Erdoğan struggles to remain in power

Erdoğan struggles to remain in power


By Manolis Kostidis – Ankara

The implication of his son should have led to his resignation

The “Justice and Development” party interfered with the administration of justice.

Will Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survive the successive corruption scandals that are revealed regarding his government or is the time of his deposition at a close?

This is a subject of open discussion in Ankara, since along with the political uncertainty there is also financial unrest in Turkey after many years of development.

Erdoğan ‘s interference in the administration of justice saved him from resignation.

The Prime Minister of Turkey, on Thursday, clearly intervened in the administration of justice so that he wouldn’t be brought in a position to resign. Istanbul’s district attorney Muammer Akkaş had asked from the police to bring in the Prime Minister’s son Bilal Erdoğan as a suspect for the founding and participation of a criminal group. This refers to  Bilal Erdoğan’s participation in the foundation of an institution to which free public lands as well as millions of dollars worth of donations from businessmen were given. There are suspicions that the recipient of these donations were not the foundation, but the Erdoğan family.

The likelihood of a Bilal’s arrest would have forced Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to resign, since a day earlier three of the government’s Ministers had resigned because their sons were charged with bribery. If Erdoğan had not resigned a serious issue of political ethics would have been raised.

The Turkish Prime Minister, with his interventions, removed the case file from the said district attorney and gave it to 5 other district attorneys. Bilal’s adduction was postponed. However,  Erdoğan knows well that he just won more time and that the battle for his survival remains critical.

Erdoğan: “We are fighting the battle for our independence”.

“The target of these attacks is me. From now on we are fighting a battle for the independence of the “Great Turkey”. They are requiting us for sending Mavi Marmara (to Gaza)” the Prime Minister states in an attempt to strengthen the conspiracy theory regarding the Islamic order of Fethullah Gülen, the international centers of power in cooperation with the US, Israel etc. A theory that has been fabricated by him and his associates.

” If the Prime Minister is talking about a battle for independence then there is a serious issue. If those statements were true it would mean that we are under foreign occupation. But he himself is governing this country for 11 years now. If you look around you Mr. Prime Minister then you will see that you yourself are the intruder” says Ertuğrul Özkök in the newspaper Hürriyet.

The most serious crisis in the last 11 years

The government of the “Justice and Development” party (AKP) has not faced such a serious problem since the beginning of the country’s governance in November 2002.

The resignations of three of his Ministers.

As soon as Erdoğan returned from his trip to Pakistan he met with the three Ministers whose names are being implicated in the corruption scandal. He asked for the resignations of the Minister of Finance Zafer Çağlayan, the Minister of Internal Affairs Muammer Güler, and the Minister of Environment and Urban Planning Erdoğan Bayraktar because their sons were taking bribes.

Earlier, the Minister of Environment and Urban Planning Erdoğan Bayraktar had asked for the resignation of the Prime Minister himself! “All the changes that we have made to the urban planning for which we are being accused were being done with the Prime Minister’s mandate and knowledge, so he should also resign” Bayraktar said implicating Erdoğan in the corruption scandal.

Ten new Ministers in the government

In total, ten Ministers were replaced. Apart from the three who resigned and the Minister of EU Affairs, Egemen Bağış, who also seems to be implicated in the scandal, the Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communication, the Minister of Family and Social Policy and the Minister of Justice, who will run as candidates for the local elections on March 29, have also resigned.

A man of trust in the Ministry of Interior.

The new Minister of Interior Efkan Âlâ, who has been outside the parliament for ten years now is considered one of Erdoğan’s most trusted associates along with the Head of the secret services (MIT) Efkan Ala.

The sons of the three Ministers who were arrested along with 52 other are being charged with money laundering, fraud and the abuse of public money. They have all been put to jail waiting to be put to  trial.

Despite all this, Erdoğan continues to claim that the businessman  Reza Zarab, who gave the bribes “is a good businessman”, while at the same time attempts to exculpate his Ministers stating that the boxes they were receiving “had books in them and not money”.

Already, five MPs of the “Justice and Development” party have resigned, while the resignations of many others are coming. Estimates talk about 20-40 resignations of MPs in the coming weeks.

The alliance with Gülen is over, the battle for power has began.

Erdoğan’s main problem are not the US or Israel, despite the fact that he likes to accuse them for conspiring against him.

The fact is that after years in power his alliance with the influential Islamic order of Fethullah Gülen, an alliance he himself had created, collapsed.

Gülen and Erdoğan had forged an alliance since 2002. It was the Prime Minister who had appointed Gülen’s people to positions in the police and justice. From 2008 and onward these were the district attorneys who were accusing the Turkish generals for conspiring against the government and the same ones who put them in jail. They were the same district attorneys and judges who accused the president of Fenerbahce’s football team and put him in prison. In those instances Erdoğan did not react. “Justice is independent” he used to state. Then what has changed?

The source of the crisis are Erdoğan’s dreams for the Presidency.

The essence is hiding behind the battle for power. For a year now Gülen has been opposing Erdoğan’s plans regarding the Presidency. In Ankara, it is common knowledge that he had already sent a message to the Turkish Prime Minister telling him not to run for President or if he insists on doing so, someone from Gülen’s order to become Prime Minister.

The talks have been going on for a while. Until the time when Erdoğan decided to start a “war” with the order, in order to become President and in this way take complete control of the state. He felt untouchable. The war began with the government’s decision to prohibit the function of private institutions. Although it might sound as an innocent decision, in essence it was targeting Gülen’s about 4000 institutions. In those institutions young people were trained, who later became members of Gülen’s order. Essentially, Erdoğan was cutting Gülen’s “main artery”. It seems that this was the time when Gülen and his followers decided to fight back. At first, scandals implicating Erdoğan’s Ministers began to “surface”. These issues were known, corruption was there, but because of the “alliance” no one was talking. the turkish Mass Media were under government control.

But Gülen “pulled the plug” and now corruption threatens even the Prime Minister’s environment.

“Those who kept talking in the name of Allah were robbing the country. They had taken control of the police and the justice. It is a blessing from Allah that they are now fighting among themselves. The fighting started from the institutions. Erdoğan wanted to close them and finish off Gülen’s order. But the order that had the police and the justice system under its control exacted justice from the Prime Minister for the issue of the institutions. At first, the most intimate state secrets were leaked, then it was the corruption scandal. Essentially, Erdoğan’s “armor” has collapsed. Now he is like a limping duck. He cannot run nor fly,” writes by Emin Çölaşan of the Sözcü newspaper.

From now on there is a another serious matter. If indeed the district attorneys and the judges are acting against Erdoğan and his government as he claims there are serious questions concerning the trials for the “operation Bayloz” and the paramilitary organization ” Ergenekon”, in which hundreds of active officers were sentenced to prison. If what Erdoğan claim are true then it would be fair for the imprisoned officers to ask for a retrial with independent judges.

It’s a battle for the control of the “deep state”.

“Now we have a battle for the control of MIT, the Police, the Justice. There was a time when all these were controlled by the military. Now they are controlled by Erdoğan and Gülen. Essentially, they are fighting inside the “deep state”. Whoever wins the fight will emerge as the complete controller of the state,” states the political analyst Cüneyt Özdemir.

Perhaps he is right, since Gülen was being opposed by the turkish army which has been trying to close his scholls from the 90s. The paradox in this case is that what the turkish pashas where trying to do, is now being attempted by Erdoğan himself!

Early elections or AKP without Erdoğan?

From now on, the time period until March 2014 when the local elections will take place is considered extremely critical. If Erdoğan realizes that he is losing his power and that the scandals are threatening even himself is likely that he will proclaim early elections that will take place along with the local ones.

Nevertheless, in AKP there are some who are discussing the scenario of staying in power without Erdoğan. It is the first time that such a conversation has emerged since they believe that Erdoğan’s “stubbornness” and his lust for power have caused all the problems. The turkish Prime Minister’s popularity however remains high and it is considered a certainty that should he resorts to the ballots he will have the support of the turkish people… unless it is revealed, in the coming weeks, that he himself is implicated in the scandals.