January 18, 2015

Anatomy of a conspiracy

Bülent Keneş

The conspiracy was first announced by a government whistleblower who writes under the pseudonym Fuat Avni (@fuatavnifuat).

Then, the Zaman newspaper covered it with evidence it in its Saturday and Sunday editions. If reports are true, a large-scale police operation will be launched in the morning on Monday or in the following days, and hundreds of people will be arrested on charges of stealing the answers for the State Personnel Examination (KPSS) -- the results of which are used as criteria in recruiting public servants -- in 2010 and obtaining unfair success on the exam. Of course, as you can easily guess, these people will largely be close to the Hizmet movement.

Like previous conspiracies targeting the Hizmet movement, this conspiracy, too, lacks any substance or consistency and, therefore, is doomed to fail. Today's Zaman is currently running a comprehensive report about this conspiracy. I will not go into technical details here. But I would like to discuss why this KPSS conspiracy was conjured by a shady clique -- which is, according to serious indications to this effect, guided and managed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

As you know, the graft and bribery scandal that went public on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013 implicated politicians close to Erdoğan as well as his relatives, in a web of corrupt practices. Since then, the Hizmet movement has been under attack from Erdoğan and this clique. To cover up the shocking corruption scandal that implicated them -- or at least, to distract attention from it -- Erdoğan and his cronies needed an enemy. To this end, they came up with the "parallel state/structure" lie and moved to accuse the Hizmet movement of being this parallel state.

According to this claim, parroted continuously by dozens of pro-government newspapers and TV networks, the sympathizers of the Hizmet movement were indeed planning to overthrow the government through the graft operations of Dec. 17 and 25, 2013.

Starting on this date, Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) under his control targeted the Hizmet movement with lies and slander, in violation of laws and ethic values. For 13 months, the Hizmet movement had been libelously labeled by them as "spies," "traitors," "Hashhashin," "thieves," "a terrorist organization" and "conspirators." Not a single piece of concrete evidence has been produced so far to prove these scandalous and equally unfair claims and slander.

Of course, they couldn't let those claims go unfounded. Therefore, they launched campaigns to engineer public perception about certain bureaucrats, police officers and journalists whom they linked with the Hizmet movement through fabricated scenarios. Their aim was to discredit the Hizmet movement and undermine the movement's activities. The operations -- launched on July 22, 2013; Dec. 14, 2014; and various other dates (not to mention those to be launched in the future) -- all have this aim. As they failed to find any unlawful or criminal acts committed by the Hizmet movement, they have attempted to damage its reputation through conspiracies.

Therefore, the conspiracy of accusing the Hizmet movement of stealing the answer sheet ahead of the KPSS shares the same goal as the previous conspiracies. But they have forgotten to answer the following question: Why should the Hizmet movement need to steal the answer sheet in any objectively prepared and administered public examination, given the fact that the movement's main area of activity is the education sector and it has proven success at home and abroad in education?

The success record of the schools run by the Hizmet movement already warrants success in any objective examination for the students who undergo the successful education processes at these schools. The educational activities of these schools are proven to bring success not only in the KPSS and similar examinations, but also in all sorts of objective, centrally administered examinations and in national and international scientific and academic contests. This is further confirmed by the fact that the students from schools run by the Hizmet movement scored way above Turkey's average in the latest Transition from Primary to Secondary Education (TEOG) exam.

Actually, this is where the problem starts for Erdoğan and the ruling AKP. They know very well that just as with the previous slanders and accusations hurled at the Hizmet movement, the current conspiracy, too, is doomed to fail.

Nevertheless, the government and Erdoğan are not inclined to give up on this conspiracy. They seek to use this conspiracy as fuel for their perception-engineering operations by creating doubts about the educational activities and success of the Hizmet movement. If they could discredit the movement in the field of education where they excel, this would serve better their Satanic purposes.

To trigger negative public perceptions about the Hizmet movement is not their sole intention. They also aim to kill two birds with one stone. They want to cast serious doubt about the objective -- centrally administered public exams. Then they will move to abolish these exams -- which they see as a major barrier to their nepotistic practices -- and pave the way for recruitment of AKP supporters as public servants without objective criteria.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) recently announced several lists of relatives of AKP ministers and deputies who were irregularly appointed to public positions without any examination, and thus, their intention has become clearer. The AKP seeks to make its discriminatory and nepotistic practices in the public sector systematic. But they see the KPSS and other centrally administered objective public exams as a major obstacle to their goal.

In other words, by pumping the allegations and doubts about the KPSS into the minds of the public via pro-government media outlets, they will try to discredit the Hizmet movement and at the same time get rid of the KPSS-like exams that constitute the only barrier to the AKP's nepotistic practices in appointments to public positions. This is the very reason for the conspiracy that targets a civil society organization affiliated with the Hizmet movement, via a KPSS held five years ago and largely canceled due to allegations about it.

But you can be assured that Erdoğan and the crime syndicate close to him will fail with this conspiracy as they have failed in their previous attempts to sling mud at the Hizmet movement.

The investigation, to be re-launched five years after it was abandoned for lack of sufficient evidence, will reportedly target 3,227 people who answered more than 100 out of 120 questions correctly during the KPSS in 2010. The only evidence is a file titled "3227.pdf," which was purportedly saved to a PC at an association that was affiliated with the Hizmet movement before the exam and which contains the stolen questions. I will not go into the technical details of this absurdity; you may read about them in the relevant news story. But I really wonder who will believe in the weirdness of naming the file after the exact number of test-takers who answered more than 100 questions correct in the exam, given the fact that it was impossible to know the number of people who would score high points in the exam beforehand.

Those who are behind this conspiracy have made so many stupid mistakes that would warrant eventual litigation against them as is the case with previous conspiracies. I must note that the anatomy of the KPSS conspiracy -- which is very likely to emerge as the top item on the agenda in coming days -- largely betrays the very level of intelligence and capacity of the gang of conspirators that allegedly acts on orders from Erdoğan.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 18 January 2015, Sunday