Erdogan gains on bid for presidency in Turkey, calls opponents terrorists and traitors

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turkish PM Recep Tayyip ErdoganTurkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan looked a step closer to a presidential bid and to gaining the upper hand in a bitter power struggle on Monday, casting strong local election results as a mandate to hunt down enemies within the state “in their lair.”

His AK Party swept the electoral map in Sunday’s polls, retaining control of the two biggest cities Istanbul and Ankara and increasing its share of the national vote as his pugnacious leadership style, beloved by a loyal, conservative voter base, trumped a stream of corruption allegations and security leaks.

From a balcony at AKP headquarters at the end of a long and bitter election that became a referendum on his rule, Erdogan told thousands of cheering supporters that his enemies in politics and the state, whom he has labeled “traitors,” “terrorists” and “an alliance of evil”, would pay the price.

“We will enter their lair,” he said, before a huge firework display lit up Ankara’s midnight sky. “They will be brought to account. How can you threaten national security?”

The harsh tone of his balcony address suggested he felt he now had a mandate for strong action against his enemies. “From tomorrow, there may be some who flee,” he said.

The election campaign has been dominated by a power struggle between Erdogan and U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of using a network of followers in the police and judiciary to fabricate graft smears in an effort to topple him.

Erdogan, who has long drawn support from the same Muslim professional class that reveres Gulen, has purged thousands of police officers and hundreds of judges and prosecutors since anti-graft raids in December targeted businessmen close to the premier as well as the sons of some government ministers.

Investors, who have been unnerved by the turbulence, took solace in the election result, seeing it as a sign of political continuity. The lira rallied to its strongest in two months and stocks hit a 3-month high.

“From a market perspective, the election result appears to be more or less what the doctor ordered: a solid win for the AKP which shores up the position of Turkey’s ruling party,” said Nicholas Spiro, head of Spiro Sovereign Strategy.

The main opposition CHP said it would challenge the result in Ankara, which was a particularly close race. But no major changes were expected in a nationwide tally which put the AKP on some 45.6 percent with almost all the votes counted, a robust increase on its 39-percent share at local elections in 2009.

PRESIDENTIAL AMBITION

Erdogan has made no secret of his ambition to become Turkey’s first directly elected president in an August ballot, but the feud with Gulen, the corruption allegations and street protests last summer had all raised questions over how easily he would secure a majority in the first round.

“Of course this has reinforced Erdogan’s bid for the presidential polls,” one source close to the government said of Sunday’s election result. “He was in need of a vote of confidence, both from the people and for those who have been critical of him within the party.”

A senior government official concurred, saying there were now “no obstacles before him” on the road to the presidency, although the official said rooting out Gulen’s influence within the state would remain Erdogan’s priority. He could, instead, choose to run for a fourth term as premier in a parliamentary election next year in order to finish off that battle.

“Erdogan is certainly much closer to the presidency,” the official said. “But he makes his own agenda. Very soon he will begin his assessment of what needs to be done together with the party’s ruling echelons.”

The crisis reached a new level at the end of last week when a recording of a top-secret meeting of security officials about possible intervention in Syria was posted anonymously on YouTube. The action, for which Gulen denies any responsibility, raised serious concern about government control of its own security apparatus and speculation about further damaging leaks.

“The prime minister takes this extremely seriously,” the source close to the government said. “Such a structure can not be allowed within the state and before he makes a move for the presidential bid he needs to make sure that these people will be carved out of the state institutions.”

“BURIED AT THE BALLOT BOX”

Erdogan, lacking trained personnel loyal to himself, filled government departments with Gulen supporters when he first was elected in 2002. Gulen, who runs a huge network of schools and businesses, is widely credited with having helped Erdogan break the political power of the armed forces using allies in the police and judiciary.

But in recent years friction has grown between the two men and came to a head when Erdogan moved to curb Gulen’s influence and close the schools that are a key source of income and influence.

He now seems likely to step up his drive against Gulen.

“Let me tell you, Erdogan’s response is coming,” said Tesev think-tank chairman Can Paker, seen as close to Erdogan.

“He will harshly and fully clean up the police and judiciary. And he will purge the press that supported the leaks. He will most certainly do that. He will say ‘I was elected to eliminate them’. He is not going to soften.”

The authorities have already begun an espionage investigation following the leaked Syria recording, and on Monday the Cihan news agency and the Zaman newspaper – both affiliated to Gulen – claimed they had come under “cyber attack” during their election night coverage.

Pro-government newspapers heaped scorn on Erdogan’s opponents, with one, Yeni Safak, showing pictures of opposition leaders and Gulen under the headline “Buried at the Ballot Box.”

“It’s already clear from his speech this evening that he’s basically threatening society,” said Gursel Tekin, CHP Vice President. “This shows his state of mind isn’t to be trusted, and these obvious threats are not something that we can accept.”

Reuters

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12 responses to “Erdogan gains on bid for presidency in Turkey, calls opponents terrorists and traitors”

  1. Shirdel2142 Avatar
    Shirdel2142

    Dictator in the making,bye bye turkey and hello massive arrests and torture,so welcome to the rest of the middle east.

    1. MekensehParty Avatar
      MekensehParty

      Not only him, but the Turkish population who voted for him after all these scandals

      1. Don’t tell me you are criticizing one of the main US puppets. This guy is a home grown US thug. He should be right up your alley.

        1. dateam Avatar

          Hes an MB….but hes allowed to call his enemies terrorists…syria is not? “his enemies in politics and the state, whom he has labeled “traitors,” “terrorists” and “an alliance of evil”, would pay the price.” but nusra ISIS operate freely out of turkey? They gave cover for those that kidnapped the 9 pilgrims as well? Such a contradiction… My enemies enemies enemies enemies friend?

          1. 5thDrawer Avatar
            5thDrawer

            I guess one is only a ‘citizen’ if he/she votes FOR the Erdogans of the world … otherwise they are enemies, terrorists, or, at least, unbelievers.
            Us old ‘hippies’ understand that line. 😉

          2. MekensehParty Avatar
            MekensehParty

            We have nothing to do with this prick Erdogan and never have.
            Him and the Qatari ex Prince have been playing multiple horses for years.
            Their friendliness with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas did not go unnoticed.
            The Qatar emir is bye bye, Erdogan still has the majority of the Turks supporting him but his foreign influence is nil.
            He’s not our puppet, we can and will pressure him, and delegitimize him in a second if he starts killing protesters like Assad.

        2. MekensehParty Avatar
          MekensehParty

          “Everyone you despise is a US or Israeli tool.
          Repeat this a hundred times before you sleep every night”
          said your teacher in basij kindergarten

  2. Constantin7 Avatar
    Constantin7

    So much of a democracy calling opponents “terrorists and traitors”, however not surprising from an islamic party whose culture is to eliminate opponents.

    1. Any opportunity to have a go at Moslems. Quite sad.

      1. Constantin7 Avatar
        Constantin7

        Not at moslems at all !!! At Islam yes, because it is the root of all the violence that is happening in the islamic world, and some non-islamic countries, the culture that is based on eliminating every one who has different opinion and make them Kafir. Moslems are the 1st victicms of this religion. Unfortunately, moslems also do not distinguish between themselves and their religion, and for this reason they take it personally if Islam is criticized. If you criticize Christianity, I don’t care and do not take it personally, my religion and my god do not need humans to defend them. If I say in public what I post on this blog, probably I would be dead by now. Yeah it is sad to see an entire Ummah who cannot SEE ! Or who sees but does not dare to speak up for fear of violent repercussions. A religion that brings and installs fear in its followers is NEVER sourced from GOD. Fear and uncertainty are the devil’s best tools.

        1. Maborlz Ez-Hari Avatar
          Maborlz Ez-Hari

          Can’t argue with that con.

          1. 5thDrawer Avatar
            5thDrawer

            Voila Tripoli … it runs on fear and uncertainty. The gangs love it.

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