As recently as the 1980s, not only was Albania ruled by a ferociously anti-American government but it was among the most geopolitically isolated nations in modern world history. Things have drastically changed as the Albania of today is a NATO member that effectively functions as a mafia run satellite state of Washington in southern Europe. A further change has been that while during the Ottoman years, ethnic Albanians and Turks tended to have excellent relations with one another, in today’s Albania, a campaign against Turkishness has taken hold and what’s more is that this black propaganda against Turkey is directly related to the overwhelming presence of FETO associated organisations including “schools” which operate freely on Albanian soil.
The Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO), sometimes referred to as the Gulenist Terror Organisation gained international infamy when its cells inside the Turkish military staged a coup against the democratically elected Turkish President and government in July of 2016. While popular resistance led to the coup being swiftly crushed, Turkey later declared a state of emergency which was only lifted this year. During the state of emergency, FETO terrorists within the military, police, intelligence, judiciary, civil service and education were brought to justice and as a result, FETO’s presence inside of Turkey has dwindled.
Yet FETO did not disappear. FETO continues to operate a series of so-called “educational institutions” throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and even in the United States where the group’s leader Fethullah Gulen has long been based. These institutions target young generations and prepare them to execute anti-Turkish policies as they grow older and become more politicised. In Africa in particular, FETO “schools” target the young African elite in order to prepare them for the swift execution of anti-Turkish policies.
The problem of FETO spreading its nettles in Asia and Africa has led Turkey to engage more deeply with its partners in countries as diverse as Malaysia and Indonesia to Ethiopia and South Africa. But while Turkey is becoming a major player in the economic development of south east Asia and Africa, it is within the former Ottoman territory that is now Albania that FETO’s presence is most alarming.
Yesterday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with Albania’s Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati during which time Cavusoglu said that in order to establish trust based relations, Albania should respond in the affirmative to Turkey’s extradition requests for FETO terrorists while Albania should also seize the property from which FETO conducts its operations on Albanian soil.
While Albania remains one of Europe’s poorest nations, its Foreign Minister rebuffed Turkey by stating that Albania will continue to follow “EU standards” in spite of not being a member of the European Union. This coded language means that like Germany where FETO also has also developed a worrying presence, Albania will do nothing to clamp down on the group’s notorious activities on its soil.
While the cult like Islamic extremism preached by Fethullah Gulen would clearly not win many hearts and minds among the American public, the US government has long refused Ankara’s requests for Gulen’s extradition while several FETO members working in US consular facilities in Turkey were recently arrested for their affiliation with the terror group.
While the US has indicated that it seeks to improve strained relations with its fellow NATO member Turkey, so long as the US apologises for and covertly supports FETO, it is clear that any such rapprochement is halfhearted. The US cannot be a good faith partner of Turkey while simultaneously maintaining close ties to an anti-Turkish terror group. Clearly, the US seeks to use FETO as a means of curtailing Turkey’s influence among its traditional partners while also gaining leverage against Turkey by demonstrating that Washington pulls the strings on the terror group’s worldwide operations.
Nowhere is the US relationship with FETO more clear than in Albania. In modern Albania, what America wants–America gets, so much so that political opposition to the country’s pro-US path is stifled at both an official and unofficial level. It can therefore be logically extrapolated that when an Albanian Foreign Minister tells Turkey that his country will not act against FETO, that he is merely acting under the orders of the United States.
Members of the US Congress who desire a much needed rapprochement with Turkey ought to address the issue of FETO in public. Until the de-facto US satellite state of Albania is rid of the terror group, it can be inferred that Washington’s relations with Turkey will continue to operate under stress as only Washington could give the green like to Albania to cease its relationship with the dangerous followers of Fethullah Gulen.