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HomeHeadlineBehind Closed Doors: Erdoğan's Clandestine Meetings and Political Stirrings in Turkey

Behind Closed Doors: Erdoğan’s Clandestine Meetings and Political Stirrings in Turkey

Necip F. Bahadir

Should a ‘political meaning’ be attributed to Tayyip Erdoğan’s mysterious two meetings? Yes. Could there be personal or humanitarian reasons? Maybe. You would understand which two meetings I am referring to. I will start with the second one. The surprise meeting at the Palace with Meral Akşener that made everyone ask, “What is happening?”

Everything about the photo is a secret…

Two months ago, Meral Akşener said, “I won’t even bother with politics!” and left Ankara, disappearing from public view. She stayed away from the media until the funerals earlier this week. At both funerals, she made her presence felt with her ‘blonde hair.’ Was the change in hairstyle an indicator of a new life away from politics? New lives often start with ‘small changes.’ Then, like a bombshell, news of a ‘meeting’ exploded onto the political scene.

The news was announced by Fahrettin Altun, the Palace’s communication chief, on his social media account. Akşener was to meet with Erdoğan at the Palace. Naturally, conspiracy theories flew high. Scenario after scenario was written. No statements were made after the meeting. Who requested the meeting? What was discussed? Why did the meeting take place at the Palace and not in Istanbul? So many questions! Only claims and political scenarios instead of answers.

Actually, a meeting between leaders is quite natural. They could come together to discuss national issues or for humanitarian reasons. Since meetings between leaders are rare in Turkish politics, each appointment raises a lot of questions. Especially if no satisfying explanation is given, the public sphere becomes rife with conspiracy theories, as in our latest example.

Is it possible that a ‘position’ was begged for her son? The Erdoğan – Akşener meeting is ripe and suitable for loading with ‘extraordinary meanings.’ So much so that even ‘outrageous conspiracy theories’ occupy the mind, wondering if they might actually be true. For two days, I have been pondering more about the political significance of the meeting, considering the ‘game plans’ of both sides. Comments are predominantly from Akşener’s side…

One concrete reason; a request for her son, Fatih, to be the ambassador to Paris… A simple reason, yet the claim was neither denied nor confirmed. Could a political leader like Akşener really stoop to begging for a position at the Palace for her son? Could she not have conveyed her request to Erdoğan at the funeral, handing him a note? I’m not saying it’s impossible, but just a ‘request for a position’ does not convince me.

Another claim is about taking on a role in the new constitutional efforts; what kind of task could Akşener undertake? Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş coordinates these efforts. Would she assist him? Act as a mediator in inter-party talks? After so much has transpired, who would give Akşener the time of day? The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) wouldn’t even open its doors to her. She couldn’t shake hands with Devlet Bahçeli. Draft a constitution text? That’s beyond her! In my opinion, the ‘new constitution’ could not have been the reason for the meeting.

Will she become a ‘mediator’ in politics? Could there be a supra-political ‘mediation or international role’ like those often seen in countries like America? Possible. But there isn’t even a search for such a role… If a mission is to be invented for Akşener, why not? Whether it fits the book or not, a way can be found. The AKP’s recent term is quite accommodating of such oddities. A mission on Turkish world affairs, for example… If any logic is to be sought, this would make more sense.

Could it be about persuading deputies from the Good Party to vote for the new constitution? Akşener could probably convince more than 20 deputies to vote for the constitution. But there’s no proposal or egg yet. Such a meeting for this purpose would be very premature. Maybe just testing the waters… Would Akşener drive the final nail in the coffin of the Good Party, which she founded? After all, sticking one’s hand inside the party for another party or Erdoğan has another meaning and outcome.

What if the meeting request came from Erdoğan? Comments and scenarios are all focused on Akşener. I prefer to change the perspective. The meeting certainly pleased Erdoğan. The communications director announced the news in a cheerful tone. Why not an Erdoğan move? What were his intentions and goals? After March 31, no one is unaware that he is looking for new allies against electoral defeat. Like his approach to Özgür Özel.

Is Erdoğan clinging to Akşener as he falls into the sea! It might not be very realistic, but it’s not hard to guess that Erdoğan has loaded the ‘Akşener photo’ with a message of ‘still having power.’ What support and contribution could a politically exhausted Akşener, who has been slapped by the electorate, possibly offer Erdoğan… other than occupying the agenda for a few days? Erdoğan is in a ‘dove fight’ with his partner Bahçeli. Why not a ‘bluff to the MHP’? Bahçeli, even annoyed by the private meeting, would be disturbed by the Akşener meeting, wouldn’t he? Very much so…

The collaboration between Erdoğan and Sinan Oğan in the second round of the May elections really bothered the MHP. Who knows what scenarios and theories are spinning in Bahçeli’s head about the Akşener meeting. Perhaps Erdoğan is setting up a ‘game plan’ with Akşener on nationalist politics. It won’t yield results, of course. But it’s important to remember that someone drowning tries every possible way to avoid drowning. Searching for logic and consistency in Erdoğan’s actions after March 31 is futile. This is one of them. Could Akşener possibly save Erdoğan, who is rapidly heading towards his fate?

Perhaps it’s not right to load this meeting with so much ‘political meaning.’ But if there is a concern to make a note in history, then it changes. Why do you think this article was written? To attract attention and to fulfill a debt to history… That’s why I couldn’t ignore it.

Abdullah Gül camp is stirring! The other mysterious meeting? Erdoğan’s meeting with Abdullah Gül in Istanbul… Again, no explanation was given. The claim was neither confirmed nor denied. I wasn’t surprised. It would be fitting to say I ‘expected it.’ Why? There’s a stirring in the Abdullah Gül camp that could annoy Erdoğan. A topic for another article… Still brewing in my mind. Waiting for some additional backstage information. The number of guards and vehicles for Gül is also not a surprise. Always the answers to that stirring. In every article, I emphasize the search for the post-Erdoğan era. If you look at the air, the ‘Gül scenario’ is about to take shape.

As you can see, even from afar, your writer presents every breeze and even every rustling leaf in Ankara politics to your attention. Rest assured, politics is pregnant with ‘big surprises.’ How could I remain indifferent to such mysterious meetings, even thousands of kilometers away…

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