Turkey’s 11th President Abdullah Gül secretly met with 28 tribal leaders in the eastern and southeastern regions of the country, according to Turkish nationalist newspaper Aydınlık columnist İsmet Özçelik.
In his column, Özçelik draws attention that "it is interesting that a retired president is so active", and emphasizes that retired diplomats, retired senior bureaucrats, key figures of the parliamentary oppositions, and 'forgotten' members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have often visited Gül's office.
Underlining that there is rising tension within the ruling AKP, Özçelik also claimed that the 11th Turkish President also maintains contact with those who still have active roles in the AKP.
The Patriotic Party, which owns the Aydınlık newspaper, began to support the Justice and Development Party government especially on the issue of foreign policy after last year's failed coup attempt.
Seçil Özer, a correspondent from Kanal D, investigated the background of this allegation. Özer said that Gül had gone to the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa about one month ago upon the invitation of the AKP’s Former Şanlıurfa Deputy Faruk Bayrak, and he joined a dinner the evening he arrived there. There were also a number of tribal leaders at this dinner where approximately 100 people participated, according to Özer.
Yet, key names close to Abdullah Gül asserted that this meeting of the former Turkish President with tribal leaders cannot be ascribed a political meaning.
"It is not true that we had a private or secret meeting with any tribal leader. You should not try to ascribe a political meaning to the trip. There was no such purpose [to meet tribal leaders] to the trip, but there was a deep interest of the people of Şanlıurfa to Gül", key names close to the ex-Turkish President stated.