Why has Davutoğlu stolen Hakan Fidan from Erdoğan?
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has thrown a new curveball by explicitly expressing his opposition to the resignation of Hakan Fidan, the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), from his post to run for parliament. Since news of Fidan’s resignation broke, Erdoğan has twice stated that he wanted Fidan to remain in his post, saying the MİT is not an ordinary institution and reiterating his confidence in the spy chief by describing him as “his secret keeper.”
President Erdoğan has said the same thing to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, expressing his opposition to Fidan’s departure at a moment when there are critical issues facing him and the government: The peace process and the fight against the “parallel structure.”
“Whoever comes to the post is very important, because what we have experienced and what we have suffered in the struggle against the parallel structure [of followers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen] is self-evident. In such an environment, I don’t find such a situation to be appropriate,” Erdoğan said bluntly.
Erdoğan, who always likes to speak as openly as possible, did not hide his frustration with the resignation. “I always say that even if I’m left on my own I will continue this struggle to the end, against the parallel structure and those like it,” he added.
The importance that Erdoğan is paying to these issues is well-known by the public, and of course by the prime minister and Hakan Fidan as well. So what could be the reason for the Davutoğlu-Fidan duo to challenge their ultimate leader and not listen to him? Another question: Why did Fidan opt to become a deputy, even though this is not a prerequisite for taking a ministerial post?
The reason is very simple: Davutoğlu wants to build a strong team for the June 7 elections and, at the same time, for his next cabinet. Like Erdoğan, Davutoğlu is also extremely confident in Hakan Fidan, and is aware that the intel chief could serve in the next government in various positions to reinforce Davutoğlu’s policies, particularly on foreign and security matters. Keeping in mind that deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan will continue to be an influential member of the cabinet in the next government, it’s highly possible to observe the emergence of a troika established by Davutoğlu, made up of himself, Fidan and Akdoğan.
Davutoğlu knows perfectly well that the period between 2015 and 2019 will not be an easy one, and he needs a strong team to overcome potential challenges. To this end, Fidan could be much more helpful to him as a minister rather than as the MİT’s chief. Therefore, Davutoğlu stealing Fidan from Erdoğan’s hands could be interpreted as a move to reinforce the government’s front against all kinds of possible threats, even from within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ranks. However, who replaces Fidan as the new head of the MİT is equally important, as well as whether Erdoğan will approve the name suggested by Prime Minister Davutoğlu.
Introducing the intelligence bureaucracy into politics looks likely to have political consequences, but it’s hard to predict who will take the most advantage of this.