AKP: Turkey’s new ‘red line’ is struggle against Gülenists
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan greets members of parliament from his ruling AKP, as he arrives for a meeting at parliament in Ankara. REUTERS PhotoTurkey has drawn a new red line since the latest meeting of the National Security Council (MGK), and that red line is the fight against the “parallel structure” that has attempted to topple the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, a senior party executive has stated. which gathers the country’s top civilian and military leaders.
Continuing the theme of the local election campaign in March, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly declared during his presidential campaign that he will continue the fight against the “parallel state,” allegedly led by followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
However, this is the first time an official has described the struggle against the Gülen movement as a “red line,” a phrase that is customarily used for foreign policy items related to the interests of the state.
“The parallel structure is from now on the ‘red line’ of ours, the nation and the state – especially following the MGK decision,” Abdülhamit Gül, the AKP’s deputy chair in charge of local administrations, told state-run Anadolu Agency on July 9.
“Information concerning the judicial and administrative operations being conducted against illegal structures within the state was presented to the Council,” said a statement released after the latest biannual MGK meeting held on June 26.
Gül stated that Gülen’s followers were responsible for the leak of a recording of top security officials discussing possible military action in Syria to the video-sharing website YouTube only a few days before the local elections on March 30. “Is there any possibility for ‘an understanding’ that eavesdrops on the most confidential meeting at the Foreign Affairs [Ministry] and leaks it to appear innocent? No,” he said.
“Those who call this country’s prime minister ‘the prime minister of the time,’ these criminal organizations within a parallel structure … will be called to account before the court and the judiciary as required ... This struggle should actually be a primary priority for the entire AK Party organization, the entire nation and for all public servants who heed the perpetuity of the state,” Gül added.
AKP officials say that the phrase “the prime minister of the time,” was used to refer to Erdoğan in the summary of proceedings drafted by prosecutors involved in the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 investigations, indicating that the aim was to overthrow him with the cases.
The term “parallel state” or “parallel structure” is commonly used by critics to refer to the Gülen movement. Gülen has been in voluntary exile in the United States for over a decade. Prime Minister Erdoğan alleges that the “parallel state” orchestrated the Dec. 17 and the Dec. 25 of 2013 corruption investigations - which ensnared the sons of three former ministers and businesspeople known to be close to the government - in order to unseat him and his government. The AKP has responded with a series of huge counter-reaction of purges and replacements, particularly in the judiciary and the police, where Gülen’s followers are believed to be prominent, as it aimed to contain the damage.
As recently as July 8, Erdoğan vowed to take the fight against Gülen if he is elected president in the August elections.
“If elected president, I will take the fight against the parallel structure to the next level,” Erdogan told lawmakers of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Parliament.