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article imageTurkey's corruption scandal continues Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Dec 20, 2013 in World
Istanbul - No one is sure who is behind the corruption inquiries that have been rocking Turkey the past week and upsetting Prime Minister Erdogan's Ak Party, but there are several theories.
First, Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan of the Ak ("white") Party closed down the private language schools of powerful exiled Islamic cleric Fetullah Gulen. Then, to everyone's surprise (even Erdogan's), top leaders in the Ak Party found their families being investigated. Erdogan called this an attack against his government and implicated Fetullah Gulen as being behind the sudden corruption inquiries that landed top government officials, bank presidents, and even billionaire builders in jail. Gulen denied involvement in the "operation" (as it's being called in the Turkish news).
No one really knows what is happening right now in Turkey. The U.S. is calling this "a family fight" and doesn't want to be dragged into it. Whoever is behind this scandal, the fact remains that lots of money is involved. Photos of cash, huge safes, and even ATM machines stashed in the houses of top Turkish leaders have circulated the internet. Erdogan struck back by firing dozens of police officers and even police chiefs across Turkey, including the one in charge of Istanbul.
Gulen cursed this act of firing police officers (and, it seems, in doing so cursed the one responsible for the acts—Erdogan himself). On one of his websites Gulen wrote, " . . . Those who don't see the thief but go after those trying to catch the thief, who don't see the murder but try to defame others by accusing innocent people—let God bring fire to their houses, ruin their homes, break their unities."
"Maybe the CHP is at least partly behind this," one Turkish man told me. "They are Ataturk's party and don't want to see his ideals of secular democracy betrayed. They also want closer ties to Europe and the human rights it offers. Too many Turks now sit in prison simply for speaking or writing what Erdogan doesn't like. They don't want to see Turkey become an Islamic state like Erdogan envisions. They don't want to be dragged back to the time of the sultans."
Some analysts are saying that, because of this corruption scandal, either Erdogan or what remains of democracy will exit from Turkey. But instead of admitting any guilt on behalf of Ak Party people accused of corruption, Erdogan struck out against the international community, calling this event an "international plot" against Turkey. Erdogan even warned foreign ambassadors, including US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone:
"Some ambassadors are engaged in provocative actions... Do your job," Erdogan said in televised remarks in the Black Sea city of Samsun. "We don't have to keep you in our country."
In his booming voice, Erdogan stated, "We will also spoil this game the same as we did during Gezi" (referring to this summer's freedom protests). It seems clear that Erdogan will not back down as he continues to replace police officers throughout Turkey and defend members of his Ak Party against corruption. We can only wait and see what happens.
Ak Party Prime Minister Erdogan places his banner next to Ataturk at the Kocaeli Book Fair in 2012. ...
Ak Party Prime Minister Erdogan places his banner next to Ataturk at the Kocaeli Book Fair in 2012. This is the photo that almost got me arrested in Turkey.
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