The interviews that Fethullah Gülen has recently given to Western media have provoked critical comments in the pro-AKP media. Abdülkadir Selvi questions Gülen’s claim that the rift between his movement and the AK Party was caused by the government’s back-tracking on democratization. Mustafa Akyol offers what he calls a “friendly warning” to the Hizmet movement, writing that its involvement in Turkish power games endangers its global influence. Meanwhile, Mümtaz’er Türköne, in the Gülenist daily Zaman deplores that Islamism has been undone by graft and by the attempt of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to monopolize the surplus of the state for his part of the Islamic movement. Liberal commentator Mehmet Altan warns that the government is courting a danger of the worst kind by opening the door for the military in order to evade justice.
The crisis in the Turkish state is of growing concern among the commentators in the Turkish press. Liberal commentators have in particular started to worry that the crisis is going to have the effect of re-inviting the military into the political equation ; indeed they warn that the recent statements of the General Staff indicate that this has already happened. "The increasing frequency of the statements of the General Staff is not at all reassuring," writes Hasan Cemal. Leading pro-government commentator Abdülkadir Selvi argues that the AKP needs to embrace new friends, the military and also the Kurdish movement, to stave off the challenge of the Gülen movement. "If the state crisis, the fight between the institutions, turn into a threat to the existence of the state in the eyes of the military, the position they will take is going to represent a risk for democracy," warns Ali Bayramoğlu. While liberals see a risk that the old guard military may return, others speculate about the Gülenists within the military and point out that the question how they might act is the big unknown of the raging power struggle.
As the power struggle between the AKP and the Hizmet movement led by Fethullah Gülen intensifies, pro-government commentators don’t mince their words with regard to the “cemaat”, accusing its members of having constituted a “junta” within the police and the judiciary that is allegedly trying to overthrow and jail Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Meanwhile, commentators who do not belong to any of the belligerent sides express incredulity and near-horror at the turn of events. Mehmet Altan, a liberal intellectual, asks, “Is this really a state?” and concludes that Turkey is a “wild jungle” where no one, including those in power who sustain the chaos, enjoys any protection whatsoever of the law.
The common view of the commentators in the Turkish press is that the ongoing power struggle between Prime Minister Erdoğan and the Hizmet movement of the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen has reached a new stage and that it will be difficult to resurrect the alliance between the AKP and the “cemaat”. While those directly implicated in the fight, pro-AKP and pro-cemaat pundits, exchange attacks and insults, more detached observers note that the struggle is not about ideology or principles, with both parties sharing a similar, Muslim conservative agenda, but simply about who is going to control the state. They predict that the power struggle is going to continue and even become fiercer as Turkey enters into a crucial election cycle during the coming two years, opening for possible, new alliances that no one can quite imagine today.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.