Nowadays, the United States House of Representatives is dealing with a strange development. They’ve put the Grey Wolves, or better known in Turkey as “Idealist Hearths” as one of the oldest nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the country, under the microscope.
Following Nevada State Rep. Dina Titus’ proposal for a “terrorism investigation” regarding the Grey Wolves, which are also active in the U.S., the House of Representatives has demanded an investigation report from the Department of State. It has now been asked to explain in detail the activities of the Grey Wolves, especially those against the interests of the U.S., its allies and international partners, and whether the organization meets the criteria to be considered a foreign terrorist organization.
If a report is prepared and negative evaluations are included in its content, sanctions against the Grey Wolves could be brought to the agenda.
Meanwhile in France, the aforementioned nationalist movement is officially banned by a presidential decree. Besides, within the scope of the Symbol Law, which entered into force on March 1 in Austria, 13 symbols and signs (including the Grey Wolves’ sign) belonging to terrorist organizations, parties or other formations such as Daesh, al-Qaida, the PKK, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah and Croatian Revolutionary Movement (Ustasha) were prohibited. In Germany, there are attempts to close and ban nationalist associations led by the Green Party.
What’s the reality?
So, in reality, what kind of a organization are the targeted Grey Wolves? Is it normal for them to be associated with terrorist organizations such as Daesh, al-Qaida or the PKK/YPG?
The Grey Wolves is a legal NGO constituting the youth base of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for more than 50 years in Turkey.
It is a widespread organization with networks both in the provinces and among university youth, while it occasionally faces accusations of racism. However, they have consistently denied these accusations for years.
In his famous book titled “Dokuz Işık (Nine Lights)” Alparslan Türkeş, the legendary founding leader of the MHP, defines the movement as below:
“… Whoever sincerely says ‘I am a Turk’ with the consciousness of Turkishness is a Turk. In the determination of Turkism and Turk, we do not believe in perverted measures, especially in sectarianism, geographic discrimination, and laboratory racism. Anthropological racism, which belittles other nations and puts world peace in danger, is outside the ideal of Turkish nationalism. Our understanding of nationalism is spiritualist, rational democratic, contemporary nationalism.”
Yes, the members of the Grey Wolves are gladly keen to join the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), saying they’re ready to die for the country if necessary. It’s also true that sometimes at university campuses, they get into fights with communist groups or PKK sympathizers, whom they see as a threat to Turkey. As a young member of leftist groups during my university years, I remember that we had such fights and discussions with the students who were members of the Grey Wolves.
But none of these are reasons to explain the association of the name of the Grey Wolves with terrorism.
Moreover, there is neither a legal decision nor an ongoing judicial process to support this extreme interpretation of the Grey Wolves.
So, why did an American representative make such a move, a move even criticized by the opponents of the Grey Wolves in Turkey? Is Titus trying to use U.S. institutions as a prosecutor for suspicions that she has voiced without any concrete evidence? What’s her motivation?
I think the answer to this is hidden in Titus’ “open” talks she had made before the bill with the members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), who are legally responsible for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, which killed 251 people.