In March 2015, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said members of Fethullah Gulen’s network, who had infiltrated into the judiciary,
had tricked his administration into supporting cases against high ranking military officers, who were arrested, tried and imprisoned for allegedly planning a coup against the Government.
Not long before this statement Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Gulen’s outfit were close allies against their secularist rivals, who were opposed to the AKP’s Islamist agenda.
In June 2016 Erdogan repeated that they were tricked by the Gulen group, saying, “we were the victims of our own best intentions,” thus trying to answer criticism about the close former ties between the AKP and this group.
In April this year, Erdogan told Al Jazeera that they had been tricked by former U.S. President Barack Obama over the issue of U.S. support for the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and its military wing the Peoples Protection Units (YPG), in syria.
In September of this year Erdogan said they had been misled (which is a polite way of saying, “tricked”) by Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, into believing that the KRG would not hold an independence referendum, which it went ahead and did.
Erdogan has not said so yet, but it is clear that he and his administration were also tricked by Reza Zarrab, who is on trial in New York for busting U.S. sanctions on Iran by also bribing Government and state officials in Turkey.
Before his arrest in Florida in March 2016 Zarrab was a highly respected businessman for Erdogan and his administration, which not only saved Zarrab when he was arrested in Turkey on similar charges leveled at him in the U.S., but went on to shower him with accolades, and award him with a plaque for “services rendered to the Turkish economy.”
We all saw the pictures the other day of a Russian general hobnobbing with ranking YPG members in syria, against the backdrop of the YPG banner and the Russian flag. Erdogan has not commented on this yet, but went on instead, a day after that picture was released, to hit at the U.S. over its dealings with the YPG.
Russia clearly has an agenda in syria that is not in line with Ankara’s agenda. Erdogan is silent on this because he needs Russia’s support against the U.S. What is clear, however, is that Moscow has no intention of ending its support for the PYD and YPG, or, for that matter, listing the PKK is as a terrorist organization.
We will have to wait and see how long it takes Erdogan to admit he was tricked by Putin. What is clear, however, is that this degree of gullibility makes one question just how much of a grip our leadership has over developments at home and abroad if it can be tricked so easily and so often.