Azerbaijan’s recent crackdown on institutions and individuals allegedly linked to the influential Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen may not have halted promotional work by Gülen-associated organizations in the United States for the Azerbaijani government.
Baku’s wariness toward the elderly Turkish cleric, now living in Pennsylvania, first surfaced last December, whenTurkey, Azerbaijan’s closest ally, claimed that Gülen planned to overthrow the government of then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a formerly close Gülen ally.
Following an April meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Erdoğan, a few influential Azerbaijani officials, tagged by media as sympathetic to Gülen, lost their positions, and the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR) took over private high-schools, university-exam-preparation courses and a university run by a company linked to the so-called Gülen-movement. Some of the facilities were later closed.
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Shahla Sultanova is a freelance journalist focusing on Azerbaijan.