Erdoğan's battle for state control: Witch-hunt underway?

Here is my latest article for Al Jazeera:

In what looks like a perfect political storm, the vessel called Turkey is now in uncharted waters, increasingly adrift. During the last ten days that shook the country – following a police operation linked to a massive graft probe which involved four government ministers, an Iranian businessman and the CEO of a public bank, Halkbank, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the judiciary are now at what can be described as a full-scale war.

The developing story has two layers. At the top, there are allegations of bribery, money-laundering, racketeering, and organised crime of immense proportions. If the accusations have ground, the suspects – two of the detained are the sons of government ministers – have received bribes that surpass $120m.

In a so-called “second wave” graft probe, which was blocked by a stunning row between the government and the judiciary, one of the suspects is Bilal, son of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

As the corruption inquiries seem to engulf Erdogan’s family, the confrontation between the executive and the judiciary has – perhaps expectedly – turned into an existential battle for the separation of powers, threatening the stability of Turkey.

In the second layer, there is open warfare between two men, who, in their own way, have defined the course of the country, and its national brand of Islam – Erdogan representing its vertically political and Gulen its horizontally social side.

Erdogan, who had accused an array of enemies – the interest rate lobby, Israel, international media, and business circles in Istanbul – as the real culprits behind the early summer’s Gezi Park protests and general urban unrest, has now added Fethullah Gulen and his followers as the top player to oust him from power, claiming that “the gang” associated with Gulen’s Hizmet Movement, has operated within the state, plotting against his rule.

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