Wednesday, 15 January 2014

What the Columnists Say

Published in Roundup of Columnists

The crisis in the Turkish state is of growing concern among the commentators in the Turkish press. Liberal commentators have in particular started to worry that the crisis is going to have the effect of re-inviting the military into the political equation ; indeed they warn that the recent statements of the General Staff indicate that this has already happened. "The increasing frequency of the statements of the General Staff is not at all reassuring," writes Hasan Cemal. Leading pro-government commentator Abdülkadir Selvi argues that the AKP needs to embrace new friends, the military and also the Kurdish movement, to stave off the challenge of the Gülen movement. "If the state crisis, the fight between the institutions, turn into a threat to the existence of the state in the eyes of the military, the position they will take is going to represent a risk for democracy," warns Ali Bayramoğlu. While liberals see a risk that the old guard military may return, others speculate about the Gülenists within the military and point out that the question how they might act is the big unknown of the raging power struggle.


Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet writes that the fact that Yalcin Akdoğan, the chief advisor of Prime Minister Erdoğan, has stated that the “national army was framed” (when serving and retired military personnel were sentenced for having planned coups) is a very significant event. Let us just remind that this was at the time made with the blessing of Erdogan. Another side of the framing of the military is the Gülenist implantation in the military. They have demonstrated that they are prepared to tear down anything, inflict any kind of harm on innocent people and harm the defense of the country in order to safeguard this implantation. Who are the imams of the cemaat in the military? This is in fact the crucial question; this is the part of the power struggle that has not yet been addressed.



Orhan Kemal Cengiz in Radikal writes that in order to find a way out of the crisis, both sides need to acknowledge their own faults and clear the way for justice instead of constantly blaming the other side. When the judiciary sought to question the Head of the National Intelligence Agency (MIT), this amounted to an inappropriate foray into the political realm by the judiciary, in as much as the subject was the Oslo negotiations [between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK]. Meanwhile, the government is guilty of a serious intervention in the realm of justice when it obstructs the course of justice in the corruption probe. Even if every police officer were a member of the “cemaat” this would not in itself be a crime in a democratic country. However, if police officers were to take orders from someone other than their superiors then they would have committed a crime. The Gülen movement should commit to cooperate with a probe into this matter. If the two sides persist in trying to obliterating each other, that will set Turkey on course from where there is no return. And that is exactly what some people want.



Abdülkadir Selvi in Yeni Şafak argues that the AKP needs new allies in order to fend off the challenge that he writes that the Gülen movement poses to the authority of the government. We are going to fight against the tutelage of the “cemaat” just as we fought against the tutelage of the military. The operation on February 7, 2012 against the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) and the December 17, 2013 uprising has made the AK Party keenly aware of the challenge that it faces. In a situation when the very existence of the AK Party is under threat, and when an attempt is made to stop the presidential election, the AK Party is in need of new initiatives and new friends. The AK Party needs to develop an exit plan in 2014. Why shouldn’t that be based on building societal peace? It is not at all difficult to develop a formula which would benefit both the Ergenekon suspects and the peace process (with the Kurds). Some could call this a general amnesty. Or, it could entail a gradual liberation from prison, a formula that some lawyers are presently at work at.



Ali Bayramoğlu, also in Yeni Şafak, meanwhile warns that the crisis in the state is inviting the military back to the political equation, and he calls attention to what the recent statements of the General Staff mean. The statement in which the General Staff reminded of its sensitivity regarding the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer court cases was the first serious statement of the military after a long period of silence. Regardless of whether or not the prime minister had been informed of this statement, and regardless of whether or not its contents had been discussed in the National Security Council prior to its publication, the statement is in itself heavy with implications. At the very least, it shows that the military is a party to the conflict and that it is making its position publicly known. Even if this suggests that there is a tacit alliance between the political power and the military against the “cemaat”, that is not what is decisive. What is important is that the military on its own and for its own sake has taken a step of a political nature into the battleground within the state. If the state crisis, the fight between the institutions, turns into a threat to the existence of the state in the eyes of the military, the position they will take is going to represent a risk for democracy.



Hasan Cemal on the t24 news site is astounded that Tayyip Erdoğan is inviting the military back to politics. What Erdogan is doing is simply too much, the fact that he has started to align himself with Ergenekon is schocking. Tayyip Erdoğan is almost saying to the military that it was the “cemaat” that misled him. Isn’t someone at some point going to scream to him “where were you as prime minister when cabals were set up within the state, when the national army was framed?”  Isn’t Tayyip Erdoğan going to have to answer for this before a court of law some day? It is obvious that Erdoğan is desperately trying to divert attention from the corruption probe. But the course he has chosen is such that if it goes on like this, his problems will only get worse. The increasing frequency of the statements of the General Staff is not at all reassuring. Defending the position that “the national army was framed” is step by step going to pull the military back into politics.

Read 7181 times Last modified on Monday, 20 January 2014

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The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.


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