U.S. President Donald Trump's former advisor Walid Phares has stated in an interview that the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) is a terrorist organization just like the PKK and al-Qaida, adding that it would take time for the U.S. to recognize this.
"Before this, the U.K. applied for IRA, Israel applied for Hamas and Turkey applied for the PKK. All of these groups were eventually recognized as terrorist organizations by the U.S. Yet, this process took time. The process regarding FETÖ only just started last year," Phares said, adding that the investigation process has not been completed yet. "The U.S. public shares the same opinion with the Turkish public. The way that FETÖ integrates into the states is same as other radical terrorist organizations in the Middle East such as the PKK and al-Qaida," Phares noted, adding that they all use the same tactics.
Emphasizing that he admires the stance taken by the Turkish public against the July 15 coup attempt last year, Phares said that President Trump indicated that he was also touched by the struggle of the Turks against coup plotters and had expressed his support for them.
On July 15, we all waited for three people's statements regarding the coup attempt: then-presidential candidate Trump, President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Hilary Clinton. Obama said that this is a problem between two groups and we were shocked. Clinton also followed Obama's statement. Only Trump made a clear statement on that night. He congratulated Turkey for stopping the coup attempt," Phares said, adding that Trump was quite touched by the struggle of the Turkish public and supported them.
"This shows that Trump sees Turkey as one of Washington's most important allies and values Turkish democracy as well. If you want to see where Trump stands regarding the coup attempt and Fetullah Gülen, all you need to do is look at the night of July 15," he added.
Highlighting the fact that it was "quite impressive" to see all segments of Turkish society unite against the coup attempt, Phares said that it was very clear at that point just how important democracy is for the Turkish people.
On July 15, a small military junta linked to FETÖ attempted to topple the democratically elected president and government in Turkey and impose martial law. The attempt was thwarted by military troops loyal to the government, along with police units and millions of Turkish citizens in favor of democracy.
A total of 249 people, mostly civilians, were killed by pro-coup soldiers, while over 2,000 people were injured.
As far as Turkish-U.S. relations are concerned and in light of recent vulnerabilities, Phares said that for the U.S., there is no alternative ally in the region other than Turkey. "For the last 60 years, the perspective of the U.S. has not changed a bit, despite what has changed in Turkey politically. Yet, due to the Syrian crisis, our relationship was damaged to some extent, especially because of the wrong policies of the Obama administration." Phares went on to express that the problems regarding the PKK and its Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD) are also the result of the wrong policies of the Obama era. "This is a problem that has continued for three years now. For three years, Turkey has said that the PKK and the PYD are the same thing. Yet, the same process that applies for FETÖ also applies for the PKK and the PYD," he stated, referring to the fact that it would take quite some time for the U.S. to respond to Turkey's demands regarding the PKK/PYD issue.