Derin Devlet (“Deep State” in Turkish) is the informal name of the highly secretive Turkish military intelligence service as created by the ethnically Dönmeh Mustafa Kemal “Atatürk” (1881-1938) and which has exercised ultimate control over the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the Republic of Turkey ever since the demise of its founder.
What is known as “Kemalism” was created as a political vehicle for protecting the large Dönmeh minority from political expressions of Islam by endeavoring to marginalize Islam in Turkish and Kurdish society. The number of Dönmeh in the Middle East and the Balkans is about one million and most are Alevis and Bektashis although some like the Barzani clan of Iraqi Kurdistan are outwardly (but not actually) Muslim. The original Dönmeh of rabbinically Jewish ancestry have in recent decades increasingly married with Dönmeh Alevis and Dönmeh Bektashis although the original Dönmeh community of rabbinically Jewish ancestry have always been part of the Bektashi order ever since rabbi Sabbatai Zevi joined the Bektashi order.
The Derin Devlet has always remained controlled by ethnic members of the Dönmeh community and contrary to common misconception is it neither a Turkish nationalist organization nor a criminal one. The Derin Devlet is not a religious organization and is not controlled by clerics. Rather, the activities of the Derin Devlet need to be understood in the context of Ottoman history which saw a political struggle between the Bektashi Janissaries elite military forces versus politicized forms of Islam. This struggle ended with defeat for the Janissaries when Sultan Mahmud II massacred six thousand Bektashi elite troops and subsequently ordered the formal abolition of the Janissaries and the banning of the Bektashi order throughout the Ottoman Empire in 1826. This was also a stinging defeat for the Dönmeh community as an intrinsic part of the Bektashi order, including the Janissaries.
Politically active members of the Dönmeh community however struck back with furious vengeance a century later in successfully achieving the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924. As Alevis, Bektashis and Dönmeh had experienced the typically oppressive nature of political expression of Islam sought the new Dönmeh-led government which founded the Republic of Turkey to marginalize Islam in Turkish and Kurdish society to the point of making Islam disappear almost completely within the borders of the Republic of Turkey.
While Kemalism has been associated with hostility against Kurds is the fact that individual Kurds were always part of the Kemalist power structure in Turkey, this includes famously Turkey’s former president Turgut Özal (1927-1923) who served as president in 1989-1993. The reason for this is that there are many Kurdish Dönmeh, both Alevi Dönmeh and nominally Muslim Dönmeh such as the Barzani clan. There were several reasons why the Dönmeh rulers of the Republic of Turkey took a negative view of Kurdish nationalist expression. In the first part of the 20th century was the Kurdish nationalist movement largely a Muslim movement and was also largely led by religious Muslims. The Kurdish movement was therefore early identified as a strategic threat to the new Dönmeh-led secular political order in the newly founded Republic of Turkey. The new Dönmeh-led political leadership was insistent on keeping Bakur (Northern Kurdistan within the borders of Turkey) as part of the Republic of Turkey because they wanted to keep the Kurdish Dönmeh under their rule in order to protect them from Islam and Muslims and were seriously concerned that an independent Kurdistan would become an increasingly Islamized state.
In the early 21st century had it however become clear that the project of ending Islam in the Republic of Turkey had failed and Alevis, Bektashis and Dönmeh remained socially oppressed and demeaned by majority Muslim society despite Dönmeh-led political rule since before the creation of the Republic of Turkey. As leaders of the Derin Devlet were never Turkish nationalists but rather engineered and used Turkish nationalism as a veneer for continued Dönmeh-led political rule in Anatolia and Bakur did a new idea emerge according to which the Republic of Turkey would be divided into three independent different states, namely a secular Turkey nominally led by a Muslim regime, an independent Kurdistan and in between them a new state as popularly known in Turkey as “Alevistan” which would be a nation state for Alevis, Bektashis and Dönmeh and which would include speakers of Kurdish, Zazaki and Turkish. The idea was that all three states would continue to remain under the control of the Derin Devlet. The Derin Devlet despite the once officially hostile attitude of the Turkish state to every kind of specifically Kurdish expression always tolerated the Israeli-supported Kurdish autonomist political project in Iraqi Kurdistan as in part led by the Dönmeh Barzani clan.
Dönmeh-led Turkey during the 20th century was therefore similar to other states in the core Middle East which were politically dominated by ethno-religious minorities such as Ashkenazis in Israel, Alawites in Syria, ethnic Sunnis in Iraq, nominally Sunni Crypto-Qarmatians in Bahrain, Maronites in Lebanon, Dönmeh Barzanis in Iraqi Kurdistan and the Crypto-Jewish “Hashemite” Hejazi Kohanite clan in Jordan. Nationalism in Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East therefore served to maintain ethnic minority rule of often socially oppressed religious minorities in those countries.
The rise of Islamism (nativist political Islam as heavily influenced by Nazism and Communism) has however profoundly changed the mental map of the region and most contemporary rulers of Muslim countries now view Islamism as a mere symptom and Islam as the foundational problem preventing virtually every kind of social progress. This and the input of the Dönmeh religious leadership led the Derin Devlet to initiate a slow process designed to lead to the ultimate partition of Turkey into three different states while all would remain under the ultimate control of the Dönmeh-led Derin Devlet.
One important difference as compared to 90 years ago is that the core Dönmeh community of rabbinically Jewish genetic origin has integrated far more deeply into the Alevi-Bektashi community as young people from the core Dönmeh community have for decades been marrying Dönmeh Bektashis and Dönmeh Alevis. Also, the Derin Devlet was long unaware that Alevis, Bektashis and even the core Dönmeh themselves are halakhically Jewish and so Mustafa Kemal who was profoundly critical of Islam mistakenly considered Alevis and Bektashis as being Muslims which explains his negative attitude towards the Bektashi order and the 1937-1938 Dersim Massacre against Zaza Kurdish Alevis.
The Internet is however profoundly changing Muslim societies worldwide as access to information via the Internet is leading to digital secularization whereby the middle and upper classes in Muslim countries typically remain outwardly Muslim despite no longer believing in or practicing Islam. What also happens is that as Jihadism is increasingly discrediting Islamism so is Islamism increasingly discrediting Islam itself among educated socio-economic elites in capitals of Muslim countries around the world.
What is needed therefore so as to ensure social progress is to encourage voluntary communal reversion to regional forms of Median Judaism (known in the Persian Empire as Zoroastrianism) which even under Byzantine rule predominated in societies of the region. This means encouraging partly Islamized Anatolians to communally revert to Bektashism which is truly their own. This project is certainly much more ambitious than that of Kemalism or even later secular Kurdish nationalism but is surely necessary and especially considering how Islamism has poisoned Islam to the point that it is easier to encourage communal reversion of local communities across the region to their own forms of Median Judaism than rehabilitating Islam from the nefarious Islamist influence which has increasingly poisoned it.
The Derin Devlet has maintained diplomatic relations with the Mossad diplomatic service of the Tevel (Political Action and Liaison Department) since 1949 and the Derin Devlet also maintains functioning diplomatic relations with the autonomist Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Bashur (Southern Kurdistan within the borders of Iraq) and the autonomist PYD statelet in Rojava (Western Kurdistan within the borders of Syria); both of which are closely allied with the State of Israel.
Turkey is currently undergoing a violent internal process whereby the Derin Devlet is incrementally wresting back control over the state from the AKP (Turkish Muslim Brotherhood) Islamist regime in Ankara. While the Derin Devlet operates covertly behind the scenes are the results increasingly visible in the Derin Devlet restraining military operations against the HPG (PKK military forces trained by Israel), ending MIT (a once AKP controlled Turkish intelligence service) logistical support for the Daesh caliphate and members of the Gulen Sufi Islamist sect having been expelled from the Turkish civil service.
What is needed therefore is an alliance between Derin Devlet and the Kurdish movement. While Kurdish leaders are understandably suspicious about the intentions of the Derin Devlet, the Derin Devlet and the Kurdish movement need to commit to more profound diplomatic dialogue and reconciliation towards the goal of forming an enduring alliance that will ensure self-determination for all while helping revert the peoples of the region to the Median Judaism of their ancestors including to Alawism, Alevism, Bektashism, Yarsanism and Yezidism. While it is somewhat difficult to truly expect Kurdish leaders to trust the Derin Devlet considering the history of Kemalist repression against virtually every form of Kurdish expression is this new alliance now what the necessity of history requires. Israel crucially needs to serve as a mediator and facilitator as Israel is indeed profoundly trusted by both sides and rightly so. This is not to underestimate the difficulty involved in building this new regional alliance but rather to underscore the essential role that only Israeli diplomacy can fill in this regard.