The memoirs of Abdullah Gül's chief press advisor Ahmet Sever has created a row within the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and in the presidential quarters. The book clearly suggests that the relationship between former President Abdullah Gül and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was tarnished in a series of events when Erdoğan was prime minister and that Gül did not see eye to eye with his old friend on many issues. At first it was said Gül approved the publication of the book after reading it and even made some changes in it, but wanted it be published after the June 7 elections.
Then Gül made a written statement saying he had no say in the publication of the book as he did not feel he had the right to censor it. He said the book reflects what Sever perceives to be the truth and what happened during the 12 years he served with Gül. However, Gül stressed that he voiced to Sever his displeasure over the fact that such a book was being written at all. The fact that the book was published at such a time when the AK Party faced some setbacks in the June 7 elections and when people are questioning the performance of the party administration and even Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu as well as the fact that the book does not treat Erdoğan too kindly suggest this is no coincidence.
Gül has always been a popular political personality in the AK Party ranks and there have always been suggestions that he could be a viable party leader and prime minister. He has been regarded as the moderating factor in the AK Party and many have seen his departure from government and rise to the presidency as a turning point when Erdoğan became more rigid and uncompromising.
Now we see that with the publication of the book there is an attempt to distance Gül from the AK Party and Sever has been used for this mission. It was always odd that Sever, who was always regarded as a liberal and who did not look on the AK Party very kindly, should serve with Gül in such an important position. However, many people felt Gül would know better and did not push too hard on the issue. Yet today we see that Gül had made a bad choice and proved the point that if you live with a bear you will sooner or later be mauled.
Sever has hurt Gül in many ways. He has shown Gül at odds with Erdoğan and in fact working behind his back. Thus he has now driven a wedge between Erdoğan and Gül that may be repaired, but nothing will ever be the same. Sever has also tarnished Gül's image among the AK Party rank and file, which is also very sad. Sever unintentionally has strengthened the hand of the prime minister who may now emerge from an AK Party convention even stronger.
Some people suggest Sever wanted to intentionally sever Gül's ties with the AK Party and push him into leading a new political venture where he brings together the major players of the center-right in Turkey along with former disgruntled AK Party deputies and challenges the AK Party. This may sound good, but it does not take into consideration the realities of Turkey.
It seems some people are daydreaming that the latest elections setback finished off the AK Party and Erdoğan. That is a colossal mistake.
Sever has made a mistake. An advisor should never write his memoirs when he has been trusted so much by his leader and has been allowed to share intimate details. This columnist served as the top advisor to the late Süleyman Demirel in the most sensitive times and was privy to many secrets. The same with late prime minister Necmettin Erbakan. Erbakan shared many secret and intimate details with me. Yet I have no book and have shown the utmost respect to the dear memories of Demirel and Erbakan.