Debate over Gülenists' infiltration leaves Erdoğan isolated

Main opposition CHP's leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu claimed that the person who handed over the state to Fethullah Gülen and his followers is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This was a conscious and well-prepared statement. I believe Kılıçdaroğlu’s speech relieved several members of the AKP that have taken critical positions on the matter.

In a much-awaited statement, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu brought up the topic of the Gülen movement’s – referred to as the “Fethullahist Terror Organisation” (FETÖ) in court proceedings  - in Turkish politics. Kılıçdaroğlu announced he was going to disclose “FETÖ’s political leg”, that is, the extent of the movement’s infiltration in Turkey’s political life.

Yet Kılıçdaroğlu only gave one name. “The person who handed over the state to FETÖ is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” he said. This was a conscious and well-prepared choice.

Kılıçdaroğlu said Erdoğan's responsibility went back a long time. Even prior to the Ergenekon trials of 2008 - a series of high-profile trials that accused military officers, journalists and opposition deputies of plotting to overthrow the government – the Gülen community oversaw legal adjustments that were conducted as preparations to Ergenekon.

A series of phone calls with journalists and politicians that have been monitoring this process agreed that Erdoğan would not pursue the Gülenist hunt any further, for this would prove too arduous.  

So why was the President so vociferous about it, dragging the debate to this point and ultimately bringing the criticism upon himself? Besides, one should note that Erdoğan called on AKP MPs to sue İlker Başbuğ, Turkey’s former chief of general staff, who got a life sentence during Ergenekon trials only to be acquitted later. Following Erdoğan’s call, only six deputies filed criminal complaints over “insult” against Başbuğ and against former CHP deputy Dursun Çiçek for “slander.”

In spite of mutual steps to ease the tension, Kılıçdaroğlu, explained how he regarded this issue during his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday. 

Erdoğan’s government is losing support on a daily basis. The AKP has failed to generate consent in society.

In his recent statement, Kılıçdaroğlu quoted from former Undersecretary of the Prime Ministry Ömer Dinçer’s book “Why is It So Difficult to Make Changes in Turkey” (Türkiye’de Değişim Yapmak Neden Bu kadar Zor) that focuses on a decision made at the National Security Council (MGK) in 2004, when an action plan was to be carried out against the Gülen Community.

The quote was the following: “When the National Security Council’s recommendation was sent to the Prime Ministry, I [undersecretary Dinçer] brought up the subject to the Prime Minister. We decided to file the notification. This text was not processed at the Council of Ministers meeting for their signatures. Nothing was done for this. Except for a couple of cabinet ministers who were present at the MGK meeting, nobody knew of the decision. Our Prime Minister took on the whole social and political risk in the name of the government, and I took the legal risk.”

I believe Kılıçdaroğlu’s speech relieved several members of the AKP that have taken critical positions on the matter. Amid falling approval ratings, that leaves Erdoğan all the more isolated.