Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Continuing civil war between Erdogan and the Gulenists within the apparatus of the Turkish state

This ongoing story of the partly overt, partly hidden conflict between these two major wings of Turkish political Islam is no longer being covered so extensively in the western press. But that doesn't mean it has stopped happening or stopped being important. Some highlights from today's Associated Press report:
Turkish police raided the homes of colleagues on Tuesday, detaining dozens of officers on suspicion of "spying" or of illegally wiretapping government officials, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkey's spy chief, news reports and officials said.

Police conducted overnight raids in 25 provinces, detaining the police officers, including at least one former senior-ranking anti-terrorism police officer who was seen being taken away in handcuffs.

Turkish media reports said some of the police officers were involved in a corruption probe launched in December that targeted four government ministers.

Erdogan has long claimed that the corruption allegations that forced the ministers to resign were part of a coup attempt by followers of Fethullah Gulen, a moderate Islamist preacher living in the United States. Many of the officers involved in the corruption probe were removed from posts in a government purge earlier this year.

Erdogan also accuses the Gulen movement of being behind a series of leaked recordings posted on the Internet suggesting corruption by the prime minister and his family members. He has vowed to go after the Gulen movement and has also said he would also seek Gulen's extradition from the United States. [....]

Asked to comment on the arrests, Erdogan told reporters he expected the probe into the alleged followers of the Gulen movement to be widened.
In addition this sweeping purge of the police and the rest of the security apparatus, we can probably expect the ongoing purge of the Turkish judiciary to escalate further, too. Overall, Erdogan seems to be gaining the upper hand in this struggle, though further surprises can't be ruled out.. In the meantime, the integrity, effectiveness, and credibility of major governmental institutions are bound to suffer.

For some background, see these posts from December 2013: Why are Erdogan and the Gulenists slugging it out?, Who is Fetullah Gulen, what is the Gulenist movement, and what are they up to?, and The civil war within Turkish political Islam

—Jeff Weintraub