The soured relationship with Israel and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's tough line with the Jewish state are all part of a façade to deceive the Turkish public, former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan has claimed.
In an exclusive interview with Today's Zaman at his house in Balgat, Ankara, the 84-year-old leader of the Felicity Party (SP) criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), saying it is in the hands of the worldwide Zionist movement. He implied that the rise of the AK Party was helped by the international Jewish conspiracy and vowed that he will fight back to stem the Zionist grip on the neck of Turkey.
“Why on earth did the AK Party give a ‘go ahead' to the membership of Israel in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] and not block membership? Why did the government consent to multi-billion dollars worth of defense contracts with Israeli firms? He [Erdoğan] says ‘one-minute' to [Israeli president Shimon] Peres during Davos but conducts business as usual with the Jewish state. This is hypocrisy,” Erbakan said.
Erbakan, who was ousted from the government on Feb. 28, 1997, under military pressure, was later banned from politics, and his Welfare Party (RP) was shut down by the Constitutional Court. He was later pardoned and took the helm of the new SP during an extraordinary party congress on Oct. 18. The SP was shaken by an intra-party conflict when the party's former leader, Numan Kurtulmuş, emerged victorious in a dispute with Erbakan over the party administration list during the party's fourth grand party congress in July. Kurtulmuş, who was placed under pressure to resign after July's congress, parted ways with the SP to establish his own party.
Both Prime Minister Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül served in Erbakan's old RP before they, too, parted ways in 2000 and established the AK Party. During the interview Erbakan described both leaders as proxies in the hands of the Jewish conspiracy, though he said, “They [Erdoğan and Gül] do not know they have been serving Israeli interests.” Erbakan offered no proof of his allegations but touted Jewish conspiracy books written by Harun Yahya and Garry Allen located at the table on his left. Books were marked on many pages, and some sections were underlined and highlighted.
As for the recent WikiLeaks releases, Erbakan claimed the leaked information was planned to deceive average Turkish citizens. “But it did not work, and citizens will vote for our party in the upcoming elections,” he said.
The wheelchair-bound Erbakan vowed to bring the SP to power in next year's general elections and claimed the Turkish people voted for the AK Party in the last two elections because they thought the AK Party mistakenly represented the National View, a hard-liner policy laced with religion and professed by Erbakan. “Now the average citizen will come home and vote for us,” he claimed, stressing the government has lost touch with the voter base and that the country is plunging into a debt trap.
Erbakan also reiterated his fierce opposition to the European Union membership process, saying the EU has been trying to enslave the Turkish people. “We will break the chains of the EU when we come to power and reverse the process,” he vowed. The former prime minister refused to label his party policies as part of politics, but instead offered an explanation of religious tenets that drive his ambitions. “This is like a jihad for us, and it is incumbent upon every Muslim to order ‘the good' and avoid ‘the evil',” he said.
Asked whether he is preparing his son Fatih for his own place in the party, the 84-year-old politician said it is up to his son to lead the party and that he could not discourage him from seeking a political career for himself. He dismissed allegations of a political dynasty, but drawing an analogy to Ottoman sultans who passed on the throne to their sons, Erbakan said there is nothing wrong if his son takes over the party. “The Ottomans did a great job and conquered the world by using this system,” he underlined. Erbakan's children, Fatih and Elif, who were excluded from Kurtulmuş's party administration list in the party's July congress, were also elected to senior posts in the party after Erbakan took over the helm.
As for political alliances on the eve of national elections, Erbakan did not dismiss the possibility of forming alliances with other parties. “We will look and talk about it with other political leaders and see what happens,” he said.
Vindication from Makovsky report
Erbakan took the gloves off when the military harshly criticized his government for doing away with the secular characteristics of the state during a National Security Council (MGK) meeting on Feb. 28, 1997. “I did not give in to military demands, which was later proved by [Senior Fellow at Washington Institute for Near East Policy] Alan O. Makovsky's report. The junta in the military presented these as their own, but actually it was Zionist demands articulated by Makovsky. We did not know it then, but we know now,” he said.
“I was all alone at that MGK meeting. [Deputy Prime Minister Tansu] Çiller was silent, while President Süleyman Demirel was siding with the military. But I did not agree to military demands; instead, we decided to work on these demands by involving experts to study them in detail. I signed up for the study of the proposals only,” he explained. Recalling that about 50 deputies in junior coalition partner True Path Party (DYP) were persuaded by the military to withdraw support from the government, Erbakan said, “I had no choice but to ask the president to give the job of forming a new government to my partner Çiller until new elections. But Demirel instead gave the job to opposition leader Mesut Yilmaz.”
Asked why he did not fire the junta leaders, Erbakan said his was not a single-party government and he did not trust his coalition partner to back him up. “If I was leading a strong single-party government, I would never hesitate for a minute to remove these generals from duty,” he said.