AKP in fresh in-house debate over FETÖ fight

AKP in fresh in-house debate over FETÖ fight

Bülent Arınç is not an ordinary member of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). He is among the founders of the party in 2001 along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after they parted ways with Necmettin Erbakan, the late chairman of the Virtue Party and four-decade leader of the political Islamist movement in Turkey.

Arınç has always been an influential figure in the AKP governments since 2002 as he once served as the Parliament speaker and the deputy prime minister until he left active politics in 2015. He is now a member of the High Advisory Board, which was founded very recently by Erdoğan, along with other veteran AKP politicians

His influence, however, was beyond these positions. He was among few AKP officials, along with former President Abdullah Gül, who had access to Erdoğan and could straightforwardly express his dissident opinions.

He has done it again and has drawn strong reactions from his AKP and its closest ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

In an interview on Oct. 31, Arınç expressed his sorrow to see the suffering of tens of thousands of civil servants who were dismissed through decrees, because of being followers of Fethullah Gülen, the leader of FETÖ in the aftermath of 2016 coup attempt.

“The decree-laws is a disaster,” he said, recalling that those civil servants who were dismissed can hardly find ways to earn money.

As expected, his statement has drawn strong reactions from the AKP and MHP circles who have accused Arınç of undermining the ongoing fight against FETÖ. Erdoğan, upon questions by the reporters, said, “I regret his saying ‘Decree laws are a disaster’ as he is a fine jurist. We have a meeting today, and we’ll talk about it there.”

Erdoğan referred to the High Advisory Board’s monthly meeting that has coincidentally taken place on the same day.

A similar but harsher reaction has come from MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli. “It’s a major unfairness against the martyrs of the July 15 coup attempt and an effort to undermine the fight against the FETÖ,” he stressed.

Bahçeli also slammed the release of Nazlı Ilıcak and Ahmet Altan, who were behind bars since 2016 on their alleged links to the FETÖ, from the prison upon a court verdict. These verdicts were dealing a blow on the national conscience, he said, arguing about negligence on the judicial processes against some FETÖ suspects with political and bureaucratic shields.

As a matter of fact, it’s not the first time that Turkey is discussing the nature and efficiency of the fight against FETÖ. The opposition has long slammed the government for using the emergency rule in its attempts to crack down on its opponents, including journalists, politicians and civil society activists.

More than three years after the bloody coup attempt at the hands of FETÖ, the issue is still on the political agenda of Turkey as this ongoing discussion has proven once again that the fight against coup plotters had to be carried out in line with the democratic norms and the principles of the rule of law. First and foremost, that would prevent the already fragile Turkish democracy from further deterioration.