Can AKP survive graft probe?
Ministers, sons of ministers, corrupt businessmen and shoe or chocolate boxes of all sorts filled with millions of euros, dollars, liras. In any country with some degree of democratic perception, a minute slice of the alleged crime would have taken down the government, forced a “clean hands” operation and perhaps even resulted in a change across the political arena, including key players, all together.
The first impact of the scandal, and what has appeared so far to be a systematic graft, was the removal from office of several dozens of top cops in Ankara, Istanbul, İzmir and various other cities.
The government and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not condemn the corruption, but preferred to complain they were facing a systematic and ugly campaign by a gang with domestic and external extensions.
Oh la la… “State within the state organization” the prime minister said stressing “even if they are sons of our fathers we shall not stop” but indeed the graft was alleged to have been done by the ministers and the sons of the ministers. Appointing new prosecutors, replacing top cops and the prime minister and ministers publicly commenting on the probe in such a way as to issue directives to the probing team of course constitute important infringements of constitutional stipulations for free justice. It will be no surprise if the government soon orders the prosecutors to launch a probe against the Hizmet (Service) Foundation or the Fethullah Gülen group, an Islamist fraternity, claiming they were seeking to topple the government by plotting against ministers and their sons.
What will emerge from beneath this ongoing graft probe and the government’s “banish who dare to investigate me” approach against the police? The ministers alleged to have been engaging in corrupt acts have reportedly handed in their resignation to Erdoğan but the prime minister would probably refuse any wrongdoing by his political team in full awareness that “if those castles were allowed to collapse, my castle will soon be challenged.” Indeed there were already some signs of it on Thursday with rumors buzzing across social media that the probe might grow to encompass a member of the Premier’s family.
Whatever, soon we will have a clearer photograph, whatever that might be. But, what is already exposed to the world as the “new image” of Turkey was dreadful. “Is it possible in any democracy for a religious sect or group to battle with a democratically elected government? Such development can only be seen in a clan-based society. But, what is even worse is how large segments of Turkish society align themselves with or express sympathy for a fraternity or a religious clan battling a democratically elected government. Worse than that, considering the current government’s anti-democratic tendencies, paradoxically an Islamist clan is hoped to contribute to Turkish democratic governance by taking issue with a democratically elected government.” Any need to add further comment on what was said? That is indeed a paradox seen by many people nowadays.
Developments have placed Turkish secularists in a very awkward situation. Should they celebrate that the Gülen fraternity and the government have started hunting each other, or should they remember the Ergenekon, Sledgehammer thrillers conducted in the same fashion by almost the very same judicial team? Are the claims indeed valid and photos distributed authentic or is everything a product of the same Center of Excellence in Concocting all Sorts of Evidence again?
There is no need for jubilation; we have euro and dollar-filled shoe boxes shoveling dirt on the entire country. Will the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) survive this crisis? What will be the impacts of the scandal on upcoming mayoral polls, upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections?