The latest AKP-CHP row

The latest AKP-CHP row

Why would a president, who is also the leader of a political party, might seek to change the leader of a major political party in the country? Does it sound logical?

Naturally, because of the past not-so-nice track record of President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regarding his political adversaries, a suspicion that he might indeed talk with an opposition politician and encourage him to run for party leadership might appear rather reasonable. As a cunning politician, he might have indeed decided that a replacement in the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leadership might help stop or at least deviate public attention from a spreading perception in the country that the AKP- Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance might perform below the 50 percent mark and thus fail to elect the next president.

But if leakage of such a meeting might create not only some serious headache to himself but kill election prospects of the politician alleged to have secretly met him late in the night, why would Erdoğan want to get involved in any such move?

Indeed, Erdoğan flatly denied any such encounter. He said that if proven he would quit presidency and asked the CHP leader if he would step down from leadership if he could not prove the alleged meeting. Furthermore, Muharrem İnce, the politician alleged to have met him secretly and a former failed party leadership contender as well as a failed presidential candidate of the CHP, denied he had such a meeting with Erdoğan, saying he was faced with a plot orchestrated by a group within the CHP headquarters.

With such fake news – if it is fake – naturally the CHP leader might eradicate all probable candidates challenging him at the party convention as “the candidate of Erdoğan, a Trojan horse.” But could the CHP indeed possess the capability of orchestrating such a complicated plot and keep it secret? Besides, could it be possible that the CHP leader did not fear a probable backlash?

Who was telling the truth or what was in the background of this intriguing development? Rahmi Turan, the chief columnist of opposition newspaper Sözcü and a veteran journalist who first wrote about the alleged meeting, first said the source of his claim was from within the palace. Later he changed his mind and said it was a journalist friend that he knew for the past 20 years but would not release his name. Later, he changed his mind and disclosed the name of journalist as Talat Atilla, the owner of a news portal. A while later, he publicly admitted in his column in Sözcü that he should not have acted on the word of Atilla but should have sought verification before reporting about the alleged meeting.

Turan was a very prominent name in Turkish media in the 1970s and 1980s as editor of many tabloid newspapers. The papers he was managing were famous with stories such as “Helga loves Turkish men” placed under photographs of some barely dressed beautiful women. At this advanced age, he recaptured fame as Sözcü’s chief columnist and a place on the front page of the paper. Why would he risk everything with such a fake news, of course that’s if it is fake?

It’s such a confusing drama that probably if it was product of a plot, there must be a genius behind. We might not have a Mozart, but a modern version of “Abduction from the Seraglio” might be composed over all that happened so far…

In any case, even though with a terrible journalism, totally devoid of ethics of the profession, for a change the Turkish people were provided with a thriller taste in newspapers.