Erdoğan’s meetings with Özel and Ateş, Bahçeli’s ring

Commenting on the meeting between President Erdoğan and CHP leader Özel, a CHP executive said they will follow the AKP’s stance on the issues they raise, noting that the last 40 days have not been a good test for the AKP in this regard.

Another step was taken in the post-local election period, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described as “détente” and CHP leader Özgür Özel as “normalization.” President Erdoğan paid a return visit to the CHP exactly 40 days after his meeting with Özgür Özel at the AKP headquarters.

The meeting marked Erdoğan’s first visit to the CHP in 18 years and lasted 1.5 hours. After the meeting, the spokespersons of the two parties made statements about the content. We know from the statements that President Erdoğan asked for support for a “new constitution” while Özel brought up economic problems, trustee mayor appointments, and controversial judicial decisions, especially the Gezi trial.

AKP Spokesperson Ömer Çelik said that a third meeting could be held if needed, and we learned that the two leaders would come together in Nicosia on July 20 during the 50th-anniversary ceremonies of the Turkish Cyprus.

According to CHP officials, the course of the “normalization” process will be determined by the steps taken by the AKP. They stated that the meeting was valuable in terms of “opening the channels of dialogue” and “developing the culture of consultation and negotiation, which are indispensable elements of democracy.” 

“68 percent of citizens say they support normalization. After all, what could be more natural than political parties meeting? These talks may not lead anywhere, but it is important to establish a dialog,” they added.

A CHP executive said that they will follow the AKP’s stance on the issues they raise, noting that the last 40 days have not been a good test and that the citizens will have the final say. “Let us recall the issues on the agenda of Erdoğan and Özel's meeting on May 2. In the second meeting on June 11, the issues brought by the CHP increased. In this period, apart from the release of the February 28 generals, nothing substantial happened.” 

“New problems were added on top. High sentences were handed down in the Kobani case. A trustee was appointed to Hakkari Municipality. The Constitutional Court annulled a decree issued to harmonize with the presidential government system. The purchase price for tea and wheat was set far below expectations. While there has been no positive development on the issues we have raised, Erdoğan has only a ‘new constitution’ as an agenda. By the end of June, we will be asked to propose a methodology for drafting a new constitution. After that, a process is planned to start with the opening of parliament in October. Our position on the constitution is clear. First, the existing constitution and the decisions of the Constitutional Court must be respected,” the executive added.

Sinan Ateş case

Immediately after his meeting with CHP leader Özel, President Erdoğan met with Ayşe Ateş, the wife of former Grey Wolves head Sinan Ateş who was assassinated. Ayşe Ateş said, “(Erdoğan) listened to me and my daughters for a long time. I explained the situation and we talked about the file.” Stating that the meeting was nice and positive, Ateş said that her only demand was for the trial to take place as soon as possible and justice to be served and added, “(Erdoğan) said that the necessary will be done quickly."

A possible rift between the AKP and the MHP

Erdoğan's visit to the CHP, and then his reception of Ayşe Ateş once again brought the “crack in the AKP-MHP alliance” discussions. Rejecting these allegations, MHP sources said about the murder of Sinan Ateş, “We have called on 'everyone to present the documents they have as the trial process has started.’ The President can meet with whomever he wants. Erdoğan's meeting with Ayşe Ateş does not bother us. The request for this visit came from Ayşe Ateş. If the President had not accepted, they would have said ‘Devlet Bahçeli did not want it, he prevented it’. As a result, for the MHP, there is no difference between yesterday and today.”

Bahçeli’s ring

The ring Bahçeli wore to his party's parliamentary group meeting on the day President Erdoğan was to meet with Özel and Ateş also attracted great attention. In the photo shared on Bahçeli's social media account, the inscription “Allah is sufficient for me” on the ring drew attention. While this ring was interpreted as “a message to President Erdoğan,” it was also evaluated as “a warning to the President.”

MHP sources said the inscription was a reference to the 173rd verse of Surah al-Imran. The verse reads, “Those who were warned, ‘Your enemies have mobilized their forces against you, so fear them,’ the warning only made them grow stronger in faith and they replied, ‘Allah alone is sufficient as an aid for us and ‘He’ is the best Protector.”

The tafsir of the Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) says for the verse that “When Abu Sufyân, the commander of the Quraysh army, was in Revhâ and was preparing a plan to attack the Muslims again and destroy them, he gave up his plan when he heard that the Muslims had come to Hamrâul-Asad in large numbers. In the meantime, he said to the men of a caravan passing by, ‘If you meet Muhammad, tell him that we will exterminate them,’ in an attempt to frighten the Muslims through psychological warfare. When this word reached the Prophet and the Muslims, they said, 'Hasbünallahu wa ni'me'l-waqīl' (Allah is sufficient for us and He is the best wali'). This verse, which was revealed on this occasion, shows the faith, trust, and determination of the Muslims in Allah and His Messenger despite all kinds of adversity. According to Bukhari, Prophet Abraham also said this on the day he was thrown into the fire.”