An anatomy of the state crisis

An anatomy of the state crisis

The first round of the crisis between intelligence service and the police-judiciary duo seems to be over with the strong impression the advantage is on the side of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the government.

The specially authorized prosecutor and senior police officers who allegedly accused the MİT members of exceeding the borders of their duties were removed from their office. In addition, immunity of the MİT members has been strengthened through an immediate amendment of the MİT Act, obliging prosecutors to ask for the prime minister’s consent before launching a probe against MİT personnel. 

As the dust settled – at least for now – one can now try to analyze different dimensions of this crisis. First and foremost, a silent conflict between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Fethullah Gülen religious community has become publicly visible and turned into a source of a quarrel between the two sides. Equally important is the fact that it was the very first time Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s authority has been challenged. 

For many, this conflict derives from a power struggle, especially for the post-2014 period that will bring about a totally different political landscape with the highly-possible election of Prime Minister Erdoğan as the president. 

Another side effect has been witnessed with the Fethullah Gülen community, especially after they have been targeted by some pro-government circles for having political ambitions. Gülenist media outlets tried to re-emphasize the movement was purely apolitical and should be better acknowledged as a loose “civic community” instead of a “religious community.” 

Secondly, the crisis resurfaced the mess among different intelligence services, especially a month after the chief of General Staff transferred its very capable surveillance installations to the MİT. Hakan Fidan, MİT chief, announced early January that coordination among the intelligence community will be provided under his institution. Contrary to Fidan and Erdoğan, who claimed these bodies were working in harmony, the presidential State Supervisory Council (DDK) indicated in a very recent report there was an immediate need in reforming the intelligence collection process as there was no effective coordination. 

Third, the crisis made more apparent that the specially authorized courts have become a serious problem for the government as well. Though ongoing Ergenekon, Balyoz, Oda TV, etc. cases could be carried out through these courts, they have proven that they could target the government’s institutions as well. The government circles have already started to more loudly talk about how they could curb the authorities of these courts through amendments on the much discussed Articles 250 and 251 of the Penal Code. 

Fourth tells us that this is only beginning. The government circles are worried about becoming targets of similar operations in the near future. It’s pretty certain this face-off will continue to be exercised over the role of the MİT, the key state body that has a role both within and outside the borders of Turkey.