It feels as if former Galatasaray legend Hakan Şükür is making as much news in his retirement as he did in his playing days. In an article released in the Cumhuriyet daily on December 6 2014, Erdem Gül cites a new book– Adil Düzenden Havuz Düzenine-Yüzde On—written by Ahmet Dönmez who claims that, of all people, Hakan Şükür was indirectly warned about the December 17 graft operation six months before the scandal shook Turkey one year ago.
Although the Erdoğan led government claimed to have known nothing about the operation that uncovered 4.5 million dollars stashed in shoeboxes in the home of an ex-banker and that had links to the sons of many prominent AKP ministers and businessmen, the new information that has since come to light may say otherwise.
In the wake of the corruption scandal the AKP—predictably—did not suffer too much (the prosecutor dropped the investigation October 17) but the case opened a rift between the AKP government and erstwhile ally Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric living in self-imposed exile in the United States. Hakan Şükür, being close to the cleric, was the obvious choice to act as a liaison between the parties, and it is his role which may shed some light on the reason that the AKP did not suffer as much as many thought they would.
There have been claims that Turkey’s national intelligence agency, MIT, warned then Prime Minister Erdoğan about the corruption allegations ahead of time (last January Today’s Zaman said as much). Now Mr. Dönmez’s book supports this as well. Egemen Bağış, Turkey’s European Union Minister, allegedly spoke to Hakan Şükür before a pro Erdoğan rally during the Gezi protests on June 16, 2013:
“Herkes oradaydı. Erdoğan’ın anonsçusu Orhan Karakurt alana gelen milletvekili ve bakanları meydandaki partililere takdim ediyordu. O sırada AB Bakanı Egemen Bağış, İstanbul Mileltvekili Hakan Şükür’ü kolundan tutarak kenara çekti. (…) ‘Sana yeri gelmişken bir şey söyleyeceğim’ dedi. Şükür kulak kesilmişti. Bağış şöyle devam etti: ‘Ya Hakancığım, ortalıkta bir sürü şey dolaşıyor. Efendim, bakanlarla milletvekilleriyle ilgili birçok bilgi belge varmış. Bazı yolsuzluk belgeleri bulunuyormuş. Bak yarın bir gün bunlar ortaya çıkar, partiyle cemaatin arası bozulur. Bunu nasıl yapacağız? Bir şekilde Fethullah Hocaya ulaştırmak lazım. Çok konuşuluyor bu. Hatta bazı şerefsizler yapar bunu, cemaatin üzerine atarlar. Bunu engellemek lazım.’”
Kitapta Bağış’ın bu sözlerine Şükür’ün “Sayın Bakanım, ortaya çıkıp çıkmadığı, kim tarafından çıkarıldığı değil, bence böyle bir şeyin olup olmadığı önemli. İnşallah bu dedikodular doğru değildir, bu tür yolsuzluklar, belgeler yoktur” karşılığını verdiği belirtildi.
Everyone was there. At that point Erdoğan’s speaker Orhan Karakurt was introducing the ministers and parliament members to the party members that had come to the square. Mr Bağış took Hakan Şükür aside and said (…)“Now that we’re here I need to tell you something. Hakan, some things are floating around. Apparently there are lots of files about ministers and parliament members. Apparently there are some corruption files. Look, tomorrow or the next day this could come out and hurt the party and cemaat’s [Mr. Gülen’s supporters] relationship. How are we going to do this? We need to some how get this [news] to Fethullah Hoca. This is being talked about a lot. In fact some inglorious people could do this and blame it on the cemaat [Mr. Gulen’s supporters]. We need to prevent this.
The book says that Mr. Şükür replied by saying “Esteemed minister, its not important if these things come out or not, or who releases it, I think what is important is whether or not this happened. Inşallah these rumors aren’t true and that these types of corruption and files don’t exist.”
The Cumhuriyet newspaper reports that when reached for comment Mr. Şükür confirmed the story, saying that “. . . The MIT report came out eight months prior, they were probably trying to keep this [the corruption files] from coming out”. Mr. Bağış, on the other hand, refused comment but has told those close to him that “none of this [the reports] is true”. We will, of course, never know the full truth but it remains of interest that Mr. Şükür was seen as such a key player in the process. I wrote before how his joining the AKP was a coup for the party since he is an admittedly popular personage in Turkey due to his exploits on the field. Aside from that, his relationship to Mr. Gülen was another important factor that led to his rising to such a prominent place in the party. Now of course he has left the party in the wake of the rift between Mr. Erdoğan and Mr. Gülen, but the reverberations of his time in politics are still being felt.
Note: All Translations Are Mine, I Apologize In Advance For Any Errors.