July 13, 2015

‘This community even puts cameras in bathrooms,’ so you said

Selçük Gültaşlı

Abdülkadir Selvi, a columnist for the Yeni Şafak daily, wrote an article titled "Until when was the Cabinet reshuffle postponed?" three days following the graft and bribery scandals that went public on Dec. 17, 2013.

At the end of his article, Selvi accused the Gülen community -- also known as the Hizmet movement -- of planting secret cameras in the bathrooms of Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials.

Seven days after the graft scandal, Yalçın Akdoğan, the political adviser to then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and an Ankara deputy, wrote an article in his column in the Star newspaper titled "Do they have the light or sledgehammer in their hands?" Akdoğan argued that Hizmet had conspired against the army.

The two important articles, written after the graft scandal of Dec. 17, demonstrated the strategy for covering up the scandal that implicated Erdoğan and his relatives at its center.

Hizmet would be demonized and old enemies would become new friends.

The libel was that the leaked audio recordings about leading government officials was masterminded by members of Hizmet as this movement had turned into a community of “immorality” by installing hidden cameras in the bathrooms of people who trusted them, indulging in voyeurism.

A total war had to be waged to finish off Hizmet. The past's most powerful enemy had to be turned into an ally. That enemy was the army and it had to be convinced via a “conspiracy.” Erdoğan, who marketed himself as the leader who fought coup perpetrators, tasked Akdoğan with the duty of making an apology to the subversive generals to ally with them. Thus, the AKP's flagrante delicto paved the way for the release of coup perpetrators from prison.

However, the concern that the allegations of a conspiracy against the army might eventually undermine the AKP's “success story” urged the AKP to focus its efforts on wiretapping claims.

On March 27, 2014, i.e., three days before the March 30 local election, an audio recording of a security meeting attended by top state officials held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was posted online. Then-Prime Minister Erdoğan and then-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu rushed to claim that Hizmet was behind the leak.

The written statement made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which failed to guarantee the country's security, was looking for other traitors. "The networks of treason that masterminded this are enemies of our state and nation," the ministry argued, announcing that the perpetrators would soon be identified and “punished severely” as due.

Pro-government media outlets were running stories on “treason” while Erdoğan bellowed: "This is immorality; this is ignominy; this is nastiness. We will thunder into their dens." At that time, the Zaman newspaper ran the following headline story: "Anyone who tapped or leaked it must be called to account."

Last week, German magazine Focus argued that the US National Security Agency (NSA) was behind the March 27 leak. Since then, I have been scrutinizing the front pages of pro-government media outlets to read about this disclosure, but in vain. I have been monitoring speeches given by Davutoğlu, who was raising battle cries at that time. He isn't moving any closer to the topic. Erdoğan is busy sharing his political plans with the public.

Last August, German magazine Der Spiegel disclosed that Germany's intelligence agency the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) had tapped senior state officials for five years, to which Davutoğlu had said: "If these claims are untrue, steps should be taken to clarify the media's claims. If there is any speck of truth in these claims, it is essential that a clear explanation be given to us."

As you may have noticed, these remarks lack such words as traitor, coward or scoundrel. "Yes, we tapped your communication, but without any ideological motive," the German authorities said, providing Davutoğlu the explanation he was seeking. "Everyone is doing such things," Erdoğan had said to gloss over, without displaying any form of anger against Germany.

Republican People's Party (CHP) İzmir deputy Erdal Aksünger indicated that Erdoğan had been tapped by the NSA for eight-and-a-half years and he had personally seen the documents. No AKP official has ever volunteered to ask, "Where are those documents?"

When US officials are asked if they had tapped Erdoğan, they do not deny doing so.

A Parliament motion to investigate “parallel state” allegations was declined by the AKP. Davutoğlu's claim about judges receiving instructions from Pennsylvania -- referring to Fethullah Gülen -- has yet to be substantiated. Who rejects the idea of establishing a parliamentary commission to determine who wiretapped the Foreign Ministry?

The AKP must take the lead to identify and penalize those traitors, cowards and scoundrels as well as to dispel the doubts about them. Let the perpetrators be identified. If libel is hurled at Hizmet just to cover up this ignominy, those dishonorable people must be called to account for it.

Published on Today's Zaman, 13 July 2015, Monday