Prime Minister Erdoğan addresses members of Parliament from his ruling AKP in Ankara, Feb 25. DHA photo
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
accused a “robot lobby” of targeting the government through Twitter messages, as he strongly denied the authenticity of new phone recordings leaked onto the Internet.
During his address to his party’s parliamentary group on Feb. 25, Erdoğan claimed that a series of lobbies had allied to damage the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and frustrate Turkey’s progress.
“The robot lobby that they set up on social media hits with tweets. They tell them to increase the number of tweets,” he said.
At the height of the Gezi Park protests last summer, Erdoğan had described the microblogging site as a “troublemaker.”
He also hit out at a “preacher’s lobby,” in a veiled reference to the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, which he accuses of orchestrating the recent graft probes that have shaken Turkish politics. The government responded to the investigations with massive reassignments within the police and the judiciary, in an apparent attempt to purge Gülen sympathizers from key positions.
“They prepared a flawless scenario. The preacher’s lobby would hit through the police and judiciary. The media lobby would hit with headlines and broadcasts. The interest rate lobby would make a fuss that the economy was deteriorating. The international lobby would hit by condemning and criticizing,” Erdoğan also said.
The prime minister first mentioned “the interest rate lobby" at the height of the Gezi Park protests last summer, claiming that it orchestrated the protests in order to benefit from higher interest rates.
Erdoğan also targeted “saltshakers,” referring to lawmakers within the AKP close to the Gülen movement. “Saltshakers” is a coded term allegedly used by Gülen in a recently leaked phone conversation.
“Instructions would be given to saltshakers within the AKP who would stab in the back. They thought the plan was flawless. They took action on Dec. 17. Everyone played their part. But they forgot one thing. The people also have a part, and if they have a plot then God has one too. Their whole scenario was turned upside down,” he said.
Seven AKP MPs have resigned since the graft probes erupted, nine since the test prep school (dershanes) row, in a wave of defections unprecedented in the party’s history.