Skip to main content

Erdoğan’s Self-Inflicted Crisis

The battle between Turkey's Erdoğan government and its erstwhile ally, the Gülen movement, has escalated to the point where it is hard to imagine a reconciliation. Though the fight is exposing the corruption on which Erdoğan’s regime was based, Turkish democracy will be the loser – at least in the short term – regardless of who wins.

PRINCETON – The dramatic battle between Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its erstwhile ally, the “Hizmet” religious movement led by the self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, has begun to expose the massive rule-of-law violations that these two groups employed to consolidate their power. Prosecutors widely thought to be Gülen sympathizers have launched a wide-ranging corruption probe that has so far ensnared four ministers and reaches all the way to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son.

Erdoğan and his advisers have now hit back. They accuse the Gülenists of mounting a “bureaucratic coup” and engaging in a wide range of dirty tricks, from “planting evidence” against generals who were convicted last year of plotting to overthrow Erdoğan’s government to “extensive unauthorized wiretap[ping].”

Turkey’s landmark trials of the alleged military-coup plotters are now widely recognized for what they were – witch hunts based on evidence that was flimsy at best, and often simply concocted. The trials were stage-managed by Gülenist police, prosecutors, and media. But they had crucial support from Erdoğan’s government, which put its weight behind them. The Erdoğan camp’s current effort to wash its hands of these trials and put the full blame on the Gülenists is disingenuous to say the least.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.


Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.;
  1. reinhart39_ Sha HantingChina News ServiceVisual China Group via Getty Images_jerome powell Sha Hanting/China News Service/Visual China Group via Getty Images

    Jerome Powell’s Dilemma

    Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent Reinhart

    There is a reason that the US Federal Reserve chair often has a haunted look. Probably to his deep and never-to-be-expressed frustration, the Fed is setting monetary policy in a way that increases the likelihood that President Donald Trump will be reelected next year.

  2. mallochbrown10_ANDREW MILLIGANAFPGetty Images_boris johnson cow Andrew Milligan/AFP/Getty Images

    Brexit House of Cards

    Mark Malloch-Brown

    Following British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament, and an appeals court ruling declaring that act unlawful, the United Kingdom finds itself in a state of political frenzy. With rational decision-making having become all but impossible, any new political agreement that emerges is likely to be both temporary and deeply flawed.

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions