Q&A: The Political and Financial Corruption Scandal that is Shaking the Turkish Government


On 25/12/2013 Erdogan announced the formation of a new government, in which he had replaced ten ministers, this being after three ministers had resigned, one of them being the Environment Minister who called for Erdogan to resign. This is against the backdrop of the political and financial corruption scandal that has been shaking the Turkish government for the past ten days, and preceded by the arrest of 24 people close to the government and its party on 20/12/2013 out of the 49 people close to the government who were called to inquiry on 17/12/2013 under the allegation of corruption… Subsequently the Prime Minister launched a fierce attack on those who caused the disclosure on them and lead to their arrest, and he dismissed tens of security officers who are considered to be members of Fethullah Gulen movement, and cast his wrath on this movement… and likewise directed criticism at the American ambassador in Turkey, and the question is: What is new that converted the relationship of cooperation between Erdogan and the Fethullah Gulen movement to a relationship of conflict? We request as much detail as possible because we are confused after Erdogan’s actions toward that movement. And what is the significance of Erdogan’s statement directed at the American ambassador, even though Erdogan’s relationship with America is so strong to the extent that he is described as America’s man in the Turkey?


By presenting the introduction and results of what happened, the answer to the above question will be made clear:

1. The announcement of these investigations and arrests aggravated the government, its party and its President Erdogan because they were aimed at people who are members of the government and its ruling party, and among them are four sons of ministers in the government, and the mayor of Fatih in Istanbul, and the CEO of the state run bank…Also among them were businessmen close to this party. This comes as Turkey is close to entering elections in three months on 30/3/2013, in which Erdogan wished to increase his popularity so he could nominate himself for President of the Republic which will happen months afterward on 26/8/2014. In this election the people vote directly, not as has happened previously, when the President of the Republic was elected by the Parliament. And therefore Erdogan’s response was very angry, so he undertook a shuffling in the security officers who follow the Fathullah Gulen movement, and threatened the members of the movement with bringing them to court, as was reported in the newspaper Milliyet on 18/12/2013 with his saying: “The workers in the field of justice must respect rights and the law, and must not act under the direction of a particular faction… No one in the judiciary is entitled to pressure and give orders and instructions to the executive authority which it is not familiar with. So if you directed the judiciary in order to put a kind of pressure on the people, then we will do what we must, and we have”, indicating with his saying “and we have” to the dismissal of a number of security officers… and in order for Erdogan to create sympathy for his stance on the Gulen movement he alluded to there being a foreign plot, with his statement, “the events that happened in the past days have international reach, and it is an operation by executers inside who follow orders from outside” as was reported in the same newspaper… And later when he stopped at Samsun during a tour to rally public opinion to his side on 20/12/2013 he stated: “Ambassadors get involved in some provocative acts. I am calling on them: Do your job, if you leave your area of duty, then our government will move towards taking its course to the extent which it has authority…” (Milliyet 21/12/2013), alluding to the American ambassador, commenting on the news reported by some Turkish newspapers about the meeting of the American ambassador in Ankara, Ricciardone, with some representatives of the European Union on 17/12/2013… and the news carried some signs that the American Ambassador is involved in the events… and therefore Erdogan was at the apex of anger in his statements toward the Gulen movement, and at the apex of caution toward the American ambassador.

2. As for the Gulen movement, it is well known that this movement supported Erdogan and his party since assuming power in 2002… and the government allowed it to penetrate many institutions in addition to holding a large number of private instruction centers that the movement gathered money by from the student’s tuition, and at the same time many of those students were prepared to work with the movement. All this was public and not a secret, and Erdogan was not afraid of a threat from it, especially because the movement resembled a Sheikh and his community, in other words it is not a political organization that rivals the government to implement its agenda. And therefore Erdogan did not give them much attention, especially because the movement was an arm of America as is Erdogan, only with a different style and role… for both had contributed to controlling the institutions and breaking the national structure loyal to the British, by allowing America to infiltrate the institutions by way of the movement, and likewise allowing America to infiltrate the army and the political center by way of Erdogan and his party. And thus the party and the movement were two arms of America in Turkey, and their relationship was a relationship of cooperation and friendship and loyalty to one source. Furthermore, America at the beginning of Erdogan’s administration wanted its men in Turkey to have a strong united party because America took into account that the power of the British at that time was still influential in the judiciary and army. All this caused America to be careful that the relationship between Erdogan and his party and between the Fathullah Gulen movement be pure and without tension, and this situation continued until the beginning of 2010. When events happened in that year that sowed the seeds of discord between Erdogan and Fathullah Gulen, the first being the letter from Fathullah Gulen about the Marmara Flotilla incident that the Jewish entity attacked in the morning of 31/5/2013, about which Gulen said in a letter: “The sailing of the flotilla and its entering Israeli waters was a grave mistake, and it was necessary to seek permission from Tel Aviv”, so he wronged the flotilla’s stance, and stood by the actions of the Jewish entity and their right to murder Turks at the time when Erdogan was standing by the flotilla and its passengers, so Erdogan considered Fathullah Gulen’s letter directed at him personally. Nevertheless both moved past what happened, and the relationship remained cordial between them, and Fathullah supported the referendum that Erdogan called for on 12/9/2010 on the constitutional amendments. Where Fathullah Gulen had an effect in tipping the votes for “yes” in the referendum, as Gulen a few weeks before the referendum, from his base in America, had called the Turkish people to agree to the amendments to the constitution clarifying that “these amendments, though limited, will be followed and are a move towards more freedom and the practice of democracy.” And Erdogan won in this referendum when 58% agreed to the constitutional amendments and he held a crowded party in front of the governing party’s headquarters. And this consent resulted in a significant change in institutions that lead to positions that were emptied of nationalists being filled will members of the movement. And likewise there was a change in the structure of the Supreme Council of Judges and public Prosecutors, and jobs were created, and this was to the advantage of the movement that gave it powerful influence in these effective institutions. The group thus gained control over a number of important courts and special courts, attached to the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors.

3. After that, matters worsened between them with the beginning of 2011, when Erdogan realized that the penetration of the group of security and justice had become a discomfort to him and an attempt of domination, as it was no longer through his support of the group. Since that time, competitive see-saw action and reaction began between Erdogan and Gulen’s group:

a. Since the beginning of the year 2011, Erdogan started working to undermine the influence of this group. He ousted the associates of the group from the list of candidates for parliament in the 2011 elections, and then he expelled some group members from security offices and some courts.

b. As a reaction to this, the group’s media launched an attack against Erdogan. Not only that, but the group also propagated what was stated in a recorded tape, published in September 2011, from the talks between the Head of National Intelligence, Hakan Fidan, and the leaders of Öcalan’s PKK party in Oslo between 2009 and 2010 over the settlement of the Kurdish issue. At the time, those talks were held secretly to prepare the atmosphere before an announcement. The fingers of accusation were pointed at the group, that it had to do with the release of this tape. On 07/02/2012 the Chief Prosecutor (Public Prosecutor), who is supportive of the group, demanded an investigation with Fidan, the Head of Intelligence.

c. Erdogan regarded this issue as fateful for him, because it would affect the Prime Minister and reveal secrets related to governmental communication through its intelligence with the PKK. Therefore Erdogan immunized the Head of Intelligence from any legal prosecution by passing a law of Parliament that pertains to this matter such that “those working in the intelligence establishment and the people charged by the Prime Minister with carrying out specific acts may not be investigated except with the latter’s permission.” As an impact of the aforementioned issue, Erdogan evacuated the intelligence circles in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir as well as the education establishment and the judiciary from people affiliated with Gulen’s group.

d. Then came the move that strongly influenced the group: Erdogan’s plan to cancel tutoring centers and convert them into private schools that teach the state curriculum, or into secondary schools. Nearly a thousand of these centers followed the group, which charge the students’ parents relatively high fees. The students visit these centers to strengthen their low education level from the public schools, so that they can enter universities. The group was aiming at two key goals from behind these centers: To make money and win these students over to the group. Erdogan’s government wanted to make changes in the education system, convert these centers into private schools that follow the state program, bring them under its control, and change the system of university entrance so that they planned to cancel the preparatory year to enter universities after the termination of the secondary level. The latter was the reason that forced many parents to send their children to these centers so that they could enter the universities, and to reach high marks, which would enable them to enter into whatever branch they want. If these centers were canceled or closed, the group would lose in two fields: earning money and winning over individuals. Hence, the group went crazy when Erdogan announced his plan to abolish these centers and to convert them into private schools that follow the state curriculum. It seems as if the group has started to think about a reaction towards Erdogan and his party, to influence his victory in the local elections that will take place in three months, on 30/03/2014.

e. Then followed the corruption scandal and the arrests which included members of Erdogan’s government, his party and inner circle. The fingers of accusation were pointed at Fethullah Gulen’s group, while the group’s reaction was to point the finger of accusation back at them. The group showed itself very pleased with the arrests and investigations,promoted them through their media and gloated against Erdogan. As for Erdogan’s hastily actions of change of the security managers in the forms of dismissal and transfer, when he discharged a number of security managers affiliated with the group, these changes turned the group’s pleasure into grief and sorrow. It tried to hinder or disturb these changes and to suggest that they are illegal or non-binding. Thus the media supporting the group broadcasted the news that the government’s decision to change the security manager since July 2013 until today was rejected by the President, and he did not agree to it. So the office of the President on 20/12/2013 immediately broadcasted a statement by President Abdullah Gul, belying the news of Gulen’s group. Thus the group failed in its attempt to show that there is a difference and a dispute between Abdullah Gul and Erdogan! After that the group went furious against Erdogan, due to the feeling that these changes hit it in the heart. Therefore the head of the group, Fethullah Gulan, from his residence in Pennsylvania, America, broadcasted an angry recorded audio, published by his group’s media on 21/12/2013 including a Du’a that said: “…Oh Allah, eclipse the earth over those who cleared the path for the thieves and arrested those who chased the thieves, and over those who averted their eyes from the criminals while tarnishing the image of those who chased the criminals. And burn their homes, demolish their abodes, scatter their gatherings and cut off their extremities, and divide them among themselves, and make us victorious over them…” It appears that the strike aimed against his group was painful, if not crushing or fatal.

4. This is how matters turned around since 2010 between Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen, and increased in intensity in the following three years until today. The services offered to America by the group, and its president residing in Pennsylvania, are: audacity against the Deen of Allah, hostility against the Khilafah system, and finally support of American interests even by the last member of the group. Gulen thinks that through his services, in which he competes with Erdogan and even outdoes him, he will gain America’s satisfaction. He thinks it will cause America to take him as an alternative to Erdogan, and support him in his confrontation. Hence he started harassing Erdogan as mentioned above. The services offered by the group to America, of which he thought they would cause America to support him as an alternative to Erdogan, and to let go of Erdogan, are the following:

a. His accelerated call to the so-called “moderate” Islam, or rather the adapted Islam, mixed with the ideas of secularism and democracy. He strongly defends all these ideas, draws people towards them, and uses the group’s media for this.

b. The group’s activity on the subject of interfaith dialogue, especially with Jews and Christians, as well as promoting their equality to Muslims, considering all of them believers. He also calls for the establishment of temples for them next to mosques, as for Alawites as well.

c. Their attack on all groups calling for the establishment of the Khilafah and the Islamic State, which they accuse of extremism and terrorism. They broadcast malicious propaganda over the media they own and snitch on them to the security and judicial institutions.

d. Their leader has taken the United States as his abode since 1999, and expanded his meetings with U.S. officials and U.S. intelligence. He gives lectures in America which include attitudes, ideas and opinions that lie in the interest of America. He is among those that do not denounce the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. At the present time, his numerous media outlets attack the rebelling Islamic movements in Syria, considering them terrorist, distorting their image, and supporting American attitudes against them.

e. His stances in support of the Jewish entity. He denounced sending the Mavi Marmara to help the people of Gaza at the end of the month of May in 2010 and gave the Jews the right to strike it. He did not honor the Turkish victims nor did he consider them martyrs. Previously he denounced Saddam’s strike against the Jewish entity in 1991 and announced his anguish for the dead Jews who fell due to the strike. His website published a picture of him, meaning of Fethullah Gulen, which showed him meeting the Rabbi of the Eastern Jews, Eliyahu Doron, in the Jewish entity in 1998.

The above services are the tip of the iceberg. The group thought that through them they will gain America’s favor and outdo Erdogan. Though it is most preponderant that this thought of theirs will cause them to perish, because America considers Erdogan the leader of a political party, more able to achieve its interests than the group and its followers! America was unable to achieve what it achieved within Turkey, and their concentration of influence lies but in the political party headed by Erdogan. Therefore America supports Erdogan to achieve its political projects through him, in particular the implementation of the U.S. plan related to the Kurdish question, and other American plans at home and abroad, including the Syrian issue. Even if the pressures on Erdogan increased, and he resigned for example, then it is preponderant that America will turn to another strong person from the AKP, instead of turning to Fethullah Gulen. This is because the reality of Fethullah Gulen’s group is that of a non-political movement that has always been sheltered by political parties with the argument of “being with the winner”. It stood with Turgut Özal’s ANAP in the eighties of the last century, later supported the NSP, then the DSP led by Ecevit in 1998 after the fall of the NSP led by Necmettin Erbakan. After the AKP had been established, it entered their shading. Therefore it is an opportunistic movement in favor of the ruling political party, to achieve their own interests. Thus, it is expected it will work to reconcile with Erdogan, because it would lose if it did not. This has begun to show through the actions of the group and its followers. Gulen has withdrawn his attack lined against Erdogan, after describing him as a “Pharaoh” and “Nimrod” about a month ago. He had said in a broadcast recording of his voice, addressing his followers: “If Pharaoh and Nimrod are against you, you are right…” Gulen further retracted when he recently suggested that the centers remain for private lessons, but could be placed under governmental supervision in an accommodating move, but Erdogan insisted on his decision. Even Fethullah’s men in the judiciary and the security do no longer have a lot to uphold in the face of Erdogan. A lot of them were arrested and those who have remained in their offices are being troubled in their decisions. Some courts have agreed to Erdogan’s decision not to accept lawsuits directly from the security managers without the approval of their superiors, while a small number of courts tried to evade the decision, as stated by the private TV news station “NTV” on 27/12/2013: “The Turkish Supreme Court overturned a government decision that requires police officers to inform their superiors of investigations”. However, Sky News Arabia quoted the Attorney General Muammar Akash, who is leading the investigation on the corruption charges affecting ministers of the Turkish government, on 26/12/2013 saying that he “faced a lot of pressure” in this case, pointing out that an “obstruction of the investigations took place”.

Erdogan still threatens and warns the agents of the group in the security and justice sectors. He said during his visit to the judiciary of Fatsa in the province of Ordu: “I direct my call at the judiciary! You say to the executive: Clean up the dirt among you. But you are not completely clean. And we have what we know.” (Hürriyet 21/12/2013). Therefore Erdogan’s position is stronger than the position of Fethullah Gülen, at least in the foreseeable future, particularly because the influence of Erdogan in the army has become effective. Turkish media reported that the Turkish Armed Forces issued a statement saying they “distance themselves from any political opinions and formations and faithfully serve the Turkish nation”, as stated in United Press International and on the al-Hayat website on 27/12/2013

5. As for the hints by Erdogan in his statement to the U.S. ambassador as published on 21/12/2013 in Milliyet news paper, the issue is as follows:

a. During this campaign of arrests in the corruption cases mentioned… three newspapers, The Star, The New Twilight and The Evening, published a story about the meeting of the American ambassador in Ankara Ricciardone with some representatives of the European Union on 17/12/2013… The news piece included indications of the intervention of the U.S. ambassador in the events, and these newspapers claimed that the Foreign Minister Dawood-Oglu will contact the Foreign Minister of America, John Kerry and express the annoyance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the diplomatic corps at the behaviour of the Ambassador…

In spite of that the U.S. ambassador himself Ricciardone has denied claims by some newspapers which published this news, and denied any connection to the America in the process of arrests relating to the corruption cases, through his Twitter page, where he said: “The United States have no connection with the arrests relating to the corruption cases of bribes and illegal ways. That the news are pure lies and fabrications. No one can put the Turkish-US relations at risk due to allegations that have no basis, and that the friendship and cooperation between the two countries are of fateful importance for the two countries.” (Milliyet, 21/12/2013), except that Erdogan took advantage of this, as if he had a date with the news piece by these newspapers, which prompted some analysts to say that they do not rule out that the news piece was outfitted for Erdogan to exploit and say that the events had an international extension, so as to win the sympathy of the people to the presence of a foreign conspiracy! And it was mentioned during his tour to mobilize public opinion on his side… He said during a stopover in Samsun on 20/12/2013: “The Ambassador entered the circle of some conspiracy actions. I call on to him to do his job: and if you come out (O Ambassador) from the circle of your job, our government will go on its way to the extent that has the power to.” (Millyet, 21/12/2013)… But what happened is that there was no contact made by Dawood-Oglu to Kerry, and Erdogan statements did not remain alive for long. Instead the General Vice President of the Justice and Development Party, Hussein Celik made the following statement: “The statement of the U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone via Twitter that belies the news concerning his remarks that were published by some newspapers significant to us” (Hurriyet, 21/12/2013).

b. While the usual method of protest by states regarding interventions by other countries is that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sends an official protest note to the other state, or the ambassador is summoned… Also, the usual procedure when any country ‘s ambassador wants to refute the news about a statement associated to him in the state where he is present is to send the message to the Foreign Ministry of this country to deny the news… But what happened is that the Prime Minister issued a verbal statement… And the U.S. Ambassador published his response on Twitter! Indicating that these verbal exchanges between Erdogan and America are nothing more than acting by very bad actors! Which shows that Erdogan’s “harsh” statements toward the American ambassador is like loud rumbling noise of the mills but without producing any flour, this is because on the same newspaper which published the statements by Erdogan,Millyet, and on the same day 21/12/2013 this was published: “It is interesting that during the continuous process of pursuing corruption with the international extension, the American adviser in charge of the intelligence related to terrorism and money of the Ministry of Treasury, David Cohen, has arrived to Istanbul, he is known of his closeness to “Israel” Proximity of “Israel”, and then he will meet with the directors of the banks in Turkey… this adviser will discuss with managers financial matters and sanctions on Iran… without him, a U.S. official advisor, meeting with any of those in authority in the government.” This shows that Erdogan’s words are like an empty gun, free of meaning but makes popping sound. The American Officials enter the country and they meet with whom they wish without meeting with any Turkish official!!

c. Erdogan is known for his association with America and the implementation of its projects in Turkey and abroad. These projects, especially internal ones require completion, and if he went probably they will stop. Erdogan is America’s strongman who has opted to bring its influence in Turkey since he took office. Previously, the English were in control of Turkey by the army over the past decades since Mustafa Kemal abolished the Khilafah at the request of the British, the sworn enemy of Islam and Muslims, in the Lausanne Conference in return to make Mustafa Kemal as president of the Republic of Turkey… Since that time, the English hegemony influenced the government in Turkey. America has been unable to remove this influence, especially in the military, but after Erdogan taking of power, the English influence weakened and disappeared from the political scene, and the political parties with English background, most notably the People’s Party, has become weak. Thus the U.S. dominated and influenced over the years of Erdogan’s rule, and the influence of America is represented in the presidency and in the prime minister… Therefore, a verbal statement from Erdogan about the American ambassador without the practical reality… Such a statement both America and the one who uttered it are aware that it is of no impact.

6. In Conclusion:

a. The current crisis in Turkey is between two American agents: Erdogan and Fethullah Gulan.

b. America was interested in the survival of Erdogan and the Gulan as one force without any conflict between them when it saw the British as a force to reckon with, and after it weakened, America kept silent about the fighting between the AK Party and Fethullah and left them to compete in its loyalty and service of its interests.

c. What is likely is the continuation of Erdogan, at least in the foreseeable future, he still retains the popularity, and even if the pressure is increased on him, America will tip someone else from the ruling AK Party over Gulan, because they realize that Fethullah’s group is like a sheikh and his followers and in order for him to continue to avail himself, he needs to be under a ruling political party, and cannot be in power.

d. This is the calculations of America and its agents. But what the Ummah is working to uproot the influence of the English and American and their agents and their followers… Allah willing, and restore the Khilafah again as he صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

ثُمَّ تَكُونُ خِلَافَةٌ عَلَى مِنْهَاجِ النُّبُوَّةِ

“Then there will be Khilafah upon the method of the Prophethood” (Narrated by Ahmad, Abu Dawood and Tayaalisi).

All who fought the Khilafah and those working for it, and anyone who walked with the Kaffir colonizers, whether they were Englishmen or Americans or the Russians or the French or others, they will receive disgrace and humiliation in this world at the hands of the believers.

وَيَوْمَئِذٍ يَفْرَحُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ * بِنَصْرِ اللَّهِ يَنْصُرُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ

“And that day the believers will rejoice, in the victory of Allah. He gives victory to whom He wills, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful”

(Ar-Rum: 4-5)

24 Safar 1435 AH

27/12/2013 CE