Blinded with rage over the investigation that implicates key ministers in a massive corruption scandal, Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
is on the warpath. Rather than act the way a normal politician in the West would in the face of such a scandal, he has remained true to his nature and is claiming that he is faced with a conspiracy by domestic and international forces.
In the meantime, he is doing everything that someone who claims, as he does, to be introducing advanced democracy to Turkey, upholding the rule of law, and fighting corruption should not do.
Just about every legal expert says that detectives going after a crime do not have to inform their superiors for the sake of a healthy investigation, but must work with prosecutors. Erdoğan, however, is insisting on the opposite.
Because police superiors were in the dark over this investigation, he has unleashed a witch-hunt against the same police force he was praising sky high during the Gezi protests. He is trying, in this way, to weed out the supporters of Fetullah Gülen, who he sees as the main conspirator and who has therefore become his principal enemy.
The decree his government introduced and which will force junior officers to inform their superiors about every investigation they conduct has already been taken to court, and the chances are that it will be annulled because it violates the separation of powers principle. The government has also had supplementary prosecutors appointed to the investigation, arguing the case is too big for just one or two prosecutors.
The government’s latest move has been to ban reporters from entering police headquarters. Erdoğan will see that such a ban will not prevent journalists from accessing their police sources. The fact that there are a large number of officers with an axe to grind with this government now will obviously make their task even easier.
Just about everyone except Erdoğan’s most bleary-eyed supporters interpret these moves as preemptive attempts by the government that are aimed at preventing the current investigation from going further. Erdoğan is even using questionable reports in pro-government media claiming that Washington and Israel
are behind the investigation in order to bolster his public image, which has taken a serious blow.
“Ambassadors are involved in some provocative actions,” he told a crowd of supporters over the weekend. “I call on them. Just do your jobs. If you go outside the confines of your job, we do not have to keep you in our country,” he added, without naming anyone.
Many consider U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone to be the target of these remarks.
Pro-government media claimed Ricciardone had told a group of European ambassadors after the news of the scandal broke that Erdoğan’s empire was collapsing. Ricciardone has denied these claims as false and slanderous.
It does not need much imagination to realize what damage such claims in the media and remarks by Erdoğan based on them will do to and his government’s international reputation, which has been plummeting since the Gezi protests anyway.
The sudden drop in the value of the Turkish Lira against the dollar and the turbulence in the stock market after news of the corruption probe broke have also highlighted the fragility of the economy in the face of such scandals.
Rather than act cautiously in order to prevent the economy from taking such blows at a critical time, when the world economy is going through a period of crisis, Erdoğan is insisting on doing the opposite and pouring fuel on the flames. The more he does so, however, the more he appears to be pulling the carpet from under his own feet.
Most analysts are convinced there is no way he can come out of this scandal unscathed politically.
Erdoğan is fighting desperately now to prevent this, but whatever the cost to him in the long run, it appears it will be Turkey that suffers in the end for the sake of his political ambitions.