MURAT YETKİN > Erdoğan vows to clamp down on Gülen

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In his address to supporters in the Black Sea town of Giresun on December 22, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan has used, or rather underlined a word two times, which he had not used for the last 11 years in power and thousands of speeches. That is the word “agent.”

Claiming that the corruption claims, involving the names of four of his cabinet ministers and if true, the biggest ever in Turkey was “only a cover” to undermine his Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government by the “agents” of an international “gang” and conspiracy.

This may not be the jargon used in Western politics, at least since the Cold War is over, but Erdoğan tends to see the whole thing as a Cold War-style, proxy attack against him anyway; according to an advisor Erdoğan thinks it’s a vital “chess game” between him and enemies in and outside Turkey.

The day before he had openly accused the US and its ambassador to Ankara Francis Ricciardone of being behind the conspiracy. The same day there were pictures of the ambassador in four pro-government newspapers, asking the government to send him away. According to those papers the ambassador had told other diplomats in a closed meeting that soon they would watch the “fall of the empire”.

Both the Turkish Foreign Ministry and a number of Turkish businessmen went on red alert and tried to reach Erdoğan through a number of ministers and advisors to tell that it may not be the best time for Erdoğan to further antagonize his relations with US; it could have political and economic consequences. After a long Saturday, the ambassador, who already had the full backing of State Department by that time, said that he did not exactly use those words and Hüseyin Çelik, the spokesman of Erdoğan’s AK Parti, said that they “must rely on what the ambassador says.” Erdoğan had two more speeches after that development and did not mention the US or the ambassador again which caused a relative relief among Turkish diplomats and businessmen that a major crisis was avoided; even if it is for now.

Because it is also clear that Erdoğan is upset with the US not only because of Ricciardone’s alleged words on the ongoing corruption probe. He is upset because of many reasons, including Israel, Egypt and Syria policies any way but nowadays because of two more reasons: One of them is a revived dialogue between the US administration with Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in order to get also their view on what is happening in the country. Ricciardone had invited CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for lunch last week, as a “follow up” to Kılıçdaroğlu’s visit to Washington DC two weeks ago.

Another reason for Erdoğan’s anger is believed to be Fethullah Gülen, the moderate Islamist scholar and leader of one of the most powerful faith based communities in Turkey who lives in a farm house in Pennsylvania, for nearly twenty years now.

On Sunday, Erdoğan did not mention the US but this time accused “agents” of the international conspiracy and the “gang in the clothes of piety.” A day before, he had said that he was determined to go to the “caves to that gang if necessary and clean them up,” as the purge among the police force was going on the remove police chiefs believed to be close to the Gülen movement to rather passive posts.

I had a few phone calls to understand what that “agent” means and whether it could lead to a probe against the prosecutors carrying out the corruption probes and the police chiefs involved in operations with charges of working for the interests of another country, i.e. espionage. The answers I got did not indicate that, for now. But I am told clearly that Erdoğan was very upset with the Gülen group, once his best allies when they were clamping down on the military and judiciary together and was determined to finish their presence in the bureaucracy and judiciary.

Turkish PM seems to be more interested in highlighting the “conspiring gang” hypothesis than the corruption claims themselves and perhaps hoping to divert the attention of the public opinion from the corruption allegations and the ministers allegedly involved. But as a first sign of public reaction, tens of thousands of people gathered in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul to protest the “plunder” as they call it and clashed with the police who tried to stop them, but apparently not as brutally as they did during the Gezi protests earlier this year. The Istanbul Police chief is among those who were removed from their post in the purge.

Last night, Erdoğan flew to Pakistan for two day contacts. Upon his return he will have to deal with a cabinet reshuffle where the issue of four ministers involved will be on Turkey’s agenda. But nowadays, two days could be a long time in Turkey and nobody is sure what kind of changes would take place in political balances.


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Notice on comments

turkic voice

12/25/2013 10:53:24 PM

baris, turkey has never been stable, and I do not see committing to the West as a only solution, there own democracy's are so corrupted. otherwise why does the rest of the world suffer? there is no fair distribution of the wealth of the world lets be honest. the rich get richer and the poor are getting poorer.


12/24/2013 2:29:11 PM

turkic voice, technological capability will help, but Turkey's main problem is lack of democracy and only the West can help there. There's nothing wrong with being dependent, providing the bonds are strong. Look at EU countries; none of them are independent, yet they are safe and strong together, and they are high in the Human Development Index. Being allied to the West helps Turkey, why ditch that and move into the unknown? Destabilizing turkey will help Russia and China and some terror groups.

turkic voice

12/24/2013 12:03:41 AM

@Baris Turkey has the perfect chance to prove you wrong by the simple action of doing the china deal, this would tilt the axes of power out of Americas hands. and if destabilizing turkey does not benefit America then who does it benefit? that is where you should look. America and china should put forward deals that further turkeys technological capability and bring about Turkish commissioning and maintenance on the system. further the system should be loyal to Turkey.

Ms Tolerant

12/23/2013 11:28:50 PM

Blue Dotterel, we've been putting up with yuor ridiculous excuses for the crap back home for a very long time now. Grow up. Just grow up.

Tekir Feline

12/23/2013 11:26:40 PM

Why do people care who's involved in the uncovering of this huge bribery scandal, far more important is who are the people involved, who took bribes for granted, filled his pockets, made illegal deals and cheated his voters, who told lies. I prefer a society without liars in the highest positions. AKP stole Turkish taxpayers money to fill their pockets, just when they guided, with their false piousness, their voters views to mosque. That's it just disgusting.


12/23/2013 9:53:39 PM

Of course Turkey isn't politically independent, and I say that with full knowledge that I have firm grip on all my faculties. Turkey is politically, economically and militarily not strong enough to be independent. Its deficient democracy makes Turkey prone to be manipulated by external forces. Also, Turkey has integrated itself with the West. All that means Turkey is not independent. But that doesn't mean we should blame "the usual suspect" every time, especially when there's no evidence.


12/23/2013 9:23:32 PM

Blue Dotterel, don't you think I'm aware of the USA's influence on world politics, including on Turkey? What I'm against are conspiracy theories which just explains everything away by blaming the USA (or Israel). What evidence do we have here? Gülen being in Pennsylvania and US contact with CHP prove nothing. Do you really believe that Gulen, who is dedicated to Islam, is a CIA agent? Why would USA risk destabilising Turkey, when a strong Turkey is required at this point in time in the ME?

Mark Tak

12/23/2013 9:15:51 PM

Thank you Erdogan, time to teach a lesson to Ayatollah Fetullah Gulen Movement trying to make Turkey like Iran.but if any of your ministers taking bribes you should fire them until the investigation is over, and free Ilker Basbug and every military officers from Jail this Gulen Cemaat put them in,one last mafia organization most dengerous one with a Kuran in his hands. close his scholls and demote all his fallowers from Power.Gulen will have no power in Turkey,all his fallowers are surficing....

Red Tail

12/23/2013 8:37:38 PM

Blue Dotterel. Show us the FACTS that US is involved in this. Not just ideas, but FACTS.

Blue Dotterel

12/23/2013 7:56:22 PM

"Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. " Brzezinski admitting 15 years ago that the US "aided" Islamic fundamentalists in their attacks on the secular Afghani regime in order to give the USSR its "Vietnam". This "aid" occurred 6 months before the USSR "invaded" to assist the regime. Yet, people on this site think the US is not willing or capable of this type of meddling. It is.
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