Where did the war between the government and the community start; where will it end?

Where did the war between the government and the community start; where will it end?

Those who are gathered around Fethullah Gülen’s views want to be called “hizmet,” meaning “service, serving” in Turkish.

In fact, when you take a look at the activities of this crowded group, the overwhelming majority is really in “service”; such as schools, hospitals, aid organizations, social solidarity organizations.

However, at the core of all the activities of “hizmet” are those meetings formulated as religious conversations. For this reason the name “Cemaat” (community, congregation) is also used widely. Books titled “The Cemaat” have been written.

The overwhelming majority of the activities done are service, but the community also has a political side; especially in the police and judiciary, and also in the media and among opinion leaders we can talk about a serious and significant share. The segment that is fighting with the government is this segment essentially.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying the community is actually made up of two sections. What I’m saying is the “entire arrangement” that creates the community is not involved in this fight.

There is no difference of opinion at the essence of the fight with the government that is being experienced today. In other words, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the government, namely Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has not changed his previous ideas and because of that reason is not clashing with the community on an ideas basis.

On the contrary, there is no sign that the government thinks differently than before. Well, then, why is there such a fight?

The overwhelming majority of fights being experienced and that have been experienced in Turkey that look as if they are political fights are actually power fights; their relationship with ideas and principles is of a secondary nature.

What is being experienced here is also a power fight. And it is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who started this fight. The reason he started this fight is that he did not want to share the government with those elements of the community within the state and bureaucracy (and mostly police bureaucracy).

Since the prime minister did not want to share the government, that means there were some who demanded that power or used it without authorization.

The public learned about the prime minister’s exclusive defending of his power because of the incidents that erupted after the prosecutor with special authority in Istanbul called the national Intelligence Organization (MİT) undersecretary to testify. Because the issue, all of a sudden, reached a stage where one of the government’s most essential political preferences was being questioned, having passed the lesser issues of who gets what position and who gets which tender.

The prime minister, at that stage, quit his principle of “Don’t let it out of this room”; otherwise, this power war was continuing underhandedly for some time anyway.

Did the community overestimate its power?

Call it “hizmet” or the community; we are talking about a significant crowd, an important economic power, a key organizational skill. This community that is so widespread and that has been organically structured within society indeed has a power stemming from its services. However, when the public starts seeing it as “politics” more than services, then this perception will harm the image of the community.

I guess we’re talking about a structure that cannot measure where the center of gravity of the power it holds is and what that power actually translates into.

Reports coming from Ankara indicate that there is a serious “community cleanup” within the bureaucracy. One of the consequences of the “normalization” of the prosecutors and courts with special authority will be the dispersing and thinning down of the power concentrated over there.
The community cannot beat the structure of the combination of the power of the state and political power it is facing; if it does not know today that it cannot beat it, it will have to accept this fact sooner or later.

But this does not mean that the community will become extinct and stop its activities. The services will go on; the set up inside the state will continue with a low profile but after a while, the “power” associated with the community today will not be visible.

The fact that the power is not seen or felt does not mean it has been or will be extinct.

İsmet Berkan is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published June 9. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.

İSMET BERKAN - iberkan@hurriyet.com.tr