KRG "Seized, Sold Gulen Schools"

By Sara al-Qaher for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

A private company has reportedly taken over Gulenist schools in Iraqi Kurdistan. According to the Dwarozh news website, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Education Minister Bishwan Sadeq said a private Kurdish company, the Khoshnaw Group, bought the secondary schools and colleges Sept. 19. There has thus far been no official or legal objection or protest registered against the move.

Fethullah Gulen — a Turkish cleric and former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is now living in the United States — has been accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating the July 15 failed coup. Last month, as per an agreement with Turkey, the KRG began seizing control of educational institutions run by Gulen and has gradually expanded its reach to economic and medical institutions as well.

Most recently, Dowran, a Gulen-owned radio station, was taken over. Some institutions, like the schools, are being sold to the private sector, while others remain under government control. Arrests of administrative workers in Gulenist institutions have also been reported and the movement has been banned.

The Gulenist movement manages a wide network of social, economic and cultural organizations in the Kurdistan region, where it has enjoyed influence for more than 22 years. There are some 12,000 students currently enrolled in Gulenist schools in Iraqi Kurdistan. Graduates of these facilities often go on to work in Gulen-owned media organizations and other businesses.

The decision to take control of the schools and to fire administrators came as no surprise to many, given the relationship between Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by KRG President Massoud Barzani. The parties hold compatible views on the political map of the region.

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