Ruling AKP burning bridges with Gülen movement

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News – 20-12-2013 – The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is preparing a purge of public servants deemed to have acted in line with an agenda set by the movement of U.S.-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen during the massive ongoing graft investigation.

After denouncing the investigation of his allies, including members of the Cabinet,  months ahead of elections as a “dirty operation” to smear his administration, and suggesting that those behind the investigation were trying to form “a state within a state” late on Dec. 18, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gathered with his inner circle in the evening. His expression “state within a state,” has been widely considered a reference to the Gülen movement, whose followers are influential in Turkey’s police and judiciary. Still, during the meeting, Erdoğan and his inner circle refrained from calling a spade a spade, that is to say, they did not openly name the Gülen movement as the responsible party, sources with knowledge of the meeting’s content told the Hürriyet Daily News.

However, they decided to “actively struggle” against “those structures akin to gangs that have infiltrated the state.” Accordingly, a grand purge of public servants, particularly at the Interior Ministry and the Police Department, is expected. Taking into consideration the loopholes that have become visible during the latest operation, the government may also shortly draft related legal arrangements. Some of the attendees of the meeting argued, “The button has been pressed for ‘an AKP without Erdoğan.’ We shall resist against this until the end.”

A gradual purge

The purge will be carried out stage by stage. In the first stage, the target will be “structures” within the Interior Ministry and the Police Department, as well as provincial police departments.

Rumors say it purge may also extend to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), particularly the Gendarmerie Command. Throughout the upcoming process, the focus will be on the Gülen followers within the judiciary. Some say partial constitutional amendments related to the judiciary’s composition may come on the agenda following the local elections scheduled for March 2014. Also related to this goal, a draft law establishing a board chaired by the prime minister, which will give the authority to declare which documents are classified as state secrets, may be adopted by Parliament as early as January, thanks to the ruling party’s majority of seats.

Code of Criminal Procedure

Whether there is a loophole in conduct of the graft cooperation by the police is still being debated with regard to the fact that the forces that carried out the operation based upon the related prosecutor’s order did not inform the superordinate officers.Article 164 of the Turkish Code of Criminal Procedure (CMK) says members of the law enforcement attend to the orders of the public prosecutor corresponding to the judicial functions. Since this article justifies the police’s actions in the latest operation, the government plans to change the article as part of an amendment to the recently adopted “democratization package.” The move is expected to take place in January 2014.


Meanwhile today, on the occasion of the completion of the 10-day long budget debates for the fiscal year 2014, Erdoğan will host his deputies at a dinner in order to thank them for their performance. This is not the first time the prime minister has hosted such a dinner to thank deputies at the end of budget debates toward the end of the year. However, since it comes amid turmoil, Erdoğan is expected to use the occasion as an opportunity to tell the deputies to “stand tall” and not be demoralized by the pressure stemming from the operation.