Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Accommodating "Real Existing" Kurdish Nationalism

I have recently published an article in this January's issue of the Journal of Democracy on Kurds in Turkey. The article argues that while progress has been made in recent years to recognize Kurdish ethnicity as a reality and advance cultural rights and economic development, the Turkish state has yet to come to terms with the national dimension of the problem. The article also includes a critical discussion of the positions taken by Kurdish nationalists and the government, as well as the role liberalism will play in any resolution of the conflict if it is to be settled within current boundaries.

Unfortunately one needs a subscription to Project MUSE in order to access the article, but here is the abstract.
Turkish state policy toward the Kurds, the Republic of Turkey's largest ethnic minority, has evolved from denial and mandatory assimilation to cultural recognition to acknowledgement of the Kurds' contested status as a political problem demanding political solutions. The election of 36 Kurdish-nationalist lawmakers, most of whom now sit in parliament as representatives of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), bolsters the salience of Kurdish nationalism and the need to accommodate it through normal politics rather than attempt to suppress it through violence. How state authorities and politicians handle the Kurdish question will continue to say much about both the success of Turkey's efforts at democratic consolidation and, more generally, the potential for democracy to manage problems involving self-conscious and mobilized national minorities dwelling within the borders of strong and highly centralized nation-states.
Many thanks to Umit Firat whose insights helped inform this article, and whose work to find solutions to transform the conflict I greatly admire. And many thanks to executive editor Phil Costopolous for his incisive editing and to managing editor Brent Kallmer for providing the abstract.

I would also like to point your attention to the three other articles in the larger cluster of articles of which mine is but a part, including Meltem Muftuler-Bac and E. Fuat Keyman's overview of AKP rule in an era of "dominant party politics," Ersel Aydinli's commentary on the current state of civil-military relations, and Berna Turam's incisive essay on civil liberties in an era in which religious and secular Turks are learning to live together. The overarching theme of Turam's article and my own is the need to settle democracy and difference, a topic I touch upon often in this blog and elsewhere.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pinning the Blame

Before the closing of the last Kurdish opening, the AKP-led government used a mix of carrots and sticks to tackle the burgeoning problem of Kurdish nationalism and the PKK violence with which it is associated.

As is now well-established, in 2005 the government entered indirect negotiations with the PKK command at Kandil in northern Iraq and with imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan at Imrali. Three years later, those negotiations eventually became direct talks held in Oslo during which the government also began to pay more attention to Kurdish cultural rights within a unified Turkey. A Kurdish-language television channel, albeit government-run and largely apolitical, was introduced in the lead up to local elections in 2009, and later that summer the government announced grand plans for comprehensive reform (its “Kurdish opening,” which was later to be referred to as a “ democratic opening” ). Thus began an intense debate of what politicians, opinion leaders, and even the military began to approach as the “Kurdish problem”—not simply a problem with the PKK, but a more fundamental dilemma in demand of political solutions.

Yet, at the same time the government was pursuing its “Kurdish opening,” operations against Kurdish politicians and civil society leaders associated with the PKK began—and, much to the harm of AKP’s reception in the region, after the party had suffered fairly devastating losses in election. Local elections in March 2009 marked the first time the AKP had lost ground to Turkish nationalists since coming to power. Accusations of political revenge soon followed, as well as a claims on the part of Kurdish nationalists that the AKP’s aim was to eliminate the “bad Kurds (i.e., nationalist Kurds),” in order to force eventual assimilation. [A side note, but tragically ironic, if it was the government’s intent to eliminate nationalist Kurds from what some government officials called the “real Kurds,” it has been the PKK’s effort over the years to marginalize the more integrated Kurds—the PKK would use the term “assimilated”—from the nationalist Kurds, whom the PKK, in turn, considers the “ real Kurds.” The reality, of course, is that there is more than one reality, and that Kurds, qua individuals, get caught in the middle.] The PKK, as well as the BDP, have perpetuated, if not ramped up, this rhetoric of elimination since June’s election, making compromise all the more difficult. How can one negotiate with another party intent to eliminate you?

For the government’s part, there is increasingly less recognition of those Kurds who are nationalists as legitimate players with the right to participate in politics—of course, a fact not helped by the PKK’s intransigence when it comes to ending its violent campaign against Turkish state forces, many of which are conscripts or civilian police officers (or, in the most egregious cases, state-employed school teachers or family members and/or bystanders of PKK terrorism). Though the government has announced plans for yet another Kurdish opening, its new coordinated, rapid response military campaign against the PKK, which has unusually carried on throughout the winter months, seems armed with more sticks than carrots—and, again, the effect of that is a ratcheting up of the PKK/BDP’s rhetoric of elimination.

PHOTO from Rudaw

In an interview last week with Rudaw, the PKK’s leader in Kandil, Murat Karayilan, laid the blame of increased violence squarely at the feet of Prime Minister Erdogan. For Radikal columnist Cuneyt Ozdemir's take on the interview, click here. In Karayilan's mind, Erdogan has now taken control of the state: whereas before the prime minister could claim he could not control various elements of the state opposed to his agenda, in particular the Turkish Armed Forces and judiciary, according to Karayilan, the prime minister can no longer make that claim. Karayilan confirms negotiations with the government, and claims that the government would always explain the continued military and judicial operations against the PKK as out of its control, which again, according to Karayilan, they are not. Implying that negotiations were halted because the PKK realized the government’s lack of honesty as to its ability to halt operations against it, Karayilan naturally attempts to take the high ground while at the same time condemning the government’s plans for a second opening as insincere and, of course, ultimately aimed at destroying the Kurdish national movement and assimilating all Kurds.

Of course, the reality is that the government always used a mixture of carrots and sticks, and yes, the self-righteous attitude of Karayilan is to be expected. Yet, at the same time, the AKP’s situation is different than it was when it began talks with the PKK five years ago. The AKP now not only has control of the prime ministry, but has largely civilianized the Turkish Armed Forces and tightened its control over the judiciary, which less than four years ago almost brought about its closure. The AKP is, to a large extent, in control of the state.

Semih Idiz depicts the AKP as Janus-faced, looking at once to the future while caught up in the past. More optimistically than other critics, Idiz argues that while the party has made significant progress on the democracy and human rights front, including on the Kurdish question, it has too easily been caught in the traps of the past—thus, the result is often two steps forward, one step back. I do not contradict Idiz here, but do think the party, and Turkey, risks more than a slower march toward progress. The bold moves the AKP made in efforts to transform the Kurdish question, most significantly its efforts to accommodate a Kurdish cultural reality and its opening negotiations with the PKK, could easily result in a serious setback should the party continue its high-intensity security struggle (a look back to the past) without ensuring that the carrots the government is now offering are more than mere gestures—that the party is serious about granting constitutional recognition to Kurds as citizens of Turkey, and is intent to negotiate with the nationalists as to other demands related to federalism and autonomy, and do so, of course, with respect to all Kurds—not just the nationalists. The nationalists do not represent all Kurds, but neither can they be ignored.

Yet Karayilan is not correct here either. If Prime Minister Erdogan does wield control of the state, this still does not mean that the prime minister is necessarily in the position to make concessions, especially given divides within his own party on the Kurdish question and serious misgivings on the part of the Turkish public, which has had to deal with terrorist violence for more than twenty years. That Karayilan does not even begin to endeavor recognition of Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc's statement that group rights for Kurds will be enshrined in the constitution, including much demanded rights to Kurdish language education, gives reason to doubt the role of the PKK as a peacemaker -- or, at least the role of Kandil. When talks of a possible ceasefire occurred this past July in conjunction with Ocalan's call for a "peace council," it was Karayilan who resisted and what followed was a violent attack on Turkish conscripts that seriously set back any hope for an emerging peace process.

It is difficult to blame Ankara for being fed up, and even more impossible not to recognize some glimmer of hope in the deputy prime minister's recent statements, even amidst continued operations against alleged members of the KCK, such as respected academic Busra Ersanli. What is sure is that ramped up rhetoric, paranoia, and lack of trust on both sides is sure to keep the conflict alive, especially as long as violence remains part of the equation. The AKP may be intent to so weaken the PKK by this summer that it will be forced to lay down arms (an unlikely result), but given the PKK's recent posturing, it will be difficult to realize the give-and-take between the two sides that would mollify the PKK's conviction the government is out to eliminate it and pave the way for future talks. The burden is not just on the AKP, but also Kandil.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Division in the Ranks

PHOTO from Radikal

Though Turkish society is pretty evenly divided between those who support the ruling AKP and those who do not, perhaps the more important divide in terms of determining the county's trajectory is within the government.

AKP officials have been careful to play down any division within party ranks, but events over the past year hint of a fissure between a faction in the party loyal to Prime Minister Erdogan and another closely aligned with Fethullah Gulen, a religious leader based in Pennsylvania who runs the Hizmet movement, a powerful network consisting of tens of thousands of followers (of those sympathetic to the movement, there are estimates well over 5 million) that has sought to exert its influence within the state and Turkish society.

Though Gulen and his supporters have stopped short of forming a political party, they have managed to gain key positions within state institutions and the ruling party.  (For a nuanced take of the movement's engagement with state institutions, including its tactics and ruminations of its overall strategy, see Berna Turam's Between Islam and the State: The Politics of Engagement.)

Further, critical investigations into the movement's activities have not been welcome. As foreign journalist Justin Vela explored last week in Foreign Policy, allegations have long existed that the movement is behind the operations against Ergenekon, the opaque deep-state organization accused of terrorism and plots to overthrow the state. Indeed, it was the Gulen movement journalist Ahmet Şık was investigating when he was charged as a member of Ergenekon.

While Gulenists wield considerable influence in the AKP, they do not necessarily determine the direction of the party, and divisions within AKP's ranks in recent months indicate what, according to many observers, is a power struggle between the Hizmet/Gulen movement and Prime Minister Erdogan.

These include a debate last month on a law that reduced sentences for wealthy businessmen charged with fixing football matches, as well as a difference in approaching the air strikes at Uludere that killed 34 Kurdish smugglers. In the latter instance, Prime Minister Erdogan defended the military and intelligence services while Gulen-affiliated press leveled accusations that the strikes were the work of the "deep state." For an example, in Turkish, see this op-ed in Zaman criticizing the government for not noticing what the author alleges is a deep-state conspiracy.

The most recent evidence of a difference of opinion between the two parties centers on whether former Chief of General Staff Ilker Basbug, who was arrested little more than a week ago, should be tried at the Constitutional Court or by the specially-authorized court that issued the warrant for his arrest. Most interestingly, President Gul, thought to be friendly to the Gulen movement, has broken ranks with it and called for Basbug to be tried at the Constitutional Court in accordance with what seems like a relatively clear dictate (Article 148) in the Turkish Constitution that chiefs of staff and force commanders are to be tried at the Supreme Court (for more on Basbug, and the rather nonsensical charges of how the former commander could overthrow the government using website, see past posts and this excellent bit of analysis by Gareth Jenkins). Prime Minister Erdogan, for his part, has said he supports Basbug's release pending trial.

Yet AKP members close to the Gulen movement disagree with both these positions. Instead, they have asserted that Basbug can be tried by the specially-authorized court because the charges against him are not related to his duties as Chief of General Staff and that the release of Basbug and other serving and retired military officials charged in connection with membership in Ergenekon would only encourage further acts of terrorism.

One of the most outspoken of these members is deputy chairman Huseyin Celik, who is known to be quite close to the Hizmet movement and before served as Minister of Education. In response to Gul, Celik reaffirmed his position that Basbug can be tried before the specially-authorized court. Gulen-affiliated Zaman ran Celik's comments last Thursday (in Turkish, click here). Other AKP members known to be close to Gulen have also taken Celik's view, including deputy chairman Mustafa Elitas, who contended that the president's views were not important, as well as Ayhan Sefer Ustun and Burhan Kuzu, who are, respectively, heads of the parliament's human rights and constitutional commissions.

 Enough is Enough?
At the same time parliament appears divided on the issue of Basbug, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc announced last Wednesday that elected CHP deputies Mustafa Balbay and Mehmet Haberal, who are also accused of membership in Ergenekon, should be released and take their seats in parliament. His words were followed by those of Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, who announced that the party would soon unveil judicial reform to shorten detention periods and bring about speedier trials.

Arinc and Ergin's announcement followed the release of a critical report on detention and specially-authorized courts by Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights. For the full report, click here.

As Vatan columnist Bilal Cetin reflected last week, recent developments lead to the conclusion that the winds are changing in Ankara. Has the prime minister grown further wary of international criticism pertaining to long detention times and jailed members of parliament? Is there a significant segment within the party, the prime minister included, that have themselves grown wary of the unwieldy nature of the Ergenekon investigation?  There were hints of this when Ergenekon investigator Zekeriya Oz was replaced last March following Şık and Nedim Şener's arrest (see past post). Is enough simply enough?

Now that the AKP has a firm grip on the military, Erdogan might well be less interested in purging current and former military officials who were once in opposition to the AKP's ascendancy. As Rusen Cakir writes, for all intents and purposes, the AKP now controls the military -- and, given the most recent bout of judicial reforms, perhaps the state. Rather than participating in the old status quo or joining "deep state" elements, the AKP has created its own status quo.

If, as some critics like Gareth Jenkins assert, the alliance between the Gulen movement and the AKP was a marriage of convenience, we might indeed be looking at a potential divorce, but not without more vying for power. Where President Gul and Bulent Arinc stand in all of this is still a bit of a mystery (Arinc is also thought to be quite sympathetic to Gulen, and both are rumored to be potential contenders for prime minister once Erdogan departs), but there is no doubt that the next year will be interesting for the party.

Monday, January 16, 2012

KCK Operations Continue As Negotiations Remain Halted

PHOTO from Radikal

Continued operations against the Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), the political/civil society wing of the KCK established between 2005 and 2006, have resulted in the detention of 37 Kurdish nationalist activists, many from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

The raids took place on Friday, and involved searches of 123 locations, including the BDP-controlled municipal building in Diyarbakir, BDP headquarters in Istanbul, and the Diyarbakir offices of the Confederation of Trade Unions and Public Employees (KESK), as well as the Kurdish language-cultural organization Kurdi-Der, the Education and Science Workers' Union (Egitem-Sen), the Human Righs Association (IHD), as well as various other non-governmental organizations accused of being linked to the KCK. Provincial and district offices of the BDP across several provinces were also raided, in addition to, most controversially, parliamentarian Leyla Zana's Ankara home (for more on Zana, click here). For an account of the raids in English from Bianet, click here.

The BDP maintains a largely subservient relationship with the PKK, and in the past year, many of its members, with cresendoing fervor, have expressed support for the terrorist organization, including crediting the armed struggle for the progress that has been made in recent years on the minority/cultural rights front. Yet the party remains the only viable legal representative of the Kurdish nationalist movement. The KCK's establishment and activity since its founding has greatly blurred the boundaries between the BDP and the PKK, further confounding its relationship to the PKK and the independence of its members.

For their part, BDP politicians argue the government is determined to push them out of politics, and that the KCK operations are the principal means for doing this. Kurdish members of the AKP are somewhat divided on the issue of the operations. For example, AKP parliamentarian Galip Ensarioglu told Rudaw that while the operations against the KCK are sometimes inaccurate, members of the KCK should understand that "they will have to pay the consequences." Other Kurdish AKP parliamentarians -- for example, Zafer Ozdemir from Batman -- offer stronger support.

Ensarioglu, like other Kurdish parliamentarians from the AKP who tread a thin line, attempt to create distance between the ongoing operations and the government, arguing that the KCK operations are carried out by sometimes overzealous prosecutors and not the AKP. That said, it is highly unlikely that the operations would continue without the AKP-led government's consent, and indeed, government officials have openly spoken out on their status. Soon after Friday's operations, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the operations will continue.

. . . .

PKK head Murat Karayilan confirmed from Kandil that he was in negotiations with the Turkish government for five years, and that for two to three years, the negotiations were direct. Karayilan has gone onto elaborate that the return of refugees from Makhmour and Kandil were the result of negotiations between Prime Minister Erdogan and imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, and came at the proposal of Ocalan.

On Oct. 18, 2009, two groups consisting of eight guerrillas and 26 refugees returned through the Habur border crossing between Turkey and Iraq to be met by Kurdish nationalist politicians and waves of cheering nationalist Kurds shouting pro-PKK slogans. The appetite of the Turkish public for the Kurdish opening the government had announced the previous summer was soon lost amidst displays of what looked to be victory celebrations that were broadcast for days across Turkish television.

Negotiations soon after ceased, and reports indicate that they have not picked up sense. Tapes leaked of negotiations in Oslo were released this past August, and were not denied by the AKP government. Despite the revelations that both sides of the conflict were at one point holding negotiations, there is no indication from the various centers of power within the PKK nor the AKP government that they will pick up again anytime soon.

For another PKK account of the negotiations, click here for Muzaffer Ayata's interview with Rudaw. When negotiations stopped, PKK violence escalated, and in the past year, has included violence perpetrated against civilians, including bombings in civilian areas and the abduction of school teachers sent to serve in the southeast.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Still in Search of Justice, But Perhaps Closer to It

PHOTO from Birgün

New evidence presented on Tuesday to judges overseeing the Hrant Dink case has given further credence to the claim of Dink's lawyers that the Turkish Armenian journalist's murder was the work of an organized effort that included state elements.

Telephone records long sought by Dink's lawyers revealed conversations between the assassins currently on trial and five other people in the vicinity of the crime scene, in addition to 14 other people who were called from the crime scene and had connections to the defendants and other suspects in the case (for Bianet's more detailed report of the evidence presented, click here). For a full account of the hearing from Birgün, which has closely covered the case and positioned itself firmly in line with Dink's lawyers, click here.

The new evidence raises the possibility of another investigation, though judges hearing the unwieldy trial have expressed their desire to conclude it on Jan. 17. If this occurs, even more suspects could be named and evidence put forward that would further link suspects to police in Istanbul and gendarme officers in Trabzon, from where the murder plot was hatched.

Dink's lawyers have long demanded the release of the telephone records at the heart of the new discovery, though the police and the Turkish Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) have been reluctant to turn them over. The records were released to Dink's lawyers just this November after a months-long ordeal and plenty of conflicting excuses from the TIB. Prosecutors in the case maintain there is nothing new in the records, a claim with which the judges hearing it on Tuesday seemed to concur, though this seems hardly the case.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Erdogan: President in 2014

PHOTO from Milliyet

This week the parliament's constitutional commission reached consensus to hold the country's first presidential elections in 2014. The decision allows Prime Minister Erdogan, who under the AKP's by-laws cannot continue to serve as leader of his party after 2015, to run for president. This would allow Erdogan to stay at the top of the political scene and work to realize his plans for Turkey's centennial in 2023.

This calculus is likely behind Erodgan's desire for a strong presidential system modeled on the United States and/or France, a move that would require a drastic reworking of Turkey's parliamentary system but might well be up for debate as parliament continue to work on provisions for a new constitution to replace the 1982 constitution drafted under military tutelage.

Yet enacting a presidential system will not be easy given that the AKP is shy of the two-thirds majority required to unilaterally pass amendments to the constitution, as well as the three-fifths majority needed to pass amendments and then take them to referendum. Amendments passed in this way require only a simple majority, which the AKP, as it did in September 2010, would likely have little difficult attaining. That said, the party is just three votes shy of the three-fifths needed (it currently has 327 seats of 330) to bring amendments to referendum.

So why is this week's decision so important? When Turkey amended its constitution in 2007 to hold popular presidential elections (before presidents were elected by parliament), the law was also changed to allow two consecutive five-year terms rather than one seven-year term. The question that is now near decided (parliament still needs to vote on the measure) is whether the new law applies to President Gul. Would Gul serve one seven-year term? Or, would he serve one five-year term and then be allowed to run for re-election, a move that would frustrate Erdogan's ambitions and remove him from the top of Turkish politics after 2014?

Though the delay deciding the issue essentially de facto scheduled elections for 2014 since there was little possibility of holding elections this year, the matter is now more decided. Now the question is more what will happen to the AKP after Erdogan becomes president. Will President Gul take the post or will it go to someone more junior over whom Erdogan can exert control (or, to a candidate like Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, who recently sided with Gul over Erdogan when the two were divided over  a law reducing the penalty for match-fixing and over whom it might be more difficult for Erdogan to assert control)? If the latter is to happen, parliamentary elections will have to be moved from 2015, for when they are currently scheduled, to a year before, meaning that Turkey would hold presidential, parliamentary, and local elections in the same year. And, just as important, will Erdogan be able to enact his constitutional vision and expand his power after 2014?

The Radikal story linked to above has the details about the new law.

UPDATE I (1/26/12) --  President Gul has approved the new law fixing his term to seven years, and so setting Turkey's next presidential elections for 2014. The new law was passed quickly by parliament on Jan. 19 despite opposition from the CHP, which is still deciding whether it will challenge the legislation at the Constitutional Court. Prime Minister Erdogan is thus cleared to run for president in 2014, becoming the first popularly elected president. Erdogan will be allowed to serve two five-year terms, and if he wins a second, he could well be president when Turkey celebrates its centennial in 2023.

Will Roj TV Survive?

Roj TV is the PKK-affiliated Kurdish-language satellite network that has been broadcasting from Denmark since 2004 after similar networks were closed in the United Kingdom and Belgium. A Danish court this week has ruled that the network and the PKK are in close communication, and that on occasion, the channel has spread propaganda on behalf of the organization.

If one watches the channel, this is nothing new, and is exactly why the channel's presence in Denmark for the past seven years has been to the serious ire of Turks, including the state, which has since 2004 worked on a number of diplomatic levels to have Denmark revoke Roj-Tv's broadcast license. That did not happen yesterday, though the network was fined ~7,000€ and the case could clear the way for the Danish Ministry of Justice to close the channel for good.

One of the Wikileaks on Turkey reveals that part of the deal to overcoming Turkish objections to the appointment of former Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's to serve as NATO secretary-general was that Denmark would, in turn, take steps to shutdown the station. The case ruled on this week is the result of an indictment filed in August by Denmark's attorney general.

Foreign Minster Ahmet Davutoglu said the case was the first step to assuring Roj be closed down.

Friday, January 13, 2012

How Much Longer Can "New" Last?

PHOTO from Radikal

Since its disappointing election result in June, the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has been internally divided and hopelessly outmaneuvered on multiple fronts.

The delicate state in which the party and its widely perceived feckless leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, finds itself is particularly sad given that the CHP has dramatically transformed itself in the wake of the sex scandal that brought down its former stalwart leader, Deniz Baykal. In contrast to Baykal, who seemed opposed to anything in the slightest progressive, including the EU accession process, minority rights, and a more nuanced understanding of secularism (away from the antiquated and oppressive concept of laïcité), the "new CHP," as the party has since branded itself, is decidedly pro-EU, pro-minority rights, and open to renegotiating the old Kemalist framework of secularism. The party espouses a commitment to liberalism reminiscent of the old AKP, and in few places can one find a hint of the staunch nationalist chauvinism that once dominated its politics.

Yet the "new CHP" might not last much longer. Though the party had expected to win over 30 percent of the vote in June elections, it received just over 25 percent, and since then, some opinion polls show popular support diminishing. More troubling is that the old nationalist stalwarts, headed by Baykal and former party general-secretary Onder Sav, are waiting in the wings to re-assume control should the liberals fail. And fail they might. A petition originating last week has collected the necessary number of signatures to force the CHP to hold an extraordinary congress in March, at which time those Baykal and Sav are likely to attempt a challenge of Kilicdaroglu's leadership.

The call for an extraordinary congress comes at a time when Kilicdaroglu is fighting to appease those more sympathetic to the old guard of his party. These efforts include Kilicdaroglu's visits to Silivri Prison, where numerous alleged members of the Ergenekon organization are being detained on charges of terrorism. These include CHP parliamentarians Mustafa Balbay and Mehmet Haberal, who the CHP ran for parliament and placed high on their party list despite their association with Ergenekon and known nationalist views and much to the advantage of the AKP, which pointed to their election as evidence that the CHP had not changed at all.

Upon his Nov. 9 visit, Kilicdaroglu called Silivri Prison a concentration camp for those who disagreed with the government, and it is these remarks that prompted a zealous prosecutor to charge him with insulting state officials and attempting to influence the judiciary, both of which are illegal and broadly interpreted under the current Penal Code. The prosecutor also filed a request that Kilicdaroglu's parliamentary immunity be lifted. In a fiery denunciation of the charges against him, Kilicaroglu responded in turn that he wished hismmunity would be removed and filed a formal application to the effect so that he could stand trial to face the charges against him -- a move followed by 132 parliamentarians from his party. Kilicdaroglu further said that he could be the next to end up in Silivri Prison, and perhaps even at the gallows.

Yet it is highly unlikely that Prime Minister Erdogan will allow for the removal of Kilicdaroglu's immunity (for more on this, see Murat Yetkin's column, in Turkish), and in fact, Erdogan has spoken against it, accusing Kilicadaroglu of cheap theatrics. Careful not to attract more international criticism or be responsible for what could happen if Kilicdaroglu were brought to trial, Erdogan is instead hoping Kilicdaroglu will fall victim to the divisiveness within his own party. Plus, Erdogan does not have much to fear at the moment from the CHP, which due to circumstances largely beyond its control, has turned into more of a sideshow than a real contestant for power.

That said, Kilicdaroglu, like other progressive elements in the CHP, are in a difficult spot. If they are too progressive, they will lose support from staunch Kemalists sympathetic to the old guard views within their party; yet if they take up the cause of two rather unpopular figures (Balbay and Haberal) and move too much toward the old rhetoric, they are likely to lose the liberals who voted for them in the last election. Kilicdaroglu's most recent attempts to portray himself as a victim under threat of being sent to Silivri are an attempt to take a hardline and demonstrate solidarity with Balbay and Haberal while at the same time seize an opportunity to criticize the specially authorized courts the government has setup to try suspected Ergenekon suspects. Yet, in a large sector of the Turkish public's eyes, this gesturing is more likely to place Kilicdaroglu and the CHP in the camp of Balbay and Haberal rather than as true liberals who stand up for everyone's rights.

The CHP, for its part, is not sure where it stands. Before elections, the party called for an amendment to one of the three currently inviolable first three articles of the constitution that would remove ethnically chauvinist tracings from the current definition of Turkish citizenship  (a key demand of nationalist Kurdish nationalists) only to return to the position that the first three articles should not be amended. Similarly, when the party boycotted parliament, it demanded the release of its own parliamentarians, saying little about the release of the six BDP-supported candidates also imprisoned and unable to take their seats.

Though these inconsistencies are no doubt a symptom of the democracy pains faced by the CHP as its new leadership struggles to revitalize the party and overturn Baykal's legacy (Baykal dominated the party for over 18 years), party officials should recognize that the increase it did make in its votes -- while shy from the 30 percent hoped for -- is the result of a more progressive, inclusive party that, at least in its campaign rhetoric, espoused hope for a "Turkey for everyone." The party did pick up votes from many liberals and progressives, a large number of whom have become disenchanted with the AKP and its increasing authoritarian tendencies. That said, this new support extended to the CHP is still incipient and not wide-reaching, and few voters, even if they voted for the party, trust it will deliver on the social democratic policies promised. Support for Kilicdaroglu, who simply does not compare to Erdogan at a rhetorical level, is probably lower.

So far, Erdogan has taken advantage of the CHP's dilemma. Kilicdaroglu, an Alevi with family ties to Dersim, where in 1937-8 over 10,000 Alevi (and Zaza) Kurds were killed in air strikes by Turkish forces, has long-proven to be more liberal on the Kurdish issue than the old guard within his party. The strikes occurred under the leadership of the CHP (though a much older, and obviously much different party), and in the last years of Ataturk's life. In November, in a brilliant political move, Erdogan apologized for the killings, a move sure to spark division within the CHP. Former CHP deputy chairman Onur Oymen's remarks toward Alevis had divided the party at the end of 2009 (before Kilicdaroglu came to power), and the prime minister knew it would divide the party once more, putting pressure on Kilicdaroglu at a time when he was simply trying to stay alive in his party and avoid an extraordinary party congress, which looks like it is now happening.

With Kilicdaroglu now evermore associated with Balbay and Haberal, especially given that both men were behind the CHP's boycott of parliament after the elections, Erdogan will now take credit for not removing the opposition leader's immunity -- for taking the high road. Kilicdaroglu will instead be let to fall on his own sword or that of Baykal, with whom Erdogan visited this past December, in order to, reportedly, discuss allowing Haberal to visit his dying mother.

Whether the "new CHP" will survive attempts by the stalwarts in its wings to bring back the old "Party of No" is yet to be seen, but is of critical importance at a time when anything liberal and progressive should be preserved. There has not been a viable opposition party in Turkey since the AKP came to power, which indubitably allowed the ruling party to consolidate its power over the past ten years. Though "the new CHP" is perhaps not yet viable, it is the closest thing Turkey has seen to a legitimate social democratic party since Bulent Ecevit's troubled Democratic Left Party in the 1990s. Baykal might no longer be holding the reins of the CHP, but it is not quite clear whether Kilicdaroglu is either, nor whether he will be able to hold onto power much longer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More Trouble with Leyla Zana

BDP parliamentarian and nationalist hardliner Leyla Zana has once more incited a firestorm of criticism. In a speech delivered in Frankfurt, Zana said arms were the Kurds' "insurance policy," and that the progress the Kurds have accomplished thus far is due to the PKK's armed struggle.

This could not be further from the truth. Reform passed in recent years on the Kurdish question has occurred when PKK violence has been at a low, the result of a commitment to liberalism and political rights that has allowed Kurdish activists and politicians to more freely participate in politics, albeit with continued serious restrictions. Any progress on the Kurdish front owes itself to liberalism and the EU accession process more than to violence, which has only stalled reform and led to the old political deadlock. The state is now attempting to assert itself against a Kurdish nationalist politics that thanks to the KCK has become inextricably entangled with violence. For my past post on Zana, click here.

Prime Minister Erdogan responded today by telling Zana that she should "go to the mountain," meaning she should give up parliamentary politics and join the PKK. While this was indubitably not the most productive thing to say, it is more evidence that the prime minister is "fed up," and that it is all the less likely to engage the BDP now than before.

Erdogan also responded to comments made by BDP leader Selahattin Demirtas in response to remarks made by Chief of General Staff Necdet Ozel in an interview with Milliyet in which Ozel said he has qualms with labeling PKK members "terrorists." Demirtas had responded that Ozel did not carry as much importance as a "colonel" and that he did not care what the military chief had to say. Erdogan declared that the PKK Demirtas serves would not allow the BDP leader to shepherd 100 sheep.

PHOTO from Habertürk

The prime minister also drew attention to BDP politicians who had placed PKK regalia on the coffins of some of the 35 people who were killed in the air strikes at Uludere, accusing them of politicizing the tragedy. A parliamentary sub-commission has been established to investigate the strike at Uludere while the government still has yet to issue an official apology or admit mistakes made by MIT or the Turkish Armed Forces. Habertürk reports that the Interior Ministry has stripped a local gendarme deputy commander of his post. The Sirnak governor's office is carrying out its own investigation in conjunction with the Interior Ministry.

In other news related to Uludere, Habertürk columnist Ece Temelkuran, a prominent and controversial Turkish journalist, has been fired for apparently taking too critical a line on the tragedy. In recent columns, Temelkuran had referred to the air strikes as a "massacre." The Wall Street Journal's Ayla  Albayrak gives Temelkuran's firing attention in the international press.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What's Going On?

Over the weekend Basbug denied charges of trying to overthrow the government, asking how he, in the time command of 700,000 troops, could or would opt to use websites to stage a military coup. Basbug assumed head of the Armed Forces in August 2008, and in February 2009, following news about the websites that appeared in Taraf, an Istanbul prosecutor launched an investigation that has led us to where we are today -- virtually clueless as to exactly what is going on, who is behind it, and why.

According to Basbug, the chief of general staff who preceded him, Yasar Buyukanit, launched many of the websites. Further, Basbug rejected accusations that he setup four new websites as evidenced by the document outlying the plan, and which Col. Dursun Cicek confirmed as authentic this past August.  Indeed, according to Basbug, he shut many of the websites down. In comparison to Buyukanit, Basbug was seen as more moderate, and in reality, behaved with greater civility toward AKP than his more hardline predecessors.

One of the questions now is whether the retired general will stand trial in front of the Istanbul court that has arrested him, or whether his case will go before the Constitutional Court.

Will the case raise alarm with American and European officials who have heralded Turkey as a model for secular democracy in the Middle East?

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Historic Arrest

PHOTO from Hurriyet

For the first time in Turkey's history, a former Chief of General Staff has been arrested. Ilker Basbug, who resigned from the post in August 2010, is charged with masterminding an attempt to overthrow the AKP government by setting up website that would spread propaganda aimed at ultimately bringing about an end to the party's almost 10-year hold on power.

Word of the potential arrest appeared earlier this week when news broke that a probe launched by an Istanbul prosecutor into the website conspiracy included Basbug. 22 other suspects, including seven generals, have been identified by the prosecutor as allegedly creating black-ops websites setup by the Turkish Armed Forces to disseminate fallacious rumors that would eventually bring about the overthrow of the government.

The website conspiracy began to surface this August when Col. Dursun Cicek confirmed the authenticity of a document outlying a plan to use the websites for propaganda purposes and said the operation was under the control of the General Staff, which was at the time of the document's production headed by Basbug. Days later Rt. Gen. Hakan Igsiz was arrested and allegedly testified that Basbug was responsible for the campaign. At the time, Islamist-oriented Yeni Akit called for Basbug's arrest.

Hurriyet columnist Ismet Berkan breaks down the history of the website conspiracy. In 2000, Bulent Ecevit called on state institutions to act against Islamist and separatist propaganda. According to Berkan, the General Staff responded to the call by setting up dozens of websites to do just this. When the AKP came to power in 2002 the websites released multiple stories highlighting the party's alleged anti-secular activities, many of which turned up in Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya's 2008 indictment to close the party. The websites made news in 2009 when Taraf ran a story about the websites that linked them to the General Staff.

It is hard to believe that the generals in question thought they could overthrow the government using websites, and as to Basbug's role in the affair, he alleges to have closed down many of the sites when he took power over the institution. Just what is going on here is still widely speculated, and should make for an interesting week ahead.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Two Journos Who Played with Fire

PHOTO from The New York Times

The New York Times gave coverage yesterday to the issue of press freedom in Turkey in light of the ongoing trial against journalists Ahmet Şık (use Turkish letters when spelling!) and Nedim Sener (click here for past post). Both are world renown journalists, and Sener, in 2010, won the International Press Institute's World Press Hero award.

Both men have been in prison for 309 days since their arrest in March on charges of being "terrorists" affiliated with the shadowy Ergenekon network. They are being tried by an Istanbul court along with eight journalists in the employ of Oda TV. The charges against the journalists stem from a file that police reportedly found on a computer at Oda TV's offices, but which defense lawyers and expert witnesses say were electronically planted using malware. The file tied the journalists to the shadowy Ergenekon network, alleged to constitute the "deep state" and be behind numerous attempts to overthrow the government. The court did task the Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK) with carrying out analysis on the computer disks at the center of the investigation. Another hearing is expected on Jan. 23.

Sener says his arrest is revenge for working to reveal the forces behind the assassination of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007, which contrary to the charges against Sener, is thought to be the work of the deep state. Neither Sener nor Şık have anything in common with the ultra-nationalist ideology with which the Ergenekon network is associated -- both are devout leftists with a long history of writing and political activity.

At the time of Şık's arrest, the journalist was working on a book about the infiltration of members of the also shadowy Gulen religious network, which is headed by Fethullah Gulen, a reclusive cleric based in Pennsylvania who preaches a moderate version of Islam and whose ideas and influence have deeply penetrated Turkish state and society (for a foreign journalist's take on Gulen, see Financial Times reporter Delphine Strauss's take last April).

Gulen's intentions and influence in Turkish politics are widely debated, and he no doubt wields a great amount of power among elements of the ruling AKP government (for more, see past post). Indeed, tension between Gulenists and non-Gulenists in the AKP is speculated to run quite high and was on display last spring when Prime Minister Erdogan dismissed Zekeriya Oz, the prosecutor formerly responsible for the Ergenekon investigation, including the arrests of Şık and Sener; last fall when the AKP divided itself over a law aimed to reduce the penalty for fixing soccer matches; and in recent days, in coverage of the Uludere tragedy that has appeared in Zaman, which is owned by Gulen (for an example, see Aziz Istegun's analysis soon after the attack) and Gulen's declaration that the strike was coordinated by people intent to undermine "harmony."

The case has become a rallying cry in a country where, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) last April, at least 57 journalists are currently imprisoned (more than in China; the New York Times put the number at 97 in this report). The government has asserted that of these journalists are not in prison for anything they have written, but for being members of terrorist organizations, though the argument has failed to convince waves of protestors that have assembled since Şık and Sener's arrest, in addition to international critics (for the OSCE's report in April, click here).

A Lot of Noise Against Coups (But Maybe Not the Right Type)

Former president and general Kenan Evren, leader of Turkey's 1980 military coup, could face trial at the age of 94. On Jan. 3, a prosecutor filed an indictment with an Ankara court alleging Evren, as well as former Air Force Commander Tahsin Sahinkaya, now 87, masterminded violent unrest later used to justify their military putsch. For more, in Turkish, click here.

PHOTO from Milliyet

The violence preceding the coup was some of the worst in Turkey's history, including a series of shootings against peaceful protestors gathered in public squares and assassinations of leftist figures, including the murder of Milliyet editor Abdi Ipekci with whose assassination the indictment against the two men alleges they are complicit. These attacks were carried out by rightist militias mainly in command of the infamous ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves, and combined with the series of detentions and military trials after the coup, decimated the Turkish left (for more, see here).

The charges against the generals are facilitated by constitutional amendments passed in the September 2010 referendum, and were some of the few amendments that enjoyed broad public support, including that of the CHP opposition. A past attempt to bring charges against Evren made by former prosecutor Sacit Kayasu resulted in the prosecutor's disbarment. There is another investigation ongoing into the use of torture during the coup years. The coup brought about the assassination of 571 people, and over 700,000 people were detained in its aftermath. Torture was rampant, prison conditions horrible, and black-listings widespread.

Ozel Regrets "Terrorist" Label

PHOTO from Milliyet

Milliyet's Fikret Bila has run an interview with Chief of General Staff Necdet Ozel in which the head of the Turkish Armed Forces says he would not like to call PKK fighters "terrorists" since they, too, are citizens of Turkey.

According to Ozel, many PKK fighters have been deceived, a fact which the top general laments at the same time he gives casualty figures of how many terrorists have been killed in the past six months. Turkish forces in Turkey's near 18-year conflict with the PKK. That number is at 165, according to Ozel, while 112 have surrendered and another 50 have been captured.

Ozel's intimation that PKK fighters should not be labeled as "terrorists" has infuriated many Turks, and nationalist-minded bloggers are clamoring to criticize Ozel as ineffective, and many not simply vis-á-vis the Kurdish question, but in regard to the treatment of army generals who have been arrested in the ongoing Ergenekon investigations.

In the interview, Ozel also dismissed reports that the PKK has adopted a truce, arguing that the opposite is in fact true and that PKK operations have continued throughout the winter. He also said unequivocally that the Turkish Armed Forces were in no way involved in the negotiations between MIT and the PKK that seem to have ended at the end of 2009 or beginning of 2010. Ozel further states that he is against recognizing Kurdish as an official language or integrating it into school education and using it to administer public services.

The general goes on to state that the United States has provided assistance from northern Iraq, though the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has done little to assist with the situation. Iraqi officials have told Ankara that there is little they can do (see an account of TRT's interview, in Turkish, with Iraq Vice President Tariq Hashimi on Oct. 30). Meanwhile Iraqi President Jalal al-Talabani and KRG president Massoud Barzani, much to the likely frustration of Turkish officials, continue to dialogue with the BDP, urging the party, albeit without much visible success, toward peace.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Puppets of the PKK!, Says Erdogan

PHOTO from Hurriyet

Prime Minister Erdogan addressed AKP's parliamentary group meeting yesterday, telling BDP parliamentarians that "they could not even use the restroom without being attached to their master's strings." Erdogan was likely incensed by charges that BDP deputy Hasip Kaplan incited the beating of Naif Yavuz and strong statements in recent days by BDP leader Selahattin Demirtas.

Though AKP officials have long charged that the BDP is closely affiliated to the PKK, Erdogan's strong language evinces the intense animosity between not only the BDP and his party, but also the Turkish public. There are news reports that the KCK operations have revealed links that speeches of BDP parliamentarians are drafted by or with the input of PKK leadership, and that BDP addresses are often coordinated with terrorist attacks. Though the government is short on hard evidence, accusations of the BDP taking its orders from Kandil are likely to heighten tensions with the BDP in the coming weeks. Demirtas, for his part, compared the nationalist resistance movement to that of the Palestinians and told supporters in Diyarbakir that Kurds would "fight like Palestinians."

Erdogan's demonstrable anger is no doubt related to his utter frustration with the BDP. The AKP has been trying to broker a peace agreement since 2005. The biggest blow to these efforts came in October 2009 when a return of PKK militants returned at the Habur border crossing to be greeted by Lurdish nationalist politicians and Kurdish nationalist crowds flashing victory signs. The AKP had designed the affair to be a solemn proceeding to mark the inception of a larger peace process, but was instead met with Kurdish nationalist fanfare and an enraged Turkish public irate over what it perceived as victory celebrations for terrorists. Soon after, the AKP's "democratic opening" rapidly began to crumble and the party distanced itself from Kurdish nationalist politicians.

The failed attempt also seemed to disrupt ongoing secret negotiations the AKP and MIT, Turkey's intelligency agency, had been holding with Ocalan and PKK representatives from Europe and Kandil. Tape recordings of negotiations held in Norway between unidentified representatives of MIT and the PKK were released this past August, and in a landmark moment and to Erdogan's credit, the prime minister defender MIT and its director Hakan Fidan, as well as the potential value of the talks at the time. Yet the prime minister has said that talks have since stopped, and there is no evidence otherwise to contradict that whatever negotiations were occuring between 2005 and 2009 have begun anew.

Further, relations with imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, jailed in isolation on a small island called Imrali just outside of Istanbul, have also soured. Ocalan had sounded a calming note in early July, calling BDP politicians to end their boycott of parliament and calling a peace council to be formed. Yet, after these declarations in early July, the PKK launched a major attack in Diyarbakir that killed 13 soldiers. The attack coincided with the Democratic Society Congress (DTK)'s declaration of autonomy, though DTK leaders denied any connection. Erdogan quickly seemed to lose confidence in Ocalan -- either because he could not control the PKK, which in fact has multiple command centers often at odds with each other, the most important of which is Murat Karayilan's command over the organization from Kandil, or because the exiled leader betrayed him. The fact that the attack occurred right before the Ocalan's call to extend a July 15 ceasefire, and that public statements of and intelligence on PKK leadership in Kandil seemed to reveal the PKK had a different intention, lends evidence to the former. At the end of July, Erdogan declared Ocalan powerless, and shortly after cut off the exiled PKK leader's access to his attorneys, through whom the PKK leader would issue announcements to Kandil, the BDP, and the hardline Kurdish nationalist masses who support him. Talks with the BDP to re-enter parliament also collapsed.

The situation only intensified in the months ahead, though the BDP did decide to end its boycott of parliament just days before it reconvened at the beginning of October. Yet, again, soon after this decision the PKK killed 24 soldiers in Cukurca (Hakkari), the fourth most deadly attack in the history of Turkey's conflict with the PKK. The October 19 attack sparked public outcry throughout the country. In response, Erdogan increased pressure on Iraq to drive the PKK from Kandil and operations against the KCK intensified. On October 30, police detained 48 alleged KCK operatives, including controversial publisher Ragip Zarakolu and Busra Ersanli, an academic at Marmara University who was a member of the commission established to work on the constitution. KCK operations continued throughout November and December, and on December 20, over 50 individuals, mostly journalists, were detained in what police said was an operation targeting the press wing of the KCK.

With Habur, the DTK declaration, and Hakkari hardly water under the bridge, the increasing militancy of the BDP's rhetoric has curried the party little favor and driven Erdogan and members of his party to nationalist excesses of their own. Erdogan and other officials' impatience and outright anger toward the BDP, which were fully manifest in yesterday's parliamentary group meeting, have led to conjecture that the party could be closed. Yet doing so would come at tremendous political cost for the AKP. The closure of the BDP's predecessor, DTP, in December 2009, led to a wave of international criticism and significantly hampered the political process.

Whether the AKP likes it or not, the BDP is the only legal representative of Kurdish nationalism and Kurdish nationalists' only conduit into the Turkish political system. If the BDP were to be shut down, the alienation of Kurdish nationalists from the political process alredy exacerbated by the KCK operations would be near complete. Therefore, though many opinion leaders are pointing to the example of Batasuna's closure in Spain, which shared a comparable relationship to ETA before its closure in 2002, it should also be noted that Batasuna enjoyed much less political support and that the Basque nationalist political landscape was and is far more plural than the Kurdish nationalist scene in Turkey.

For these reasons, it is unlikely that the BDP will be closed; however, at the same time, it is also highly likely that the AKP will be conciliatory, especially when the militant rhetoric is escalating in intensity. The best indicator for this is the government's continued dedication to its coordinated, rapid response security measures, despite the incident in Uludere, and that Erdogan, though expressing great regret in the days following the strike, has since continued to defend the Turkish Armed Forces and intelligence agencies. It seems the state is intent to express its authority over elements of the Kurdish nationalist movement after months during which the movement used a combination of politics and terrorism in its own efforts to assert power.

. . . .

Erdogan also had strong words for Taraf, which has run stories in the past few days alleging that last week's air strike in Uludere that killed 35 innocent civilians resulted from intelligence collected by the MIT, as well as the CHP and its leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who has called for a parliamentary investigation of what happened.

UPDATE I (1/5) --  President Gul and Chief of General Staff Necdet Ozel met yesterday about what occurred at Uludere. Interestingly, Hakan Fidan, head of MIT, also attended the meeting. MIT is at the center of the schedule as allegations emerge that the attack resulted from faulty intelligence provided by the organization.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


PHOTO from Taraf

Local governor Naif Yavuz was assaulted when visiting the village of Gulyazi from where many of the victims of the air strike in Uludere haled. There are reports that BDP deputy Hasip Kaplan stoked the mob, and that he gave reports to Yavuz not to visit the area because residents were armed and angry. Meanwhile most Turkish newspapers continue to demand an apology for the strikes, and CHP leader Kemal Kilicdarglu has promised to take the matter to parliament.

Despite the mass outrage, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc has said that it is premature for the government to apologize, though it deeply regrets the incident, and the government seems to be reluctant to admit full responsibility. Arinc said today that the trek on which the smugglers were traveling was a well-known PKK treading ground, and that they would have easily looked like PKK fighters. Meanwhile Taraf is reporting that the Turkish Armed Forces acted on information provided by Turkish intelligence (MIT), and carried reports earlier that the attack might have been carried out following intelligence received from a PKK informant.

Prime Minister Erdogan and Chief of General Staff Necdet Ozel met yesterday to discuss the initial findings of the Turkish Armed Forces' investigation.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Tragedy in Sirnak

PHOTO from Radikal

A Turkish air strike in the Turkey-Iraq border district of Uludere in Sirnak province early in the morning on Dec. 29 has resulted in the deaths of 35 people who were smuggling diesel from Iraq to Turkey. All are Turkish Kurds, and they do not appear to in any way be affiliated with the PKK or PKK activity. The strike is a great embarrassment to the government, military, and intelligence services, which in recent months have worked to facilitate a coordinated, rapid attack strategy. The 35 killed were targeted by unarmed Heron drones (not U.S. Predator drones based at Incirlik). Those killed were hauling diesel with mules, and according to initial statement by government and military officials, appeared to be PKK forces crossing into Turkey from Iraq.

Deputy AKP vice chair Huseyin Celik has characterized the strikes as an "operational accident," and Erdogan and other government officials have expressed deep regret for the incident, vowing a full investigation into the incident. In a statement made over the weekend, Erdogan said that innocent civilians might have been intentionally attacked from the air before (a reference to Dersim), but that this does not happen today and that the government will not stand for it. Turkish Armed Forces Chief of General Staff Necdet Ozel is conducting an investigation into the incident, and is expected to report to the government in the next few days.

Turkish newspapers resound that the state must apologize for the mistake, and sentiment is nearly universal that all efforts should be made to investigate the tragedy and avoid similar incidents in the future. That said, it is yet to be seen whether the results of the investigation will be shared with the public and those responsible policies and officials held to account. Now that the government has firmer control of the military and is at the head of efforts to coordinate efforts between it and Turkish intelligence, headed by MIT head Hakan Fidan, the investigation and policies to follow will be a critical test of AKP leadership.