Turkish PM Davutoğlu fails to convince president to allow Fidan into his own inner circle
Nuray Babacan/Turan Yılmaz ANKARAThe two-month-long adventure of former National Intelligence Agency (MİT) Chief Hakan Fidan, who was bidding to play a role on the political stage, has ended with his reappointment to his MİT post by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. The prime minister apparently failed to convince President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who publicly and repeatedly voiced his uneasiness about having Fidan on the political stage rather than continuing his critical post in what he described as “the most important institution of the state.”
Fidan’s attempt to become a senior-bureaucrat-turned-politician will probably go down in the history of Turkish politics as one of the fastest turnarounds by a senior official, which was also visible to the eyes of the public.
Hectic meetings had reportedly started 20 days before Fidan, who is one of Erdoğan’s closest confidants, resigned late on Feb. 6, in order to run in a parliamentary election in the June 7 parliamentary elections for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Fidan eventually put his political plans on the shelf for a number of reasons, with Erdoğan’s sharp objection being in top among those reasons.
No clarity at first meeting
Twenty days before announcing his decision and applying to the AKP to become a nominee in order to run for parliament, Fidan visited Erdoğan and brought up the matter with him. However, it is widely suggested that Fidan did not clearly express his reasons for leaving the post, and in response Erdoğan voiced particular concerns over any possible harm to the ongoing struggle against the “parallel structure,” a byword for sympathizers in state institutions of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, the government’s ally-turned-nemesis. Erdoğan reportedly told Fidan that, in his opinion, resuming his post at MİT would be more appropriate.
President asks about potential replacement
However, rumor has it that at the same meeting Erdoğan asked Fidan who could replace him as the MİT undersecretary, to which Fidan responded by pointing to MİT Deputy Undersecretary İsmail Hakkı Musa. Fidan reportedly told Erdoğan that he would like to introduce him to Musa when the two are available, but Erdoğan did not extend any invitation for a meeting with Musa.
After not getting any invitation from the president for a meeting to introduce Musa to Erdoğan, Fidan met with Prime Minister Davutoğlu and told him that he would leave his post in order to run for parliament. Davutoğlu then gave the green light for him to do so.
Trump card in Erdoğan’s hands
Following Erdoğan’s public expression of his disappointment with Fidan’s resignation on Feb. 8, Fidan got in touch with AKP executives who are known to be close to the president.
Sources said Fidan told them that he did not want to hurt Erdoğan, but he was very exhausted and had not been able to attend his spouse’s health problems, so he wanted spend more time with his family.
n response, the executives who are known to be in the president’s inner circle reportedly told Fidan that he should have explained the situation with such clarity to Erdoğan.
Fidan then sought ways to meet Erdoğan again, but he was only able to convey to the president, through middlemen, messages about his uneasiness at hurting the president.
Erdoğan is said to have remained unmoved, and it is also rumored that he was planning to block Fidan’s move to become a minister after the June 7 elections.
Fidan goes to the Holy Land
The next meeting between Erdoğan and Fidan took place in a surprising venue.
Before heading to the Saudi capital Riyadh on March 2 to meet the new King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Erdoğan performed the Umrah pilgrimage by visiting the holy city of Mecca and its Masjid al-Haram in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 28.
At the same time, Fidan, along with his two sons, also went on the Umrah pilgrimage, which offered him a chance to meet with Erdoğan. Erdoğan once again explained his concerns over the probable impact of Fidan’s resignation and his expectations from the MİT as an institution. During this meeting, Fidan reportedly said he was ready to withdraw from running for parliament.
Upon returning from the Umrah pilgrimage, Fidan consulted with friends on the matter and came to the final decision to withdraw his bid to enter the political stage. His inner circle is said to have urged him not to take any steps without holding a meeting with Davutoğlu.
By deciding to hold a meeting with Erdoğan to discuss the matter once again, Davutoğlu got Fidan’s planned announcement of withdrawal delayed for one week.
However, after Erdoğan maintained the same manner on the subject, Davutoğlu allowed for the public announcement of Fidan’s withdrawal.
Both his loyalty to Erdoğan and the possibility of not being a member of the cabinet after being elected to parliament have been cited as motives behind Fidan’s decision, with his close circle persuading him that he could not be an “ordinary lawmaker outside of decision-making mechanisms.”
Agent first, then principal
Fidan’s unusually rapid reappointment has led to harsh reactions from the opposition parties, but the ruling party has prepared its defensive argument by listing a number of legal provisions. The government is expected to appoint Fidan as undersecretary of the MİT first in the position of an agent, and then in the position of a principal.