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Turkey spy chief’s resignation: power play or family feud?

Is there a Davutoglu-Fidan alliance in the making against Erdogan?
Turkey's President-elect Tayyip Erdogan (L) shakes hands with incoming prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu during the Extraordinary Congress of the ruling AK Party (AKP) in Ankara August 27, 2014. Erdogan said on Wednesday he would ask incoming prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu to form a new government on Thursday, and a new cabinet of ministers would be announced the following day. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR43YZA

The resignation of Turkey’s powerful spy chief Hakan Fidan to run for parliament on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ticket has triggered frenzied speculation about a potentially game-changing rift between the country’s president and prime minister. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's surprise decision to cut short a trip to Latin America on Feb. 13 carried such conjecture to new highs amid claims that it was prompted by the “Fidan crisis.” After 13 years in power, is the AKP beginning to crack? Might Erdogan be losing his grip? Many demand to know.

In fact, a steady flow of bureaucrats are throwing their hats into the electoral ring. Why all the fuss about Fidan? The former noncommissioned officer is among Erdogan’s closest allies, and was, prior to stepping down, arguably the second most powerful man in the country. Erdogan, who is said to regard him as a son, had vested Fidan with sweeping powers to implement policy on several critical fronts, notably over Syria, the Kurdish peace process and the battle to defang his archenemy, Fethullah Gulen. Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based Sunni preacher, and his followers have been waging a long-running campaign against the former intelligence chief. This includes the outlandish charge that Fidan, who served on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of directors in 2008, is “pro-Iranian” and therefore by definition “anti-Israeli.” (A Turkish official who declined to be identified told Al-Monitor that Fidan had met with his Israeli counterpart at least twice since his appointment as the head of national intelligence in 2010.)

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