Erdoğan isolates himself in power
On the road to have more control over ruling the country, Turkish Prime Minister Tayip Erdoğan seemingly isolates himself in power; in his own government’s power.
No, I am not talking about the latest confrontation with his once-closest ally Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-resident moderate Islamist scholar over a major graft probe and the private supplementary schools that Erdoğan wants to close down. Getting isolated in search of feeling more secure has started to show itself in many moves of Erdoğan.
One of the latest examples is about Erdoğan’s trip to Japan, Malaysia and Singapore planned to start on January 4. Erdoğan is already picky about journalists escorting him on board his official plane; he doesn’t like to see journalists asking annoying question around him anyway, but this time the criteria became really narrow. If there will be no last minute changes on the list, journalists from newspapers who have no objection to Erdoğan whatsoever will travel with him; columnist Ahmet Hakan Coşkun criticized Erdoğan for choosing to live with his own “ghetto” only. Umut Oran, Deputy Chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) asked the prime minister about his criteria, since Erdoğan excluded most popular papers like Hürriyet, Zaman, Posta, or critical ones like Sözcü, Cumhuriyet, Radikal, and whether the travel expenses of journalists from pro-government papers would be covered on the government budget.
Bekir Bozdağ, the new Justice Minister of Erdoğan following the December 25 cabinet reshuffle, (after the start of the major graft probe on December 17, 2013) appointed his brother Ünal Bozdağ as his Chief Advisor, seemingly another move of the government members in order to feel more comfortable among themselves. An advisor to PM Erdoğan defended the Justice Minister’s move as “moving his brother to a more passive position,” who was already the deputy head of the personnel department of the same ministry. Erdoğan had placed some of his closest advisors to cabinet in the recent reshuffle; his former translator, one of his former script writers and most importantly, his undersecretary.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu accused Erdoğan on January 3 of trying to manipulate the judiciary in order to block the graft probe which might be extended to his son, Bilal. “What is the privilege of your son?” Kılıçdaroğlu asked Erdoğan, “Why can’t he be interrogated like anyone else?” That is in reference to a second graft probe which could not proceed when Istanbul police chief appointed by Erdoğan after the December 17 graft probe refused to act upon the demand of an Istanbul prosecutor Muammer Akkaş. The new Istanbul police chief, Selami Altınok, criticized by opposition for not being experienced enough, is a classmate of the new Interior Minister Efkan Ala, Erdoğan’s former undersecretary.
Another prosecutor ‘invited’ Bilal Erdoğan, in a rare application in Turkish judiciary to answer some questions, but he did not show up.
The criticism of Turkey’s Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek on January 3 of the Turkish Justice system was actually stronger than any other opposition parties’. Serving as the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Parti) justice minister and deputy prime minister himself, before getting elected as speaker, Çiçek deplored that Article 138 of the Turkish Constitution, on the “independence of courts,” is now dead. Yet the new Justice Minister Bozdağ is currently working on a plan to bring more government and Parliament (arithmetically dominated by government) control over the judiciary.
Hüseyin Gülerce, a columnist close to Gülen wrote on Friday that we have to expect the unexpected as Turkey gets closer to Presidential elections in August; a scary prophecy in itself.