Operation against whom?

Lale Kemal
Lale Kemal

Date posted: January 6, 2014


Rumors that the government will widen its operation against those whom it believes are behind a so-called conspiracy to prepare the ground for its downfall through the disclosure of a high-profile corruption and bribery scandal have created an atmosphere of fear within society. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had earlier said that journalists as well as members of the police and the judiciary are close collaborators in a campaign which he says is being waged by international groups — or “dark circles” — bent on smearing his government with allegations of corruption.

In the words of both Erdoğan and some of his Cabinet ministers, these so-called conspirators include US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone, the faith-based Hizmet movement headed by respected Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, hardcore secular-minded business groups, the judiciary, the police as well as those who organized the Gezi Park protests this past summer that turned into anti-government protests. Thus the audience of the alleged massive operation to be staged against by the government is extremely wide.

Erdoğan had earlier said that the Dec. 17 graft investigation was in essence targeting him and his family. Recently, during a press conference in İstanbul on Jan. 5 with pro-government media, he said these circles were allegedly engaged in sabotaging the Kurdish peace process as well as undermining the country’s economic and democratic gains.

Professor Fuat Keyman, who was at the meeting and who recently quit as a columnist at the Milliyet daily, shared his impressions on Erdoğan’s closed-door meeting with the media, saying Erdoğan felt that the operation discourse had surpassed the corruption allegations, that the fight against the plot against the government through state-owned Halkbank would continue and that the government will be more active in its fight against those behind the operation.

The public became aware of the contents of Erdoğan’s meeting with some members of the media when the latter wrote about them.

Erdoğan and his government are of the opinion that a parallel state exists within the state (pointing his fingers at Hizmet) — supported by international circles — seeking to undermine his government. Economy Minister Ali Babacan last week claimed that with the Dec. 17 graft investigation, a mini coup was being staged against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

Yet Erdoğan has not assured the public that the graft investigation will not be covered up.

On the contrary, the government has taken every step to cover up the Dec. 17 graft investigation when it removed over 700 police officers from their posts. Prosecutors were pressured against carrying out the investigations as a prosecutor in charge of another corruption operation that was halted by the government was replaced.

As a matter of fact, in line with Erdoğan’s claims about those who were engaged in complicity to undermine his government, judicial measures were enforced to smear some pro-Gülen companies. A gold mining facility of Koza Altın, which also owns the Bugün daily and a TV channel, has been closed down on the grounds that it did not comply with an environmental regulation. Koza Altın denied those claims and is taking the matter to court.

Hence, the public now has a clear idea about the possible targets of the government operations in the private sector which might be followed by others. But the public is not clear about who else mainly employed by the state will be purged in addition to those police officers who have already been replaced.

Does anyone, in the meantime, believe that all these 700 or so policemen who were removed from their posts or those business groups who are now facing sanctions through judicial measures are part of a so-called parallel state?

A claim made this past weekend by Hüseyin Gülerce, a senior columnist for the Zaman daily, affiliated with the Gülen (Hizmet) movement, increased tensions in Ankara when he suggested that a major operation will be carried out by the government against the Gülen movement, which it believes to be behind the graft investigation.

“A big hurricane is on its way. We will experience an operation that Turkey had never witnessed before. It may start either on Monday or upon Erdoğan’s return from his tour to the Far East,” Gülerce claimed during a TV program over the weekend.

Prime Minister Erdoğan held a press conference before leaving for Japan and ruled out an operation against the Gülen movement. But he confirmed that an operation against what he termed dark circles that intend to undermine his government will take place.

Turkey faces for the first time in its republican history a fierce battle taking place among Muslim conservatives, i.e., the AK Party and the Gülen movement, with the former perhaps seeking to finish off the latter, whereas previous power struggles mainly took place between hard-line secularists led by the once politically powerful military and liberals, conservatives and Turkish Kurds.

In addition, we are now witnessing a shift in alliances as the government has ironically been allying with the military, which is widely perceived as cooperating against those conservative and liberal circles who helped to preserve the AK Party’s power which has paved the way, among other things, for reforms curbing the military’s power in politics — a step necessary for the installation of a democratic state.

Source: Today's Zaman , January 6, 2014

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