A voice recording posted online on Monday allegedly features Rear Adm. Fatih Ilgar, who is currently in prison on suspected links to the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot, claiming a widening rift between President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that will result in the defeat of one of them.
In the recording posted to Twitter account ses_tv, a voice allegedly belonging to Ilgar claims that a fight will erupt between Gül and Erdoğan that will result in one of them being removed from the political stage and that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has prepared itself for such a development. The voice says Gül will demand Erdoğan becomes the president and enjoy himself at Çankaya presidential palace because Erdoğan's health means that he is not fit to continue as prime minister and instead Gül will become the prime minister.
“[Gül will say] let’s exchange posts. He [Erdoğan] cannot tolerate this. He has some leadership qualities such as charisma and courage. These qualities do not fit the other [Gül]. He [Erdoğan] cannot tolerate the president [Gül] leading this party [Justice and Development Party (AK Party)]. The prime minister did not actually want him [Gül] to become the president,” says the alleged voice of Ilgar.
Gül was elected to presidency in 2007 as a candidate from the AK Party. Although Erdoğan was expected to run for presidency, he chose to nominate Gül, a more moderate figure than himself.
The voice also says Gül was very happy about Erdoğan’s health problems. The prime minister had surgery on his digestive system last year and earlier this year. Although he denied having cancer, there was a lot of speculation about that he did.
“As long as the rift between them [Gül and Erdoğan] continues, one will finish off the other. Everything will spiral out of control. The TSK has prepared for this. Pressure has piled up and this rift has reached its peak. Both sides know that as long as this rift continues one of them will finish off the other; there will be a war between them. They should not go into a war with additional problems. What are these problems? The problems at the TSK, the Kurdish problem, economic problems … In order to prevent a civil war, they need to get on well with the armed forces,” says Ilgar’s alleged voice in the recording.
Ilgar was arrested last year as part of an investigation into the Balyoz coup plot, allegedly prepared by a clique inside the military that included plans to crash jets and bomb large mosques at busy prayer hours to undermine the AK Party, with the hope of eventually overthrowing it. The voice also speaks about Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç and says he is in a good cop/bad cop situation trying to find a balance between the military and the government.
In another voice recording posted online last month and allegedly featuring Ilgar’s voice, he is heard threatening the government with civil war when suspects who have been imprisoned for planning a coup are released from prison.
He harshly criticized the prime minister and senior military officers and said suspects who have been imprisoned on charges of plotting to overthrow the government were set to be released from prison in around two months, thanks to a bill to be voted on in Parliament soon. “There is a bill on the agenda. It will be passed [in Parliament] in one or two months’ time. Information coming to me suggests this will happen. They will release us from prison, thanks to that bill. This country will restore itself either with an economic crisis or with civil war. One of these options will knock on our door one day. If it’s a war [that knocks on our door], then we will make it a [civil] war. It [the struggle against the government] will not end here [in prison]. We have plans when we are set free,” the voice is heard saying.
The same Twitter account posted other recordings in past weeks. In a recording released earlier this month, a person alleged to be Gen. Bilgin Balanlı, a prime suspect in the ongoing trial regarding the Sledgehammer coup plot, says the prime minister and president will pay for jailing former and active members of the military in coup investigations. Balanlı is heard saying, “The price for all that has been happening will be paid either at the presidential or prime ministerial level.”