Will tapping scandal bring any resignations?
The tapping scandal, which revealed that a secret security meeting in Turkish foreign minister’s office has been eavesdropped caused shock waves in government circles in Ankara on the eve of critical local elections on March 30.
The recordings of a crisis meeting of Syria on March 13, which was put on the Internet by people whose identities are still not known on March 27, caused both anger and embarrassment. The meeting was about a threat posed by the militants of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) against the Tomb of Süleyman Shah in Syria, but considered as Turkish territory by international law and protected symbolically by an elite unit of 48 Turkish soldiers.
They were four in the office of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, before getting into the actual meeting room. The other three were Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Chief Hakan Fidan and Deputy Chief of General Staff General Yaşar Güler.
The meeting was eavesdropped on most probably by using a bug in the room. As Davutoğlu said yesterday, there was a jammer in the room having the capacity of disabling mobile phones and other radio-based devices. The room was designed to prohibit resonance eavesdropping from outside. So there is a possibility that someone from within the building had bugged the room, which had been reported to be electronically swept a week ago.
That looks like the case of the bugging of the home-office of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan some two years ago. The suspicion in the still ongoing, the investigation converges on the close circle of Erdoğan, which might well be the case for Davutoğlu.
Following Davutoğlu and Erdoğan, President Abdullah Gül reacted strongly against “this act of espionage” and said those who are responsible should be punished.
There is no doubt that eavesdropping on a secret security meeting in a country’s Foreign Ministry is an act of espionage.
But there are also question marks about the protection of the house that was robbed. So, the housekeeper and the police have some responsibility in protecting the assets, especially if the assets belong to people, not their private holdings. Here is what I’m trying to say: The meeting took place on March 13, approximately three months later than the start of the graft probe of Dec. 17, 2013. Right after that, accusing his former ally Fethullah Gülen (the moderate Islamist scholar living in the U.S.), Erdoğan had said in despair and fury that all state communications in the last two years might have been interfered with, including the ones of President Gül. It was MİT itself who found a “pirate” program embedded in the software of a government department. One could expect a little bit of additional care after such developments, especially for such an important meeting on Syria, which MİT has particular responsibilities.
Will this scandal bring any resignations or removals from office, those of Davutoğlu and Fidan, right after the elections for example?
Not very likely. On the contrary, it is more possible for them to carry on as wounded veteran heroes.
But it is also likely that Erdoğan cannot carry out his Syria policy (which practically came to an end with the revealed recordings) as he had been so far. Actually, that is valid for almost all areas, from economy to security, but valid for foreign policy, even if he gets half of the votes again; it is a different Turkey since Gezi protests, since the graft probe, especially when the country will have two more elections ahead in almost a year’s time.