want to take a few minutes to talk about how Turkey got to this point and what could be next. So joining us here in our Washington, D.C., studios is Al-Jazeera's Washington bureau chief, Abderrahim Foukara. Thanks so much for joining us once again.

ABDERRAHIM FOUKARA: Great to be with you, Michel.

MARTIN: So do you or does your news organization feel it has a handle on who is behind this?

FOUKARA: No, we don't. There's obviously a lot of uncertainty. There has been some expectation that trouble was brewing for some time, especially that he, Erdogan, has been talking about a possible coup for well over a year now.

But he's always accused - well, for some time he's been accusing a former partner of his who is now living in exile here in the United States, Fethullah Gulen, of trying to foment trouble back in Turkey. And he accuses Gulen here in the United States of being at the top of it.

MARTIN: Who is Fethullah Gulen? And can you walk us through the political tensions or the tensions between him and the president?

FOUKARA: Fethullah Gulen is somebody who had partnered with Erdogan to sort of counter in Turkey the leftists and the Kemalists and the liberals - had been very critical of Erdogan, saying that he wants to reestablish the caliphate.

However, a few years ago, they parted company. They disagreed on the strategy. So Gulen is much more than just a religious leader. He's also a businessman. He runs schools, religious schools, even here in the United States. And Erdogan has been pressing the Obama administration to extradite him back to Turkey. But the Obama administration has been saying, look, this is a Turkish domestic row, and the United States has no place in it.

What we've heard from Kerry seems to suggest that issue will be strongly revisited now that Erdogan has yet again accused Gulen of being behind the attempted coup.

MARTIN: What have been Gulen's role in the view of Erdogan?

FOUKARA: Well, his influence is quite tentacular (ph). He has followers inside Turkey, not just among the population. He has followers in the army and the police, in the legal corps inside Turkey. Whether he is actually behind the coup, we don't know. He has actually - Gulen has condemned the attempted coup after it happened.

MARTIN: What has been the reaction in Turkey to the moves that Erdogan has taken in response to this attempted coup?

FOUKARA: There's been a wave of arrests touching various places of political power and military power and legal power in Turkey. But it's quite clear that obviously even Erdogan's critics did rally to his call to actually take to the streets to prevent the coup from succeeding.

What the next step is going to be, we still don't know. The speaker of the parliament has said that the coup will bring everybody closer together - easier said than actually done in the current climate. It's very difficult to actually see what the next - even the next week will bring to the political climate in Turkey.

MARTIN: What do you believe this coup - or attempted coup, rather - indicates about the state of Turkish governance right now?

FOUKARA: The image that it has projected to the outside world is that Erdogan's position is actually - is much more tenuous than we have been led to believe over the last few years. Now he has a divided army. Will he be able now to confront all these external challenges with a fractured army in addition to - once the wave of support has worn out - will he be able to carry the day? There are a lot of questions about that now.

MARTIN: That's Al-Jazeera's Washington bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara. He was kind enough to join us here in our studios in Washington, D.C. Abderrahim, thank you so much for speaking with us.

FOUKARA: Good to be with you, Michel.

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Why Is A Cleric In The Poconos Accused Of Fomenting Turkey's Coup Attempt?

Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen (right) receives a vase from Israel's Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi Doron during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1998. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday accused Gulen of involvement in a coup attempt, a charge Gulen denied. Murad Sezer/AP hide caption

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Murad Sezer/AP

Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen (right) receives a vase from Israel's Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi Doron during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1998. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday accused Gulen of involvement in a coup attempt, a charge Gulen denied.

Murad Sezer/AP

As Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began re-establishing control Saturday, he immediately pointed the finger of blame for the failed coup attempt against him.

So who does he consider most responsible? A rogue general?

Nope. Erdogan directed his outrage at an elderly, reclusive Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania's Poconos: Fethullah Gulen.

"I have a message for Pennsylvania: You have engaged in enough treason against this nation. If you dare, come back to your country," Erdogan said Saturday in reference to Gulen, not the entire Keystone State.

Erdogan and Gulen used to be buddies. Both were considered moderate Islamists. Gulen encouraged his many followers to support Erdogan, who in turn helped raise the profile of Gulen, who runs a vast network of Islamic schools worldwide, including more than 100 charter schools in the United States.

Both men benefited from the relationship. But they had a falling out in 2013 over a corruption investigation that targeted Erdogan and some of his closest allies. Erdogan apparently believed Gulen's allies in the judiciary were responsible for the inquiry, and responded by dismissing many in the judicial system considered close to Gulen, a powerful political force in his own right.

Gulen, who's in his mid-70s, denounced the coup attempt and said he had no role in it.

"As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt," Gulen said in a statement. "I categorically deny such accusations."

A worldwide following

He has many Sunni Muslim followers, estimated at anywhere from 1 million to 8 million worldwide, and his religious views are generally considered mainstream, though some in secular Turkey are suspicious of him.

Since 1999, Gulen has lived at the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center, a compound in Saylorsburg, Pa., which serves as the headquarters for his Alliance of Shared Values.

He rarely gives interviews but spoke to The Atlantic in 2013. He was asked why he remained in Pennsylvania rather than return to Turkey, and gave this intriguing response:

"I am concerned that certain circles are waiting for an opportunity to reverse the democratic reforms that were started in the early 1990s and accelerated in the last decade. I am concerned that these elements will try to take advantage of my return by putting the government in a difficult position. ... Additionally, while in Turkey, I would seek corrections and possible legal actions against libel and slander. Here, I am away from such harassment, and I am less affected by them. I find this place more tranquil."

Gulen was already facing legal problems in his homeland before Friday's attempted coup.

An Istanbul court last October issued an arrest warrant for him following an indictment that charged him with "attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey or obstructing it from conducting its duties by force," according to Anadolu, the Turkish news agency.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday the U.S. would consider an extradition request for Gulen, but stressed that Turkey would have to present evidence of wrongdoing on his part, The Associated Press reported.

Kerry, who was in Luxembourg, noted that Turkey hasn't made such a request, though he anticipated that Turkey would raise the issue.