The War Nerd: Gray Wolves — The Fascists Nobody Wants To Talk About

By Gary Brecher.Republished from the Radio War Nerd subscriber newsletter. Subscribe to Radio War Nerd co-hosted with Mark Ames for podcasts, newsletters and more!. Posted with THE EXILED.

There’s a gigantic, well-organized, extremely violent fascist group with tens of thousands of active members in Germany right now.

And nobody notices.

You’d think all the fascist-hunters would have sniffed it out by now, but it goes right by them as if these guys were invisible.

Which is odd, because this group is not trying to hide, or pretending to be harmless. They’re not shy about it, and it’s not just talk. They have quite a record. They’ve been rampaging for decades, and if anything they’re stronger now than they used to be. They’re closely linked to CIA and Nazi groups; they’re very busy beating, burning, and murdering minorities of all kinds, and boast quite openly about hating literally everyone who’s not a member of their own ethnic group and sect, even suggesting that members go on “hunting expeditions” against minorities which they’d already almost wiped out back in the 20th century.

This group recently held massive, open rallies in the cities of Germany, and it’s only in the last few years that the government has even attempted to ban the public symbols and salutes of this massive fascist group.

There’s something grotesquely comic about this. We have a swarm of fascist-spotters who’ve spent the last few decades waiting for fascism to emerge in Germany when it was marching around, shouting at the top of its lungs, beating minorities, celebrating genocide, and supporting ethnic cleansing right in front of their damn faces.

I’m talking about the Gray Wolves. And I defy anyone to find a more successful, out-front, no-kidding, massive, effective, ruthless fascist organization anywhere in the world. They’re adapting quickly, and even have their own fierce Wiki defenders.

Here are a few highlights from their long, successful career:

In 1978, Gray Wolves started pogroms against Alevi Kurds in Maras (also known as Kahramanmaras) in South-Central Anatolia.

Location is important here. Maras is due north of Aleppo across the Syrian border, NW of Kobane, and above all just up the road from Gazantiep. Gazantiep is a key city for right-wing Turkish nationalists, a city dominated not just by people who are ethnically Turkish but who identify as rightwing Turks of the most intensely nationalist kind. This kind of population lives in a state of siege, glories in that feeling, and is almost always willing to lash out against the sea of minorities they imagine surrounding them. That’s why Gazantiep keeps making the news as a nice convenient safe house for IS and their Turkish allies, some of whom killed 57 Kurds at a wedding in 2016.

It’s important to emphasize that people who are ethnically Turkish are not a bloc. Some of the bravest people on earth, languishing in the Turkish state’s prisons or buried in unmarked graves, are proudly Turkish by ancestry.

And then there are the young men who join the Gray Wolves. Those men are murderous fascists, and it’s cowardice to pretend not to see that.

Violence by these men against minorities has never stopped, but it hit its peak — more like the highest peak in a mountain-range of a graph — in 1978, before the Anglosphere had any handle on sectarian violence in the Middle East.

The target of the Gray Wolves in Maras was a double minority: Alevi Kurds. Alevi Muslims are often considered heretics by Salafists and other Sunni fundamentalists. They were massacred with impunity in Ottoman pogroms. Erdogan’s AK Party, which very much wants to revive Ottoman practice and Ottoman borders, openly considers the Alevi heretics fair game for the Gray Wolves’s death squads.

Those who were killed in 1978 were not only Alevi, but Kurds — and the Turkish state, which embraced Wilsonian ethnic nationality with a vengeance, a terrible vengeance, hates Kurds simply for being Kurds. So the Kurdish Alevi of Maras were a natural target twice-over.

The campaign against them built up for weeks, as pogroms usually do, with the unpredictable pace partly a result of working with unstable, violent mobs but also part of a strategy to terrorize the victims, who never know when things will go from bad (very bad) to even-worse.

The details of the massacre are very typical, sickening but not unusual:

Witnesses to the massacre.

Seyho Demir: “The Maras Police Chief at the time was Abdülkadir Aksu, Minister of the Interior in the last AKP government. The massacre was organised by MIT (the Turkish secret service), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Islamists together… As soon as I heard about the massacre, I went to Maras. In the morning I went to Maras State Hospital. There I met a nurse I knew…When she saw me, she was surprised: ‘Seyho, where have you come from? They are killing everyone here. They have taken at least ten lightly-wounded people from the hospital downstairs and killed them.’ This was done under the control of the head physician of the Maras State Hospital. Everyone knows that such a big massacre cannot be carried out without state involvement. In the Yörükselim neighbourhood they cut a pregnant woman open with a bayonet. They took out the eight-month foetus, shouting “Allah Allah” and hung it from an electricity pole with a hook. The pictures of that savagery were published in the newspapers that day. The lawyer Halil Güllüoglu followed the Maras massacre case. The files he had were never made public. He was killed for pursuing the case anyway. Let them make those files public, then the role of the state will become clear.”

Meryem Polat: “They started in the morning, burning all the houses, and continued into the afternoon. A child was burned in a boiler. They sacked everything. We were in the water in the cellar, above us were wooden boards. The boards were burning and falling on top of us. My house was reduced to ashes. We were eight people in the cellar; they did not see us and left.”(EZÖ/TK/AG)

All accounts agree that the massacre not only happened with state collusion but state encouragement. No one was punished. Many were, in fact, promoted, and hold high positions in Erdogan’s government today.

That’s the pattern here: the Gray Wolves as the street-fighting wing of the state. The parallel is closer to Indonesian Islamists in 1965 than the SA in 1930s Germany, but so many people have trouble taking any fascism clearly unless it can be soldered to 1930s Germany that I may as well make the analogy for, as they say in the academic biz, heuristic purposes.

The Gray Wolves ideology is very widespread and acceptable in many (not all) communities in Turkey. This leads to a lot of more or less lone-wolf killings (as it were), as when a soldier who was a member of the Gray Wolves killed a fellow soldier for being an Armenian a few years ago.

Older readers might remember the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II back in 1979.

The assassin was one Mehmet Ali Agca, a longtime member of the Gray Wolves.

He had a track record of killing leftists and other enemies on behalf of the “Idealists” (seriously, that’s what the Wolves call themselves):

“The weapon used in the Feb. 1, 1979, murder of a Turkish newspaper editor, Abdi Ipekci, for which Mr. Agca was convicted, was supplied by a member of the Idealist Clubs, according to the Turkish authorities. Other members helped Mr. Agca escape from prison. Still others prepared a false passport for him. And on the day of the killing, he went to the National Action Party offices.”

Note the familiar pattern: Ali Agca kills a leftist editor who’s annoying the Turkish state, gets caught, and manages to escape with a lot of help from Turkish intelligence.

They hardly bothered to hide their collusion in the escape. The Turkish state was killing a lot of leftists, a lot of intellectuals, a lot of minorities — the usual suspects for classic fascists like Ali Agca.

But as you older readers might recall, nobody in the media talked about Ali Agca as a Turkish fascist. He was, for Cold-War purposes, smeared as a Bulgarian agent.

The “Bulgarian connection” never made much sense, but it served the US/UK/Israel/Saudi intelligence agencies’ PR purposes. Remember, Turkey is NATO — very, very NATO.

NATO might survive the loss of many other small European states, but it could not survive losing Turkey. So the US/UK state will always side with the Turkish state and help them cover up fascist atrocities, blaming them on the Soviets until those useful patsies took their final dive.

Blaming Bulgaria rather than the obvious suspects, the Gray Wolves  to which this thug Ali Agca had been murderously loyal all his life, was especially bizarre since there was an obvious sectarian motive: the Gray Wolves hate Christians, as they hate all other minorities, ethnic or religious, and make a point of staging provocations at all occasions when the remnants of what was once a huge Christian minority dare to show themselves in public.

Orthodox Christians are the Wolves’ preferred prey. They prefer not to do anything too bloody to high-profile Western targets like a pope, but when you squirt sectarian hate into weak minds and itchy trigger fingers for generations, some of the lads are going to pick the wrong victim.

Perhaps that’s what happened when Ali Agca went from NATO-approved murderer of leftists and Kurds, to shooting the Pope. We’ll never know, because it was quickly twisted into the ridiculous “Bulgaria did it” farce by the guys who enjoy a few cocktails with their opposite numbers from Ankara at all those NATO conferences.

And we’ll never know how much daily violence this massive fascist gang inflicts. Occasionally the Turkish state gets irritated enough to send a suicide bomber or two to kill Kurdish peace demonstrators, as it did in Ankara in 2015, killing 86 demonstrators and maiming a hundred more. But that state, our NATO ally, supports a whole madhouse of Arab and Turkmen jihadis as well as its own stable of disposable Gray Wolves assassins, so it may never be clear whether it was the Wolves, precisely, who pressed the detonators.

But it’s a statistical certainty that somewhere along the long line from greenlighting an attack like this and sending red-hot ball bearings splattering into the bodies of teenagers with peace banners, many of the men involved were members in good standing of the good ol’ Wolves.

Violence by the Gray Wolves is a constant in Turkey, usually unreported — especially now that Erdogan’s party has imprisoned thousands of journalists and intellectuals, and terrorized the rest into quietism or collusion. We may never know how many Kurds are murdered daily in the southeast of Anatolia, because no one who matters, in the Turkish state or its many powerful allies in the West (e.g. the Michael Flynn story) want you to know about it. It’s rare for those stories to make the news at all, but God knows you can’t forget them once you’ve read them.

In fact the Gray Wolves are going mainstream, and winning a lot of votes.

Fascism is mainstream in Turkey, getting more mainstream all the time — and has been since the violent dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The Gray Wolves have quite a pedigree, a classic fascist genealogy.

Fascism is often strongest in the ruins of a defeated empire, and that was the situation in the former Ottoman Empire in the 1920s. The Empire had once ruled from Central Europe to Iraq, flowing and ebbing over the centuries (with a peak in the 16th century). At its peak, it was a fearsome conquering force.

There’s a great novel by the Albanian writer Ismail Kadare detailing the unstoppable waves of special forces that the Empire could unleash on strongpoints that held out against conquest.

The Ottomans took a long time to fall from that 16th c. peak. They were still around, partly because Britain and France always supported them against the bogeyman of the late Victorian Era, the Russian Threat.

Propped up by the two big powers of Europe, the Empire managed to survive a coup in 1908 by young officers who would go on to a career in defeat and genocide, because they guessed wrong on which side would win the oncoming Great War.

The Young Turks, as these officers were called, sided with the up-and-coming, efficient military of the neighboring empire: Germany. They guessed wrong, but not before they managed to exterminate the harmless Armenians who had recently been patronized as Turkey’s “model minority” for their docility. And this genocide went so well, so quietly, that Hitler, contemplating the genocide of the European Jews, allegedly demanded of any squeamish nay-sayers “Who remembers the Armenians?”

You get a lot of horrible echoes like that in this story. At any rate, no one cared to remember or notice the extermination of the Armenians, but the winners at Versailles were typically vengeful against the former Ottoman Empire — not by any means for wiping out the Armenians, but for being German allies, and losing.

Britain and France, now joined by the US, were as vengeful toward the former Empire as they had been lenient during its bloody final years. Ottoman rule over non-Turkish territory was erased. For a few years there was some doubt whether even Anatolia would remain a Turkish state.

Then, as most of you know, came Mustafa Kemal, soon to become Kemal Ataturk, a hero of Gallipoli (a Turkish/Ottoman victory that stood out proudly in the great defeat).

Ataturk was a typical elite young officer of the early 20th c. Those were very dangerous people, those young officers. Often impressive individuals, but completely ruthless and immensely fond of violence. That goes for all of them, right across the Continent — Hell, right across the world.

Ataturk formed a nucleus of former officers from the Great War. (Again, the international echoes are clear enough; suffice to say that these guys were the most dangerous, formidable demographic in a few generations, perhaps since the emergence of the Napoleonic elite.) They fought well, and then they went about making Turkey a monoethnic state, without mercy.

For a while, that state was professedly secular, but since it had already killed or driven out most religious minorities, the monoethnic state became, under the AK party, avowedly mono-sectarian as well.

The current chant of the Wolves many, many supporters is “My heart is Turkish and my soul is Muslim!” You must be both: ethnically Turkish and orthodox, Sunni Muslim as well. No mercy for anyone who fails either test, which means that a lot of Kurds, a lot of Alevis, a lot of secular Leftists, end up dead or in prison.

The evolution of the Gray Wolves is a classic fascist Genesis story, and the behavior of its hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of supporters is classic fascist violence. Why don’t more people notice that?

I hate to speculate, because the range of possible answers all boils down to cowardice, conformity, and the odd Euro-centrism one finds in the strangest places. They don’t get noticed because they’re not European, maybe? Fascism of the 1930s was European, and that’s the only kind amateurs notice? Odd, because Turkey is European enough to be the cornerstone of NATO.

This would not be the first time that the interests of what you could call the NATO Deep State aligned all too perfectly with the more gullible pockets of the Left. In fact, it’s very closely related to the phenomenon of not noticing, or trying very hard not to notice, the sectarian ultra-violence of the Syrian “rebels.” But this time, since Turkey is a NATO ally, it’s the violence of the state and its fascist proxies that is ignored. I struggle to come up with any other reason that the Gray Wolves get so little attention.

All I know is that we have a massive, ultra-violent, highly effective, classically fascist movement killing minorities every single day, and there’s an odd silence about it.

I would love to ask one of the innumerable online fascist hunters why they hunt stray curs and slink silently past the cold stare of the Gray Wolves. Perhaps it’s not so much any of the excuses I suggested above; perhaps some hunters just prefer smaller, easy prey to the real thing.

Gary Brecher is the nom de guerre-nerd of John Dolan. Buy his book The War Nerd Iliad. Hear him read his comic memoir Pleasant Hell in audiobook format.

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Read more: Assassination, Cia, Erdogan, Fascism, Gray Wolves, Mehmet Ali Agca, Nationalism, Pope John Paul II, Turkey, Gary Brecher, Radio War Nerd, The War Nerd

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. rusti

    Always happy to see a John Dolan post on NC.

    A few years ago the Housing Minister in Sweden (a member of the Green party, from a Turkish family) resigned after some pictures of him surfaced at a dinner with a bunch of Gray Wolves members. One of the unsettling defenses I saw of him was that there are so many Gray Wolves members here that you’ll necessarily bump into them if you run in Turkish circles.

    NATO might survive the loss of many other small European states, but it could not survive losing Turkey.

    I don’t understand the politics of NATO, why is this the case in 2020? Couldn’t the US pull their nukes out and NATO could give Turkey the boot if they really wanted to?

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Perhaps someone in the commentariat with more knowledge of Turkey can enlighten me, but I’ve always been puzzled by the Grey Wolves position somewhere between nationalist secularism and Sunni Islam. The Turkish State apparatus has always been ideologically very firmly secular and very hostile to any political islam. Of course, this has changed somewhat with Erdogan, although I think its more a case of the traditional Kemalist State grudgingly tolerating Erdogan than actually changing to a more pro-religious state. I’d always understood the Grey Wolves to be very much on the secular (i.e fascist) side of the equation. This would make them an enemy of political islam, and certainly an enemy of Wahhabist Islam (the latter still a very weak force in Turkey, but obviously stronger in former Isis parts of Syria and so on).

    Even in Germany, there is quite a significant split between the newer, more islamic oriented younger German Turks and the older generation, who are secular in politics (even if relatively devout at home). A very secular Turkish former colleague of mine told me of her horror at visiting cousins in Germany to find the girls had all voluntarily chosen to wear the veil and were openly supportive of radical Islam.

    Under Erdogan, there seems (from the outside) to be a sort of truce between the spectrum from state secularists to more radical muslims, united by nationalism and a hatred of leftists and the Kurds and other minorities. I don’t know where the Grey Wolves fit in among this, and whether this is really a stable coalition or if it all has the potential to fall apart in violence if Erdogan keeps making his usual strategic errors.

    1. David

      I think the framing here is a bit questionable. I understand why Becher uses the word “fascist” all the time, and it’s effective rhetorically, but really the Grey Wolves are a fairly standard extremist paramilitary group, of a kind found all over the area where, ironically, the Ottoman Empire used to be, as well as in places like Poland and Hungary where there is a strong tradition of extreme nationalism to feed on. Religion, for such groups, is essentially a cultural marker, and a cultural target. It was very noticeable during the fighting in Bosnia, for example, that Serb and Croat paramilitaries wore religious signs (including tattoos) and often destroyed monuments and places of worship belonging to other faiths. (From memory there were similar incidents when Serbs were chased out of parts of Croatia). You’d be pushed to find any real religious significance in all this, and I think the same applies to the Grey Wolves: their essential motivation is ethnic (especially anti-Armenian and anti-Kurd), and for them religion is essentially a cultural badge. They seem to fulfil the function of unofficial militia for the political power, which you also find in wholly secular countries.

      Incidentally, they have been active in France recently, amusing themselves by desecrating Armenian memorials and physically attacking Armenians and Kurds. They have apparently been running training camps for French citizens of Turkish extraction. All of which led to the organisation being disbanded last month, to predictable howls of “Islamophobia” from Erdogan, whom they seem to revere as their leader.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thanks, that explanation does make sense – describing religion as a ‘cultural marker’ is a good way of looking at it.

        A big question of course is whether in countries like Germany the Grey Wolves would see other far right nationalist groups as competitors or potential allies when it comes to bashing minorities.

        1. DJG

          David and PlutoniumKun: I’m not sure that I agree completely with David here. The history is that the Alevi–and estimates go from 15 to 25 million in the population of Turkey of, let’s say, 80 million. The Alevi are heterodox Muslims, and the entry about them at Wikipedia is long and detailed. They tend to be mystical, and Alevi women do not wear the veil, because Alevi promote equality between the sexes.

          So you have this enormous number of, well, Sunni antagonists in the Turkish population. The Armenians tended to keep to themselves, and the Greek population, formerly quite large and active under the Empire, had its own agenda–and was expelled.

          There is an event called the Dersim Rebellion, in which Alevi, whether Turkish-speaking or Kurdish-speaking, revolted in the late 1930s. Their villages were bombed, and thousands were killed.

          So the attacks on the Alevi aren’t mere religious signifiers. The Gray Wolves, as advocates of the (Sunni) Muslim order, consider Alevi not to be Muslims.

          Why isn’t this known in the West? Because in U S of A, any understanding of religious complication is just too difficult. Do you think that Americans know who the Greek Orthodox are, let alone Alevi? So the victims are people who don’t matter, and the violence is rightwing violence–which the Western press almost always finds reasons to justify. (Think of U.S. coverage of recent events in Brazil: U.S. press just can’t figure out what has gone wrong there lately.)

          1. David

            This is a perennial question with such groups everywhere: how far are such attacks are motivated by genuine religious disagreement on doctrinal issues and how far by cultural differences. If you interviewed a random Grey Wolf would he (or she) be able to describe why the Alevi aren’t considered Muslims?

      2. diptherio

        Please explain to me the difference between an “extremist paramilitary group” and a “fascist” one, because that seems to me to be a distinction without a difference.

        1. David

          It depends whether you see “fascist” as a description of a political programme, or just a term of abuse. If the former, then it’s fair to say that all fascist paramilitary groups are extremists, but not all extremist paramilitary groups are fascists. Indeed, many such groups are traditionalist and reactionary, idealising their nation’s history and calling themselves after heroes of the past. Inasmuch as they have an ideology at all it tends to be a romantic mish-mash full of traditional cultural and (as here) religious references.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Just check on some Irish history, we’ve a long history of extremist paramilitary groups covering the full spectrum from left to quasi fascist, with most shades in between represented.

      3. kemerd

        In fact, the framing is precise. They are bona-fide fascists with an ideology. Their ideal state is described in “İdeolocya Örgüsü” by Necip Fazil, which describes the future regime of the turkish nation. Let me simply say that what is described in there is a fascist state whose head is called “bas yuce”, which is hard to translate but means something like prime among magnanimous. BTW, Erdogan loves Necip Fazil and his latest changes to the constitution makes him more or les basyuce, except that Necip Fazil did not foresee any role for elections.

        I can add here a bit to the history of them with some clarifications on their relationship with religion.
        Indeed, the origins were more about being Turkish than sunni or even Islam, their original fathers considered uniting all the ethnic Turks including jewish and christian Turks. But, starting from 1960s, with the establishment of CIA funded “struggle against Communism society”, the sunni islam started to gain prominence as the CIA’s antidote to soviet influence. Fetullah Gulen was among the leaders of these “socities” and was recruited by CIA at that time. By the time of end of 1970s, the role of Turkism receded to a secondary role and sunni islam started to dominate even though most of their cadres especially leadership was not religious at all.

    2. Anon

      Although the Turkish state has been/somewhat still is secular to a first order approximation, in practice it has been willing to co-opt conservative forces especially to enforce its will on the Kurds.

      A part of the state’s strategy to beat the PKK was to support religiously conservative parties/militants in Kurdish areas as a readily available counterweight to the PKK (the PKK’s own secularism has made itself enemies amongst the Kurds).

      Seen in this context, collaboration with the Grey Wolves – which have a mixed secular/religious membership, and have been willing to bat for the state when the chips were down – is not particularly out of character for the nominally secular state.

      As you point out, their Turkish supremacist ideology tends to make any kind of collaboration with political Islam very difficult. Nevertheless, since they are in the trenches with Erdogan, they are at least on the same side as Sunni Islamists on many fronts. A recent example is Turkey’s shipping of Syrian Islamist mercenaries to Azerbaijan to fight in Karabakh.

      Erdogan maintains a majority through coalition with the MHP, which is the political wing of the Grey Wolves. I feel that he is forced to pander to them much more than he would otherwise prefer, which underlies much of Turkey’s aggression today.

      Nevertheless, the Grey Wolves/MHP will probably be content with the coalition, as long as they have some kind of conflict they can cheerlead, whether that is in Karabakh, some Greek islands, or anywhere else. So in that sense the coalition is not that unstable, but it runs the risk of Turkey entering a very damaging conflict that it cannot walk away from (so far it has been lucky).

  3. pjay

    Thanks for this question, which I have as well. Throw in the role of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Gulen movement, and the nature of political Islam in Turkey (and its relationship to Western and Turkish intelligence) becomes quite confusing. My impression is that these groups try to use each other, sometimes operating as allies and sometimes enemies. But it’s hard to keep players and alliances straight.

    An informative article nonetheless.

    1. David

      Erdogan has a policy sometimes described as “Neo-Ottomanism”, to establish Turkey as the major Sunni player in the Levant and the Eastern Mediterranean. Partly this involves hard power, as in Syria or Libya, but Turkey doesn’t have the resources to do too much of that. So it has a soft power policy as well, making use of whatever comes to hand. The Muslim Brothers and Sunni political islam are part of that, because they enable the Turks to capture, discipline and organise Muslim communities elsewhere in the world to support their objectives. This is happening in places like Bosnia and in Kosovo (where there is a small Turkish minority). But it’s also happening among Muslim communities in Western Europe, which is one of the reasons for the current bad feeling between France and Turkey. The Grey Wolves (as the paramilitary arm of Turkish soft power overseas) fit into this scheme. You can’t expect a perfect coherence of course, any more than you would if it were a western power doing the same thing, but it’s all tending in the same general direction.

  4. ex-PFC Chuck

    Based on the references to Germany in the second and third paragraphs I’m looking forward to reading more from Gary about the Gray Wolves’ actions there and elsewhere in
    central Europe.

  5. Alternate Delegate

    I can’t imagine this group finding any friends among e.g. the AfD in Germany, whose antiforeigner orientation begins with animosity against the Turkish minority, many of whom arrived as Gastarbeiter (guest workers) after 1945 when so many of the German working class were dead. Today, there people in the third generation who may not even speak Turkish but may still have Turkish passports and lack German passports, since both Germany and Turkey have obstructed dual citizenship in the past.

    Just as the AfD opposes integration, so do the Turkish nationalists oppose integration. Their focus is on intimidating Kurdish groups and threatening German politicians of Turkish extraction. That’s their territory, their street corner.

  6. jpr

    “I defy anyone to find a more successful, out-front, no-kidding, massive, effective, ruthless fascist organization anywhere in the world. They’re adapting quickly, and even have their own fierce Wiki defenders.”

    Just enter “India RSS” on youtube or google. They too have tens of thousands of Wiki defenders just in North America (quite a high percentage of them with graduate degrees comfortably living in suburbia, but with a fire in their belly indicative of a well-known phenomenon: “Diaspora Nationalism”). Just look up comments section of any New York Times article on India even mildly critical of Modi and his “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” pogrom-fanning ways and you’ll find no shortage of articulate defenders giving an entirely novel spin to phenomena as varied as setting fire to neighborhoods and total Internet censorship lasting for months in entire regions.

    Here they’re marching in a show of strength in a tech-oriented city (with huge IT operations of US companies) in South India that has until recently had a reputation for peaceful coexistence:

    Less than a year old (a few weeks before Delhi riots):

    The assassin of Gandhi (yes, that one) is publicly lionized:

    Next to their numbers, whatever’s in Turkey is “small potatoes” (as memorably phrased by Hyman Roth in Godfather 2). A more fruitful line of enquiry might be how the Grey Wolves are a relic from the Cold War Gladio style “stay behind” forces, esp. the ones who carried out the Plaza Fontana bombing that led to the “Years of Lead” in Italy.

  7. Alex Cox

    Interesting to see how blithely the author dismisses the “Bulgarian Plot to Kill the Pope” fiction — yet at the time the mainstream media promoted this CIA psy-op as a true story, proving the malevolence of the Communist Bulgarians and demonstrating that their Russian sponsors could never be trusted.

    Perhaps 20 or 30 years from now, if there are any historians or writers left, they will automatically write off the Novochok and Russiagate narratives as fantasies of the intelligence agencies.

  8. kemerd

    Useful article but I the translation idealists for ‘ulkucu’ is wrong. They have the “ulku” the idea of unification of all turks of the world. So, they take about this idea since this idea is clear to everyone, they simply call them ulkucu, the supporters of the idea, or rather goal.

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