Turkish Leader Lashes Out At Corruption Probe

Tayyip Erdogan said he believes he's been targeted in a power struggle

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Burhan Ozbilici / AP

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, on Dec. 18, 2013.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested that he is the target of an unfolding graft investigation that’s led to the arrests of dozens of officials and shaken the Turkish leader’s hold on power.

Those investigating Erdogan and his government in connection to the mass bribery and corruption probe will be “left empty-handed,” Erdogan told reporters from Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet in comments reported Thursday, according to the New York Times. On Wednesday, Erdogan announced an overhaul to his cabinet, replacing 10 ministers just hours after three resigned over the corruption investigation that’s incited protests against the government.

Authorities shocked the country with the largely secret 14-month investigation that went public on Dec. 17 with the arrest of dozens top-ranking officials on graft charges. Erdogan responded by dismissing police investigators involved in the investigation, sparking an outpouring of street protests that’s left the country in the throes of political chaos.

Wednesday’s resignation of three ministers included dramatic remarks from Erdogan Bayraktar, the environmental and urban planning minister who called for the prime minister to step down. Bayraktar’s comments marked the first time that an insider has suggested that Erdogan himself might be involved.

Erdogan has repeatedly suggested that the investigation part of a foreign plot to overthrow his rule by Gulenists, an Islamist movement that was once his ally. In a televised speech Wednesday, Erdogan vowed no tolerance for political corruption and said the investigation had been compromised.

“We will root out the bad apples or whatever is necessary,” he said.


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