ISTANBUL- The deepening corruption scandal shaking Turkey’s political establishment seems to have pitted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan against his longtime political ally President Abdullah Gul, observers say.
Although the two leaders have never openly positioned themselves against each other, they now seem to have trouble concealing the discord between them over the role of the judiciary in the high-profile graft probe that poses the most serious challenge to Erdogan’s 11 years in power.
“It would not be a surprise if Gul, who is in favour of a stance that prevents the row from becoming more ‘bloody’, threw more weight behind the issue,” said Oral Calislar, a columnist for the liberal daily Radikal.
Erdogan, grappling with a damaging graft inquiry that targeted cabinet ministers and top businessmen, has been in a battle with the judiciary since the corruption scandal broke out last month.
The Turkish strongman has branded the probe as a “smear campaign” to undermine Turkey’s ambitions to become a major political and economic power, and last weekend he called it a “judicial coup”.
Erdogan repeatedly lashed out at Muammer Akkas, a Turkish prosecutor who said he had been prevented from expanding the corruption investigation and described a new police regulation obliging those carrying out probes to inform superiors as “unconstitutional.”