For the past couple years, Turkey was the stage of a silent war between the government and Gülen movement until the struggle became a full-fledged open conflict when four cabinet ministers were targeted in a graft scandal last December.
It all started when in an unprecedented and mysterious manner the state prosecutor tried to jail Turkey's intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, for establishing dialogue with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in an endeavor to start a peace process to end separatist terrorism in Turkey.
It blew wide open when prosecutors allegedly linked to the Gülen community unleashed an anti-graft operation on Dec. 17 that mushroomed into an all-out campaign to topple the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. All the anti-government forces rallied behind the Gülen community and we observed strange alliances where old enemies became new allies. The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) backed the Gülen Movement that attempted to hurt the government with the revelation of a series of recordings of alleged confidential conversations between people in high places, some even with their children.
Prime Minister Erdoğan was visibly angry and lashed out at the Gülen Movement, promising all-out criminal proceedings and legal action for attempts to undermine the government. The prime minister was extra bitter and shaken because he had trusted the Gülen Movement as "fellow practicing Muslims" who he believed would find it "unacceptable" to commit an un-Islamic act. And yet, he realized that not only had Gülen followers established their own state within the state to the detriment of the government, but they had also collected information that would be harmful to the Erdoğan administration through eavesdropping and even spying while they pretended to be die-hard Muslim brothers.
The struggle was further complicated as Turkey found itself in the hub of the local elections campaign that has turned into a referendum of "do you want the restoration of the plunder system in Turkey where the elite use all resources of the country and herd the majority or do you want to support the new Turkey under development by the Justice and Development Party of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan?" Tomorrow the nation will go to the polls to elect its local administrators but the stakes are high as the nation may well be voting to shape the future course of the country.
As the Election Day approached, Turkey buzzed with rumors that the Gülen Movement would reveal earth shattering recordings that would bury the government. Yet no one expected "someone" to reveal ultra-secret recordings of conversations between the foreign minister, undersecretary of foreign affairs, intelligence chief of Turkey and the no. 2 general of Turkey. And in particular, no one expected for a conversation to be leaked in which they discuss security options in light of the latest developments in Syria, where religious fanatics opposed to the Assad regime captured border areas near Turkey and are threatening Turkish soldiers deployed at the grave of Suleiman Shah (grandfather to Osman Gazi – founder of the Ottoman empire), which according to treaties is a tiny piece of land within Syrian borders, owned by Turkey.
Turkish authorities have been pondering what to do if the small post comes under attack and all kinds of options have been taken up at a secret meeting at the Foreign Ministry. The recordings leaked on YouTube on Thursday were from this meeting. Authorities could only respond to this vicious attack on Turkish national security by shutting down YouTube as they did with Twitter and putting a blackout on the publication of the recordings.
What "someone" did is a clear act of war against the Turkish state. Some may feel this is directly aimed at weakening and destroying Erdoğan but what this person has done will hardly put a dent in Erdoğan's popularity; on the contrary, it may well help rally more voters behind his AK Party.
Then some people will say Erdoğan staged all this to consolidate his own votes which would be completely wrong because the information that was leaked hurts Turkey and its administration and weakens its hand, especially for someone who has to run the country effectively after the local elections. Such an act would be extremely harmful, if not suicidal.
Some people may argue that citizens have the right to know what is being cooked up in government offices. But what has been leaked is only aimed at paralyzing the national security response to a dangerous development on our border and nothing to do with Erdoğan.
In these leaked secret recordings options were discussed. Some people played devil's advocate; Turkey's weaknesses were debated. The level-headed approach and talent of those attending the meeting was evident. The pros and cons of actions were discussed. Revealing these only hurts Turkey's vital interests and nothing else.
For those who may claim "but they were cooking up a war to bolster the government's image as we went to polls," the answer is clear: Did the government order any military operation – even a limited one – on the grave in Syria?
What "someone" has done is an act of treason. We expect the authorities led by the head of intelligence, Mr. Hakan Fidan, to sort out this mess and get to the bottom of this security scandal. They are openly spying on our secret meetings. The meaning of "state secrets" becomes meaningless under these conditions. The nation cannot tolerate its secrets being displayed like this.