Erdoğan’s politics of tension to bring more chaos to Turkey

Erdoğan’s politics of tension to bring more chaos to Turkey

An Ankara prosecutor launched a probe on Feb. 20, based on two pro-government newspapers’ claims that the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Fethullah Gülen community were jointly plotting an assassination of Sümeyye Erdoğan, the daughter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The daily newspapers Akşam and Star made this claim in their third consecutive day of publishing secret alleged correspondence between deputy CHP leader Umut Oran and Emre Uslu, a former police officer and claimed to be behind the social media account Fuat Avni, a notorious whistleblower.

Umut Oran has categorically denied news reports for the last three days that he was exchanging messages with Uslu through Twitter’s DM service, as well as claims that he was conspiring against the government with the Gülen community. Furthermore, CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has described the claims as utter nonsense, accusing the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) of being behind the plot.

Kılıçdaroğlu first made similar claims in an interview with the Hürriyet Daily News on Nov. 21, 2014. Describing the MİT as the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) “deep state,” the CHP head said the following: “We know that a group within MİT, led by one of the deputy undersecretaries, is tasked with dealing solely with the CHP. [He’s tasked with] stirring trouble inside the party and other parties.”
He added that they had information about “new intrigues” that would be closely followed.

“Special attention must be paid to media campaigns. No one should fall into this plot, particularly our deputies with nationalist leanings. This campaign against the CHP is being carried out with the knowledge of the MIT chief and in an institutional manner,” Kılıçdaroğlu also said.

CHP Spokesperson Haluk Koç said they had identified a team inside the MİT composed of four persons - two from its strategic analysis unit and two from its counterintelligence unit.

It is interesting to observe that the documents printed by Akşam and Star appeared on the very days that a Turkish court ruled that documents submitted by the police five years ago in the highly controversial Sledgehammer (Balyoz) case were fully fabricated. At a time when trust in the judicial process in Turkey in such important cases has almost vanished because of fake evidence, the main opposition’s argument that this latest plot is being orchestrated by the MİT is gaining weight. 

The resignation of former MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan to run for parliament from the ranks of the AKP is adding to the opposition’s claims that Turkey’s most important strategic institution has already been politicized. Fidan will be the first MİT chief to leave the job to join active politics.

The media campaign against the CHP is not the only eyebrow-raising development. The government’s insistence on the security bill, at the expense of turning the General Assembly into a “fight club,” and its current shelving of the Kurdish peace process, is also worth analyzing. Of course, fueling the already tense political climate through this controversial security bill must have an objective, particularly on the eve of one of Turkey’s most critical elections.

This is obviously Erdoğan’s strategy: Polarize the country through daily, strongly-worded statements; create new divisions and fault lines within society based on religion and conservative values; explore new ways to exploit people’s religious faith; fabricate assassination plots, etc; push an “us vs. them” rhetoric in a blunter way; and so on. Having already started the election campaign, Erdoğan is likely boost this discourse further, at the expense of creating unrepairable fractures among the Turkish people.