ANKARA - The governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP's, "Alevi" move has occupied the agenda for a year. However, there has been no solid step taken in this direction since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s fast-breaking dinner hosted by Alevis last year. Yet we see signs of a serious split.
There are numerous Alevi organizations in Turkey. The Alevi Bektaşi Federation, or ABF, led by Ali Balkız, which brought hundred thousand people to an Ankara meeting recently, and the Cem Foundation, or CF, under Professor İzzettin Doğan are prominent among them. ABF remains distant to the AKP, contrary to CF. When Balkız and leaders of other Alevi organizations visited Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan, the "Çamuroğlu crisis" had occurred. Balkız and his friends did not want Çamuroğlu in the meeting and were challenged by Çamuroğlu, who said, "How will we have dialogue if they behave so?"
The split then emerged between Çamuroğlu and the ABF following the visit. On those days, I ran across Çamuroğlu in Parliament’s corridors. He was fulminating against Balkız and his gang and asserting that similar behavior blocks dialogue and makes it difficult to find solutions.
Even before a week had passed, an interesting meeting took place in Istanbul. At his Dolmabahçe office Erdoğan met Doğan in the presence of Çamuroğlu. Why did Mr. Prime Minister prefer Doğan instead of Balkız, the leader of an umbrella organization bringing 200 Alevi associations together? Let’s go into the details now. The ABF under Balkız wants the abolishment of the Religious Affairs Directorate, rejects Alevi spiritual masters being put on salary and doesn’t give consent to a state level representation of Alevis. CF’s Doğan, on the other hand, acts against the annulment of the Religious Affairs Directorate and entertains the idea of putting Alevi spiritual masters on salaries.
The AKP will tacitly conduct the "Alevi opening" together with CF and ABF has already been excluded. Knowingly or unknowingly, the AKP has triggered the split between Alevis and even instigated it a bit. We’ll see if this "opening" will be successful in a way to clear the split away.