For years many various Turkish intellectuals have criticized the AKP and its omnipotent father figure Recep Tayyip Erdogan. However for most of the time, during the 12 years of where the AKP Party solely ruled over turkey western press ignored most about Erdogans past and his ideology.
“Western” media often times is obsessed with comparing things or judging things with their own cultural glass. Between 2002 until the the start of the “Gezi Park” protests the AKP was widely seen through the scope of a dualistic worldview, and compared to mid-right liberal Parties in the western world (like i.e: Angela Merkels CDU/CSU Party in Germany).
During the 2002 election campaign as well as in first years of the AKP government in Turkey they worked hard on establishing such image. The roots of Erdogan ans his Party lies within the “Milli Görüs” movement from his former mentor “Necmettin Erbakan”. Erbakan was a far right Islamist but also a successful engineer who was involved in the making of the famous German “Leopard” Tank. During these times Erdogan was confronted with fundamentalist Islamic worldviews. He publicly stated that he opposes secularism and democracy( “a person can not be a Muslim and secular at the same time“ and “democracy is not our destination its our train”) and was sentenced to prison because of that and he received a lifetime ban to run a political office because of his speech in the City of Siirt where he said “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”
Also during these times he met with on the world´s most famous terrorists at that time, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. This guy is the founding leader of the Hezb-e Islami, a islamist militant group that fought against the Russians during the Soviet invasion of Russia. During these times Hekmetyar was supported by the US and GB. However after the end of the soviet-afghan conflict his organization became more and more involved with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Gulbeddin Hekmatyar has personally mentioned that the is a close ally to Bin Laden in an Al Jazeera Interview in 2006. The video coverage shows Erdogan who is sitting next to the feet of Hekmatyar. It is almost impossible to find this video in the Turkish media. During the 12 years the AKP government has taken control over the majority of mainstream media. Just like the Gezi Park protests the biggest corruption scandal in the history of Turkey is also mostly ignored by all major TV channels and even the national TV news channel TRT, which became a propaganda tool for the AKP. Most Turkish people still are not aware that Erdogan bent his knees in front of one of the world´s biggest terrorists.
However Gulbuddin Hekmetyar does seem to be the only terrorist ally of Erdogan and his party. Earlier this month some trucks have been seized by the police at the Turkish-Syrian border. There were rumors that these trucks were carrying weapons to Syria and that the AKP has close ties to the Al Nusra Front(which is a suborganization of the Al Qaeda in Syria). The trucks were owned by the Islamic human relief foundation (IHH). The same organization, which has been involved in the marmara flotilla raid in 2010. The turkish national intelligence stopped the investigation and did not allow the police the search the trucks.
After the Rojava incident (slaughter of kurdish People in northern Syria) the Syrian Kurds accused Turkey of helping the Islamists. In this vice documentary(“syrians unknown war”) you can see for yourself how the current situation is in the Turkish-Syrian border. Apparently it seems like the Al-Quaeda militans seem to have complete control over the the Syrian Part of the border. That goes even so far that sometimes that stray bullets killed a 15 year old child in Turkey.
For several years Yasin al-Qadi and Erdogans have been close allies. After the gaza flotilla raiding Erdogan described Al-Qadi as a friend of his. Al-Qadi is a wealthy Saudi businessman which was suspected of being on having close relations to the Bin Laden Family as well as the Muslim Brotherhood Movement in Egypt. The same movement whom biggest ally is no one other than Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself. After the military coup he showed his support publicly by raising his four fingers, which is the symbol of the protesters at Rabia square who are mostly close to the Muslim brotherhood and Mohammed Mursi. The four finger gesture was adapted by many AKP supporters as well as some celebrities like famous footballer Emre Belezoglu Despite it is forbidden a for Footballer in Turkey to make such political statements Emre Belezoglu, who had several incidents where he was accused of racism, did not receive a punishment. The support of the Mursi regime was an important issue for Erdogan and one his biggest losses. The Turkish national TV Channel TRT showed a ton of coverage about the coup in Egypt and was almost completely quit during the Gezi Park protest as well as the biggest corruption scandal in Turkish history. This lead to a resignation of an arabian TV host of the TRT5(the Arabian speaking TV channel of the Turkish state channel ) and the sympathy for Turkey in Egypt went down from 86% in 2011 to now only 36%.
In the late 90s Erdogan and many of his allies(also current president of Turkey Abdullah Gül) have seperated from their tutor Erbakan and founded the so called Justice and Development Party, the AKP. They embraced more liberal ideas and split up from Erbakan. After that, Erdogan often stated to the media that he has changed and became more liberal. During these times also the vast majority of Turkish people wanted Turkey to become part of the European Union(which has now changed) and Erdogan promised reforms and said he would continue working on becoming part of the EU. Skeptics where not sure at the time if he really changed, or if it was a tactical move to get more votes. Turkey has one of the highest election thresholds in the whole world with 10%. Therefore a party like the AKP has to have a very wide range of voters. The AKP seeks for votes from the liberal thinking Businessman who occasionally drinks alcohol to the Islamic fundamentalist who wants to establish a new caliphate.
In recent times we could see more of the old Erdogan. After the Gezi Park protests Erdogan and his government became more and more authoritarian. For Erdogan and the AKP foreign powers where the reason for the outbreak of the unrest. Wild theories ranging from Germany trying to prevent the making of the new airport in Istanbul, to Israeli/American influence, to activities from Bashar el Esed, manipulations of the the interest lobby as well as telekinesis attacks on Erdogan(No Joke: The same person who made these claims shorty after became chief advisor of Erdogan as well as some other rather unusual theories have been rampant in AKP near media. During some of his speeches the most common used words of Erdogan were “us” and “them”. After his stunning win at the 2009 general elections with 51% he seems to think that polarizing is the best option to secure his win for the next elections.
Recently also a Bangladeshi Islamist called Abdul Qader Molla was executed in his country. Erdogan tried to prevent his execution. Molla was accused of war crimes and his organization(“Jamaat-e-Islami”) was involved in genocides and mass rapes of Hindus in Bangladesh. After his public support thousands of turkish Erdogan Fans changed their Facebook and Twitter profile pictures to a picture of Abdul Qader Molla.
Recent actions and statements of Erdogan resemble the early Erdogan again but today still a big portion of Turkish people still see Erdogan as a modern person who reformed Turkey in many ways. After his ties to his biggest allies namely the Arabian World and theUSA were severely damaged after the Gezi Park protest and after a series of major mistakes in foreign policy, Erdogan might be even more inclined to once again, turn to Sunni extremists who still embrace his ideas. It seems like the main question is not if the Turkish government is involved with terrorism but instead in which direction it will go. Because the republic of Turkey is still one of the most valuable allies of the “West” it will be somewhat hard to criticize Erdogan because its allies might be afraid of forcing him even more into the fundamentalist corner.