15 Eylül 2016 – Metin Akyurek, Yeni Star Gazete
Ex-MP Meral Akşener has recently been expelled from the National Action Party (MHP) under persistent rumors of connection with Fetullah Gülen. Meral Akşener was fired by a disciplinary committee held on August 16. According to Halil Öztürk, the chairman of this committee, three other MHP members may be soon thrown out too.
The Nationalist Party endures a severe crisis, at least since the beginning of 2016. Actually, the strong nationalist bend adopted by President Erdogan convinced many former MHP supporters to turn their support to the ruling AKP. As a consequence, the MHP narrowly got into parliament and won the least number of seats among all parliament’s parties, just 40 out of 550, after the last November’s general election. Since then, Devlet Bahceli, Chairman of MHP, was challenged by several pretenders, among whom Meral Akşener.
Though not explicitly mentioned in the expulsion statement, Bahceli had previously accused Akşener of receiving support from Gülenists – a charge she vehemently denied. “If I am a ‘parallel’ project for the MHP, then Mr. Bahçeli is himself ‘Chief Parallel.’ But this is not true,” Akşener had said, using “parallel” to refer to FETÖ [Editor’s note: ‘parallel’ is the word to label supporter of Fetullah Gülen. FETÖ is a State-sponsored word to criminalize the Fetullah Gülen Terror Organisation].
However, recent investigations gave evidence that Meral Akşener may have kept some discrete connections with the Imam who took refuge years ago in Pennsylvania. According to some observers, FETÖ networks are deeply rooted in many Turkish political parties and especially in the MHP. Instructions may have been conveyed to Akşener through some unexpected routes passing by the US Embassy and by France.
For instance, it has been pointed out that Akşener received the public support of Gökçen Catli, a vocal MHP celebrity. Gökçen Catli is the daughter of deceased Abdullah Catli, a notorious thug who was also a well-known member of the ülkücü movement, the semi-official youth chapter of MHP.
The French connection
Though not personally known for any Gülenist sympathy, Gökçen Catli has frequently been in touch with Maxime Gauin, a curious French character. Gauin usually lives in Turkey and works for the AVIM (Avrasya Stratejik Araştırmalar Merkezi) a nationalist Think Tank. He introduces himself has an historian but appears to spend most of his time in suing Armenian activists abroad. He is also outspokenly claiming to support Israel and Jewry. A few years ago, Maxime Gauin was hired by USAK (Uluslararası Stratejik Araştırmalar Kurumu), another nationalist Think Tank founded by retired Ambassador Sedat Laçiner.
On July 23, a few days after the failed coup (15 July), Sedat Laçiner was arrested and jailed under allegations of being ‘parallel’. Some days before, Gauin abruptly escaped in France, allegedly for vacations. Since then apparently, he didn’t get back in Turkey. Many experts are now considering that he could have been one of the FETÖ dormant agents in Turkey, though he systematically criticized the Hizmet when making comments on social networks.
For instance, it has recently been underlined that, under various pretext, Gauin went a couple of time in Pennsylvania. He also appears in the background on some rare pictures featuring Fetullah Gülen. In particular, on a photo (apparently dating back from 2009-2010) showing the meeting between an unidentified US official and the Imam. Nevertheless, up to July, Gauin had excellent relations with prominent Turkish officials, including some in governmental circles. Therefore, he may have been used as a kind of underground negotiation channel between the ruling party, the Gülenists and even some foreign countries. This assumption is supported by his alleged implication in writing a report on the Turkish nationalist movements in France for the French and Israeli intelligences. In absence of any statement from his side, it is hard to determine whether he was aware of such a role.
Further clarifications on the exact role of Gauin, Laçiner and Catli are eagerly expected in Turkey. Especially, the trial of Laçiner as well as some testimonies from Akşener may bring some light in this obscure file, unless Gauin decides to come back in Turkey for providing explanations.