Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. After a decade of basically owning Turkish politics, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being hammered, again and again: first it was the riots that spread across urban Turkey like brush fire in May, forcing him to use extensive, brutal force against civilians—not a show of strength for any ruler; and now there’s this rapidly spreading corruption scandal that has already brought down members of his cabinet and are threatening his ties to the U.S.
According to the NY Times, a prosecutor overseeing the corruption investigation of the prime minister’s inner circle has just been removed from the case, a move that might just spell the end of the game for the embattled prime minister.
This is so Last days of Richard M. Nixon, when the ruler is going down, and he’s the only one who still doesn’t know it.
“Erdogan came out fighting after the loss of three ministers who decided to resign after their sons were detained in the investigation,” reported the Telegraph’s Richard Spencer on Thursday. “He rejected calls, including from one of the ministers, for him to step down.”
Returning from a trip to Pakistan—possibly his last state visit—Erdogan told reporters: “If they try to aim at Tayyip Erdogan through this, they will be left empty-handed. They know it and that’s why they are attacking the ministers.”
Actually, they were going to attack him as well, when the prosecutor, Muammer Akkas, was plucked from the investigation. On the morning of December 25, Chief Prosecutor of Istanbul Turan Çolakkadı announced that the case was taken from Akkaş.
Akkas condemned Erdogan’s government, accusing it of meddling with the judiciary and with his investigation.
It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up. Nixon learned it the hard way, Clinton did, too – now it’s Erdogan’s turn. Domineering leaders apparently have a hard time with this phase in their career.
Akkas said the government is preventing the police from going after new suspects, which include Erdogan’s son, Bilal, whose name was leaked to the press Thursday evening, the NY Times reported.
So far, two sons of government ministers have been arrested, and one of the ministers who resigned on Wednesday said Erdogan himself was involved in the real estate deals being investigated.
Hence the rush to reshuffle.
“The judiciary has clearly been pressured,” Akkas wrote, accusing his bosses at the judiciary of “committing a crime” by refusing to carry out arrest warrants, letting suspects “take precautions, flee and tamper with evidence.”
It’s always the cover up…
Also reshuffled: the Istanbul police, whose department chiefs were removed by Erdoan a week ago, because they failed to alert the (former) Interior Minister that his son was being arrested on bribery charges. How can you do this to a loving father?
Murat Yetkin, editor in chief and political commentator for the Hurriyet Daily News newspaper, stated: “If the allegations are true, this would without doubt be the deepest crisis the government has faced.”
Yetkin points out that four of the new cabinet ministers are close loyalists of Erdogan, which is why the media have dubbed it the “war cabinet.” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, has already asked the prime minister: “Who do you want to fight against?”
The crisis has hit the financial markets hard, and the Turkish lira plummeted to a record low against the dollar on Thursday.
Professor Sahin Alpay of Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University told AP: “It’s a pity that a leader who in his first two terms as prime minister served the country so well has since the last general election turned increasingly arbitrary and authoritarian. He’s looking more and more like a train without brakes, like a loose cannon.”