AKP-Hizmet fight risks turning into witch-hunt
A fierce battle has started. In the red corner, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) that has been ruling the country with the main vow of ending corruption and bringing a “clean” political start after years of degeneration. In the blue corner, the religious Hizmet (Service) Movement, AKP’s once supporter and ally, that has silently but firmly taken control of the state.
The bell for the final round has tolled with the clandestine morning police raids on high-profile names, including senior officials, top businessmen and more importantly sons of Cabinet ministers for one of Turkey’s hugest kickbacks and corruption scandals. No knockdown is achieved but the blue corner’s punches have blown rough strikes but the fight is yet to see a heavy series of beats from the red.
The battle is raging with millions of dollars stashed in shoeboxes or, interestingly, a huge number of cases at the homes of ministers’ sons, raising protests by those who long knew or recently realized they were living in a “corrupted wonderland” and war of words between the supporters of two sides. The rest, or more precisely the “otherized” part of the country by the AKP for any reasons which would be at odds with the AKP’s self-proclaimed “conservative democrat” line, has been enjoying the spectacle.
The narration of the recent events might appear sarcastic but the reality in it is extremely serious but not shocking. During its long tenure, the AKP government has proudly defended its “clean” history and its drive against corruption - a phenomenon Turkey has historically been accustomed to for ages. But behind the closed doors, it actually legitimized its style of corruption - a known truth that the AKP forced the public to become accustomed to.
Silencing, slandering or totally wiping out anti-AKP colors and voices has been normalized by the government and its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has often adopted a defiant “my way or the highway” tone. For years, the shadow of the military and its political minions were the main obstacle to the democratization of Turkey and the AKP-Hizmet alliance together engaged in a fight against the military that many had guessed they would lose. But they did not.
Surely, the politics without military’s hands were everybody’s dream who truly believed in democracy and more but the vendetta of the AKP-Hizmet for years, during which the allies said they heavily suffered, created a new frightening ruling, which was forbidden to be even criticized with media have been having the lion’s share.
But when all the hell breaks loose between the AKP and Hizmet? The quarrel over university test prep courses, which were one of the main financial and influence sources for the Hizmet and AKP’s take on them were just a ride at the park compared with today’s crisis. The real start was actually Erdoğan’s move for the passivation of the Hizmet amid its cementing power in the state, or with the prime minister’s remarks: A “state within a state.”
The prime minister has always appeared victorious in many fights against the opposition or his critics and pushed them to a point that his one-man rule is not to be defied. It was defied; just remember the early summer anti-government Gezi awakening and that was the first blow. Perhaps, not as strong as the strike by the Hizmet, which claims that it has nothing to do with the bribery investigation.
Whatsoever, the truth is as clear as crystal and this is an unprecedented power struggle between the two. Those who are familiar with Erdoğan should expect that he will make a clear-cut final showdown on the Hizmet. But that might be his political finale or the ultimate unchallenged ruling - a worst case scenario for the anti-AKP camp. He might reconsider a rapprochement with the group, but that would also be noted as a defeat for his side.
One way or another, Turkey is now stuck in a fight that might give courage to the AKP or Hizmet critics but it also risks being a “lose-lose” situation at the end of the day since the battling sides will start a witch-hunt before initiating a rally on them soon after defeating the other.