March 11, 2014
Turkey: opposition accuses Erdogan of trying to rule with secretive 'deep state'
Turkey's opposition accused scandal-hit Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan today of trying to rule via a secretive "deep state" after a cabinet reshuffle that would tighten controls on police already beleaguered by government-ordered purges.
Among 10 new loyalist ministers Erdogan named late on Wednesday was Efkan Ala, a former governor of the restive Diyarbakir province who will now wield the powerful Interior portfolio and oversee Turkish domestic security.
Ala replaces Muammer Guler, one of three cabinet members who resigned after their sons were detained in a graft probe that erupted on December 17. Guler, who like Erdogan had called the case baseless and a plot, sacked or reassigned dozens of police officers involved including the chief of the force in Istanbul.
"He (Erdogan) is trying to put together a cabinet that will not show any opposition to him. In this context, Efkan Ala has a key role," Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the biggest opposition party CHP, said in remarks carried by Turkish media.
"Erdogan has a deep state, (his) AK Party has a deep state and Efkan Ala is one of the elements of that deep state," added Kilicdaroglu, using a term that for Turks denotes a shadowy power structure unhindered by democratic checks and balances.
During his three terms in office, the Islamist-rooted Erdogan has transformed Turkey, cutting back its once-dominant secularist military and overseeing rapid economic expansion. He weathered unprecedented anti-government protests that swept major cities in mid-2013.
But his response to the corruption case drew an EU call for the independence of Turkey's judiciary to be safeguarded. It has rattled stocks and the lira, with the currency falling to a historic low of 2.1035 against the dollar on Thursday before recovering a little.
"The dismissal of half an entire cabinet is worrying enough. The corruption probe is escalating by the day, causing a further deterioration in market sentiment towards Turkey," said Nicholas Spiro, head of Spiro Sovereign Strategy.