France on Wednesday announced the disbandment of Turkish far-right, Islamist and neo-fascist group Grey Wolves for stoking hatred. The decision was taken by the French cabinet after a memorial centre to mass killings of Armenians in World War I was smeared at the weekend with graffiti including the name of the Grey Wolves. The memorial was defaced with pro-Turkish slogans and inscriptions with the Grey Wolves’ name.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced the decision taken by the French Cabinet of disbanding the Grey Wolves. Darmanin says the ultra-nationalist group has been disbanded because it “incited discrimination and hatred and is implicated in violent actions”.
The Grey Wolves’ dissolution came against the background of a spate of the Islamic terror attacks that have afflicted France. Tempers have also soared in France between its Armenian and Turkish communities over the ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. At least 4 people were injured in clashes outside Lyon between suspected Turkish nationalists and Armenians protesting against Azerbaijan’s military offensive.
Turkey has resolutely backed its Muslim-majority ally Azerbaijan in its conflict with Christian majority Armenia. The two countries are at war since the 1990s when in the aftermath of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a part under the control of Azerbaijan was ruled by Armenian separatists.
Grey wolves group, a militant wing of Recep Erdogan’s key alliance partner in Turkey
The Grey Wolves are viewed as a group having their allegiance to Turkish authoritarian ruler Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been in a conflict with French President Emmanuel Macron on a range of issues, most notably on his remarks on Islamist terrorism. In Turkey, the Grey Wolves have close ties with Devlet Bahceli’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which is in an alliance with Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).
According to the experts, MHP is crucial to Erdogan’s continued dominance of Turkey’s political landscape and Bahceli’s support to Erdogan in 2018 presidential election is considered as a decisive factor in the ruler’s return to power. The Grey Wolves are considered as the militant wing of the MHP and are credited with creating havoc on the streets of Turkey during the tumultuous years of the 60s and 70s when its members routinely sparred with leftist activists.