Turkey: Erdogan-Gul ambitions behind the curtains

'Good cop, Bad cop' game in different response to clashes

05 June, 20:28

    Civil unrest in Turkey Civil unrest in Turkey

    (by Francesco Cerri) (ANSAmed) - Ankara - The Turkish government's response to the clashes that have emerged on the streets of Istanbul has exposed divisions within the ruling party of premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to pundits.

    It has been described as 'good cop, bad cop' as Erdogan and president Abdullah Gul who are members of the same AKP have responded to the conflict on the streets.

    As members of the core group that founded the AKP, Erdogan and Gul have been longtime political partners, working collaboratively in the party's early days to overcome the Turkish secularists' disquiet over the rise of the moderate Islamist party.

    After the AKP's first electoral victory in November 2002, Gul briefly held the prime minister's post since Erdogan was banned from public life and in March 2003, Gul handed over the premiership to Erdogan after the new AKP government succeeded in overturning the ban.

    In relation to the latest clashes, the Turkish media have accused Erdogan of inflameing the conflict with his outspoken rhetoric and pejorative comments about the protesters, while the president adopted a more moderate tone of a leader ready for dialogue with the rebels.

    According to analysts, the 2014 presidential election is the real issue as the two leaders jockey for position and are on track for more conflict.

    Early friction was seen last summer when Erdogan made it known he had an eye on Gul's position after a constitutional review.

    In other words, Erdogan wanted to become head of state - also because the rules of the AKP do not allow him to remain prime minister after 2015.

    But the plans of the premier provoked a reaction from the president who wants to remain in office for another five years.

    Gul made his irritation known and since then tension between the two former friends has grown.

    Gul, considered a 'hawk' 10 years ago, has transformed his image and become a man of consensus and moderation.

    Erdogan, convinced he had no other rivals on the horizon, since the election victory of 2011 ( his 3rd with 50%)adopted a more authoritative approach and accelerated the 'Islamic' change of the country.

    During the long hunger strike by thousands of Kurdish prisoners last year, Gul called for moderation and put pressure on the justice minister, and won.

    Erdogan then wanted to cut immunity for MPs belonging to the Kurdish BDP party.

    Gul opposed the move in the name of democracy and Erdogan changed his mind.

    Erdogan, the 'sultan', banned the opposition from celebrating the anniversary of the republic and sent police to tanks to impose the ban. Gul called for the governor of Ankara to withdraw the police.

    Now Erdogan has labelled as ''vandals'' the thousands of protesters that are calling for his resignation.

    The president said it is legitimate to protest peacefully and as soon as the premier left for three days in the Maghreb agreed with his deputy on a means to negotiate. (ANSAmed).

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