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SEDAT ERGİN > Why did the Pineapple enter Erdoğan’s speech?

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Speaking Jan. 17 at the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the İmam Hatip schools, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan started to target certain circles using some indirect references.

“The individuals of this nation did not say, ‘Let’s run the capital and be a state within a state,’” said the prime minister and continued:

“They did not say, ‘Let’s establish a Pineapple republic.’”

You might wonder where the issue of the Pineapple made its entry to the Prime Minister’s speech. Let’s answer it.

For those who are not informed about Fettullah Gülen’s phone conversations that were leaked on the internet, Erdoğan’s words may be seen as very abstract and even weird. The concept “Banana republic” which refers to third world regimes where lawlessness is the norm has a widespread use in Turkish. Yet, it is probably for the first time that we have witnessed the use of the concept “Pineapple Republic.”

Yet for those who have read the telephone conversations of Fettullah Gülen, the prime minister’s reference to the pineapple is not an abstract word at all. What is being referred to here is the pineapples that were brought by the Gülen movement (Cemaat) from Africa and sent to a big family from the business world in Istanbul as a gesture. When you read it as such, it becomes apparent the prime minister is making a clear reference to Pennsylvania (where Gülen leaves.)

There are two probabilities as how Gülen’s conversations were obtained. The first is the probability that the tapping was made through legal ways. In this case, we can assume the telephone or telephones of Gülen and/or his interlocutor in Turkey were being tapped by the instruction of the prosecutor and the recordings were leaked to the internet by those who have access to legal tapping.

If this probability is valid, it is difficult to understand how pineapples from Africa become evidence of a crime. Yet, guesses rather focus on the recordings being obtained through illegal means. Yet, the technical ability of the tapping and the political tact on the selection of the parts in the conversations do not indicate to be an amateur effort. It is a probable scenario that this was done by some state apparatus. In this case, the conclusion we could reach is tapping is being used openly as a weapon in the power struggle between the government and the Cemaat.

When the long list of criminal records from the past on this type of illegal phone tapping and audio surveillance of the operational wing of the Gülen Cemaat is remembered, it is no doubt ironic the Cemaat today is victimized at the very top by the same method. However, our real issue is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who himself is complaining about illegal phone tapping, feels free, when necessary, to refer to illegal recordings in terms of political interests and hitting his opponent over these.

When we saw Erdoğan’s pineapple reference, we remembered another incident we witnessed five years ago. It was right after the astronomical tax fine levied on Doğan Group in Feb. 2009. A phone conversation between the Deputy Chair of Doğan Holding and Head of the Income Department at Finance Ministry Mehmet Akif Ulusoy on this fine started circulating on the internet on Feb. 25, 2009. There was no criminal factor in the conversation.

A few days after this was leaked, Prime Minister Erdoğan talked on the radio on March 4, 2009 and said: “There are many things revealed. You know, there is stuff that came out of technical surveillance.

Some papers published them; some websites posted them. These are very disturbing matters. Who is having what kind of connections with whom; they are all revealed. While these are being revealed, who knows what has happened in the past?”

The “technical surveillance” phrase the prime minister has used here is a phrase to define legal tapping. The Next day, daily Milliyet had it on its headline: “Erdoğan’s confession of phone tapping.”

The Office of the Prime Ministry issued a statement the same day, saying Erdoğan, with these words, meant: “tapping done by unidentified centers.” However, even if this is so, the prime minister did not see any harm in using transcriptions of illegal recordings made by unidentified centers” in his public speech…

After three years, on Dec. 22, 2011, a bug was found from a search done in the office of Erdoğan’s house in Ankara. The prime minister himself was a victim of tapping. Secret ears had entered the interiors of his house. When you add up all these incidents, it becomes apparent the time has come to endorse a principled approach. Politicians and movements that are prone to politics, and everyone actually needs to agree to refrain from using tapping as a method for struggle.

All examples are showing this weapon comes to hit everyone that uses it one day, just as it happens often in pineapple, sorry in banana republics.

January/22/2014

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