Power fight within Ankara in escalation
If you look at it too closely, you can get lost in details.
What is actually happening is trying to stop, or limit a major corruption claim with political links by intervening in the judicial procedure by the government.
But in order to see what is really going on, perhaps we first have to understand the background of it.
It is true that there is an inner-fight dimension too. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan does not want to share its power supported by 50 percent of voters with once-close ally Fethullah Gülen and his “Hizmet” movement. Gülen, the U.S.-resident moderate Islamist scholar having a huge network of English-language schools in and outside Turkey used to be a close ally of Erdoğan, mainly for two reasons: Well-educated and silently-working Gülen sympathizers had held key positions in certain government departments, but especially in Interior and Justice ministries; in other words within the police and judiciary. When Gülen felt that Erdoğan’s power giving comfort to pious and conservative voters of Turkey was threatened by military and secularist faction within the judiciary over the election of Abdullah Gül as President in 2007 he not only asked his supporters to vote for Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) but through his sympathizers within police and judiciary helped Erdoğan a lot to carry out the Ergenekon and Balyoz probes and court cases to deter them. So Gülenists claim that they have a share in that 50 percent. But Erdoğan thinks if he lets his power be shared by those who to grow thanks to the fertile ground under his governments, that could lead to losing control over his supporters which he might need for the presidential elections in August 2014 for himself.
This is what has surfaced in the fight over the Istanbul prosecutors’ attempts to probe National Intelligence (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan in 2012, over the closing of private supplementary schools (partly run by Gülenist businessmen) and recently over the corruption probe debate in which Erdoğan has lost four ministers to it so far.
When Erdoğan’s chief political advisor Yalçın Akdoğan wrote (because he was upset by Gülen) that those who are “plotting against the government” now, were the same ones who plotted against the army in the past, it was like adding insult to injury for the military. After all, the former Chief of Staff İlker Başbuğ had been sentenced for life because of plotting to undermine the government. Yesterday, on January 2, General Staff has put an application to Ankara Chief Prosecutor to investigate those claims. Ironically, Ankara prosecutor had already opened another investigation against claims of a former AK Parti Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin, who had claimed that there was a network (implying they were Gülenists) within the Court of Appeals. In the meantime, the government is getting prepared to change Turkey’s justice system in order to allow the executive power to have more control over the judiciary, which is something already under criticism by the European Union.
But the real story here when you take a few steps back to see the bigger picture, is to distract the public attention from a major corruption probe, with alleged links to government and the biggest ever in Turkey if it is true, by intervening in the judiciary and trying to change the rules of the game in the meantime. This is neither good for the future of Turkish democracy nor for the record of Erdoğan’s government.