Turkey has prevented the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) from exploiting education with its effective, comprehensive education diplomacy and network of Maarif Schools set up in the six years since the terrorist group's coup failed coup attempt.
FETÖ, which spread to countries through schools by exploiting Turkey's historical and international image, is gradually losing its effectiveness thanks to the opening of schools in 49 countries by the Turkish Maarif Foundation, which was established as the state's official international education institution with a law enacted in 2016 in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM).
According to information obtained from diplomatic sources, FETÖ's educational structure has weakened significantly since the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, with Turkey's official entry into the international education arena.
FETÖ had a presence on almost every continent and in many countries before the July 15 coup but has lost the majority of its schools in Asia and Africa at this point and is isolated from the non-Western world, stuck in Europe and America.
The effective diplomacy carried out by Turkey in the international arena in the fight against the organization and the qualified, transparent and reassuring approach of the Maarif Schools in 49 countries were major factors in this.
The Maarif Foundation undertakes important tasks in Turkey's fight against FETÖ's educational pillar as the country's official international education institution, with its identity as an international educational brand created within the framework of the common values of humanity, based on transparent, scientific, official, local and international curricula in the field of education.
As a result of the diplomatic activities carried out in close coordination with the Presidency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other public institutions and organizations, FETÖ affiliated schools in 20 countries have been closed so far and 234 of them have been transferred to the Maarif.
In 46 countries, 92 different protocols were signed with the aim of transferring FETÖ affiliated schools and opening new schools.
From teaching Turkish to opening education centers for the children of Turks living abroad, from pre-school programs to its chains of successful schools, the Maarif Foundation leaves FETÖ in a difficult position as it branches out into every field of education abroad.
Maarif opened 172 new educational institutions in 32 countries in order to meet the educational needs of nations that are strategically important for Turkey or where the Turkish diaspora is dense. By opening 21 education centers in 12 European-dominated countries, Turkish children are able to learn their mother tongue at the centers that contribute to their academic success and maintain their cultural belonging. With 428 educational institutions and 50,000 students in 49 countries, Turkey is among the top five countries in the world education league in terms of prevalence.
As a result of the reliable foreign policy and successful diplomacy that Turkey has developed with countries around the world, especially the acceptance of the Maarif Schools on six continents in a short time, the so-called institutions in the hands of FETÖ have lost their reputation and ground in the eyes of societies and administrations.
FETÖ began to lose its legitimacy in the countries it operated and three-quarters of its effectiveness in the world with the official entry of the Maarif Foundation into the educational field on behalf of Turkey. The organization, which has almost completely lost its presence in Asia and Africa, is stuck in Europe and America today.
Turkey continues to raise the agenda that more concrete cooperation is expected from the United States, Canada and European Union countries.
FETÖ is the largest charter school operator in the United States and is able to finance its activities not only in the country but also around the world. It also economically benefits by transferring financial resources to its members and affiliated organizations through tenders and service procurements opened by the organization in these schools.
The so-called schools allow the members of the organization to be brought to the United States on a qualified work visa – legitimizing the stay of FETÖ members who fled Turkey after July 15 – but also transfer money to companies established by FETÖ members through tenders and gain influence over politicians and local authorities through political donations and mediating lobbying.
Canadian international lawyer Robert Amsterdam last week unveiled his second book on FETÖ and how it defrauds the U.S. education system and taxpayers to fund its network of charter schools in the country during a presentation at a hotel in Istanbul.
In "Empire Of Deceit: Vol II: Web of Influence," Amsterdam sheds light on the organization of FETÖ-affiliated schools in the U.S. and the corruption surrounding them, including financial violations and misconduct.
"It is absolutely, without doubt, clear that not only have the Gülen schools served as the vital source of funding for the Gülen organization and FETÖ but that the corruption of U.S. procurement is widespread," said Amsterdam, referring to FETÖ's U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen, who orchestrated the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.
"We are talking about what we estimate to be $4 billion ... going into FETÖ's coffers as a result of the public funding and taxpayer funding of the now 250 FETÖ schools throughout the U.S.," added Amsterdam, who is the owner of the law firm Amsterdam & Partners (LLP).
"Let me just say that the Gulen schools are like a vital organ for the organization. This is both economically important and organizationally. We are talking about an estimated $4 billion economy. The economy in these schools is more like the American economy. It goes out of the pockets of taxpayers and 250 schools are financed with this money. These deceptions of FETÖ are included in the 700-page book," he added.
FETÖ was behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the Turkish state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions; particularly the military, police and judiciary.