Friday, February 17, 2012

Has Erdogan Won?

PHOTO from Cumhuriyet

In what many are perceiving as the first big battle between Gulen-friendly and not-so-Gulen-friendly ranks within the AKP, it seems Prime Minister Erdogan has won. Yesterday the parliament passed a law to protect not only Hakan Fidan, but expand the prime minister's power to have the last word on prosecutions targeting "state officials the prime minister has assigned with special tasks." The law has been in the works since the start of the crisis.

The law was passed with fierce resistance from opposition parties who feared the expansion of the prime minister's executive power. In order to get it through, the AKP limited the scope of protection to be extended from all prime ministerial appointees to those "assigned with special tasks."

Additionally, the General Directorate for Security on Tuesday dismissed nine officials in the Istanbul police department. All officials were working as part of a unit tasked with the KCK operations, and were presumably fired from their duties in connection with the recent Fidan probe. Two other high-ranking police officials had been removed last week.  Also, a large number of persons who had just on Monday been picked up in KCK operations were released, leading some observers to speculate a major shift in the direction of the KCK operations, though perhaps a bit too prematurely.

And, if the police purges and new law were not enough, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin has given his approval to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) to begin an investigation of Sadrettin Sarikaya, who -- up until the weekend, when he was dismissed -- was overseeing the proble into MIT. Sarikaya is charged with violating the secrecy of the prosecution and abusing his power, and the investigation could result in disciplinary proceedings and, possibly, a criminal trial.

Looking back on it all, one cannot help but agree with Turkish Businessmen and Industrialists' Association (TUSIAD) head Umit Boyner, who earlier this week remarked that TUSIAD was watching in horror as the state fought with itself. Boyner described the crisis as a shadow play of opposing figures, an apt description of an affair that will take a long time to understand. Yet the play might not be over. Erdogan has won the battle, but there might well be a war to be fought.

UPDATE I (2/19) -- 700 Istanbul police officers working in departments related to intelligence, terrorism, and organized crime of the Istanbul Emniyet have been re-assigned to the southeast. The police are reported to have been engaged in the Ergenekon and KCK investigations. Shakeup indeed.

On Saturday, before the announcements of the reassigned officers, Erdogan, recovered from surgery, spoke at a youth rally where he declared the "institutions of our state" and the "sons of our nation" to be at peace. Erdogan was referring to speculation about the recent conflict within the state--that between his supporters and the Gulen movement.

For one interpretation of the remarks, see Fatih Altayli's column in Habertürk. Altayli believes Erdogan has come down in support of the wing in his party known to be sympathetic to the National Outlook (Milli Gorus) movement, which might be insufficiently explained as a conservative view propagating an idea that nation and state are one. For an extended explanation, see past posts.

No comments: