Anti-fascist forces in Turkey blasted authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s links to right-wing paramilitary death squads today after reports that he will open a new Grey Wolves school in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.
He will lay the foundation for the building alongside Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in the city of Shushi, which was taken by Azeri forces in November 2020 after a three-day battle.
Turkey’s neofascist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli pitched the idea earlier this year, but the school’s construction is seen as a deeply provocative move as the Grey Wolves have been responsible for the extrajudicial killings of minorities, including Armenians. Until the Azeri invasion, the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh had been run by its Armenian majority since 1994.
A spokesman for Turkey’s United Fighting Forces (BGM), a newly formed coalition of communist and leftist parties that includes Figen Yuksekdag’s Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), Partizan, and the Revolutionary Party, condemned the move.
“The Grey Wolves are a dark stain on Turkey’s blood-soaked history and responsible for the massacre of thousands of Kurds, Alevis and minorities, and attacks on trade unionists, communists, and progressives,” he said.
“Tayyip Erdogan and his fascist alliance will be defeated by a united struggle of all layers of the oppressed, There is a big explosion of anger against fascism seen in the struggle at Bogazici [university] — but also at the deepening economic crisis which is pushing more into poverty.”
The Grey Wolves organization is seen as the paramilitary wing of the MHP, responsible for thousands of deaths in Turkey. Funded and trained by the CIA as part of the Operation Gladio “stay behind movements” after World War II, it targets leftist movements and those that deviate from its strict Sunni Islamic ideals.
The group’s most notorious attack came in December 1978, when more than 100 of the country’s Alevi community were killed in a 10-day pogrom known as the Maras Massacre, which led directly to the 1980 military coup.
Grey Wolves founder Alparslan Turkes had strong links with the so-called “founding father” of the World Uighur Congress, Isa Yusuf Alptekin. They both campaigned for the eradication of communism among the Turkic populations of Soviet Central Asia and Xinjiang.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Grey Wolves set up training camps for young people in central Asia, but having failed to attract support, the group moved to China’s Xinjiang province, where it targeted recruitment among the Uighur community and supported the East Turkestan independence movement.