November 25, 2014

MHP blasts Erdoğan’s obsession with Hizmet

The leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's obsession with the Hizmet movement does not serve Turkey's interests.

“Does Erdoğan not have anything to do other than inviting such and such to a 'parallel safari' in Africa?” Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the MHP, said at his parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, emphasizing that it is not possible to defend the nation's interests in such a way.

The MHP leader was criticizing Erdoğan, who presented the Hizmet movement as a criminal organization at a recent summit in Africa, for being obsessed with an alleged imaginary “parallel structure,” which Erdoğan claims to be nested within the state.

Demanding to know what makes Erdoğan so fearful, Bahçeli highlighted that Erdoğan cooperated with the Hizmet movement during his first 11 years in power, but now accuses the movement of acting as a “parallel structure” within the state.

“Is creating an imaginary enemy and fighting against it the only issue [important to] the president?” the MHP leader demanded to know.

During a Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in Equatorial Guinea last week, Erdoğan warned African countries against a “threat” from “dangerous structures that look like nongovernmental organizations or education volunteers,” saying his administration is ready to cooperate with African governments against such structures.

He did not name the Hizmet movement in his speech, which is a social movement known for its cultural and educational activities around the world, but it was clear the reference was to Hizmet, which was inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

Erdoğan's call to the leaders of African countries meant Hizmet, which significantly helped to increase Turkey's prestige around the world thanks to schools abroad linked with its name, was presented as a criminal organization.

When Bahçeli underlined that this action by Erdoğan would not serve Turkey's interests, he obviously implied that Erdoğan was shooting Turkey in the foot by calling on Africans to take action against Hizmet.

“Parallel structure” is a term invented by Erdoğan to refer to followers of the Hizmet movement within the bureaucracy. He made the elimination of the so-called “parallel structure” a priority after a major corruption scandal involving people in his inner circle erupted with a wave of detentions on Dec. 17, 2014. The president, who was then prime minister, framed the corruption investigation as a “plot against his government” by the Hizmet movement and foreign collaborators.

Published on Today's Zaman, 25 November 2014, Tuesday