January 7, 2014

Erdogan Cleans House, Purges Police of Opponents, Gulen Loyalists

An excerpt from, "Turkey purges police amid graft scandal" by Fulya Ozerkan, AFP, January 7:
Turkey purged hundreds of police and launched an investigation into prosecutors Tuesday in the latest twist in a vast corruption scandal that has rocked Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.

A government decree published at midnight announced the sacking of 350 police officers in Ankara, including chiefs of the financial crimes, anti-smuggling, cyber crime and organised crime units, media reports said.
Turkey's top judicial body, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), also Tuesday launched an investigation into the newly appointed Istanbul police chief and a number of the city's top prosecutors.

The moves came as the government battled to contain the fallout from the graft probe that has become the biggest threat to Erdogan's 11-year rule ahead of local elections in March.
An excerpt from, "Hundreds of Turkish Police Officers Reassigned Amid Graft Scandal" by Dan Bilefsky and Sebnem Arsu, New York Times, January 7:
About 350 police officers in Ankara, the Turkish capital, were removed from their posts overnight, Turkish news outlets reported on Tuesday, the largest single purge of the police force since a corruption investigation plunged the government into crisis last month.
The investigation, the subject of daily reports in Turkish newspapers, has captured the public imagination in a country fascinated by real or imagined conspiracies. Turks have been riveted by lurid details and murky clues, like photographs of piles of cash in the bedroom of one minister’s home and reports that the chief executive of a state-owned bank had $4.5 million in cash stored in shoe boxes.  

Mr. Erdogan’s government has condemned the inquiry as a politically motivated plot against it by a “criminal gang” within the state, and Mr. Erdogan himself has warned that those seeking to ensnare him will fail
An excerpt from, "Turkey: Gulen Powerplay as Police Chiefs Sacked and Business Leaders Arrested - Feud between cleric in exile and Erdogan cited as main reason behind high-profile arrests and police sacking" by Gianluca Mezzofiore, International Business Times, December 18, 2013:
Turkish police chiefs who ordered the arrests on corruption charges of 47 high-profile politicians and businessmen, including the sons of three Cabinet ministers, have been sacked.

Five police commissioners were dismissed from office. They included the heads of the financial crime and organised crime units.

Political commentators pointed to the long hand of Fethullah Gulen behind the corruption charges. A moderate Muslim cleric in self-imposed exile in the US, Gulen has helped the ruling AK party win three elections since 2002 and led to the convictions of hundreds of generals accused of plotting a coup in the aftermath.

The eponymous Gulen movement has extensive influence in the Turkish police and judiciary. Gulen members are believed to have infiltrated the secret services, law enforcement offices and the AK party itself.
Tensions between the reclusive Muslim cleric, who commands a global empire of media outlets, private schools and charities, and prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have boiled over in recent months.

Their feud deepened after the government announced plans to outlaw private schools, including those run by the Gulen movement.
An excerpt from, "Power struggle in Turkey: Erdogan versus Gulen" by Cagri Cobanoglu, The London Economic, January 2, 2014:
Journalists Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık are beig trialed for preparing a plot against the government. However, both of them wrote against Gulen movement and its activities in the police and judiciary system. Nedim Şener lately gave an interview to Al-Monitor in which he said:

“Turkey is not facing corruption charges for the first time. Therefore, we also need to question the Cemaat’s motivation in this setting, as well… The government can’t stay in charge after such a scandal. It is best that it resign, but the corruption issue is now secondary. One really needs to see that Gulen movement is actually directly aiming at Erdogan. It simply showcases that it has grown so strong that it can even bring down the country’s prime minister when it wants to… We also need to stand against Gulen movement establishment in the state institutions. There is a reason why it is grouped in intelligence units and the judiciary. There are video recordings that show Gulen asking his followers, at the least 20 to 30 years ago, to start finding employment in police, judiciary or military. … He tells them they should stay quiet and not reveal their identities until the time comes. This is scary.”

Lately Erdogan’s goverment started a counter-campaign against Gulen followers by accusing them of being conspirators who are partners of foreign powers.
Turkey dismisses hundreds of police amid corruption scandal. Source: Euronews.