February 20, 2015

What is behind conspiracy targeting CHP and Gülen?

Week-long conspiracy-oriented publications by pro-government media in Turkey that are apparently based on fabricated Twitter conversations aim to smear both the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the social movement called Hizmet.

There may be several motivations behind systematically targeting both the CHP and Gülen by portraying them as conspiring together in a plot against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) despite both the CHP and Gülen categorically denying all these claims and filing criminal and civil lawsuits against the perpetrators who concocted these scenarios and publishers who had run these stories.

Ahead of critical parliamentary elections, Erdoğan may be hoping to evade the consequences of a graft scandal that went public on December of 2013, implicating dozens within the government and close to Erdoğan, in an effort to seek a scapegoat and portray the AK Party government and Erdoğan as targets of a plot by the Hizmet movement and the CHP.

It may be part of Erdoğan's attempts to meddle with the internal dynamics within the CHP using the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu already said he knew about efforts by MİT to interfere into the CHP as part of the government plan. He had also stated that MİT was trying to stir chaos within the CHP and called on MİT to "get its hands off the CHP."
Kılıçdaroğlu also revealed that he had watched a video recording in which Erdoğan was watching former CHP leader Deniz Baykal's tape and instructing those around him to post it on the Internet.

Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu may also be trying to put pressure on the CHP by constantly rehashing old claims that the CHP and Gülen have been cooperating very closely when in fact both publicly denied these claims and asked the government to present any evidence indicating such a partnership. The goal might be to scare the neo-nationalists that have deep reservations about Gülen within the CHP. It may also be part of a sinister campaign to derail the CHP's efforts to open up to the conservative and religious segments of the society to gain more votes at the expense of the AK Party.

Another reason is that Erdoğan and his allies in the government may already have sex tapes of both CHP members that were secretly recorded by intelligence operatives as part of a government-sanctioned plan. They may release them ahead of the elections to hurt the CHP and put the blame on Hizmet. This might be likely if Davutoğlu fails to perform well in the election campaigning period and the CHP starts to gain on the AK Party.

Last but not the least is framing the Hizmet as part of a terrorist and armed group. The ridiculous claim by pro-government newspapers on Friday that Gülen ordered the assassination of Erdoğan's daughter, Sümeyye Erdoğan, ahead of the June 7 general elections may serve a purpose to give credence to already ongoing efforts in the judiciary by Erdoğan loyalists prosecutors who have been working to orchestrate an investigation to charge the Hizmet movement as terrorist organization. When there is no evidence warranted such a classification for a peaceful civic movement that has been around for about 60 years, Erdoğan and his ilk may be trying to fabricate one.

The government-orchestrated investigation into Gülen has already led an arrest warrant for him, a move that the opposition parties call as an election tactic employed by the AK Party during the election campaign. Many in Turkey and abroad criticized the government for instigating a sham investigation, which alleges that Gülen is the leader of an armed terrorist organization, based on a fictional series aired on a TV station. The political authorities have already admitted that they had prepped the legal ground for such a move by rushing unconstitutional legislation through Parliament, subordinating the judiciary to the executive branch and establishing highly controversial special courts.

Published on Today's Zaman, 20 February 2015, Friday