News / Europe

Turkish PM Reassigns 350 Ankara Police

FILE - Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference.
FILE - Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference.
Dorian Jones
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired hundreds of police officers in what is considered to be the latest purge of police and prosecutors since an investigation  into alleged high-level government corruption. 

In Ankara, 350 police officers were sacked or reassigned after a government decree  issued at midnight Monday, local time. Hundreds of officers from neighboring towns will replace them. The move follows the launch of a major probe involving alleged rigged construction tenders and laundering of money from neighboring Iran. Three cabinet ministers ended up resigning following the detention of their sons.
 
But Erdogan has described the investigation as a dirty plot and part of international conspiracy to overthrow his government. Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Forum warns the deepening crisis threatens the stability of the country.
 
"As the judiciary as a key institution in a democratic country is completely upside down and there is a very serious chaos, actually," he said.
 
Among the hundreds removed is the Istanbul police chief and senior officers thought to be involved in the corruption probe, including the chief of financial investigations.
 
Government officials have accused followers of an Islamic group led by Fetullah Gulen, a former backer of Turkey's Islam-rooted government who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, of being behind the corruption investigation. Gulen has denied the allegation.
 
Asli Aydintasbas, a political columnist for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, says it’s hard to judge the validity of the government's conspiracy claims.

"There is no doubt that this is part of this part of the power struggle between Gulenists and the government. And the Gulenists are influential in the judiciary and the police force," Aydintasbas said. " Except who are the Gulenists: do they take orders from Pennsylvania, where Fetullah Gulen lives, or is it just some sort of emotional spiritual guidance?"
 
A much wider purge of followers of Gulen could be in offing. A senior deputy of the ruling AK Party tweeted that the government has a list of 2,000 Gulen followers not only in the judiciary and police, but also among journalists, businessmen and academics. The government subsequently denied the existence of the list.
 
Political scientist Aktar claims the government now faces its most serious challenge since coming to power.
 
"It's one of the most serious crises," noted Aktar. "It's probably one of the biggest crises in the last 11 years, because it touches the very core of the key institutions of the regime and no one knows how the dust will settle."
 
For now, the mass dismissals of police and prosecutors appear to have brought the corruption probe to a halt. But political columnist Aydintasbas says the government remains mired in the graft allegations and is seeking to cover them up.

"Some of these allegations are very serious and cannot be ignored and, in the end, we are going to go to the ballots at the end of March for local elections," she noted, adding that Erdogan will be looking to upcoming elections for vindication. "It's going to be a referendum on Erdogan and his government. It's not going to be about local government; its going to be about Erdogan."
 
Observers say Erdogan will be buoyed by the knowledge that he faces what is still a largely ineffectual opposition. But the controversy surrounding the corruption investigation continues to hit the economy hard, with the Turkish currency plummeting to record lows this week. Still, it remains unclear who the public will ultimately blame for the crisis and its consequences.

You May Like

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: US Army Turns Its Best Minds Toward Ebola

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Dissident Venezuelan General Resurfaces in New York

Antonio Rivero has resurfaced after nearly a year in hiding, appearing at United Nations in New York More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Goghi
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid